Athletics camp report: Likes, dislikes

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

PHOENIX -- What I like, and don't like, about the Athletics:

Likes:

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Few players in the game are more enjoyable to watch than Yoenis Cespedes. And there's every reason to believe that the 27-year-old Cuban will be even better (and even more fun to watch) in his second big-league season.

The A's are never going to come close to matching the Angels or even the Rangers in payroll, but general manager Billy Beane spent the winter showing that he will try to build on last year's success. Beane made three significant trades, and in each of the three he took on the player making more money and gave up prospects.

The deals left the A's with more depth than they had at the beginning of last season. Injuries and/or poor performance may not be as tough to overcome as it was last year, when the A's probably should have been buried by the All-Star break.

The A's have fun, and it shows. Manager Bob Melvin and his staff have created a comfortable environment for their players, and that's no doubt part of the reason why the A's were able to do what they did last year.

The young rotation was effective last year, and all those guys figure to benefit from the year's experience.

Dislikes:

As long as the A's are stuck in the ugly and outdated Coliseum, they're never going to be able to keep stars long-term. And until someone in baseball figures out a way to solve the San Jose problem with the Giants, it seems that the A's will be stuck in the ugly and outdated Coliseum.

As I wrote in the camp report, Jonny Gomes thinks the A's will be fine as long as Bob Melvin is still the manager. But Gomes and Brandon Inge were a big part of the A's personality last summer, and now both are gone.

To believe in the A's, you basically have to believe that those young starting pitchers will be able to repeat or build on last year. They're talented, so it's not impossible, but history shows that pitchers -- and especially young pitchers -- can hit a few bumps along the way.

While the A's have plenty of outfielders, there were concerns this spring almost all around the infield. Hiroyuki Nakajima, the shortstop the A's signed as a free agent out of Japan, got off to a particularly slow start, so much so that there was some thought Jed Lowrie could end up with the job. But the A's also had a concern at second base, where Scott Sizemore is coming back after missing a full season because of injury.

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