Taking a moment to look back at a month in the land of green and gold.
* Yoenis Cespedes. What’s not to like? The strikeouts? The misplays in center field? Big deal. I’ll take the monster homers and amazing throws from the outfield and gladly live with the rest. For his first month in the Major Leagues, Cespedes has proven himself to be the most exciting power hitter the A’s have had in years. For the first time in far too long Oakland has a young slugger in the middle of the lineup who can go deep at any time off any pitcher in any ballpark. If the A’s can just keep it close in a lot of ballgames this year Cespedes is sure to deliver some memorable walk-off homers. The best is yet to come.
* The pitching staff. They’ve been outstanding in the early going with Bartolo Colon and Tom Milone being surprisingly effective in the first month of the season. Ryan Cook and Jarrod Parker are making the Trevor Cahill deal look like a steal for Oakland and the pitching staff could actually get even better as the year rolls along.
If Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden successfully come off the disabled list and Brad Peacock earns a promotion from Sacramento the rotation could be pretty formidable in the second half of the year. And if Fautino De Los Santos ever rediscovers the strike zone he could become the shutdown late-inning reliever a lot of people, including me, hoped he could be entering 2012.
* Slapping the Angels around during their slow start to the season and helping extend Albert Pujols’ homerless streak was a nice little treat in April. I just love seeing the big-spending Halos fall flat on their faces right out of the gate. And anything that gives former 1988 Dodger and current Angels skipper a few headaches is just fine by me.
* Brandon McCarthy took a refreshing, sensible stand against homophobia which deserves a tip of the hat. He’s a great story on the mound after years lost to injuries and he’s a bright, funny guy off the field. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.
* The offense has been … well … it’s been downright offensive more often than not. Cespedes and Josh Reddick can’t carry the offense all by themselves. It doesn’t help matters when third base and first base are black holes in the lineup. There are so many hitting-related lowlights to April that it’s exhausting just thinking about them much less writing about all of them. I’ll save some keystrokes and keep this part of the post relatively short.
* Did I mention third base has been a black hole? Josh Donaldson, the man crowned as the team’s likely third baseman back in spring training when Scott Sizemore went down, hit .094 with shaky defense before being shipped back to Sacramento. After that the A’s burned some playing time on light-hitting Eric Sogard before going dumpster diving for Luke Hughes and Brandon Inge. What a mess.
* Joey Devine headed back under the knife for his second Tommy John surgery and the season is over before it ever started for the once-promising reliever. I’m bummed out for the man and amused at the fact that there were some folks out there in the blogosphere who played up the idea of Devine being the closer for the A’s in 2012. I know we all love to dream about best-case scenarios but counting on Devine to stay healthy is about as foolish as counting on Rich Harden to make 30 starts in any given season.
* That walk-off loss in Baltimore sure stunk to high heaven. The one road series you thought the A’s could grab on this trip and they let it slip away in agonizing fashion. The beating they took tonight in Boston is probably a good preview of what’s to come in May.
BLIPS ON THE RADAR
* Former A’s first basemen Brandon Allen landed on his feet in Tampa Bay and announced his presence with authority, launching a thunderous walk-off shot against the Angels. Meanwhile, in Oakland Daric Barton is hitting .178 and committed two errors after coming into the game for defensive purposes in the extra inning loss in Baltimore on Sunday. It’ll sting if Allen hits his stride as soon as he stops wearing green and gold but you can’t help but root for the big guy.
If Allen has a nice year for the Rays it’ll be fascinating to read about what their coaching staff did to get him going.
* Former A’s designated hitter Hideki Matsui signed a minor league deal with the Rays so there’s a chance that a couple of former Athletics could help the Rays make a playoff push this season while the A’s take their lumps in the first year of a rebuild.
* Former A’s third baseman Eric Chavez, now a Yankee, showed everyone a flash of the glory days when he went hit .320 with 3 homers in April. If the injury bug didn’t destroy his career there’s a good chance Chavvy could be wrapping up a Hall of Fame career in green and gold right now. Let’s pretend Inge is the next best thing and cross our fingers that the former Tiger can make everyone forget about the Josh Donaldson Era at the hot corner.
* Like most general stories about the A’s these days the overall tone of this BANG article is that the team stinks but the most interesting tidbits highlight the good ol’ days when Oakland had a big payroll and big attendance.
Hard to believe how the baseball world has turned upside down for the A’s over the past 20 years.
* Despite some buzz on Twitter earlier this month, the A’s stadium situation will not be on the agenda at the owners’ meetings in May. Commissioner Bud Selig said a while ago that the issue is on the front burner but the league continues to give the team the cold shoulder.
I guess no answer when it comes to moving to San Jose is better than “no” for an answer but this mess got old a long time ago. I’m almost to the point where I want San Jose to be shot down soon just so everyone can get on with their lives and the A’s can chart some kind of future for themselves even if it’s outside of the Bay Area. The franchise and it’s fans deserve better than being trapped in limbo for eternity.
FILL THE MAILBAG
In an effort to make things a little more interactive here at Swingin’ A’s please feel free to send me some questions or comments about the A’s, Major League baseball or … well … whatever and I’ll try and get around to answering them in my monthly Random Ramblings post which is coming up fast.