Somewhere, in some back room of the Oakland A’s clubhouse the following conversation goes on…
Bob Geren (to Curt Young): Curt, what’s our record?
Young: 60 and 71 coach.
Bob: How’d we ever win 71? Look, it’s a simple game. You take pitches, you walk a lot, and you get phenomenal pitching out of guys who should be taking Sociology 101 and their second English course.
Okay, so maybe that’s not how it goes on out in the Bay area but the season has been completely swept under the rug by a second half tanking the likes the crew of the Titanic never saw. There are a few things that have combined to help out this diver toward the cellar (thank Mitch for the Mariners). To find out what this A’s fan thinks contributed to the delinquency of a major league baseball team, hit the jump.
1) Trading away some top notch talent. Look, I’m starting off with this one but I don’t think by any means it’s the reason the A’s have ended up looking at a 19.5 game deficit. Yes, they traded Gaudin and Blanton away to the Cubs for a host of middle achievers (thus far). But does anyone really think those two guys would have kept a team that is 20 games back in the playoff hunt? Hardly.
The A’s don’t have any significant power threats to speak of. Jack Cust has 22 right now and only two other players have double digits (12 apiece for Crosby and Brown). Let me reiterate that. After 131 games, only 3 players on the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team have more than 10 home runs. Simply amazing that they were able to string enough hits together to stay close in the first half. As of today, the A’s are 3rd in the AL and 5th overall in the Bigs in ERA. So I don’t think the trade of two players killed our season. It just didn’t help.
2) Injuries. This is a broken record for every A fan the last few years, but injuries have again been absolutely ludicrous (no, not Luda) this year. The A’s have used the Disabled List this year a franchise record 23 times. Think about that for a second. Major League teams have 25 man active rosters. This means that by the time the season is over it is very likely the A’s will have had an entire roster full of players on the DL throughout the season.
The injuries to Chavez, Big Frank, and Mike Sweeney are what killed the team this year. The pitchers have been on and off the DL all year, but the staff is good enough to cover for them. When Frank and Mike both went to the DL within 1 day of one another the team was left without a single threat from the right handed side of the plate. I don’t take anything away from Bobby Crosby. He’s a fine player and a personal favorite of mine for the way he handles himself and the game. But Crosby is hitting under .250, has struck out twice as many times as he’s walked, and has only 7 home runs while playing in the third most games of anyone on the team this year. Speaking of right handed bats, can someone tell me why our 24 year old catcher has played more games than anyone this year? Give the guy a break and save him for a season that matters.
Chavez going down was no big surprise to anyone but it hurt a lot. Eric is a great clubhouse guy on top of the Gold Glove defense he provides down at third. After losing Swisher to offseason deals the A’s didn’t need to lose any more of their energy guys and Chavez was one of them this year. How import is Chavie to this team? Extrapolate his stats from this year as if he’d played as many games as his teammates and he’d lead the club in doubles and RBIs. While not helping in the home run totals (I think he would have put up more than the 11 that projects in this case in a full season), that’s the exact production that the team has needed this year. Someone to score runners once they’re on.
3) Character. No, I’m not questioning how good the young men out in Oakland are this year, I’m questioning why there aren’t more crazy bastards out in the clubhouse anymore. You used to have rock star (in his own mind) Barry Zito, Johnny Damon’s crazy ass, Bobby Kielty’s hair, and Swish just shipped out this year leaving the cupboard somewhat lacking in crazy. I mean this is the team that bred Eric James Byrnes (something the rest of the world will never let the orginization forget). What the Hell? Where have all the loons gone in Oakland? At this point I’m hoping they’ll draft D L J (Dee! Ell! Jay!) with their final pick next year. That’d ratchet the crazy up a notch.
Okay, I’m out of reasons for the A’s sucking this year. Actually, I’m not, but that’s all I really feel like going into depth about. It’s been a long season and one Hell of a year to choose to try to blog extensively about. At this point my 67 and 95 prediction may be a bit of a stretch but with the slumps this team has been known to indulge in can anyone really say 7 and 24 to finish is impossible? Stay tuned for the next few weeks as I’ll help the A’s limp off into another off season. Until then, enjoy the games, enjoy some brews, and most importantly, if you see a man riding a 10-speed on an 11th floor balcony at 4:30 in the morning e-mail me pronto.