With the Indians set to open a four-game series against the Oakland A’s tonight at Progressive Field, I decided to reach out to Swingin’ A’s editor Sean Davis to get his thoughts on all things Oakland. The A’s look poised to possibly repeat as AL West champs, but what do the people who follow this team really think of their chances in 2013? Sean let’s us know. You can follow him on Twitter @Seand25
Wahoo’s on First: The A’s got off to a great start, but have cooled off a bit of late. Did they overachieve to begin the year or do you think this team has a legit shot at taking the AL West again?
Sean Davis: The quick answer would have to be yes, and yes. They certainly fattened up against the Houston Astros (6-0) and the grossly underachieving Los Angeles Angels (5-1), but in many instances did so in dominant fashion. They have struggled against perceived quality teams though, until this weekend’s series win in the Bronx versus the Yankees. The Angels are digging themselves an extremely deep hole, and Seattle and Houston probably never had a real shot to win the West in the first place, so that leaves the A’s and the Texas Rangers. I expect another dogfight right down to the finish for the crown.
Wahoo’s on First: With the home runs and the laser precision throws from right field, Josh Reddick was fun to watch last year. So, what’s wrong with him this year?
Sean Davis: Well Reddick’s struggles aren’t a new revelation, he’s been this bad since last summer. He did most of his damage early in the season, and slumped badly over the final two months. I was extremely skeptical that he’d be able to rebound from that because he had become too pull and too home run happy, those tendencies have taken his struggles to all new levels. He’s been batting near the bottom of the order recently, and if he doesn’t shorten his swing, and stop trying to be a home run hitter he could continue to see a reduced role in this offense.
Wahoo’s on First: Continuing along those lines, are you worried about Jarrod Parker and the struggles he’s had to start the season?
Sean Davis: Parker has been dealing with mechanical issues all the way since Spring Training, but the talent and the stuff are still there. Whether he’s tipping pitches, or his timing on his delivery is just a bit off remains to be seen. I believe he’ll correct whatever is wrong and continue on his path toward becoming one of the AL’s best young hurlers.
Wahoo’s on First: The A’s offense has been one of the best in baseball so far this season, a bit surprising considering the ball park they play in. Can they keep it up?
Sean Davis: I believe they can continue to be in the upper echelon of the AL throughout the season. Their numbers from 2012 were a bit deceiving because the offense really didn’t start producing until late in June when they marched back from a 9 game losing streak and reached the .500 mark once again. Since that point they’ve been getting production from all over the lineup. Yoenis Cespedes is a potential future MVP candidate (provided he can stay healthy), Brandon Moss has defied the doubters who expected major regression after his breakout season, and Josh Donaldson has established himself as the team’s everyday third baseman and one of the league’s better young players (young in terms of service time, not actual age since he’s already 27). Throw in Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp at the top of the order and this offense should be able to avoid prolonged slumps.
Wahoo’s on First: What is your prediction for the series?
Sean Davis: The A’s have struggled against quality pitchers, and Justin Masterson is every bit a quality pitcher. So I’d expect the A’s to at least drop that game. Tommy Milone on the road vs. Tommy Milone at home tends to be a drastic difference so he may struggle as well. I think the A’s will make Ubaldo Jimenez throw a ton of pitches and get him out rather early, and once upon a time they put up 14 ER against Scott Kazmir. I think the A’s will take games 1 and 4, and drop game 3, with game 2 coming down to the wire. I’ll give that one to the Indians since they are playing at home, so we’ll call this series a split.