Tonight, with the Tigers battling the playoff hopes of the Chicago White Sox, we wind down the Major League Baseball season. Oh, what a season it was. Or wasn’t, depending upon your favorite team. For the home crew here, only 2SL’s Cubbies will be playing after tonight. SmoothRon’s Mets folded down the stretch, TGC’s Tigers fell off from their top form of the last couple of years, and my A’s had the season everyone expected (although I maintain they outperformed in every facet of the game). Every one of those teams have the reasons they ended up where they did, but this last entry in The Exodus will concentrate on the ball club from out West.
March/April: The season started off even further West (or East, depending on your perspective) than usual this year as the A’s battled the Red Sox in a two game set overseas. Splitting that opening series was great for the young guys in the organization and it showed as the boys were 16-11 for April. Good pitching and timely hitting got the A’s through April with a solid record. The hits weren’t big, but everyone was stringing hits together and putting up plenty of runs to cover the 3.5 runs per game the defense was allowing. It wasn’t a sign of things to come in May though.
May: May began well but ended up with a 12-15 record to show, leaving the A’s at 29-27 for the season. The pitching was still solid but the drop off in the offense’s ability to put up runs was evident. The A’s were shut out in 4 of their 27 games in May. No Big League team should have a month like that.
June/July: June was a good month for the A’s and July started out looking like this team could actually compete. Then came the All-Star break. Oakland’s June/early July record was 22-17, not stellar, but something you can work with starting the second half. Their post-All Star break record in July was 2-10. This was just a sign of things to come for the young guys.
August: As it started heating up in August the A’s got cold. Real cold. I mean as cold as ice. Ready to sacrifice. Okay, enough of that, but seriously the A’s flat out stunk in August. Dropping their first 7 games, Oakland would go on to finish 10-20 for the month. Pathetic. The traditional second half run would never come to fruition this year as the team battled injuries to key players and the mid season trade of Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin seemed to close the door on the season. The loss of talent hurt but it seemed like that trade signaled to the young guys on the team that the front office was reinforcing their pre-season mantra of rebuilding year. It’s hard to go out every day thinking you’ve got a chance when the higher-ups are sending the opposite signals. I still stand behind Beane in most (all?) trade deals because he’s got a great track record, but it was still a tough hand for this young team to be dealt.
September: As the season wound down in September the A’s ended up 12-12. That’s about right. Oakland was limping through the end of the season, figuratively and literally. Injuries continued to mount up as the A’s surpassed last year’s club record for DL trips. It still irks me that the organization sees the injury problem, makes an effort by firing the strength and conditioning coach, and then drops the ball by hiring his former assistant. If there’s one thing you can learn about coaching in any sport it’s that assistants and head coaches run the ship the same way 99% of the time. You want to make a move to shore up an area of your club where you’ve had troubles and you immediately put someone in place who will do the same things? C’mon.
October: Yeah right.
Overall, you can’t be too dissapointed in a team that finishes 1/2 a game back of where they did the year before when they had no expectations coming in. I still maintain that if we make up that extra game we’d have the same record as the previous year. I saw a lot of good things this year. Duchscherer becoming the staff ace (though injuries worry me again) was brilliant. Cust had another decent power and walks year (with his approach you just have to take the strikeouts). Carlos Gonzalez looked great for a while when he came up and Ryan Sweeney may have cemented his place in the outfield for years to come. What can be said about Ziggy that hasn’t been said already? Absolutely phenomenal year for a great young kid.
But now it’s over. Fall has came and the greatest game on Earth will be played no more in Oakland until early next Spring. That’s too bad friends, but I’ll be right here next year keeping up with all the shenanigans. Until then, enjoy the games, enjoy some brews, and most importantly, if you know any way to transplant the A’s organization to the East Coast so that I can watch games at a normal hour next year, e-mail me pronto.