The Oakland A's are currently in a battle between two other teams for the American League West title. The A's have some things that they need to work out to even consider being in contention for the division.
So, here are the seven things the A's must do in order to win the American League West division.
I don't know of anyone else as manager of the Oakland A's that Billy Beane has had this much patience with. He has been the worst manager of the decade and quite possibly the worst manager in Oakland franchise history.
Geren takes cluelessness to a new level: from not knowing how to read a scouting report (as in a left handed pitcher is being hit off at a .500 clip by left handed hitters) to how to use his bullpen (such as putting in a struggling Tyson Ross to face Delmon Young).
Of course, those are the most recent examples of Geren's incompetency as manager, but these examples have plagued Geren since his arrival.
By hiring Tony DeFrancesco, it would be a tremendous advantage for the A's, who would finally have a competent manager.
Brett Anderson has been on the disabled list once and currently is on his second trip to the 15-day disabled list. If the A's want to stay in contention for the playoffs, they need their number two starter back in the rotation.
He has all the makeup to be the number one starter for the A's, but Gio Gonzalez has been healthy all season and has pitched consistently well.
When Anderson gets back, the rotation should be:
3. Ben Sheets
4. Dallas Braden
5. Trevor Cahill
The A's need their bullpen to be solid. Right now it has been struggling, although part of the blame goes squarely on Bob Geren. Michael Wuertz has struggled coming back from his injuries; Tyson Ross has struggled since he started the year out very well; and Henry Rodriguez has control issues. If Rodriguez can find his control, he'd be an amazing addition to the roster, but he's not ready just yet.
The two left handers in the bullpen, Jerry Blevins and Craig Breslow, have had their share of struggles, but are coming around more consistently as of now.
If the bullpen can be settled and used correctly, the A's can definitely use it to their advantage, especially since the A's have the ability to call up another lefty out of the pen in Cedric Bowers.
Also, the A's can use their depth with relievers to send down Rodriguez and Ross. Jon Hunton currently has a 2.32 ERA in 21 games for Sacramento and Sam Demel has a 1.04 ERA and five saves.
Cliff Pennington started the season on a tear, but has cooled down considerably, so much so that there may be a platoon between Pennington and super sup Adam Rosales.
Pennington is the better defender, while Rosales is the better hitter. Both have cannons for arms, but Pennington has the ability to make more plays on defense.
Unfortunately, neither are everyday shortstops at the Major League level. So, there are two options for the A's.
Johnny Peralta of Cleveland would be a good fit for the A's. He has gap power in terms of doubles (with a career high of 42 in 2008) and already has 16 doubles this year in 52 games. His average will be in the range of .250-.280 and he'll drive in anywhere from 70-80 runs a season, along with 15-20 HRs.
The second option would be Stephen Drew of Arizona. Recently, there's been rumors that the team has been looking to re-do their entire roster. Well, here's a chance for the A's to steal away an everyday shortstop to help them towards their march to the playoffs.
He's a little better hitter than Peralta, hitting anywhere from .270-.280, but he doesn't have the run production of Peralta or the gap power. He still would be an upgrade over the duo of Pennington and Rosales.
Chris Carter so far has hit 13 HRs and has driven in 44 runs for Sacramento, but has not hit for a high average (only .238). At this point, even though the club is starving for power, bringing Carter up is not the answer for the A's.
The same thing can be said for Michael Taylor, who is definitely not ready for the big leagues. Currently, Taylor is hitting .225 with only two HRs and has driven in 25.
Until Carter and Taylor can find any kind of consistency at Sacramento, there shouldn't be any talk of either one of them being brought up to help out the A's anemic offense.
Landon Powell, throughout his time with the A's, has come up in clutch situations. Not only that, he was the catcher behind the plate for the A's when Dallas Braden pitched his perfect game.
Powell is a big boy but can provide some needed power in the A's lineup. In 46 games last year, he drove in 30 runs. So far this year, in 15 games, he's driven in five.
He can DH, he can play first base, and he can give Kurt Suzuki a day off behind the plate.
Jake Fox was brought in by the A's to provide power in the lineup. He has not had the chance to prove that. Although he's not going to provide any speed in the lineup, he can play in the outfield, first base, third base, and even provide another backup option at catcher.
Fox hit 11 HRs in 82 games last year and, in 35 so far this year, he's hit two (but in less than 100 at-bats).
There's no secret that the A's need a big bat in the lineup, specifically someone who can provide fear into the starting pitcher for whoever the A's are facing.
Konerko currently is batting .272 with 17 homers and 41 RBI. Those numbers would lead the A's in both HRs and RBI. In fact, if you combined the production of the two players who lead the A's in HRs, Konerko would still have more.
It's been rumored that the Chicago White Sox are going to make some changes to the team.
Going along with the Arizona theme, the A's could look at three players: Chris Young, Justin Upton, or Mark Reynolds.
Milwaukee, with the impending free agency of Prince Fielder, could be a willing trade partner, especially with the A's plethora of young pitchers.
The same could be said for Adrian Gonzalez, who would be worth more than Fielder.
The A's must fire Bob Geren, have Brett Anderson fully healthy, stabilize their bullpen, bring in a more consistent shortstop, let the two power prospects start hitting at Sacramento, bring up Landon Powell and play Jake Fox more, and, finally, trade for a bat.
If the A's can do these things, the team should be in great shape to make the playoffs in the American League West.