The Oakland Athletics were a team that had a ton of young pitching talent finishing 2011. The team got younger and the farm system got better, but that does not bode well for the 2012 season. The offseason started when they traded SP Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a package of young player. They followed by making similar deals trading LHP Gio Gonzalez to Washington and RHP Andrew Bailey to Boston. They traded for OF Seth Smith and finished by signing a handful of free agents: OF Jonny Gomes, Yonnesis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon and Manny Ramirez.
Their starting pitching does not look like it may be ready immediately, though they have Brett Anderson coming back from missing most of 2011, followed by Brandon McCarthy and Dallas Braden, who is also coming off a missed season. Colon and perhaps Tom Milone round out the rotation to start the season. Jarrod Parker may compete for a spot in the bullpen to start the season, but it is quite possible that he can start the season in the rotation, either in Oakland or in AAA. Brad Peacock can also start or relieve. The bullpen brings back LHP Brian Fuentes, who with RHP Andrew Carigan and RHP Grant Balfour will be the best out of what they have to relieve. They traded Bailey as well as LHP Craig Breslow, meaing there is a distinct possibility that Parker or Peacock as well as RHP Ryan Cook could see some time in the Oakland bullpen. On paper, it seems like a weakness. Their rotation may pitch better than expected especially if Anderson and Braden bounce back from lost 2011 seasons.
Offensively, Oakland has a lot of questions to answer in spring training. Kurt Suzuki will be the starting catcher with Derrick Norris waiting in the wings. !B will be interesting with longtime prospect Chris Carter getting a chance to earn the starting job over Kila Ka'aihue (who was acquired from Kansas City last September), Darick Barton and Brandon Allen. That should be an interesting battle. Jemile Weeks will play 2B and Cliff Pennington will be at SS. 3B looks weak with the incumbents being Adam Rosales and Scott Sizemore. The outfield and DH looks more cloudy with all the options they have out there. Seth Smith was acquired from Colorado, Josh Reddick came in the Boston deal for Bailey and don't forget they added free agents Yonesis Cespedes, Manny Ramirez and Jonny Gomes in addition to re-signing Coco Crisp. Quite a logjam, especially if Cespedes is ready for the big leagues as expected.
I honestly think there are too many questions on this team to be competitive. Spring training may not be enough time to figure out who should start in the outfield and at 1B, which can set them back a little more. The best case scenario is that this offensive team gels and Anderson and Braden pitch as well if not better than they did before their injuries last year. I don't trust their bullpen.
The Athletics over under is 71, which I predict they will finish under. More like 61-101, fourth place in the AL West. This is a team that could hit its stride towards the end of the season and may be more fun to watch in 2013. Hopefully this team is ready to start building towards the future and has no more major trades to make.