Well the A’s managed to win a game yesterday to avoid an 0-8 road trip. 0-8 would’ve been awful but 1-7 is not much better. They continued their streaky ways again, as this season high seven-game losing streak immediately followed a five-game winning streak (and that followed a 1-7 stretch, which followed a four-game winning streak). Ugh, A’s. What are you?
The answer to that is what it was when I wrote my last blog about three weeks ago, and that’s “not very good.” Injuries are still a thing – Rich Hill is now on the DL, and Khris Davis and Danny Valencia sat out both of the games in Milwaukee with ailments. Sonny Gray came back, which is nice, but this is still a very battered bunch, with 10 guys still on the DL. At least they were able to find a taker for Chris Coghlan, as the Cubs wanted him back and gave the A’s an actual sort of prospect for him, speedy switch hitting infielder Arismendy Alcantara.
In seasons like these, it is often fun to focus on other things that the day-to-day playing of baseball games, and we got one of those things last week with the draft. Thanks to being crappy last year, the A’s had the highest pick they’ve had since they selected Mark Mulder #2 overall in 1998. This year they picked sixth and went with a big tall lefty pitcher, A.J. Puk. I won’t even pretend that I follow college baseball at all but the fact that this guy was considered a potential #1 overall at one point makes me pretty glad the A’s landed him here. Then with the competitive balance lottery pick at #37, the A’s drafted Cal pitcher Daulton Jefferies who posted a 1.08 ERA in college ball this season. Then in the second round, they picked Puk’s Florida teammate Logan Shore, a kid who actually put up better numbers than the highly touted Puk this season. It’s always easy to be optimistic about draft picks but the general consensus is that the A’s did very well here, and I’ll go with that. I gotta go with something.
The A’s are back home after their abysmal road trip, and it would be nice to see them win a few with A.L. West rivals coming to town. They’ll get the first place Rangers for four and then the Angels for three over the weekend. Go A’s…
Sigh. I don’t really know what to make of the A’s this year. Well, scratch that. I do know what to make of the A’s this year and that is that they’re not very good. They are also not very healthy, which may also have something to do with not being very good, but it doesn’t have everything to do with it. Kendall Graveman and Chris Coghlan probably weren’t expected to be as bad as they have been much of this year but here they are, with an ERA of 5.36 and a batting average of .153 respectively. And the A’s are playing without either Sonny Gray or Josh Reddick right now. What can you do? Unfortunately the way Major League Baseball works is that you have to keep on playing games nearly every day even when your star players are injured. I know, that’s brutal! But it’s the way it is. And you end up with the 2016 Oakland A’s.
This year’s A’s are also extremely streaky. They’ve swept three series (two on the road) but have been swept four times. They’ve had as long as a six-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak. They’ve been doing lots of things in bunches, even hitting singles (Reddick tied a franchise record for hits in consecutive at-bats), giving up home runs (the A’s gave up the most home runs they have in a single game since 1994 when they allowed six against the Orioles on May 8), hitting home runs (both Danny Valencia and Khris Davis had three homer games within two days of each other), and allowing runs (the A’s allowed 11+ runs in four consecutive games for the first time in franchise history from May 8 to May 11). Lots of good and lots of really, really horrible things have been happening.
Now, it’s still very early and anything can happen. But my expectation is that this year is much like last year. Gray’s injury may have delayed the inevitable with him, but I would still expect Rich Hill, Valencia and Reddick to all be trade bait at the deadline. Reddick, much like Ben Zobrist last year, should be back from his injury in time to rebuild his value in what could be a seller’s market. We are already seeing some of the rewards from last year’s deadline moves, with Sean Manaea in the rotation, and this summer looks like it could be a time to load up again.
In any and all things, A’s, don’t screw it up…
Somehow the A’s are just three games under .500 at 13-16, as it feels like they should be 3-26. What started out has a promising homestand ended with a loud thud, capped by a demoralizing 9-8 loss to the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. They got swept by the first place M’s and are now riding a four-game losing streak into another east coast road trip that begins tonight in Baltimore.
The A’s had beaten Felix Hernandez already once this season, which is a rare feat in itself, but had a really great chance to do it again, knocking Seattle’s ace around for eight runs (four earned) in four innings pitched. They took an 8-4 lead into the 6th inning, but the bullpen that had been so steady the first couple weeks of the season decided to be shaky all on the same day, and they blew the lead to lose the game 9-8. They knocked Felix out of the game in the fifth inning and couldn’t manage to win it. That had to be the most frustrating loss of the season yet.
Then things got even worse on the off day yesterday as it was announced that Chris Bassitt would need Tommy John surgery. We won’t see him until next season if even that. That sucks big time as Bassitt had a really nice start to the season. The A’s do have Jesse Hahn back in the bigs though, and he was dazzling in his 2016 debut, throwing 6 2/3 of shutout ball in the A’s win against the Astros on Saturday. It’s nice to have depth, as it often gets tested.
One other positive thing on the homestand was watching Yonder Alonso finally deliver a big hit in a big situation, as he hit a three-run walkoff home run on Friday night. He hadn’t provided much of anything offensively up until that point, but now is 5-for-19 (.263) with three runs scored in the past seven days, so maybe things are starting to look up for him. We have to hope so, because it’s really hard to win many games when your first baseman is slugging .250.
So another east coast trip begins tonight. The A’s will take on the Orioles this weekend, where they have the hottest hitter in baseball in Manny Machado waiting for them. It’s going to be a tough weekend, that’s for sure. Surprise me, A’s.