Oakland's New Big Three - Gonzalez, Cahill and Braden

Shaun WeissmanContributor IJune 4, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 19:  Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Detroit Tigers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When I was old enough to understand and appreciate baseball, I started to enjoy intense pitching matchups more than the long-ball and offensive outpours. 

And for a brief amount of time the place to be for that was in Oakland, where the under spending Athletics had playoff runs behind the arms of two lefties and a finesse righty.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito – three of the best in the American League during the first half-decade of 2000 – ALL ON ONE TEAM!

Hudson had the splitter that seemed to put a dirt-seeking device on the ball, Zito had that killer hook that he could place wherever he wanted, and Mulder was the all serious and rock solid third ace.

Then 2004 came…no more Hudson, no more Mulder.

Zito followed suit just a couple years later and by the 2007 season the A’s went from three aces to none.

To add a heavy dose of salt to the wound the team also let Miguel Tejada go in 2003 and star third baseman Eric Chavez broke down physically more often than a 1983 Geo Prizm.

Now, in 2010 the A’s have finally gotten back to the basics. 

Dallas Braden, 26, is 4-5 with a 3.60 ERA and he threw the first perfect game of this young season.

He hits his spots, doesn’t do anything fancy and on top of all that, he argues with A-Rod…gotta love that unless you are a Yankees fan.

Gio Gonzalez is the strikeout man.  Young, left handed and quickly reaching his potential, Gonzalez is the power pitcher the A’s have been lacking.

Trevor Cahill, 22, completes the big three.  In his second season the right hander seems to be getting a feel of the league.

In his seven starts Cahill is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA.

Right now the A’s have little run support, less power and an even less fan support.

But the small-ball, tiny budget A’s are back on the right track.

They lead the AL West with a 29-26 record and have done so by getting back to the basics…pitching and defense.