The All-Star Game marks (roughly) the half-way point of the season for the MLB, so I thought I’d do a progress report on how the A’s are doing.
Before the start of the season, I said in my season preview piece that the A’s would surprise many by still being in the hunt for a playoff spot towards the end of the season. We’d been overachieving for over 20 seasons in my eyes despite having a relatively small payroll, so why couldn’t that continue to be the case?
After the first game, I then followed-up with this tweet to BFN editor Gav;
Alas, it seems that I was too optimistic, as, rather than summing up how the season would go, it turns out that has generally been how each game has gone – the A’s have started slow, looked promising as the game has progressed and then fallen away towards the end, meaning the Oakland Athletics currently have the worst record in the American League.
I have managed to watch at least one full game of each series thus far, and it is very frustrating to watch the A’s this season. While I am admittedly biased, the team has generally been competitive. There have been a few times – the series against the Blue Jays and the Rangers near the start of the season, as well as the recent series against the Mariners, come to mind – where the team has been outclassed in my view, but otherwise, we generally seem to be in the games and just lacking that extra bit of something that will swing the game in our favour.
The sad fact is the A’s don’t have enough quality in any part of the team this season, which is made even more irritating given that we do have good players. Guys like Sean Murphy and Frankie Montas are established in the league now and clearly have the quality to contribute to a winning team. For me, the same is increasingly true of the likes of Seth Brown, who has come into the team this season as a regular part of the starting line-up following the loss of Matts Chapman and Olson, among others, in the close-season and has proceeded to become one of the best guys in the line-up.
Newcomers to the roster have also shown a lot of promise. For example, despite being somewhat error-prone at times, Cristian Pache clearly has a lot of potential defensively and is developing his at-bat skills. The same was also true for Christian Bethancourt too, and it is very disappointing that he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for two minor leaguers, as he was one of this season’s bright spots.
If the All-Star Futures Games is anything to go by too, there is cause for further optimism, as Shea Langeliers of the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate was named the MVP at the weekend. Given Langeliers is a catcher, I hope Kaval won’t use that as an excuse to trade away Sean Murphy now though. Speaking of catchers, the A’s also selected Daniel Susac from the University of Arizona with the 19th pick in the MLB Draft on Sunday.
While it would do anything to change on-field results this season, much of how the team develops will also depend upon where the team will be playing in years to come – while the A’s are getting the approvals needed to move forward with the proposed new ballpark at Howard Terminal, you get the feeling the MLB wants the A’s to move to Vegas given they’ve apparently waived the relocation fee. If the move to Las Vegas does take place, I can’t help but think John Fisher and Dave Kaval would suddenly realise the need to invest in the team and bring in some quality guys on competitive salaries prior to the move to help ensure the on-field product is attractive ahead of the first game in new pastures.
For the meantime, I and other A’s fans need to continue doing the thing that we’ve been doing for years now; appreciate the good, young players we currently have on the roster and hope that things will somehow improve soon to the point we have a team that might actually be in contention.
Photo credit: Bob Levey for Getty Images
Brett is the Oakland A’s Team Contributor for Batflips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettWalkerPR.