Thom Fain - White Elephant Weekly

Welcome to White Elephant Weekly, a recurring feature that takes a look at some of the more pressing issues facing Your Oakland Athletics, by rounding up recent news and fun facts about the Bay Area’s best ballclub.

Billy Beane’s White Elephants underwent a complete overhaul in the off-season to shore up their defensive woes, but that didn’t stop them from coming out white hot in the Cactus League. They posted the best record this spring, and manhandled the Giants to begin the Bay Bridge Series last night.

Though the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the consensus pick in the AL-West (with Seattle trailing closely), Your Oakland A’s remain grounded with that same simple virtue: The sum is greater than its parts. And that makes them the Dark Horse of the division. Unless, of course, you want to call the Rangers that — but I sure as Hell wouldn’t.

Let’s not even talk about the Rangers. They’re all out of ammunition, with nowhere to hide.

  • The Athletic’s hottest hitter is CF Billy Burns (.397), who has 31 hits and a .955 OPS in 78 at-bats. The former Nationals’ Organizational All-Star helps to make up the speediest outfield I’ve ever seen, alongside Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld, who hit an inside the park home run last night that the umpires later negated.
  • In spite of a whole clubhouse of new faces (or perhaps because of), the A’s hold the best win/loss record in MLB this Spring (22-9). They notched last night’s W behind a strong six pitched by Scott Kazmir (2-0), who has 14 K’s in 18 innings pitched.
  • The A’s have plenty of first-rate depth with their pitching situation, what with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin set to return from TJ surgery. And, Jesse Hahn (1-2) looks to make a name for himself in the Majors, while Sonny Gray (1-0) is a legit Cy Young Award contender (if he stays healthy) and Drew Pomeranz (2-2) has turned into a solid Starter.
  • With CoCo Crisp out of the lineup, Mark Canha has made a strong case for a roster spot, hitting 6 HR in Cactus League play to go with a .292 AVG and 13 RBI. The Rule-5 slugger could platoon at 1B this summer, says sabermetrics disciple Jeremy K. Foo.
  • The Moneyballers made nine transactions involving 28 players this off-season. This makes the infield infinitely better defensively, with journeyman southpaw Ike Davis joining veteran third baseman Brett Lawrie, two-time All-Star infielder Ben Zobrist, and Chicago’s former SS Marcus Semien.
  • Here’s a fun fact: The Bay Area was home to “World’s Sexiest Cheerleader”, Krazy George Henderson, who started the Stadium Wave with fellow fans for the very first time in 1981, at a sold-out Coliseum cheering on the A’s against the dreadful Yanks.

White Elephant Weekly is edited by Emily Thompson, who translates, writes, and processes archives in Seattle, WA.