|Not quite this year for the A’s||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on August 22, 2012
However, the rag-tag group of ballplayers may fall just short of a postseason berth this year.
A’s general manager Billy Beane once again employed his Moneyball theory to this year’s team, and it definitely has worked out. He noticed the talent in some players on the scrap heap, like Bartolo Colon, Coco Crisp and Jonny Gomes, and was able to put together a competitive team with the smallest payroll in the game at just over $49 million.
Even die-hard baseball fans would have some trouble naming the starting lineup for the A’s. But these no-names have gelled very well and have even amassed a Major League-leading 13 walk-off wins.
It’s always argued that lack of experience can be a major factor in deciding a playoff push. There’s no doubt that the A’s current roster lacks experience. But offseason trades involving Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey landed Oakland young players looking to make an immediate impact.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
Additionally, Yoenis Cespedes has become the next big star out west. He’s a complete player who has been viewed as the leader of the young franchise. He’ll likely only get better as his career continues.
All these feel-good stories coming out of Oakland are great, but we have to look at the facts. Currently, the A’s are battling the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for just two wild card spots.
In most cases, the best teams get hot at the right time. The A’s, Orioles and Rays have been tenacious, but the best teams in this race are clearly the Tigers and Angels.
Both teams have deep offenses and pitching staffs that will carry them down the stretch. Most managers would feel more confident handing the ball to Justin Verlander over Brandon McCarthy every fifth day. The same goes for filling out a lineup card featuring Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson over Cespedes, Reddick and Crisp.
As for the Angels, they’ve hit a bit of a skid but have the firepower to turn it around. Albert Pujols has turned a lost season into another Pujols-type year. If Zack Greinke finds his way, the Angels’ starting rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana and Greinke will be very difficult to beat in September.
Regardless of a playoff push, the A’s are a significantly improved team that is having fun playing baseball. It might not be enough this year to hang with the veterans of the Tigers and Angels, but Oakland is setting itself up for a bright future.
Even so, if the A’s do sneak past the alleged wild card favorites, it would once again prove that money can’t buy success in the game.