So after literally the best July ever the A’s have now lost 2 games in a row, lost their first series since losing 3 out of 4 in Arlington at the end of June, and have had major problems at the plate in the last 3 games. That has caused many A’s fans to begin to jump off the bandwagon that had begun rolling this month as the A’s seemed invincible to losses. Now that doubt is creeping in again, and many A’s fans are wondering if the last month of A’s baseball was just a mirage.
I’m here to tell you it was not. While it is completely unreasonable to expect that the A’s will have a nearly .800 winning percentage for the remainder of the season like they did in July, it is reasonable to think they can play over .500 ball for the rest of 2012 and that should keep them in contention until the end at worst. Why should we expect the A’s to keep it going? There are three main reasons to think the A’s can keep the good times rolling.
First, while Josh Reddick has cooled off and is slumping pretty badly at the moment, Yoenis Cespedes has begun to give us a sneak peak at the true talent and potential he possesses. Cespedes is a player unlike any we have seen in Oakland. The A’s have had sluggers galore over the years with the likes of Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, and even Reggie Jackson toiling away while calling the Coliseum home, but none of them had the tools Yoenis has. The “Cuban Cannon” has drawn comparisons to Bo Jackson because of his relatively short stature, muscular physique, and tremendous baseball instincts that go along with the physical traits. And he isn’t playing for the Raiders also so the health problems that plagued Jackson shouldn’t be an issue for Cespedes. He has emerged as the must see hitter in the A’s lineup, but he’s also shown to be the best hitter in all facets of the game. Yoenis Cespedes will be the guy every opposing team says they will not let beat them, but he’s good enough to beat them anyway.
The pitching staff, from the extraordinary starting rotation made up of essentially 4 rookies and a 39 year old has teamed with a stellar bullpen to create the best pitching staff top to bottom in the American League. Many have lamented that there would be no way for a staff like this to last through the grind of a 162 game season, but the good news is that they won’t have to. The cavalry is coming within the next couple weeks most likely in the form of Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. Before being sidelined with a troublesome shoulder injury McCarthy was having a wonderful season and seemed to be realizing the potential that made him a hot commodity as a youngster before the shoulder derailed his career. If he can somehow get his shoulder right for the next couple months, the A’s can use him to ease the burden on the rookies, and us the rookies to ease the burden on him. Brett Anderson will more than likely be a work in progress after having spent the better part of a year not pitching after his Tommy John surgery, but the flashes of brilliance he’s shown in his brief career can come back once he gets comfortable.
Billy Beane is arguably one of the most brilliant baseball minds walking the planet, of course depending who you ask. Many fans were upset that Billy didn’t pull the trigger and acquire a talented shortstop before the non-waiver trade deadline, but the opportunity to improve this team still exists. The fact that any player the A’s desire would have to get through waivers at least as far as the A’s in the reverse standings will limit their market. There’s virtually no chance that anyone would outright claim a player like Jimmy Rollins, so if he could be convinced to waive his no trade clause he’s a definite option. Granted he’s not the perfect option, but he’s there. The fact is though that despite Lew Wolff’s assertion on the CSN California telecast yesterday that they were comfortable with the current SS situation, we all know Billy Beane and David Forst will be scouring the league for upgrades that fit into the current roster.
So as the Toronto Blue Jays come to town for a 4 game set against our boys, the A’s can make a bold statement once again as they bounce back from their first true adversity since June. If the A’s can put a hurt on Henderson Alvarez tomorrow, it will set the tone for the rest of the weekend and give the A’s that confidence that made them the talk of baseball. It’s time for the A’s to bring back that swagger.