After dropping their ninth straight game, the Oakland Athletics sit in last-place in the American League West at 27-36. Injuries have been hitting the team like bombshells this season, and things are not looking too good for the green-and-gold. Hope surrounded the team in spring training, but with the recent struggles, only frustration seems to fill the clubhouse.
But even at this low point for the team, SF Chronicle writer Susan Slusser doesn’t believe that GM Billy Beane will necessarily turn the team into immediate sellers. While she does say that OF Josh Willingham‘s name is likely swirling around as a possible trade target, she doesn’t think that Beane will give up on the team this early in the season.
Injuries have derailed an A’s team that entered the season with higher expectation than in previous years, and the team has already used the disabled-list nine times this year. Oakland’s rotation has taken the biggest hit this year, as the team recently lost starter Brett Anderson to the 15-day DL. Anderson, 23, battled injury problems last season, but entered this year seemingly healthy.
He joins a DL that already includes fellow starters Dallas Braden, Tyson Ross, Brandon McCarthy, and Rich Harden. Braden, who threw a perfect game last year on Mother’s Day, is out for the season. Ross and McCarthy are still at least a month or so away from joining the team. Harden, meanwhile, is making some progress towards returning to the team. He’s been sidelined all year due to a muscle strain under his right arm. The flame-thrower has had his share with injury problems, but when he’s healthy, he’s got electric stuff.
With Anderson, however, there’s a fear that the A’s could lose him for the season. Tommy John Surgery could be an inevitable process that Anderson and the A’s have to face at some point in the near future. The A’s young lefty is seeking a second-opinion, but as Slusser notes, the A’s will call up rookie starter Graham Godfrey to start on Friday, suggesting that A’s could transfer Anderson to the 60-day DL to make room for Godfrey on the 40-man roster.
The A’s haven’t said much about Anderson’s injury, but it does look likely that Anderson will miss an extended period of time.
Another factor the A’s have to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to call this season a wash, is the situation on offense. The A’s anemic offense has been annoyingly inconsistent for a majority of this season, and ranks 27th in baseball with 221 runs, 26th in batting average (.239), 26th in on-base percentage (.305), and 27th in slugging (.348).
Manager Bob Geren’s frequent lineup shuffles don’t seem to be helping the team score runs, and the fact that 1B Daric Barton (.217/.329/.274, 0 HR, 17 RBIs) is still finding himself bat in the No.2 spot is mind-boggling to most of Geren’s critics.
Hideki Matsui hasn’t panned out this season, and hasn’t done much at the plate. Oakland’s veteran DH could be nearing the “end” of his career, but the A’s could still give “Godzilla” a few more games to get himself out of hole he’s dug. In 49 games this season, the Japanese superstar has hit just .209/.260/.316 with 3 HR and 20 RBIs.
He’s a notoriously slow starter, with the history of heating up in the summer months of June and July, but with Oakland’s lineup failing to produce runs, Matsui’s days in Oakland could soon be numbered.
Altogether, Oakland’s 2011 season hasn’t been pretty. Injuries and underperformance has this team stuck in a place of disillusionment, and the only solution seems to be figure out a way how to properly prepare for next season and beyond.
This season has been a mixture of bad-luck and underperformance: the A’s have two-fifths of the pitching staff that they opened the season with, and the team’s offense has been in a two-and-a-half month slump. Selling the pieces they acquired this past offseason would be one way to prepare for the future, but doing absolutely nothing should not be an option.
Firing Bob Geren would be a start.