Like so many other years, last year’s Oakland A’s team was built for the AL West crown. They had a couple of young pitchers in Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson anchoring a veteran rotation that included former All-Star Justin Ducscherer, Dallas Braden and Ben Sheets. Eric Chavez was healthy, Kevin Kouzmanoff was on board, Daric Barton and Ryan Sweeney were coming into their own as well. The A’s were made for on-base percentage and then the big bomb.
Well, the only big bombs on the team were Ben Sheets, Eric Chavez and Kevin Kouzmanoff. While we did see the emergence of Trevor Cahill, the A’s were out of the race by the All-Star break. So the second half of the season was a complete shift of team concept. The A’s brought up young pitchers Vin Mazarro to go along with Gonzalez, Anderson, Cahill and Braden and the young core looked solid. Then the A’s started playing small ball featuring the speed of Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp and Cliff Pennington. They were exciting and showed potential.
Fast forward to this season where Billy Beane focused on hitting to go with his young pitching core. But pitching and defense were still the focus. Once again, this season did not go as planned. Newcomer Hideki Matsui looked like shades of Jack Cust/Jason Giambi V2/ and Gabe Gross put together. David DeJesus (traded for Vin Mazarro in the offseason) looked like a bust and Rajai Davis was traded to Toronto.
But the pitching staff looked very strong – even with injuries to Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden… that is until the hitting completely let them down and the A’s were once again out of it by the All-Star break.
Now it seems the A’s are changing formulas again and have somehow found their hitting stroke just as the pitching is completely breaking down. And now the A’s will go into the offseason without an identity once again.
As much as I love Billy Beane, I still can’t help but wonder if he is still the best guy for the A’s. Could the front office use an identity change?