The only way is up for the Oakland Athletics after a 2022 season where they finished bottom of the American League West with just 60 wins. Their 102 losses were the most in the American League – and the second most in baseball – and they finished a goliath 46 games behind the division (and World Series) winning Houston Astros. Running down the Astros is a non-starter, but a solid improvement would be getting ahead of the Texas Rangers, a team they finished eight wins behind last season.
The Athletics do get the boost of starting the 2023 season at home as they welcome the Los Angeles Angels to RingCentral Coliseum on Thursday, March 30. They play three games against the Angels before hosting the Cleveland Guardians for three games immediately after. Other April home series for the Athletics include tilts against the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds.
Here are three questions for the Athletics ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Are the Athletics just aiming for Las Vegas?
It is rough to suggest that an MLB team has no interest in winning baseball games. That is 100% the vibe you get from the Athletics, however, as team ownership has done nothing major to address the failings of their 100-loss 2022 season. A handful of veterans and young players have signed to team-friendly deals, but the feeling is that most of those have been signed to be trade fodder should one (or more) excel. The A’s didn’t have a single player with over 20 games played hit over .250. That is disastrous, yet most will be back in 2023. This is a team that – at the ownership level – has no interest in winning in Oakland, they want their move to Las Vegas.
Can the pitchers hold up?
After noting that the A’s batting was a disaster last year – though it might be somewhat better in 2023 – it is worth looking at the arms on the Athletics’ roster. They hit the foreign market, bringing Drew Rucinski from South Korea and Shintato Fujinama from Japan. They also have a crop of legitimate pitching prospects in Kyle Muller, Ken Waldichuck, and J.P. Sears, while Paul Blackburn and James Kapriellan are solid – if unspectacular – at the top of the rotation. This staff is a year or two – and one major addition – away from being more than competent.
Is there any infield hitting?
The A’s are solid at catcher, but the infield is a mess after that. THey project to be the worst team in the Majors in first base production while also sitting in the bottom five at shortstop, third base, and DH. The farm needs to produce – quickly – while a bounceback season from Jesus Aguilar after his disastrous 2022 with the Marlins would be huge. It will take several unexpected bats appearing simultaneously for this lineup to be dangerous on a day-to-day basis.