By Jason Wojciechowski on February 24, 2005 at 5:26 AM
But for the first time since 1998, the A's aren't considered among the American League West front-runners. "We shouldn't be," Chavez said. "Anaheim should, without a doubt. They've got pretty much the best player in the league in Vlad (Vladimir Guerrero) and one of the best hitters in the league in Garret Anderson. They've got a really good team over there. It's going to be tough, but we've been able to compete with the New Yorks and Bostons the last four years pretty consistently. Our expectations aren't low, but in the baseball world you've got to look at things realistically, and on paper we're probably third or fourth in our division. We're definitely going to have an uphill battle."
He's right about one thing: Vlad was pretty much the best player in the American League last year. Garret Anderson, though? The man was about as valuable (offensively only, by VORP) as Frankie Menechino, and that was given two hundred more plate appearances to work with!
Chavez flat out lied toward the end there: if the attitude throughout the clubhouse is that the team is the third or fourth best in the division (does he know there are only four teams?), then expectations are far too low. The offense is very solid, bordering on good and the pitching, particularly the bullpen, should still be a great strength for the team. For the offense added, I don't see much defense going away, except in the case of Keith Ginter, assuming he gets a lot of time at second base. Really, there's no basis for thinking that the A's can't be the best or second-best team in the division. The Rangers were luckier last year than they were good and, while you never really know what to expect out of the Angels, they're not really a powerhouse like New York or Boston.
Wait, there's another team? Oh, right, the Mariners. Heh.
So that wasn't very nice of me. The Mariners will have a better offense. That should be good enough to fight with the Rangers for third place.
(Apologies for it having been forever since my last post. Internet and cable TV have been down for weeks, and we've only today gotten it back. We'll see if the signal holds strong, though.)