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Inbox: Can A's keep this up all season?

Beat reporter Jane Lee answers questions from fans
MLB.com @JaneMLB

Are the A's the real deal? I hate to get my hopes up after just one month, but I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far.
-- Brandon M., Agoura Hills, Calif.

There's undoubtedly more intrigue around this team than in years past, and for good reason. But will they truly be contenders? Despite better performances of late, I still think they lack the starting pitching to seriously be in the mix -- especially with so many quality American League teams in play. I think the lineup can hang with the best of them, but it can only carry them so far when the pitching and defense -- as seen this past weekend in Houston -- aren't up to par.

Are the A's the real deal? I hate to get my hopes up after just one month, but I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far.
-- Brandon M., Agoura Hills, Calif.

There's undoubtedly more intrigue around this team than in years past, and for good reason. But will they truly be contenders? Despite better performances of late, I still think they lack the starting pitching to seriously be in the mix -- especially with so many quality American League teams in play. I think the lineup can hang with the best of them, but it can only carry them so far when the pitching and defense -- as seen this past weekend in Houston -- aren't up to par.

Could they still manage to surprise? Yes. Realistically, though, the A's will be among the contending crop in a year or two. By that time, several of their top pitching prospects should be with them, including A.J. Puk, Jesus Luzardo and James Kaprielian.

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When will Brett Anderson be reunited with Trevor Cahill? What's the point of having him in the organization if he's not going to help the big league club?
-- Jose A., San Jose

Anderson is the leading candidate to join the A's rotation this week -- either Wednesday or Friday if Oakland decides to go without a fifth starter until the latter. Either way, he remains the favorite; not only has he been pitching well, but he has an opt-out date in his Minor League contract.

Remember, though, that Anderson beginning the year at Triple-A was necessary. When the A's signed him in late March, he was still in the early stages of building up his innings. He's since had a full month to continue that process in a more conducive environment.

When can we expect Dustin Fowler to be up, if at all, with the way Mark Canha and Chad Pinder are playing?
-- Zohair T., Alameda, Calif.

Rosters are constantly changing because of injuries and other factors, so at some point, I'd expect to see Fowler based on need. In the meantime, though, Canha and Pinder deserve to keep playing so long as they keep producing. Fowler is still quite young (23 years old), and picking up more at-bats at the Triple-A level will only help his development. Fowler is swinging the bat well right now, and the A's having too many outfield options is a good problem to have.

I can't believe I'm this excited already for the season and it's only Month 2 of Athletics baseball. If Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis continue doing their thing, will they be used as trade bait or will we see them go come July?
-- Stephen G., New Orleans

Davis isn't going anywhere this season. He's under club control through 2019, and the A's have reportedly explored a one-year extension with their designated hitter to cover his final year of arbitration. Lowrie, however, will be a free agent at season's end, so it would only make sense for Oakland to move him in exchange for a decent return while they can. If the A's find themselves in contention at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, though, they could opt to hang on to Lowrie -- or hope that they don't skip a beat with Franklin Barreto. The latter is more likely.

How far away from the big leagues is Lazaro Armenteros?
-- Noises D., Las Vegas

Be patient. Armenteros is just 18 years old -- the same age as Barreto when they acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade in November 2014. Armenteros was kept under the A's close watch at extended spring camp to begin the season. He'll be on the move soon, likely to Class A Beloit, and will climb the ladder from there.

Should the A's adhere to the timeline they put in place for a new ballpark -- they would like to open doors in 2023 -- Armenteros could be among the welcoming party.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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