2008 Outcome: 75-86, finished 3rd place in the AL West.
What They've Lost: Greg Smith, Huston Street and Carlos Gonzalez (traded to Rockies). Alan Embree (free agent, sign with Rockies)
What They've Done: Traded for All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday, signed Rob Bowen
They A's are also unlikely to bring back veteran DH Frank Thomas. They also put SS Bobby Crosby on outright waivers but no one picked him up, so he is likely to stay in the starting role. Pitcher Justin Duchscherer is recovering from arm surgery, if the A's are to compete in 09 they will need him healthy.
Needs: Closer, Right fielder, A Starting Pitcher, Shortstop
The Talk: The A's have been tied to several rumors involving new shortstops after they tried to get rid of Crosby on waivers. A possible deal with Rafael Furcal was discussed and they were thought to be the frontrunners, however nothing materialized and Furcal re-signed with LA. The A's have also been tied to Miguel Tejada rumors as the Astros try shed payroll but the A's say they do not have interest. If that is the case the A's are likely stuck with Crosby for another year.
Oakland is still in need of an outfielder, preferably one who can play RF. Rumors floating around have the A's interested in both Garret Anderson and Bobby Abreu. Either player could also be placed in the DH spot if necessary and Jack Cust could move to the OF, but the A's prefer to upgrade their defense and keep Cust at the DH spot.
One other rumor that has been making the rounds is the A's re-signing former franchise player Jason Giambi to play first base. The A's can likely only afford one of Giambi, Anderson and Abreu so it will be interesting to see which direction they go.
Free Agent Signing/Trade Prediction: Jason Giambi
All sources seem to indicate that Giambi is the A's number one choice to upgrade their offense and Giambi seems interested in going back to his old town. Abreu is likely to command too much money for the A's and Giambi can be a force from the left side of the plate in their lineup.
Young Player To Make 2009 Impact: Gio Gonzalez, Starting pitcher
Gonzalez came up last year and struggled but he has a whole lot of talent and is likely to have a spot in the A's rotation out of spring training. Billy Beane always seems to have good luck developing young pitchers and I expect Gonzalez to have a productive year
2009 Outlook As Of Now: The A's have improved their offense with the addition of Matt Holliday. Even outside of Coors field he is a fantastic all-around hitter. If the A's can add a Giambi or an Abreu to the middle of the order their offense should be greatly improved. They still have a long way to go however to compete with a team like the Angels.
Their bullpen is very unproven right now and they will need some young guys to step up. As of now Santiago Casilla looks to be the favorite for saves in the bullpen and he doesn't have a a great supporting cast. Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler had great years last year but it remains to be seen if they can produce numbers even close to what they did last year in limited appearances.
The A's starting rotation is also very young as always. They have been looking to add a veteran arm to the rotation but as of now have not had any luck. Either way youngsters Gio Gonzalez and Sean Gallagher will be counted on for some production.
Most important to the A's chances may be the health of Eric Chavez and Justin Duchscherer. Chavez has had a ton of injury problems over the past couple years and last year was no different, as he had only 89 ABs. Duchscherer who came out of nowhere to become an all-star and the ace of the staff underwent surgery in September. The A's hope to have him back for opening day.
Hottest Thigh Association: Alex Chavez
Eric Chavez may not have been doing much on the baseball field the last couple seasons, but at least when he goes home every night he has a very hot wife with a very hot thigh.