It’s been a rather lackluster 2011 season for the Oakland Athletics, and many fans should be embracing the inevitable fire sale that will occur at some point this month, as the MLB trade deadline is July 31.
Entering the season with high-hopes, the A’s subpar first-half has put any hopes for a post-season birth in 2011 to rest. The Athletics have been disappointing to watch offensively, as they will enter Friday’s contest against the Angels with an anemic offense that ranks 28th in batting average (.233), 29th in on-base percentage (.299) and 28th in runs (315).
A’s general manager Billy Beane tried to upgrade the offense this past winter, but his attempts haven’t gotten this team very far. Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus now look like trading chips rather than offensive catalysts for the second-half.
It remains to be seen what Oakland will get back in exchange for the services of a Matsui or a Willingham, but my guess is that it won’t be too much. Matsui, 37, hasn’t produced much offensively this season, as he’s hitting just .209 with 6 HR and 34 RBIs.
Last year, Matsui managed to hit .274 with 21 HR and 84 RBIs while with the Angels. Willingham, meanwhile, is suffering through his worst major-league season, but still leads the A’s in homers (11) and RBIs (44). On the season, Willingham is hitting .241/.311/.424.
Willingham does represent the A’s biggest trade chip, but the team could also deal one of their veteran relievers like Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes to contending teams looking for bullpen help.
Balfour has been very solid for Oakland this year, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.34 ERA in 35 appearances (34.2 innings). Fuentes, however, hasn’t been as sharp, posting a 4.82 ERA in 37.1 innings for Oakland this year. Given his long-track record, however, the veteran lefty could be a valuable addition to a contender.
Perhaps the only thing off limits is Oakland’s talented young rotation. I’d be very surprised if Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, or Brett Anderson were moved out of Oakland this month.
Beane and the rest of Oakland’s front office tried their best to assemble a winner, but at 39-53, the A’s aren’t exactly contenders. They’ve struggled to hit for three months now, and even if they were to heat up a bit this month, the 12.0 game hole they’re in is far too deep to dig themselves out of. Now it’s time for this team to wave the white flag and unload all their assets…
Because 2011 is, to be blunt, a lost cause.