Offseason reshuffling has left A’s with serious questions
Billy Beane has completed — at least, we think he’s completed — yet another offseason overhaul in Oakland. After acquiring Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, the A’s are poised to begin the 2015 season with a different starter at every infield position and catcher, compared to when we last saw them in the American League Wild Card Game
|2014 Wild Card Game||2015 Opening Day|
C: Geovany Soto
|C: Stephen Vogt|
|1B: Stephen Vogt||1B: Ike Davis|
|2B: Eric Sogard||2B: Ben Zobrist|
|3B: Josh Donaldson||3B: Brett Lawrie|
|SS: Jed Lowrie||SS: Yunel Escobar|
Amid the lineup shuffle, not enough attention has been given to an Oakland rotation that remains in flux. The A’s have lost three starters from their season-ending rotation, two of whom — Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija — were All-Stars in 2014. (Jason Hammel is the other.) That leaves Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir as the lone holdovers.
After Gray and Kazmir, the final three spots will belong to a combination of returnees Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez, and offseason acquisitions Jesse Hahn (Padres), Chris Bassitt (White Sox), Sean Nolin (Blue Jays) and Kendall Graveman (Blue Jays).
Perhaps the young arms will coalesce into a division-winning rotation, as was the case for the 2012 A’s following a similarly dramatic series of moves. But given the presence of Felix Hernandez, James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma in Seattle, it would be nearly impossible to argue that Oakland has the best rotation in the American League West — a distinction the A’s have held at various points in recent years.
Oakland could exceed expectations, particularly because A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker — both doubtful for Opening Day after elbow surgeries — could rejoin the rotation during the 2015 season. For now, though, the 2015 A’s aren’t as talented as the 2014 edition that faded so dramatically in the second half.