Oakland Athletics: Hideki Matsui and 7 Players Who Have to Deliver in the Second
The Oakland A's need more than just an improved player or two to make the team relevant this year, and the following players are the ones to get it done.
The A's have had yet another rough year, what with injuries, losing key games and anemic hitting, leaving fans with very little to believe in.
Currently the A's are pretty much out of contention, but if they pick their play up in the second half they may be able to save some of their dignity, and in their dream of dreams, make a run for the division.
The A's brought in order to provide a much-needed power threat in the middle of the lineup; instead, Matsui has had easily the worst season of his career.
On such an offensively challenged team, this rapid decline takes a great toll.
Godzilla needs to go on a rampage against AL pitchers otherwise his career could become extinct.
Kurt Suzuki is in the second year of a four-year, $16.25 million contract with the A's; his play this year however has been a major disappointment.
A career .260 hitter, Suzuki has struggled mightily at the plate, hitting a puzzling .225.
Perhaps a greater concern, Suzuki’s defense has regressed noticeably, particularly his throwing. Suzuki's return to respectability would give the A’s much-needed boost down the stretch.
True Chris Carter is a rookie still learning the ins and in his case “outs” of the Majors, but he is with the big boys now and needs to pull his weight.
In the first half, several of our readers pointed out that Carter has been lacking confidence at the plate, whiffing on 88 mph fastballs even when looking for a fastball.
This needs to change and quick if Carter wants to make a mark on the second half.
It comes down to this: In order to find out if Carter is a dynamo or a dud, the A's have to commit to Carter paying every day during the second half.
Trevor Cahill emerged from seemingly out of nowhere in 2010, making the All-Star team and putting himself in serious consideration for the Cy Young award.
The A's rewarded him with a long-term contract, and, while his statistics would be acceptable for most pitchers, Cahill is not satisfied.
His control issues have been maddening, and his sinker not quite as sharp. A return to last year’s form is very possible.
Unlike his rookie counterpart Chris Carter, Jemile Weeks has been delivering a solid performance in the first half.
Weeks got his chance to shine when veteran Mark Ellis went on to the DL and Weeks was promoted from AAA Sacramento.
He has shown a remarkably consistent bat, breathtaking speed and an average glove.
With the trade of Ellis to Colorado, Weeks has inherited the second base position and should continue to show improvement.
On a team lacking exciting players, Coco Crisp is a welcome sight for A's fans everywhere.
After being snake-bit with injuries over the last three seasons, Crisp has been an electrifying presence for the A's, appearing in 81 out of 92 games this season.
He is among the league leaders in triples and stolen bases, and has flashed Gold Glove caliber catches on a routine basis.
A potential free agent after the season, Crisp will be looking to have a huge second half of the season to help the A's in the short term and his pocketbook in the future.
Signed before the season as an experienced and effective late inning reliever, left-hander Brian Fuentes has been atrocious.
Sporting a 1-8 record and nearly a 5.00 ERA, Fuentes has been guilty of pouring gasoline on fires instead of putting them out.
He still has a chance to redeem himself and live up to the two-year, $10 million deal he signed this year, but he better do it quick.
The A's can’t afford to lose many more close games, and Fuentes pitching well would be a good start.
It’s been said that Oakland is a place where good hitters go to die. Exhibit A, David Dejesus.
A career .290 hitter with Kansas City, Dejesus has hit a paltry .220 so far in the 2011 season.
While he has kept a positive attitude and tremendous work ethic, Dejesus’ swing has deteriorated.
A return to form would ease the minds of GM Billy Bean and A's fans alike and reintroduce a professional hitter into a lineup that is sorely in need of one.