There's No Light at the End of the Tunnel for the Oakland A's
When Billy Beane made no moves at the All-Star break to improve the Oakland A's lineup, it was only a matter of time before the overachieving A's squad started to crumble, and now that time has come.
Over the last 10 games the A's have gone 4-6 and went from second place in the American League West division, to third place, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now one and a half games ahead of the A's.
In that span, the A's offense has averaged 2.5 runs per game. Looking further at just how miserable the offense has been, the A's have been shutout twice and have scored two or less runs three times.
Meaning that in five of the 10 games, the A's have either been shutout or scored two or less runs. Luckily for the A's, and why the record in the last 10 games isn't even worse, is because of the A's pitching.
When looking over the 10 game span, the A's pitchers have allowed 28 runs. It's not hard to see why the A's have the best ERA in the American League, but it's also easy to see why the A's have struggled so much.
Today the A's nearly got no hit by the Minnesota Twins and yet when the dust settled and the game was over, all the A's could manage was two hits and two runs, which nearly was enough to win, but a three-run home run by Jim Thome made it virtually impossible for the A's to comeback from a 4-0 deficit.
Yet, the score could have been different in the game. In fact, the A's could have come out with a 2-1 victory over the Twins, but another fine example of the fine managing of Bob Geren came into play.
Jerry Blevins relieved Vin Mazzaro in the bottom of the seventh inning after Chris Carter misplayed a flyball off the bat of Orlando Hudson. Blevins came in to face Joe Mauer who he proceeded to walk. Jason Kubel struck out on a nasty off-speed pitch from Blevins.
Michael Cuddyer then was robbed of extra bases on a tremendous diving stop by Daric Barton at first base, a play that saved the A's at least two runs at the time. So, it looked like the A's were out of the woods right?
As Thome strolled to the plate, Brad Ziegler began to get himself ready in the bullpen. The first three pitches from Blevins were not even close to the strike zone and with two outs there was no reason to give in to Thome with a base open and Danny Valencia coming to the plate.
Instead of doing what most managers would have done in the situation and that is put Thome on base, the A's chose to go after Thome. That was a bad move on the A's part as Thome took Blevins' next pitch out of the ballpark.
At the time of the home run, the A's were trailing 1-0, that home run brought the score to 4-0. That at-bat by Thome is just another example of why the A's need to fire Geren.
Another reason is what happened in the top of the ninth inning. With Kevin Kouzmanoff opening the inning off with a single, he wasn't pinch run for. In that situation, with the way the A's offense has been going, Kouzmanoff should have been ran for.
A reason for that is to keep the A's from hitting into a double play, which is exactly what happened. Rajai Davis ended the game by grounding out to shortstop.
Further proof of just how bad the A's offense has been can be seen by each hitter that's been in the lineup.
1. Coco Crisp: .394 average, three doubles, 15 hits, a homer, and five RBI
2. Daric Barton: .267 average, two triples, a double, eight hits, no homers, and one RBI
3. Kurt Suzuki: .162 average, two doubles, six hits, no homers, and three RBI
4. Jack Cust: .178 average, a double, five hits, no homers, and one RBI
5. Kevin Kouzmanoff: .114 average, two doubles, four hits, no homers, and three RBI
6. Mark Ellis: .294 average, four doubles, 10 hits, no homers, and four RBI
7. Rajai Davis: .243 average, three doubles, nine hits, no homers, and two RBI
8. Chris Carter: .000 average, zero doubles, zero hits, zero homers, and zero RBI
9. Cliff Pennington: .333 average, two doubles, a triple, zero homers, and zero RBI
Totals: 18 doubles, three triples, one home run, and 19 RBI
That's the lineup the A's have put out a majority of the time in the last 10 games. The question is, will the A's snap out of the offensive funk the team is in? Not very likely because of the upcoming games the A's have.
The next few series the A's play are against the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians (only winnable series for the A's), Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees.
With the way the A's offense has been playing it wouldn't be a surprise to find the team hovering around 10 games under .500 rather than at or above .500, the reason being is there doesn't seem to be an end in sight for the A's offense.
Conor Jackson is scheduled to come off the disabled list. It may mean that Chris Carter gets sent down or one of the relievers. Even with Jackson's bat in the lineup, it still doesn't give the A's much more offensively.
What is the light at the end of the tunnel for the A's? The answer is when September begins and the rosters expand, the A's have a few call ups to make.
First will be Michael Taylor since Carter is already up. Since Taylor started the season so slowly he's done a much better job. He's now hitting a respectable .264 after being in the .220s at the beginning of the year.
Jeff Larish who's already up will get a look he can play first, third, or be the designated hitter.
Dallas McPherson is another option as he can play third base, first base, or be the designated hitter as well.
Corey Brown, an outfielder, could be called up, he's got excellent speed and a good eye at the plate.
Displaying these hitters will show what the A's can look forward to the 2011 season. The pitching staff has been great all year. If the A's are to make a run at the playoffs, the A's need hitters.
Regardless of where the players are in their development either at Sacramento or Midland, something needs to be done to ignite the A's offense and give A's fans some hope for the 2011 season.
The pitching is already there but the hitting is nowhere close.
Besides the offense the question becomes when does it stop being the players fault and instead becomes the coaches fault? If a managers not able to get the best effort out of his players game in and game out doesn't that mean it's time for a change as well?
If a manager refuses to go 100 percent into a different offensive philosophy based on the team's roster? Is it fair to say that the manager should be gone?
The answer is yes and until the A's replace Geren, bring up some bats either from the minor leagues or trades in the offseason, and buy 100 percent into the offensive philosophy the A's are going to continue to struggle.
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