The Oaklanders visit town for games 4, 5 and 6. The team made some low-profile upgrades over the winter and have a solid club. Here's an abbreviated series preview as we just figured out who's writing on which day and I'm trying to do this from work.
The A's have a mostly new outfield, having traded for Josh Willingham and David DeJesus over the off-season. The pair will provide better offense around Coco Crisp than Gabe Gross, Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney did last year.
In the infield, the thing that sticks out most is the defense. Daric Barton, Mark Ellis, Cliff Pennington and Kevin Kouzmanoff should make for one of the best infield defensive corps' in baseball, though their offense as a whole won't be anything to write home about.
The Jays get the pleasure of skipping Brett Anderson in this series. Here are the match-ups:
Tuesday - Brandon McCarthy vs. Jo-Jo Reyes
McCarthy hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009, and has never fulfilled the promise many thought he had coming up with the White Sox. Reyes is a fill-in starter while Brandon Morrow heals, but his great spring has people at least more excited than they were for Victor Zambrano and John Thomson.
Wednesday - Dallas Braden vs. Jesse Litsch
Braden is your typical crafty lefty, not striking many guys out but consistently finishing with above-average ERAs thanks to an abject refusal to walk anyone and the generous dimensions of the Coliseum. Last year he reached the pinnacle of craftiness, crafting 27 straight crafty outs in a single crafty game.Litsch is now a year removed from surgery and the Mikes Wilner of the world think that means he's finally rounding into form. Let's hope so, because he sucked last year.
Thursday - TBD (Trevor Cahill?) vs. Ricky Romero
Getaway day sees a matchup of opening day starters. (Maybe.) Cahill was chosen over arguably better choices Braden (the elder statesman and aforementioned perfect-game-thrower) and Anderson (the better pitcher). Cahill did have a nice year in 2010, going 18-8 with a sub-3 ERA, but that .237 BABIP helped a bit. He's a groundballer who doesn't strike a ton of guys out, but he's young and could take another step forward this year. Romero will look to follow up his excellent debut.
First pitch 7:07 tonight.