Heading into the 2009 season, the Oakland A's were expected to be major contenders in the weak American League West. However, with the Angels and Rangers controlling the West, the A's are left to dwell in the cellar for the first time since '97.
The A's, with a record of 37-49, are currently 12 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the AL West. The A's, who were considered contenders by many at the beginning of the season, enter the break as a team without much heart.
Offensive production has been a major problem for this year's team, as Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera haven't been able to hit consistently in the first half. The A's finished the first half scoring 361 runs (12th in AL), to go along with a league-low .246 batting average.
Pitching, however, has been extremely impressive, considering the A's boast the youngest staff in the league. The A's closed out the first half with a 4.24 ERA (Sixth best in the AL). Though each rookie, especially Brett Anderson, has had their up's and down's, they seemed to further mature with each start.
Dallas Braden, the ace of the staff, leads the rotation with an impressive 3.12 ERA and also leads in wins, with seven. Braden, 25, pitched exceptionally well against the Rays in his last start, and is scheduled to start the second half against the Angels.
The A's only All Star, Andrew Bailey, is a rookie, who's been extremely impressive out of the 'pen. Bailey has recorded 10 saves, and has maintained an ERA under two in 51.2 innings. Like Bailey, the A's bullpen has been solid, despite them being misused by manager Bob Geren.
Bob Geren, the A's Manager, has been extremely disappointing. The previous A's manager, Ken Macha, is currently managing the second place Brewers in the NL Central. Billy Beane's decision to promote Geren hasn't panned out as according to plan. Geren's decision making is often questioned, and his leadership is in doubt.
After 86 games, Geren still does not know how to use his bullpen, and doesn't keep a consistent lineup. He's an absolute mess, and if A's were to fire him I doubt anyone would jump ship.
The A's are really running on thin ice heading into the second half. They are pushing their shrinking fan base to the limit, and as the trade deadline approaches, Beane and company are surely going to ship off the only stars they have.
So, if Holliday leaves, it's just another signal to the fans that the A's have no intention of winning.
This "re-building" process has been difficult to bare with, and the A's are really testing their loyal fan base with this level of play. If the A's can't score in the second half, it's sure to be another losing season. Even worse, the A's are headed for a last place finish.