September 22, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Yeonis Cespedes (52) rounds third base after hitting a solo home run off New York Yankees pitcher Freddy Garcia (36) as Garcia reacts during the thirteenth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

American League West Preview: Oakland Athletics

We continue our look around the American League West today, with a quick look at the Oakland Athletics. After winning the West in each of the last two seasons, the A’s made several moves this offseason in an attempt to claim the title for the third year in a row. Jose Benitez, the editor of Swingin’ A’s, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1.       What move this offseason will make the biggest difference for the A’s in 2014?

The biggest offseason move that will impact the team will definitely be Scott Kazmir. Bartolo Colon left a big hole to fill, and the move with the most impact was definitely going to be who the A’s decided to bring in to fill in his spot. I think Kazmir will do great with the A’s, as well as fill in as a leader in the rotation. He is also an inspiration to the younger guys, showing them that you can get up from even the worst low points of your career.

2.       What free agent do you wish the A’s had signed?

Ideally, I wish the A’s would have signed Masahiro Tanaka. Having someone like that would catapult the A’s into the national spotlight, and with a great pitcher like that, they would only look that much better. Realistically, however, I think Billy Beane did an amazing job on an already amazing team and I feel we didn’t really need another free agent. Beane left no stone unturned.

3.       Who is the biggest key to your the A’s success this year?

I believe the biggest factor the A’s success this season is going to be Yoenis Cespedes. He did an outstanding job in the ALDS helping the A’s get their two wins. He did all he could do, and if the whole team can do just a little bit better in October, I believe that Cespedes can lead the team to a World Series title.

4.       What are your expectations for the A’s in 2014?

My expectations for the Oakland A’s this season are even bigger than last year’s. I expect them to win the division, since they have put most of their attention on pitching. It will be a closer race, but I think they come out on top again. My expectations are that they at least get past the ALDS this year, potentially into the World Series.

Our thanks once again to Jose for answering these questions. Tomorrow, we will continue with a look at the Seattle Mariners.

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