If I had a limited amount of space to work with here I’d sum up May in just a few words: Well, that sucked. But since I have plenty of room to write I’ll stick to the usual routine and take a moment to look back at a month in the land of green and gold.
* The month started off great with the A’s taking two out of three from the Red Sox and Rays on the road and winning two out of three against the Tigers at home. There was a nice little run over .500 and the hope that there just might be something special about this scrappy little club. But by the end of May injuries caught up with the team and Oakland sputtered through the end of their schedule. Is it just me or does it seem like this is always the time of year when the team fades from a surprising .500 record as the disabled list swells and the offense vanishes into thin air?
One of these days the A’s are going to shake free of the injury bug and if it happens right around the same time that this rebuild starts to pan out (yes, I’m foolishly assuming this grand experiment is going to work) the American League better look for cover because the Athletics may finally be a force to be reckoned with again.
* Josh Reddick went nuts, slugging over .600 for the month and making a strong case for himself as the A’s lone representative at the All-Star Game this year. The kid will cool off but so far he looks like a keeper. With Miles Head hitting the cover off the ball in Stockton while Andrew Bailey takes up his familiar spot on the disabled list in Boston, that trade with the Red Sox has the very early makings of being a long-term win for the A’s.
* Manager Bob Melvin got tossed out of a couple of games which was a welcomed sight. Don’t tell me he’s just a bland nice guy babysitting a young rebuilding club. BoMel is all fired up and he won’t suffer foolish umpires making bad calls against his team. Cross him at your own risk because he’s a dangerous bad boy compared to former skipper Bob Geren.
* Josh Donaldson returned to the big leagues and eventually earned the backup catcher gig behind Kurt Suzuki … which means he’ll probably barely play and eventually get demoted because he’ll inevitably hit like a guy who only gets into the lineup once every couple of weeks.
Regardless of how this stint in the majors pans out, it’s nice to see Donaldson come back up and get a big hit vs. the Giants and make some sparkling defensive plays including that amazing throw-from-the-seat-of-his-pants gem vs the Angels. His early season crash-and-burn at third base was brutal but the guy has talent and deserves a shot at sticking with a big league club in some capacity.
As a catcher with a little pop in his bat and the defensive chops to hold down third base in limited playing time, Donaldson has the potential to have some real value in the majors. If he was in the National League where double switches happen left and right in every ballgame he’d get a lot more playing time than he’d ever see with the A’s and maybe carve out a decent career for himself.
* At least the A’s managed to get one win while they were in San Francisco. And if you can only pull out one victory against the Giants it’s nice to get it against suddenly-mortal Tim Lincecum while colliding with him at the plate.
It’s times like that when I feel the Giants can have San Jose, I’ll take prolonging the “What’s Wrong With Timmy” storyline by knocking him out after just four innings.
* That loud crashing sound you heard in May was Grant Balfour’s trade value shattering on the floor. Everyone’s favorite Aussie relief pitcher went from closer to struggling middle reliever trying to find his mojo in the sixth and seventh innings. There’s still time for Balfour to pull it together and get himself shipped out of town to a contender.
* Brandon Inge puns. Inge was godlike for a few days in May, launching a couple of grand slams which led to one walk-off win and a slew of tiresome Inge puns on Twitter and the blogosphere. I’ll take more slams and fewer puns as the season keeps rolling along.
* Tyson Ross had an ERA over 5.00 in May and seemed to be on the verge of coughing up 3 or 4 runs in almost every inning, even when he was pitching relatively well. As bad as that May ERA seems it’s actually an improvement on the 6.48 mark Ross posted in April. I think the big guy has something to offer the team but I’m not sold that it’s as a starting pitcher.
* The A’s got swept by the freakin’ Twins. One of the worst teams in baseball slapped Oakland around to extend their losing streak to eight games with former A’s outfielder Josh Willingham inflicting a lot of the damage. Brutal, just brutal.
BLIPS ON THE RADAR
* The MLB owners’ meetings came and went with no new developments on the A’s request to move to San Jose. The Dark Lord of Indecisiveness Bud Selig opened his mouth and basically said nothing of substance regarding the A’s. Newballpark.org, as usual, did a nice job covering what little came out of the meetings in regard to the A’s. If you’re not following Newballpark on Twitter and checking out their Web site you’re missing out on solid coverage of the A’s ballpark saga.
* The only thing I found even mildly new and halfway interesting was Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expressing interest in bringing the A’s to the state capitol. I don’t think it’ll ever happen or get much farther than K.J.’s sound byte but at least it’s a blast of hot air from a different direction than we’ve gotten used to in the A’s ballpark soap opera.
* 95.7 FM The Game’s Chris Townsend interviewed Oakland Mayor Jean Quan about her vision for Coliseum City and it was hilarious to hear her say that as many as four professional teams could call her pet project home. It sounded like Townsend was going to fall over when she dropped that straight-from-the-looney-bin bombshell in his lap.
I’ll give Quan kudos for at least trying to keep the A’s in town but the scale of Coliseum City just sounds insane and it’s the kind of overly ambitious development that could take a decade to emerge from red tape just to get to the point of finally breaking ground on construction. If Coliseum City is the best Oakland has to offer the A’s then they probably don’t really have anything to offer.
* I pegged the A’s for as little as seven wins in May at worst and about 12 wins if things went right for the guys in green and gold and they ended up closing out the month with 11 victories. Not too shabby considering the level of competition they faced and all the injuries they endured. It was obvious in the offseason that this team wasn’t built to win a lot of games and that’s exactly what they’re doing. I just wish they’d be a little more entertaining about it.
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.