It’s been a year where the Oakland A’s can say there’s been some good, but too much bad to go along with it.
When he’s been healthy, Cuban stud Yoenis Cespedes, who was acquired just days before spring training, has been a solid contributor in the lineup, midseason free-agent acquisition Brandon Inge has solidified the third base spot, and Bob Melvin has been a vocal presence as the A’s manager.
There’s a buzz that the A’s haven't had in recent years. For one, it doesn’t seem Billy Beane is calling as many shots as in the past. How can one tell if that is true?
Many felt that former A’s manager Bob Geren was nothing but a puppet for Beane. Melvin is far from that. He’s shown he isn’t afraid to mix it up with umpires or to make sensible changes to the lineup. With Geren, there were lineups that seemed to be handwritten by Beane at times. Geren also showed little emotion when arguing whereas Melvin loves to make his point, to the extent that he’s already been ejected three times in 2012.
Would Brandon Inge be playing with the A’s if it were any other year? He was dumped by the Detroit Tigers a few weeks into the season and found a home in Oakland. He’s done nothing but bash and has six home runs and 26 RBI in just 24 games for the A’s this year. If Scott Sizemore didn’t tear his ACL in spring training, does Inge still land here, or might he have landed with the team across the Bay that has trouble hitting homers?
The facts are that the dumping of Barton and quick additions of Cespedes, Inge and pitcher Jarrod Parker didn’t seem likely before spring training. They seem to be moves made to make this team better now rather than later. Though Inge isn’t exactly the future, Cespedes and Parker are, and Melvin is a manager that won’t be fired at the end of this year.
The A’s are being built to win, and they’re showing signs of that by taking three of four games from the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers last week, but they need to develop consistency. Following the Rangers series by getting swept by the Diamondbacks isn’t going to cut it.
This year’s Oakland squad is a change from the past five years of mixing up things and just hoping for the best. Part of it is Beane letting go of old projects, like Daric Barton, and bringing up fresh young talent like Parker and reliever Ryan Cook.
Beane giving Melvin the reigns, and fresh talent, shows he’s slowly letting the team play the game instead of “Billy-ball”—even if he is providing the bats, ball and bodies for them to play with.