Seven Things the Oakland A's Must See in the Second Half From Their Players
There was a point in time in the season where the Oakland A's could have made a surprising run at the American League West division title, but all hope are pretty much gone after another dreadful performance against the New York Yankees.
So, what is there for the second half of the season for the A's? Well there's five things the A's have to have to show they could become a contender in the American League West division.
First, regardless of the batting average of Chris Carter he needs to be called up to provide a big bat in the lineup. For the Sacramento Rivercats, Carter has hit 17 homers and driven in 60. Along with the 17 homers he also has 22 doubles and two triples. Meaning in 83 games 41 of his 74 hits have gone for extra bases.
Those numbers are something that the A's are in desperate need of a big bat.
For the second thing that has to change is Daric Barton needs to stop taking so many pitches and start swinging the bat more.
He's leading the league in walks, but I don't know how many times I've seen him get a pitch to hit and he's either taking it or fouling the ball off or in a big time situation he gets caught looking at a close pitch.
That happened against the Yankees. The A's were trailing 5-1 at the time and this was a game changing situation. With the bases loaded and a 3-2 strike count in the bottom of the fifth inning.
CC Sabathia threw a fastball on the outside corner instead of fouling the pitch off like he did on the previous pitch he didn't swing. Mike Winters the man calling balls and strikes ran Barton up.
Barton was upset and immediately slammed his helmet down and was ejected. When hearing the call on the radio I thought hey here's another example of the Yankees getting the benefit of the doubt.
But, today when I saw the replay of that inning with Barton taking the third strike. I could only shake my head and think to myself what was Barton thinking? That was a perfectly placed pitch by Sabathia it was a strike and even if it was a ball that pitch was way too close for Barton to be not swinging.
The third thing the A's need to see is Gio Gonzalez continue to mature. When he gets in trouble in games he lets it bother him. Against the Yankees there's another perfect example of the growth that needs to be shown from Gonzalez.
For the game he had way too many baserunners. In the top of the fourth he let his concentration get away from him even after he got a double play.
Gonzalez allowed a single to Brett Gardner with the two outs. He attempted to throw over a number of times, but none were successful at keeping him from stealing second.
Ramiro Pena was the batter and he fell behind him and with a 3-1 pitch threw a fastball to the outside corner which Pena blooped into shallow right and Gardner scored easily.
Pena was able to take second on a wild pitch by Gonzalez. Derek Jeter then with his patented inside out swing hit a groundball past Barton for a single allowing Pena to easily to score from second.
Nick Swisher was up next and again he was wild getting to a 3-1 count. Gonzalez got lucky on a ball hit down the leftfield line but fortunately it went foul for him. Next pitch though was not even close, walking Swisher.
The very next hitter Mark Teixeira didn't have to wait long to get a pitch to hit. He drove a fastball out to dead center. So, the A's came into the inning winning 1-0 by the end of the inning the A's were then trailing 5-1.
The inning started for the Yankees with two outs. All Gonzalez had to do was get the third out. After Gardner got on and stole second, that's when Gonzalez should have gone right after Pena instead of pitching him carefully.
I get the fact that the Yankees have a scary lineup, but Pena doesn't exactly strike fear into many pitchers and it shouldn't have happened to Gonzalez.
The fourth thing relates to Gonzalez's meltdown. This has to do with both Curt Young and Kurt Suzuki.
When Gonzalez walked Swisher to put runners on first and second. Either Young or Suzuki should have been out to the mound to talk with Gonzalez to settle him down instead of allowing the next batter to come up to the plate and then hit a three run homerun.
It was easy to tell that Gonzalez was rattled just a bit after the stolen base to Gardner. With the Yankees you can see the difference with Jorge Posada behind the plate or even Francisco Cervelli.
When a pitcher is struggling they'll get up from behind the plate and either make a gesture to calm the pitcher down or they will walk to the mound to talk things over. While Suzuki is still growing as a catcher he has to do a better job of understanding when a young A's pitcher is struggling.
That same thing can be said for Young and even though he only had one visit to the mound, he should have been out there talking to Gonzalez at some point during the inning.
The fifth thing that must happen is that Ryan Sweeney needs to start showing that he can hit for power. Otherwise in the offseason he should be traded. It's inexcusable that a 6'4 215 pound outfielder is a slap hitter.
Most of Sweeney's hits have come to the opposite field and he rarely pulls the ball. Well Sweeney in the second half must show that he can learn to take the ball out of the ballpark.
He has just one homerun this season. For his career he has just 13 in 360 career games.
Also, it doesn't look good for Sweeney while Carlos Gonzalez who was part of the Matt Holliday trade from last year is having an all-star caliber season for the Colorado Rockies and has settled in hitting in the third spot. On the season he's hit 15 homers driven in 55, has a .303 average, and 12 stolen bases.
There's nothing wrong with Sweeney's defense he can play any of the three outfield positions and has a great arm, but offensively he leaves a lot to be desired.
As for the sixth thing the A's need to do is trade Ben Sheets and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Sheets needs to go to a team that can give him the offensive support he needs.
Kouzmanoff, while an outstanding defensive third basemen is as inconsistent as they come as a hitter. For a few weeks he'll be ice cold the next few weeks red hot, and then it's backto being ice cold. What's worse is Kouzmanoff's tendency to swing at pitches nowhere near the strikezone.
Finally the seventh thing the A's need to do is change the lineup and rotation for the second half.
1. Coco Crisp CF
2. Mark Ellis 2B
3. Chris Carter 1B/DH
4. Jack Cust DH/RF/LF
5. Kurt Suzuki C
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
7. Ryan Sweeney RF
8. Cliff Pennington SS
9. Rajai Davis LF/CF
1. Trevor Cahill
2. Brett Anderson/If healthy at the end of the all-star break
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Dallas Braden
5. Vin Mazzaro
As the second half approaches for the A's and to have a successful season they must bring up Carter, Barton needs to swing more, Gonzalez needs to learn how to control himself when he gets rattled, Suzuki needs to understand when to calm his pitcher down, Sweney needs to develop his power stroke, Sheets and Kouzmanoff need to be sent packing, and the lineup and rotation must be changed.
On one other note. A's fans need to start going out and supporting their team. It's an absolute disgrace that Yankees fans dominate the A's fans when they are in town and same can be said about Red Sox fans.
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