"It's easy, I know, for a manager to sound optimistic in the spring," A's boss Jackie Moore said almost apologetically, "but I'll be honest with you. I'm really excited this time around." Moore needn't have been so circumspect. He was, in fact, merely echoing the words of his own boss, general manager Sandy Alderson, who had remarked earlier the same day while watching his new leftfielder, Jose Canseco, swat balls into the stratosphere, "We've got an exciting team. We've got power and people who can throw hard, and that always leads to excitement."
This is an article from the April 14, 1986 issue
Much of that excitement should come from the team's new pitcher, Joaquin Andujar, a man who both throws and talks hard. Curiously enough, the tempestuous former Cardinal could be a steadying influence on some of the A's younger flamethrowers, notably his Dominican countryman Jose Rijo, a 20-year-old who seems finally to have gained mastery of his 93-mile-an-hour fastball. Pitching was scarcely the A's strong suit a year ago. The team ERA was a dispiriting 4.41, and the big winner was Chris Codiroli, who was 14-14. But Moore is confident that youngsters like Rijo and Tim Birtsas will mature to form, along with veterans Andujar and Codiroli and recent acquisition Moose Haas, a solid line of starters. The bullpen is already solid with Jay Howell, injured much of the spring, and Steve Ontiveros as the mop-up men.
The A's unquestionably have power. In Canseco, they feel they have a new Mantle. They already have an old Dave Kingman, who, despite recurrent grumpiness, has hit 65 homers for Oakland in the past two seasons. The first base platoon of Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochte had a total of 28 homers and 112 RBIs, and Mike Davis, a brilliant defensive player in rightfield, came offensively alive last year with 24 homers and 82 RBIs. Veterans Dwayne Murphy, when he's not striking out (123 times in '85), and Carney Lansford, when he's not on the disabled list, are good for another 20 homers apiece. Defensively, the A's are stronger behind the plate with Mickey Tettleton than they were with Mike Heath, and shortstop Alfredo Griffin and centerfielder Murphy both won Gold Gloves.
Moore needn't apologize. The A's will be exciting. They could also be the surprise team of the league.
THE ELIAS ANALYST:
Oakland was 36-30 with Tettleton catching, 40-54 with Mike Heath.
A's were 77-85 in both '84 and '85, just .475 to you, but the best teams Bruce has been on.
No. 2 hitter over the last month, he batted .286 with 16 RBls in 27 games.
Has not walked twice In the same game since Aug. 4, 1983.
His rate of 1.29 assists per nine innings was dreadful; the AL average for 3B was 2.04.
You thought Eddie Gaedel was good? Murphy pinch-hit four times in '85 and had four walks.
Held AL HR lead until May 25, but cooled off after he was moved up from 7th spot in order.
His HRs not exactly an inspiration: Oakland went 13-16 in games in which he homered.
Has never allowed a grand-slam homer in 106 bases-loaded situations in the majors.
Has a career record of 18-9 in day games, 15-23 in night games.
Led AL with an average of 1.39 walks per nine innings.
His opponents' career BA of .342 leading off innings is highest among active pitchers.
Opponents hit only .139 with runners on base and two outs.