I thought I'd post this separately, since I like jc3's premise and didn't want to muddy up his thread. But I thought it would be interesting to turn the questions around and see what the A's and Sox fans think about their respective teams. For those who don't recall, here are the original questions put forth by jc3:
- Are the Red Sox OK with their team the way it is today, especially at SS and CF? Are they a favorite to make the playoffs?
- Are the Red Sox currently at a disadvantage in trade talks?
- Two-part Joe Blanton question:
b. What is his ceiling?
- Is Barry Zito a "shutdown" pitcher?
- Is Oakland currently a better team than Anaheim (or whatever they are called!)?
My answers (as a Sox fan):
1. Are the Sox ideally situated for the upcoming season? No, of course not. But are they okay as things stand, I think so. I think CF is more problemmatic than SS. In house, the Sox have reasonable stopgaps with Cora (who isn't overly inspiring) and especially Pedroia. Personally, I'd like to see Pedroia get a shot at the SS job in spring training. He's held his own (and more) at every level until getting hit by a pitch in AAA. I know that some scouts worry about his range and arm at short, but if David Eckstein can play there, I think Pedroia deserves the benefit of the doubt. CF, as I said, is more of an issue. There really don't seem to be too many in house options. Stern could be put there, but I really think he needs more time in the minors to get ready. Reed still seems to be a possibility through a trade, but it appears that the Sox will be unwilling to part with Lester or Papelbon, so I doubt anything will come of that.
Are the Sox a favorite to make the playoffs? Talk about a loaded question. I'd have to say "no" if for no other reason than I think the Yankees will win the East (can't really pick against them until they lose), and the Wild Card is going to be hotly contested by the Sox, A's/Angels runner-up, and possibly the Blue Jays (not to mention any other surprise teams that rise up this year). And how can you really pick a WC "favorite"? But I do like their pitching situation quite a bit. I think they've upgraded their rotation and the pen over last year, though the health of the starters will certainly be a concern.
2. I don't really think the Sox are at a disadvantage in trade talks. True, many teams have likely increased their trade demands to the Sox, but I think the Sox are only at a disadvantage if they feel the must make a trade with another team. That hasn't been the case thus far this offseason, and I see no reason that it would change. Until the Sox make a desparation trade, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I think they've earned it (from my point of view) these last few years.