In Oakland, the A's are a young and free-spirited club not shy to throw elbows with heavyweights in Texas and Los Angeles. Across the Bay, the San Francisco Giants are embarking on their second World Series title defense in three years, hoping this one turns out better than the first. The purpose of this space will be to follow both teams this year, relaying information from the clubhouse, field and press box as each team tries to follow its 2012 West Division crown with another.
This may require some flexibility from you, the reader. One week the majority of stories here will concern Tim Lincecum's attempt at a redemptive season, the Blanco-Torres left field platoon or the grinding manufacturing line that is the Giants' offense. The next it may be Brandon Moss' travails in the role of everyday first baseman, Yoenis CÃ©spedes trying to realize his full potential or the walk-off shaving cream pies in Oakland.
The good news is there's no shortage of intrigue. The Giants have built a foundation of pitching, defense and just enough hitting, parlayed it into two rings and yet are seen this year by many as chasing the deep-pocketed Dodgers. Last year they became the fourth team ever to win the World Series after hitting the fewest home runs in the majors. Will it continue to work? The A's, as is their wont, used one of the league's lowest payrolls and a fresh-faced, fluctuating roster to wrest the A.L. West from the Rangers on the season's final day in 2012. Now their division includes a new member in the Houston Astros and an Angels team that boasts perhaps the most formidable top of a lineup in baseball. Can they contend again?
These and other storylines will unfold over the next seven months, while the sport adapts to new division alignment and new schedules of interleague play, new ways of analyzing an old game and old faces on new teams, and likely bids farewell to that much-maligned fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move. Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions, comments or story ideas you might have. It should be fun to watch.
-- Matt Kawahara