A’s spring training preview: All eyes on Kyler Murray, Jesus Luzardo

MESA, Ariz. — When the A’s gather at Hohokam Stadium on Monday for their first workout of the spring, they’ll be kicking off a season with something they havent had for a while: confidence.

This isn’t the hope-we-make-the-playoffs type of confidence. This is the we’ve-been-there-before type of confidence.

The A’s are coming off a season in which they not only reached the playoffs for the first time since 2014, but also went blow-for-blow with the Houston Astros, winning 97 games and earning respect.

Opposing teams no longer lick their chops when they see Oakland on the schedule. As many teams learned last year, the A’s have put together an offense that can explode at any moment. It’s an offense that scored 813 runs last season — only Boston, the Yankees and Cleveland scored more — and it has Oakland thinking this season can extend beyond the wild card game.

“I don’t think we have a target on our back, but I think people know what we’re capable of now,” pitcher Sean Manaea said. “There’s gonna be power throughout the lineup. The ultimate goal is to win a World Series and I think that’s a very real possibility.”

The Oakland bullpen ranked third in the majors in ERA last season (3.37) and although the A’s lost one good arm in Jeurys Familia, they gained one in Joakim Soria, who should adequately fill the eighth-inning role and also has closing experience.

So is there any flaw with this team? That might come in the starting rotation.

There is plenty to be excited about with the A’s, but the state of the rotation is one cause for concern. Here are five big questions for the A’s to ponder as they head to the desert.

1. Will Kyler Murray play baseball?

This doesn’t necessarily affect this upcoming season as Murray would likely spend …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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