For the first time since April 23, the Oakland Athletics are out of first place. Of course, they’re only a half game out and they face the team ahead of them 10 times before the end of the season so there’s no reason for alarm but there is one aspect of contemporary A’s fanaticism that needs to end and that is the love affair with Yoenis Cespedes.
I know, I’m perpetuating the problem by writing yet another article about it but we need to put things into context. Cespedes, as I’m sure you’ve heard, was traded to Boston at the trade deadline in return for Jon Lester who, apparently, is some type of big deal. Since moving to Boston, Cespedes is hitting .237 with 3 home runs. His HR per AB percentage has gone from 3.9% in Oakland to 5% in Boston but his OBP is down 5% points since the move. To put it in perspective, Nate Freiman has as many home runs in the past two days as Cespedes has since leaving Oakland.
Is Freiman the answer to reviving the A’s offense? Probably not but it should be enough for the other guys on the team to stop trying to fill the void and just relax and do what they were doing before Cespedes left. The A’s were 5-4 in the week prior to the trade scoring an average of 5.5 runs per game and were 6-3 with a 3.7 run average in the week after the trade. Both of these look like good weeks but the week prior was against Houston and Texas, the two worst teams in baseball.
In tonight’s Boston game, a game against the Angels in which their victory gave them a half game lead in the west, Cespedes went 0-5. All 5 at bats had runners on base including his at bat in the ninth where he represented the walk-off run. Still miss him? Cespedes is a great player, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve said it here before and I’ll keep saying it, he is not the sole reason the A’s had been winning.
The A’s had players who were struggling prior to the trade deadline but it wasn’t until the trade that A’s fans had something to blame our woes on. We have to consider that the A’s have had no struggle to speak of all season. Our pitching has been solid, our bullpen has been solid, our bats have been solid, our fielding has been solid, and we’ve been relatively lucky when it came to injuries.
In August our pitching has struggled. They’re not bad, don’t get me wrong, but there seems to be issues with placement and major league batters will always capitalize on those mistakes. The bats have dried up except for Josh Reddick who had struggled, pretty much, the entire time nobody else on the team was. The defense, at times, has been sloppy and the baserunning has been lackluster. For the first time all season, the A’s have been plagued with injury as Coco Crisp has sat on the bench, Gentry out, Lowrie out and Blanks out. We praise Melvin for his mix and match genius when making a lineup but with the injuries he’s dealt with this month his ability to mix and match has been cut at the knees.
Having two days off this week as we go into a critical series against the Angels may be just the trick to refocus the boys in green and gold and revitalize their bats but bringing back Cespedes isn’t the fix for what ails us. Once we’re all healthy and Melvin has a full arsenal, I’m confident that Oakland will reign supreme again in the west but if I never hear another fan blame the Cespedes trade again, it’ll be too soon for me.
The mourning period is over, both for fans and the players, it’s time to get back to work and win the pennant.
Tags: Yoenis Cespedes