The Oakland Athletics entered the season with a certain sense of optimism, but two months into the season, the A’s have fallen off the rails a bit. Led by manager Bob Geren, the A’s have been annoyingly inconsistent at the plate, and as a result, the team has failed to support a very talented starting rotation. Critics of the A’s will likely point to the team’s inability to score runs as the primary factor holding the team from reaching its potential, but there are other factors in play when considering the reasons why the A’s haven’t lived up to their potential yet this season.
One reason, as stated above, is the team’s inability to score runs. The A’s rank last within their division in runs scored with 208, while the first-place Rangers have scored 277 this season. The lack of production has really hurt the A’s this season, with the young starting pitchers in Oakland’s rotation being the primary victims of this lack of production. Guys like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez have all made major strides this season, despite pitching with very little run support.
When you think back to the 2000’s, the A’s had their “Big Three,” in Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito, but they also had an offense to help support that pitching trio. Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, and other premiere hitters led a Moneyball offense that helped carry the team to the postseason during the early 2000’s.
The “Big Three” Version 2.0, however, does not have that type of offensive production as their predecessors did. Instead, this year’s squad is finding it difficult to pile up the wins as Hudson, Mulder, and Zito did during the early 2000’s. The young guns of Oakland’s starting rotation have proven themselves capable of stacking up against any other rotation in baseball, and it’s become quite clear early on this year that Oakland’s rotation is the only reason why this team is even near the .500 mark.
In addition to Oakland’s offensive woes, the A’s have been derailed a bit by injuries and underperformance from some of its key players. The injury bug is nothing new for Oakland, as the team struggles seemingly every season with various injuries to some of its most important players.
This year is no different, as the team is currently without Dallas Braden, Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross, and Adam Rosales. The A’s will lose Braden, a.k.a “Mr. Perfecto,” for the season, while Harden, McCarthy, and Ross will try to pitch their way back from injury. Rosales, Oakland’s primary utility player last year, is attempting to come back from surgery that sidelined him for a few months.
Underperformance has been a recurring theme this season for Oakland, and manager Bob Geren is partially at fault for Oakland’s underperformance. Geren hasn’t had much to work with in terms of playoff-ready talent during his tenure as A’s skipper, but entering this season, the A’s were considered legitimate contenders in a very wide-open American League West division.
Through the season’s first two months, however, Geren’s A’s are reeling. The A’s pitching staff has been keeping the team close to the .500 mark, but the team’s inconsistencies have kept the organization from making a considerable amount of noise in a very winnable AL West division.
So far, GM Billy Beane’s attempts at retooling the offense with the additions of David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui, and Josh Willingham have failed, as the team still ranks near the bottom in all important offensive categories. Willingham, acquired in a trade with the Nationals, has proven to be the team’s best offensive player so far this year, as his 10 HRs lead the team.
Geren hasn’t shown the best of judgement, as seen throughout the recent series against the Giants during inter-league play, and poor judgement is something you never want to see from your team’s manager. Geren has had incidents with players before in the past, with Brian Fuentes being the most recent player calling out Geren’s management skills. Geren, to me, has never really used his bullpen all that well, and his frequent lineup shuffling drives some fans crazy, but for right now, he’s the A’s skipper.
He’s not fully at fault for the A’s struggles this season, as owner Lew Wolff will be quick to point out that Geren is simply “fantastic,” but Geren is one reason why the A’s haven’t reached their potential as a team. The purpose of this post was not to place all the blame on Geren, but rather to show that there are a few other reasons other than Geren’s lack of managerial skills that are preventing the A’s from reaching their potential.
Bottom line is that Geren will need to turn things around in a hurry before the A’s sink further into the abyss and before Geren finds himself joining the ranks of the unemployed.