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 »This Week in History
Oakland Athletics

  Inside Pitch | Notes, Quotes | Roster Report | Player News

The Athletics have a new slogan this season: "Rooted in Oakland."

Note the absence of the letter "u" as in "Routed in Oakland."

That would be last year's mantra.

Actually, the A's were pretty much routed everywhere last season. They lost 93 games, just the second time in the past 19 years they fell more than 88 times topped only by the 94 defeats they took in 2015.

They fielded sloppily (third worst in the American League), pitched poorly (second worst) and hit worst of all (dead last) last season.

And how did they respond? By jettisoning their most potent hitter, Danny Valencia, to the Seattle Mariners for you guessed it a minor league prospect.

In fact, you might actually recognize the A's this season, which often isn't the case on Opening Day.

However, for a team coming off a 93-loss season, familiarity is not necessarily a good thing.

The projected rotation of Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara did a majority of the pitching before tens of thousands of empty seats in meaningless August and September games at the Coliseum last season.

And the most recognizable A's pitcher of all, ace Sonny Gray, returns ... well, when his lat strain will allow.

Meanwhile, a majority of the batting order Stephen Vogt, Ryon Healy, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien and Yonder Alonso won't need an introduction to A's fans this season, either.

So, a last-place team is banking its improvement on a glorified DH/pinch hitter in right field (Matt Joyce), a one-hit World Series wonder (Rajai Davis), a third baseman no longer good enough to play for the Minnesota Twins (Trevor Plouffe) and a banished relief pitcher from across the San Francisco Bay (Santiago Casilla).

Things are so bleak in Oakland this spring, manager Bob Melvin admitted during camp that the club's primary goal this season was to escape last place.

With Gray already hurt, Valencia gone and arguably the worst defense in baseball, that is mighty pie-in-the-sky stuff.

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