The Oakland Athletics had a busy offseason, mainly spent upgrading their bullpen. Billy Beane has never been one to throw around large amounts of salary, but he did that this winter when he traded for Jim Johnson and signed both Scott Kazmir and Eric O'Flaherty to two-year, multi-million deals. But the A's aren't flawless, as no teams really are. Their two biggest weaknesses are a lack of rotation depth and the disaster that is the O.co Coliseum.
I don't want to say that the A's got lucky last year, but their rotation was incredibly fortunate. Only seven pitchers made starts for the club last year and the health of their rotation was never much of a question. This winter, the A's lost the durable Bartolo Colon to the Mets, and traded the fragile Brett Anderson to the Rockies. They'll bring back Dan Straily's 27 starts, Sonny Gray's ten starts, and 32 starts from each of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Hell, they even will bring back Tommy Milone's 26 starts, though Milone is sixth on the depth chart behind those four and the newly-signed Scott Kazmir.
And I think that's the issue for the Athletics – past Milone, there's not much starting pitching depth in this organization right now, something you don't expect to hear when talking about the A's. Aside from Milone, who might end up in the major league bullpen for the A's, who does Oakland have? Drew Pomeranz made 20 starts in Colorado's organization last year, but could end up as a reliever, just like Milone. The Rangers used Josh Lindblom to start a bit last year, but he wasn't very good at all. Phil Humber was so bad as a starter for the Astros that they demoted him to the bullpen and eventually, AAA.
Oakland has a pair of interesting pitching prospects in Michael Ynoa and Raul Alcantara, but neither has pitched at a level higher than high-A. The only other option for the A's in Arnold Leon, who pitched decently in 24 starts between AA and AAA last season. If the A's don't have another run of great health with their rotation, things could get ugly in a hurry.
Then, there's the issue of the O.co Coliseum. The stadium is, quite literally, a dump. Sewage pipes flooded the clubhouses and dugouts last year. While the A's do draw passionate, vociferous crowds at the Coliseum, they're still a bottom ten team in attendance in baseball, due in part to the uh…charm of the Coliseum.
Furthermore, the Coliseum puts the A's at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the AL West. Safeco Field and Minute Maid Park are both less than 15 years old. Globe Life Park in Arlington (which still sounds weird to say) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Angel Stadium is just as old as the Coliseum, but received a massive renovation in the last 20 years, and the Angels could end up getting a new park or another renovation to their current home.
Meanwhile, the Coliseum just lingers in Oakland, sewage and all. If the team eventually can move to San Jose, like owner Lew Wollf wishes, then the team can even up the playing field a bit and prepare for a future with all of their young talent signed for the long-term. As it is now in Oakland, the A's have to take things year by year and can't make any long-term plans – largely because of their stadium and the mess that it creates.