So will the Athletics be competative in 2009? Absolutely.
While the Athletics struggled to muster up any offense in 2008, their pitching was actually quite good finishing fifth in team ERA (4.01). The Athletics are absolutely loaded with talented, young arms who ooze of potential and ability. If those young arms can deliver continue to progress and deliver a strong season in 2010, then the Athletics could be in a good position to compete.
However, the Athletics success in 2009 in directly related to their offense. The acquisition of Matt Holliday certainly made the Athletics offense deeper and more potent, but the acquisition of Giambi will determine how much the Athletics offense improves.
If Giambi is able to perform at his 2008 level (32 HR 96 RBI, .372 OBP), then teams will not have the ability to pitch around Matt Holliday. If Holliday gets pitches to hit, this lineup could become explosive and dangerous. The Athletics lineup with Giambi, Holliday, and Cust should have a very high OBP and hit lots of home runs.
However, if Giambi reverts back to his old 2007 form (14 HR 40 RBI, .356 OBP), then the Athletics lineup could go from potent to average very quickly.
But the point is this, there is no reason why the Athletics should not compete for a division crown in the AL West. The Mariners and Rangers still suck and the once powerful Angels now appear to be somewhat vulnerable. The Angels have lost Mark Teixeira and Garret Anderson to free agency and do not have a lineup comparable to the top teams in the American League.
Sure the Angels still have a great pitching staff, but it's hard to win games when you only put up two or three runs per game. The Angels offense will not be terrible, but I fear that unless they add another bat, they will be wildly inconsistent.
So mark this one down as another great signing by Billy Beane. This low risk signing will help the Athletics compete in 2009 and will not hinder their future plans at all.
Hopefully Giambi will avoid the 'roids this time around in Oakland.