From 2000 to 2003, the A’s enjoyed plenty of regular season success, as well as individual awards, which included: two MVPs (Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada) and a Cy Young Award for Barry Zito, but very little postseason success (four consecutive ALDS losses: 2000,2001 to the New York Yankees in five, 2002 Boston Red Sox in five, 2003 Minnesota Twins in five). The A’s would then miss the playoffs in 2004 and 2005 before reclaiming the AL West in 2006 and making the postseason again. After 2006, the team had a five year drought of postseason appearances prior to 2012.
The A’s once again controlled the top spot in the West over the highly paid and media-bolstered Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. But after much regular season success similar to the early 2000′s, the A’s fell off in the postseason and were ousted by the Detroit Tigers in five games both years. Sound familiar? (Look back at my first paragraph: 2000,2001.)
After the A’s surprised everyone in 2012, the 2013 A’s were held to a higher standard. And although they delivered and repeated as division champs, they still left many fans depressed and longing for more. Now, fans are hoping the A’s can get over the hump they’ve been fighting to get over since 2006: reaching the ALCS; and eventually the hump they haven’t even reached since 1989: reaching the World Series.
So are the A’s looking at history repeating? What can they possibly do to continue their regular season success while also gaining postseason series victories?
Well, for starters the team took a giant step by picking up the option of Coco Crisp. Although I picked Michael Choice to get the nod up to the bigs for the 2014 season, I like the move. Coco played incredibly well the second half of the season after returning from injuries and is the leader of, not only a young outfield, but a young team. When Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge weren’t brought back for the 2013 season, many questioned if the team would have enough leadership to compete the way they did in 2012. Crisp ended all speculation and helped the team battle and pull away from the Rangers to defend their AL West title.
The next step that the A’s need to take is to bring back Bartolo Colon and run with the young guns. Pitching wasn’t the problem in the regular season or the postseason, with the likes of Dan Straily and Sonny Gray pitching like seasoned vets. The bats just fell asleep and the clutch hits were nonexistent for the most part.
The A’s aren’t far off from being a World Series contender; in fact I thought they’d make a stronger push this year, to be honest. But the A’s have to get out of the ALDS and the team has to come back next year stronger than ever if they want to fend off the big bats – and wallets – in Arlington and Los Angeles.