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View from the Other Side: Oakland A’s questions for Alex Hall of Athletics Nation

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We start a 3-game series in Oakland tonight, so you guys in the east will have to stay up late to watch, at least for the first two games. Wednesday’s is an afternoon game. I’ll missing that last game, as I’ll be flying to Seattle.

The A’s are 61-46, 3rd in the AL West, but just 2 games back of the Mariners for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

The A’s are 5th in the AL in runs scored per game at 4.72. And 8th in runs allowed per game at 4.41.

With the trade deadline right at hand, what are the A’s looking to add. They wouldn’t like a well worn catcher would they? How about a slow (painfully slow) DH type? A couple ancient relievers? Or how about Curtis Granderson?

The best thing the A’s could add right now is a starting pitcher. Their rotation lost basically everyone to injury and the current group includes Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Edwin Jackson. Fortunately, their bullpen has stepped up to carry the load, which has been a big part of the team’s success. Even with the addition of Jeurys Familia, though, the whole staff could benefit from a reliable starter who can at least eat some innings. I would have been interested in J.A. Happ, but, oh well. They’ve also been rumored to be looking for another reliever or lefty outfielder, but a starter would be the best get.

As I type this, the A’s are just a game back from a Wild Card spot. How confident are you that you’ll get to see at least 1 playoff game this year?

I’m just excited that we can think about this possibility at all. At this point it’s between the A’s and the Mariners for the last spot, and both teams have glaring flaws that could sink them at any moment. It’s probably a coin-flip at this point, with 10 head-to-head matchups left between them, but not many people in history have bet on the Mariners and come out happy.

Let’s ask about a couple of old friends. What’s happening with Franklin Barreto and Kendall Graveman?

Graveman just had Tommy John, so he’s done for probably 2019 too. It’s entirely possible he’s thrown his last pitch for the A’s, though hopefully not. Barreto is still only 22 but he’s struggling with strikeouts -- the joke on Athletics Nation right now is that he’s strayed from his Jose Altuve profile and is shaping up more like Dan Uggla so far (power, walks, Ks, questionable 2B defense). He’s yo-yo’d up and down all year from Triple-A, but it looks like he’s still not quite ready for the bigs.

Who is your favorite A to watch?

Matt Chapman. He’s the best defender in baseball at any position, and he’s the A’s hottest hitter right now too. He’s Oakland’s next superstar, and the question is whether he might even be better than Josh Donaldson. So, we’re gonna need five crap players from you this time.

Honorable mention: Khris Davis’ dingers, Blake Treinen’s 100 mph filth

Your team has outperformed expectations, unlike ours…..what the biggest surprise you’ve had this season?

It’s been a season full of best-case scenarios. Jed Lowrie built on his late-career resurgence to make his first All-Star Game, Treinen turned from a decent setup man into an elite closer, Lou Trivino came out of nowhere as a lockdown setup man, Mark Canha finally put it all together to become a legit contributor, Chapman hit his stride right away, etc. Even when stuff has gone wrong, like the entire rotation disappearing, it’s all turned out OK somehow (for now, at least).

Entering the season I was adamant that this was a bridge year, sort of that .500ish season between the rebuild and true contention. It’s always possible to arrive early, but the complete lack of a rotation would be the weak link that ended any hopes. The rotation went south exactly as I’d feared, but it just hasn’t mattered. My biggest surprise is that 60% of the rotation is Cahill, Anderson, and Jackson, and this team is two games out of a playoff spot in late-July.

Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays will face?

Edwin Jackson will spend 5-6 innings on the verge of disaster but somehow come out having allowed exactly three runs. You’ll be mildly impressed that he has more left in the tank than you realized, while simultaneously wondering how your lineup didn’t do more damage. Then some combination of Trivino, Familia, and Treinen will come in and pump upper-90s heat until no one wants to play anymore.

Trevor Cahill will look sharp for a few innings, either at the beginning or end of his outing, but will somehow only make it through five despite a low pitch count. No matter, though, because some combination of Trivino, Familia, and Treinen will come in and pump upper-90s heat until no one wants to play anymore.

Sean Manaea will look like he’s finally having another great outing, but then he’ll suddenly get pulled after six innings and 80 pitches. Then some combination of Trivino, Familia, and Treinen will come in and pump upper-90s heat until no one wants to play anymore.

In other words, the starters on this team are just a warm-up act for the bullpen. The relievers have been the real show, and Bob Melvin has stopped wasting any time getting to them.

Thanks Alex.