With the way the off-season started if you where a fan of the Oakland A’s where you concerned what your team would look like? I’m not even a fan of the A’s, but I couldn’t figure out what Billy Beane was trying to do with the team. There’s still about six weeks before spring training starts and who knows if the A’s are done making moves, but the team looks a lot different from last season. I think most if not all A’s fan realized that Jon Lester wouldn’t be back with the team in 2015. There was a lot of talk that if the A’s couldn’t sign Jeff Samardzija they would trade him, but I think most expert thought it would happen around the trade deadline not at the owners meetings. Even though the Samardzija deal happened a little earlier than people thought it would him and Lester being gone was kind of expected. Then Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss are traded in separate deals. Two of the three catchers from last season; Derek Norris and John Jaso where dealt. They didn’t make an attempt to resign shortstop Jed Lowrie and utility man Nick Punto was let go. Luke Gregerson was also allowed to leave as a free agent. Even though they brought Billy Butler in to be the Designated Hitter and Ike Davis to play 1st base I wasn’t all that sold on the A’s competing in the American League West, but slowly the team has come together. With the two latest deals getting Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays and then turning around and sending Escobar to the Washington Nationals for Tyler Clippard I wouldn’t be surprised to see the A;s contending again. Mr. Fantasy and I discussed the A’s line up last night (Friday) on the Sports Time Radio podcast. I believe he’s actually more sold on them than I am. I think they needed one more power hitting threat in the batting order, but he thinks they’ll get by. Stephen Vogt will get to catch full-time, Brett Lawrie takes over at 3rd base, Zobrist will play 2nd base with Davis at 1st and as long as you’re sold on Marcus Semien as your everyday shortstop the infield is set. The outfield looks like Josh Reddick in right field, Coco Crisp in centerfield and Sam Fuld in left field with Craig Gentry as the 4th outfielder and then Butler in the DH role. The rotation has Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Hahn possibly set to open the season. Don’t forget they also have A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker; both of whom are recovering from Tommy John surgery, but will be back some time during the 2015 season. Clippard should drop right into the set up role in front of closer Sean Doolittle. Ryan Cook will also fit into a set up role in the bullpen. If the A’s are done do you think they can contend with this team? or do they need to make another move or two?
Staying in the Bay area the San Francisco Giants signed outfielder Norichika Aoki to a one year deal worth $4.7 million dollars. The deal includes a club option for 2016, and can max out at $12.5 million over two seasons based on the option and performance bonuses. It appears that Aoki will take over in left field for the Giants and may hit towards the top of the batting order. With the Aoki signing and Casey McGehee being brought in to play 3rd base are the Giants done this off-season? There where some rumors this week that the Giants might have some interest in starting pitcher Dillon Gee of the New York Mets. The Giants did talk to Jon Lester and there might have been some interest in James Shields, but they brought opted to bring Jake Peavey back. With Matt Cain coming off of ankle surgery and some other rotation questions are the Giants looking for another starting pitcher? On the podcast last night (Friday) Mr. Fantasy and I talked everything Giants with Mark O’Neill from www.aroundthefoghorn.com you can hear what Mark thinks the Giants might do with the rest of the off-season at Sports Time Radio.
Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been suspended for two games, without pay, for slew-footing New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard during their game in Boston on Thursday night. I’m wondering if you had the same question I did; what is slew footing? Here is the NHL definition of slew footing. A dangerous play where a player comes from behind an opposing skater and trips the player unexpectedly by dragging the skate so the victim falls to the ice and quite often hits his head or lands hard due to the sneaky nature of the crime. I’ve seen it done before on the ice, but didn’t know what it was called. It is however considered one of the dirtiest cheap shots a hockey player can do, particularly due to the unexpected sneaky nature of the infraction. Match penalties can be assessed by the referee when a player deliberately takes these kinds of penalties. However, sometimes players can commit the foul by accident when skating up behind a player and attempting to body check them. Even the best players in the game get accused of slew footing; Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby for example in 2009 and 2010 in separate incidents. Although it is considered a severe penalty, there is often debate when slew footing penalties are examined for further suspension. Besides numerous small suspensions, a severe injury or long suspension is rarely seen.
Tomorrow we find out who’s going to the Super Bowl. I had the Seattle Seahawks facing the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of the season; so I guess you know who I’m picking to win tomorrow’s games. I’ve been trying to get Mr. Fantasy and Dan the Man to join me on the Colts bandwagon, but it looks like I don’t have any takers. I have Dan the Man’s picks and he likes New England while Mr. Fantasy hasn’t officially made his picks I believe he’ll go with the Patriots to win as well. I’m still waiting for Schaumburg Stu’s picks for Sunday; so maybe he’ll be the one to join me on that Colts bandwagon.
So how was your week?