While hope may spring eternal on Opening Day for most MLB franchises, in the learned mind of Fox Sports’ Tracy Ringolsby, last place finishes in 2010 for Kansas City, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington and San Diego are foregone conclusions.  And don’t forget the Oakland A’s, who despite a fair bit of regular season success in the 2000’s, are accused by The Man In The Cowboy Hat of having “got caught up in the hype about Moneyball.”

When the quartet of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Rich Harden keyed four consecutive division titles in the first four years of the century, but failed to advance past the first round of the postseason, changes were made. But strong pitching was still a key when the A™s return to the AL West title in 2006 and advanced to the ALCS behind a rotation build around Zito, Harden and the additions of Dan Haren and Joe Blanton.

None of those starting pitchers, however, remain. And the A™s have fallen on hard times, searching for an identity, changing lanes consistently. Figure this out. Two years ago they dealt Dan Haren to Arizona for a package of young players that was built around outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. A year later, they dealt Gonzalez, closer Huston Street and lefty Greg Smith to the Rockies for outfielder Matt Holliday. And then, last July, they dealt Holliday to St. Louis for a package of prospects supposedly built around third baseman Brett Wallace, who the A™s then dealt to Toronto this off-season for another prospect, outfielder Michael Taylor.

Now they find themselves the only member of the four-team AL West without hope for the coming season.