After years of false promises, trading away our top players for prospects, believing in Billy Beane that one day things will turn around, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible. Our rotation is one of the best in the league, featuring Cahill, Anderson, Gonzalez, Braden, and Mazzaro. The team ERA at 3.54 is the best in the American League, and 4th best in the Majors. Team WHIP at 1.26 is also 4th best in the majors. One option I've heard thrown out there was acquiring an experienced pitcher next year, and demote Mazzaro, not only to save his arm, but for injury insurance. This is not a bad idea, to have some experience, if we are serious about a playoff run.
The biggest question has been our offense. We are in the bottom half in nearly every batting statistic, including dead last in home runs. The foundation of our lineup needs some serious building, and not just patches from year to year as we have been doing. We need serious 3-4-5 hitters who can drive in runs. There has been talk to acquiring Carl Crawford in the off-season, but personally I don't think he is the answer. He's a fast guy who can get on base and get home, but he is more of a supplement to a primary hitter in the lineup. He won't drive in many runs or hit any out of the park. If we pair him with a power guy like Adam Dunn, then we're in business. The man has wheels though, he fits our small ball scheme perfectly.
As for now, we are 8 games back of Texas for the AL West. There are 39 games left in the season, 7 against Texas and 6 against Anaheim. Last week Texas lost 5 games, and this week they get the twins, who have been very hot this month. We get cleveland, before we start a series with Texas. This should give us momentum. This week should determine where we go from this point as a team, for the rest of the season.
We have been the laughing stock of the NFL for most of the decade. But the atmosphere is finally changing. The biggest change has been new QB Jason Campbell. He's shown alot of intelligence on the field in making the right decisions. He moves well in the pocket to avoid the sack. He's very accurate on his short to mid range passes. My concern is his deep ball, I have yet to see a clean deep ball from Campbell, caught for a large gain. I have much confidence in Campbell though, I think he is someone we can put our faith in, someone we haven't had since Gannon. Also on the offensive side, the offense line has finally been coming into place, things aren't great, but they aren't bad either. Zach Miller has been a beast on the field. Now with a legitimate passer, he will come out onto the national scene as one of the premiere tight ends in the game. The offense will be exciting this year to watch, a bunch of guys who seem like they will play as a unit, and not just 'a bunch of guys.'
On the defensive side of the ball, we have 2 of our top draft picks Houston and McClain. McClain played under Nick Saban at Alabama, a defensive linebacker specialist. McClain is impressing the coaches at training camp, he should quickly rise as a leader on the defensive side by the end of this year, and he understands that role. The Defensive line looks exciting this year. Houston has already been making an impact in pre-season. Wimbley had a career game with 4 sacks in the first half against the bears. Tommy Kelly looks like he lost alot of weight, as he looks like he's taking his job seriously now. But in my opinion one of the biggest changes is losing defensive coordinator Ryan. This defense should have a completely new attitude of playing solid and aggressive.
Oakland was the 5th worst team in Offensive time of possession, that means the defense was always on the field. It was obvious from watching games that the defense was able to hold their own only for so long. But they couldn't hold both the defense and the offense up. It was an impossible situation. Yet under these circumstances the still kept us in games. We had 5 wins in 2009. Four of our loses were by a touchdown or less.
This year there is a change, this isn't the same patched up Raider team of the past. We have been trying for changes that give us instant success. But finally we have a young team who want to do something with this team. 2010 will be the turnaround year for the Raiders, how drastically we turn we will have to see.