Before this season began, the A's were expected to be either a third- or last-place team in the American League West. Having dealt three All-Star pitchers in Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey, it seemed like the white flag was raised even before game one was played.
Only problem (if you're a Texas or Los Angeles Angels fan) was that no one told that to Bob Melvin. In spite of injuries to Cespedes, Crisp, Inge, the suspension of Bartolo Colon, the ninth-inning woes of Brian Fuentes and starting more than a dozen rookies over the course of the season, Melvin always kept this team together.
As a result, he won the AL Manager of the Year award. And it was well deserved, no matter what East Coast pundits say about Buck Showalter's job in Baltimore.
When the season began, people said Billy Beane was crazy for dealing those three arms and getting rookies in Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone and a relatively unknown outfielder named Josh Reddick as the centerpieces of those deals.
Well, Parker and Milone would both win 13 games with ERAs under 3.75 and were the stabilizing forces of the young A's rotation. Meanwhile, all Reddick did was hit 32 home runs and win the team's first outfield Gold Glove since 1985.
If Beane had acquired just those three players, it would've been a pretty good haul. But he also fetched the starting catcher in the Gonzalez trade in Derek Norris and an All-Star reliever in Ryan Cook from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the Cahill trade.
Combine that with the acquisition of Seth Smith (for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman) from Colorado, the signing of Jonny Gomes (who hit 18 home runs in less than 90 games) for a mere $1 million and, of course, the signing of Cespedes, and you had Beane winning the Executive of the Year in baseball for the second time.
All in all, it was a remarkable year from a remarkable team. Suddenly, the A's train is ahead of schedule and I for one can't wait to see what 2013 holds for this team.