Many People (including myself) had huge expectations for the 2009 Oakland Athletics. They were supposed to be the AL Sleeper Team. But, now it is already Mid-July and the A's are in the cellar.
But the record does not tell readers the true story of the 2009 A's. I am actually excited with what I saw in the first half. Of course they had no hitting ,but, when you live in Oakland, you get used to that.
What I liked was the pitching of Outman, Braden, Anderson, Cahill, Mazzaro whom I will boldly call "The Top Pitching Staff of 2012." So with this pitching could the A's actually make a run in the 2nd half?
If the A's trade Holliday at the break they will not have a shot at a comeback. But, if they keep him he WILL heat up. Yes, Coors field helped his numbers but he is a terrific hitter. No one can hit in Oakland in April and May and anyone who has been to Oakland knows what the Spring weather is like; Cold and Foggy. Why do people think the A's have traditionally been a second half team? It's because the hitting picks up.
Matt Holliday will pick it up in the second half of '09. Plus he will have 2 months of experience with AL pitching under his belt.
Giambi, unlike Holliday, does not have the luxury of using "I've never faced these AL pitchers" as an excuse. Giambi is just gettong too old. He can't catch up to a good fastball.
This causes him to sit fastball so he can catch up to it. That is why he looks so foolish on breaking balls early in the count. Hopefully he will pick it up in the 2nd half, but I wouldn't count on it.
the A's pitching staff really turned a corner at the end of the 1st half. Anderson's velocity is up to 97 and Braden looks like a legitimate Major League pitcher. With a little run support the pitching staff could be one of the top in the league.
At the start of the year the Oakland bullpen was phenomenal. Then it cooled off due to over use. Now that the A's young pitchers are going deeper in games the 'pen is getting more rest and his back to performing well. As long as the A's starters go 6 innings the A's have the bullpen set. Wuertz in the 7th. Ziegler in the 8th and Bailey (AL all star)closing it out.
Overall I would say that even with Matt Holliday and Giambi hitting ,the A's would not make a run to the playoffs. But they would be in contention and make it an interesting 2nd half in the AL West. The A's clearly have the pitching to compete in the 2nd half, but their hitting has to step up. However, barring another 20 game win streak, I would say the A's will end up 3rd in the West.