Four of the most beautiful words in the English language! Spring Training is off and running today, with the A's pitching and catching staffs reporting to Phoenix, Arizona, in an attempt to regain the playoffs after two promising but ultimately frustrating seasons. This year, after the acquisitions of Frank Thomas, Milton Bradley and Esteban Loaiza during the winter months, many are picking the A's to do very well this season, challenging the LA Angels for first place.
The A's have drawn national attention and praise for their thrifty road to success, and the utilization of statistics over physical appearance to determine a player's value. The "Moneyball" phenomenon is much bandied about and often not understood, as those who read only the headlines could assume players with OBP and HRs are the only targets, when instead, the A's, using similar strategies to those in the investment community, have learned to buy low and sell high, and look for players whose worth is undervalued. As a result, when one group of teams zigs, the A's zag. In fact, while the A's were long considered a defensive joke, their fielding statistics and ability are among the leaders in the league, on top of their well-known pitching prowess and consistent hitting, especially with the off-season acquisitions.
This will surely be a fun season. The A's are expected to play very well, and I intend to be there as often as I can. We've got partial season tickets, spring training tickets, and a full-time season pass to Athletics Nation, so if you're not on the bandwagon, now is the time to jump on, for the A's are going places.
OaklandAthletics.com: A's Plan to be Leaders in Arms Race
Athletics Nation: Spring Hopes Eternal, As Pitchers and Catchers Report