We started the trend back in October prior to the 2012 ALDS, and Athletics Nation is back for more. Christy Jenstad, a.k.a. baseballgirl, answered five questions we have about the 2013 Oakland A's.
1. I'll start with the obvious: what the heck is going on out there? The A's lead the majors in almost every important offensive statistic out there. Any chance this power surge is for real?
Of course! Everyone knows that the A's are going 160-2 this year. (I kid, I kid).
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, you're never as good as you seem during a winning streak, and you're never as bad as you seem during a losing one. Trust me, as excited as A's fans are in this 8-game winning streak (and trust me, this is the most fun A's fans have had in April possibly ever; the A's traditionally start the season in the cellar and take months to emerge), no one has forgotten games 1 and 2 of the season, when the Mariners' best pitchers absolutely carved up the A's lineup in short order. Not to be mean to Joe Blanton or anything, but the A's haven't faced a really good pitcher since (and yes, I am intentionally slighting C.J. Wilson). And I don't think playing Seattle's 3/4 pitchers, Houston in general, or the Angels' bullpen really counts as an offensive power surge. I'll get back to you when the A's play, say, the Tigers.
2. Considering he turns 40 in May, how much longer can Bartolo Colon remain an effective starter?
Wow, am I the wrong person to answer that question. Full disclosure: I am completely against the A's re-signing of Colon, but I'll answer the question you asked, instead of the one you didn't. I'd be surprised if Colon was an effective starter this year. His one start against Houston didn't count for me; as I'm pretty sure I could have struck out two Astros' batters. Without outside help, I'm not sure Colon can maintain his innings, velocity, and effectiveness over the season, and with Dan Straily waiting in the wings, I can't imagine the leash will be too terribly long.
3. Which newcomer (Jed Lowrie, John Jaso, Chris Young, or someone else) will have the biggest impact this season?
Jed Lowrie is already a huge fan favorite; in his first 10 games with the A's, he only racked up sixteen hits, including five double and three homeruns. Fans like that. Also, John Jaso has it made; we aren't used to any production out of the catcher position, so his pinch-hit three-run homerun against the Angels this week pretty much cemented him in Oakland lore. After a heart-stopping injury scare this weekend as we were sure we had lost Reddick for the year, it was sure nice to replace him for a few days with someone like Young. Granted, his defense in right field has been shaky at best; he's a centerfielder, but I'll take his bat in the lineup. Also, Chris Resop has made a big impression out of the 'pen in this early going.
4. The A's excellent bullpen was a key to their late run last year. How has that unit looked so far this season?
Everything about the A's has looked amazing so far this season, except Yoenis Cespedes' batting average, and Josh Reddick's wrist/arm. Oh, and kind of the starting pitching. But the bullpen has, for the most part, been lights out. Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour anchor the back end, and Resop, Jerry Blevins, and Evan Scribner have all been solid so far this year. The only one to struggle early has been Pat Neshek.
5. What is the likelihood that Josh Reddick keeps that crazy beard all season?
Unfortunately, highly likely. How he can see the ball with that rug on his face, I have no idea, but it's here to stay. As I'm sure you know, he's in a ‘beard-off’ challenge with WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan. [Ed.: we didn't, but we do now] We can only hope that Bryan shaves. And I think I speak for everyone when I say that.