We have our second series with the Oakland A's in a bit more than a week. I sent off questions to Baseballgirl from Athletics Nation.
You've wandered into a hot topic for Athletics Nation right now. With the A's 19-5 July, and deep pitching-prospects in the minor leagues, many A's fans thought that staying pat and not mortgaging the farm for a chance at the playoffs in 2012 was a good decision. Others of us felt that the one 'blow your mind' trade was Hanley Ramirez. The A's narrowly lost him to the Dodgers a few days before the deadline, and many ANers wonder if he could have been the missing piece of a rather lackluster offense. I'm personally disappointed that the A's didn't land Hanley, and I think they will regret it, but I'm also glad that we left our young farm system intact. It's hard to say if Billy Beane will make any waiver deals; I think it depends on how close the A's can stay to the division lead and the Wild Card spots with a relatively tough August schedule.
Honestly, if you look at the raw offense numbers, I have no idea how the A's won so many games in July. Their offense, with the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, is not impressive on paper, but a combination of great young starting pitching, which filled the injury holes, amazing bullpen work, and a shocking number of homeruns led to their July success. The A's played nine one-run games in the month and came out winners of all nine. They also had six walk-off wins. I'm not sure that's a measurable skill, or a sustainable pace, but boy, it was a fun month! They absolutely won't go 19-5 in August; you heard it here first.
Bud Selig's backyard? Honestly, I have no idea. The stadium issue has been long and drawn out for A's fans, and as soon as we glean a bit of information, it's immediately retracted. Your guess is as good as mine.
Yoenis Cespedes; without question. He's a 5-tool, explosive, exciting player, and we haven't had one of those in many years.
Bartolo Colon has had a fair year; he's had his ups and downs, and he's also been injured. But when he's healthy, you can count on him for a lot of innings, and he's a veteran presence on a team full of young pitchers. I think he'll pitch the rest of the way and end up with a winning record and about a 4 ERA.
My dream storyline is that the upstart A's, who were pegged to lose 100-110 games in the 2012 season, pick up a shortstop and a catcher and ride their hot bats all the way to the World Series, representing the AL West. Bob Melvin wins manager of the year, and everyone believes in Billy Beane again. Tyler is played by himself, making his Hollywood acting debut. (Tom: The real answer is Judd Hirsch)
This team is really easy to root for. Hamstrung by the lowest MLB salary in the American League (second only to the Padres overall), they have managed to rise as high as 10 games over .500 in late July, and have had a lot of fun doing it. The vast majority of their players are has-beens, or never-will-bes, yet they put out a competitive MLB product, despite having a payroll 3 and a half times the payroll of the Yankees. As one of our readers put it: The A's aren't expected to win, or do well, so there isn't anything at stake for them, so it's a treat and a surprise when they do succeed. Plus, have you seen the pie?