Billy Beane went out this past offseason and handled his business. He helped bolster a team that was coming off its first postseason appearance and first 90-plus win season since 2006.
The A’s, with just a little over two months left in the regular season, the A’s sit atop the AL West with a three game cushion. The heavily favored Rangers sit three games back in second-place, followed by another big spender in the Angels, who sit 11 games back of first.
The A’s magical run last season has carried over in to this year, but with a few small changes.
New stars have emerged in the bay area and suddenly guys like Josh Donaldson are carving out a name for themselves. Donaldson has easily become the new face of the A’s and has helped guide the A’s to where they are today.
No one really thought the A’s could match the level of success they enjoyed last season, but here they are again, exceeding expectations. The A’s proved that last year was no fluke and that they are, indeed, serious contenders in the American League.
He’s also led an A’s rotation that has had to deal with the loss of young southpaw Brett Anderson. Along with Colon, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily have led the A’s to the path of success.
Offensively, the A’s have been able to manage just enough production to help their stellar cast of pitching. Entering Thursday, the A’s rank 9th in runs with 448, but 23rd in batting average with a .243 mark. Their base-running has also taken a hit this year. The A’s have swiped only 50 bases entering Thursday, ranking 18th in stolen bases.
Aside from Donaldson, who leads the team with 61 RBI and a .307/.380/.510 line, the A’s have gotten production from their shortstop, Jed Lowrie. Lowrie, brought in by Beane in the offseason, has been one of Oakland’s best pickups in recent years. The oft-injured Lowrie has managed to stay healthy this year and has hit .283/.350/.406 with 7 HR and 37 RBI.
The A’s have Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss in the lineup, too. The trio of Reddick-Cespedes-Moss hasn’t been as effective this year, but with the A’s are hoping each players gets it going in the second-half.
Reddick has seemingly rediscovered his stroke after missing time in May due to a wrist injury. Cespedes, meanwhile, looks to get back on track after capturing the Home Run Derby with an impressive display of power. As for Moss, he currently leads the team in HR with 17.
With the trade deadline approaching, the A’s are figured to be buyers. The division is far from captured, especially with Matt Garza going to Texas, so the A’s may need to make a deal of their own in order to solidify their chances at capturing the division crown once again in ’13.
The biggest area of need remains the offense. The A’s could use a solid hitter in their lineup to help bolster production, but a guy like Philadelphia’s Chase Utley may cost too much for the A’s, who would likely have to include prospect Michael Choice in any deal to land a hitter like Utley.
If Beane can’t land a hitter, he may opt to add to his already strong pitching staff. Landing someone like Jake Peavy could make Oakland’s rotation even stronger, especially later on in the year when the team figures to competing for a playoff spot. If Oakland gets into the playoffs, a one-two punch of Colon and Peavy could be deadly.
The A’s already have strong pitching, regardless of whether or not they land Peavy. Beane made it his priority to add depth to his team in the offseason and for the most part, Beane’s efforts have paid off. The A’s are a first-place team heading into the trade deadline.
In my opinion, the A’s could use extra help in the second-half. However, they won’t necessarily be in bad shape if they did decide to stand pat at the deadline.
The A’s have great chemistry right now and are competing in a division that has talent. It would help if the A’s could land someone like Utley or Peavy, but it wouldn’t be the end of the A’s playoff chances if they didn’t.