Oakland Athletics: Not a Great Start in 2012, Does It Mean Anything Yet?

Gean MayContributor IIApril 9, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 06:  Yoenis Cespedes #52 leaps but can't catch a ball that went for a double off the bat of Brendan Ryan (not pictured) of the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum on April 6, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Mariners won the game 7-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics have opened the 2012 season at 1-3 in a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners.

The $36 million man Yoenis Cespedes has four hits. All but one are home runs.

With all of the odd scheduling to accommodate the games in Japan, the A's will have faced Felix Hernandez three times over the first eight games.

Yes, the season is young, but let's look at some of the aforementioned points with a little more detail.




Cespedes Experiment


I'm pretty sure the A's don't want Cespedes to be an all-or-nothing guy.  To right this wrong, the Cuban slugger will need to patch some of the holes that currently occupy his swing.

He can torch a fastball, but the hook and the off-speed stuff can make him look foolish at times.


OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 07:  Bartolo Colon #21 of the Oakland Athletics reacts after giving up a run against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum on April 7, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athl
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

As far as his fielding is concerned, the misplayed ball in center field on Saturday isn't cause for manager Bob Melvin to hit the panic button. But, a few more of those and Melvin may have to make the switch and put Coco Crisp in center and shift Cespedes to left until he gets comfortable in center field.

The kid definitely has raw talent.  The task at hand is to make sure he makes the proper adjustments when every pitcher in the league figures out where the holes are in his swing.

The Cuban-born player has only played four games in the "Show," so that in itself is reason to be optimistic about No. 52's capability. 

The good has outweighed the bad so far.

He has done what most would expect—get a couple of guys on base, hit a few bombs and bring other base runners in. 

This is typical American League baseball and that's what he was brought in to do. 

If he can accommodate the A's on that front, then everything else is a bonus. Although the key to this working is the "getting guys on base" part. Let's not forget about protection behind him as well.  


Depending on the situation, with a threat behind him, Cespedes will likely see more fast balls with guys on base.

His three dingers so far shows us that he can do his thing. But his overall success will be in the hands of the entire A's lineup.

If he's the only threat in the lineup, he won't see a lot of fastballs, or even strikes for that matter.



Farewell to the King


Facing "King Felix" is no fun, and to face him as many times as the A's have to start the season can be brutal.

The A's were able to chase Hernandez on Saturday, but Hernandez got the win due to a six-run cushion provided by the Mariners' offense. If the A's can beat him on Friday, the club might not be in a hole after only eight games.

First thing's first, though, the A's have to deal with Eric Hosmer, Jeff Francoeur and the Kansas City Royals before facing the Mariners in a series for the third time in the young season. It may sound ridiculous to infer that the Royals should not be overlooked, but let's face it, the A's can't afford to overlook any team.



What to Think?


What all this means for the A's in 2012 is still a mystery. Some of these wrongs can certainly be turned into rights, but only time will tell.

Playing the Mariners four times, regardless of the outcome, is way too shallow of a sample size to predict how the A's will fare throughout the rest of 2012, especially when you factor in the weird way the first four games came to be. The first two games in Japan and then back to Spring ball, and a few days later the "real" season began in Oakland.

On paper, the A's seem to be a 70-to-75-win ball club. Maybe this is true, but you never know; baseball is played on grass, not paper.