Resurgence in Oakland?

First off, the title you are reading is correct, the Oakland Athletics are playing some of their best baseball since 2006. After trading away their superstars for prospects this offseason, they have hit their stride midway through the season, and thus find themselves half a game out of the wild card as of today.

A’s win 9-4 in Minnesota

Before we get into the A’s upcoming schedule, we have to look at how the A’s have gone from the cellar to some contention. Since June 12, which coincides with the day the A’s called up Brandon Moss, they have been an impressive 20-8. What is more impressive is that they have been ‘Bash Brothers’ like hitting homeruns at a rate we haven’t seen in some time. Even more impressive is the fact that this is the same team that lost 9 straight games in late May and early June of this season.

Over the past weekend in a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the first since 2000, they bashed 9 homeruns and 8 of which came in the last 2 games. Brandon Moss’ June 12th call-up is the same day the A’s won the first game of this impressive 20-8 run. Along with Moss being called up, Chris Carter was called up June 29th and that platoon has been doing wonders for the A’s. Moss has hit .273 with a .333 OBP (On Base Percentage) and is slugging .714. Carter on the other hand hasn’t been any slouch either, mashing 5 homeruns in 9 games, all while sporting an impressive .346/.452/.962 line in just 26 at-bats. While this may not seem like much because it is such a taste of the big leagues, it is crucial to Carter’s success that he get off to a hot start. The last few times he has been called up have been rough, thus hurting his confidence and affecting his play. Now that he has come confidence and success at the big league level. This platoon has done wonders for a team which has struggled with the likes of Daric Barton, Kila Ka’aihue, and others at first this year. Along with a healthy Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick’s consistency, this team has been cranking out some hefty power numbers and could do some damage over the next 2 months. Along with the statistically the league’s best pitching staff, the Oakland A’s have put themselves in a position to succeed.

The moves that they made this offseason; trading away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, and Ryan Sweeney have brought back a hefty return. While not the big marquee superstar names we had maybe hoped for, they have replaced Cahill and Gonzalez with Milone and Parker. Cahill and Gonzalez, while pitching for Arizona and Washington respectively, have combined for 19 wins, and a 3.33 ERA in 221.2 innings. This is very impressive, especially when you look at the fact that Gonzalez has done more than Cahill, sporting a 12-4 record with a 2.93 ERA. But to me which is more impressive is the fact is that the A’s have gotten production out of Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, 2 of the pitchers acquired in each deal, and out of the 2 of them, have gotten 15 wins, a 3.38 ERA in 205 innings, along with a few other players who have sported key fill in roles for the Athletics this year and many more waiting in the wings in the minors. A few of those names, Colin Cowgill and Derek Norris have seen success with the big league club after starting the season in the minors, just like Jarrod Parker. The future for this club is bright, and maybe just maybe they might not have sell off all their assets for prospects and can field a playoff contender. And as Jonah Keri wrote on Grantland yesterday,  “Keep playing this well, and it’ll become nearly impossible for Oakland to trade veterans for prospects as they eye a new ballpark years down the road. If anything, they might have to (gasp) … go for it.”

Here is the biggest issue that lies with this club in the near future. Starting today, the A’s endure a 25 game stretch, which is sure to test the resolve and drive of this club. They will eventually play every contender in the American League before it is over on August 12th and if this team can make it through above .500, then we will know this team is for real. This grueling stretch includes 2 against the Texas Rangers and 4 against the New York Yankees at home this week. Next they go on the road for 3 and 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles respectively. Next the A’s return home for a 10 game home stand which includes 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays who are sure to have Evan Longoria back by then, 4 against the Toronto Blue Jays and then 3 against their rivals to the south the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They then end this tough stretch with 3 games in Chicago against the White Sox.

For any team fighting for a playoff spot, a rough stretch against the league’s playoff contenders would be tough to overcome, but for a young team like the A’s, this will no doubt test their resolve. I have faith in Bob Melvin as the manager of this squad that he will have this team ready for the challenge. Can this team win 13 of the 25 games coming up? This will be an important time for the team and will determine whether or not they become sellers at the deadline or not. Who knows what will happen, but I can tell you that I am excited for the stretch run and what lies ahead for this youthful team. My expectations for this season were about 70-75 wins, now I can say that if they get to 80 this season, things could be looking up in Oakland!

  1. I’m going tonight with my Giants World Series cap. I’ll be booing the Rangers extra loud.

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