The Oakland Athletics' great 42-34 winning start to this 2008 season places them in 2nd place in the AL West division, and 4th place in the American League overall. The Athletics are led on offense by former Rookie of the Year shortstop Bobby Crosby with his 78 hits and 37 RBIs in 302 at bats. In addition, designated hitter/outfielder Jack Cust adds his great 12 home runs and 37 RBIs to the A's offense. At the mound on defense for Oakland, Rich Harden has provided the biggest boost for the Athletics, pitching a team-leading 72 strikeouts in only 59 innings. Harden is the least played starting pitcher, but he seems to be trying to prove himself this season as a franchise leader, still young in his professional baseball career. The Oakland Athletics look to carry their great early start into the pennant race as the year gets closer and closer to playoff time. Tickets are hard to find this season, owing to the early success of this illustrious franchise in this 2008 baseball season.
The Oakland Athletics, also known as the A’s,
have been the perfect illustration to small market teams that
they too can succeed if they spend their money wisely in scouting
and on the right players. In the past five seasons the A’s
have a .592 winning percentage and four post-season appearances.
In the post-season the A’s haven’t been quite as
successful as they’d like to be. In their last four postseason
appearances they’ve lost all four, each one going to the
5th game. Last year, Oakland finished with a 96-66 record and
won the AL West. In the ALDS they found themselves match up with
the wild card Boston Red Sox. It was a very entertaining series
with three of the games decided by one run, but in the end the
A’s fell 3-2.
General manager Billy Beane is thought to be the
best executive in all of baseball. The team is has the 17th
highest payroll in the majors and yet they still continue to
find the right guys to win AL West crowns and make it to the
post-season. During this off-season the A’s lost former AL MVP Miguel Tejada, closer
Keith Foulke and slugging outfielder Jose Guillen because they couldn’t
afford their salaries. They did pick up pitcher Mark Redman from the Marlins
for a couple of prospects. Beane also traded for outfielder Mark Kotsay of the
Padres for catcher Ramon Hernandez and outfielder Terrance Long. None of these
trades were considered “blockbuster deals,” but the moves are very
calculated and should help out this year’s team. The team also signed hard
throwing south paw Arthur Rhodes to fill the hole Foulke left.
With Guillen and Tejada gone Eric Chavez will be
the centerpiece of the A’s
lineup. He’ll be batting in the number three spot behind center fielder
Mark Kotsay and left fielder Eric Byrnes. The two combined for a .265 batting
average and a .338 on base percentage. and a In the 4-5-6 spots are right fielder
Jermaine Dye, first baseman Scott Hatteberg, and designated hitter Erubiel Durazo.
Behind them are second year shortstop Bobby Crosby, catcher Damian Miller, and
second baseman Marco Scutaro.
The undeniable strength of the team is in its starting
pitching. Much like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990’s the A’s ride their “Big Three” to
the post-season. They had a 3.63 staff ERA which was best in the AL and 2nd in
MLB. Cy Young Award winning pitcher Barry Zito is the flag ship of the staff,
starting in front of Tim Hudson and you can’t forget about Mark Mulder
who finished last year with a 15-9 record and a 3.13 ERA.
The A’s play all their home games at Network Associates Coliseum which
is also the home field for the Oakland Raiders. In 1996, ownership added 22,000
seats, two scoreboards and two new color screens. The coliseum made its mark
on the sporting world when it introduced the fan favorite “the wave” on
October 15, 1981.
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