The More the Rangers Change, the More the A’s Stay the Same. That’s the Problem.


Aug 10, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington (38) celebrates a win with right fielder Alex Rios (51) against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. The Rangers won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

I listen to a lot of sports radio in the car, mostly call in shows. We’re in a dead zone for Bay Area sports right now.  No real football, no Warriors, the Giants are terrible.  So the topic of the day is the A’s.

First, ask yourselves, who calls in to sports radio?  These people certainly can’t have jobs.  And listening to their opinions, they certainly don’t spend a lot of time watching A’s baseball, either in person or on television.  They are the Casual Sports Fan.  They are taking notice because the A’s have been winning.  They just put their Panda t-shirt away in favor of a green and gold snapback.  More than anything, they are optimistic.  They are happy.

They don’t understand.

They don’t understand how very dire the A’s position is.  The A’s are the same team they were in April and May.  A light-hitting, swell-pitching club that got streaky.

Before the All-Star Break, as a team the A’s hit .245.  Following the Break, they’re hitting .244.  Prior to the All-Star Break, the team ERA was 3.60.  Following it?  3.75.  Functionally the same.  And indeed, they have remained streaky.  That’s the problem.

The A’s have stayed the same.  Texas has gotten better.  They added Matt Garza, they added Alex Rios, and they have gotten better. The A’s added Alberto Callaspo.  They have stayed the same.  And they have gotten worse.  Good teams beat bad teams.  Texas is handing a beating to the Astros.  The Astros, in late July took 3 of 4 from the Blue Jays.  Texas would likely beat the Blue Jays.  The A’s are losing to them today, and look likely to lose the series to them.

The problem, as always, is the hitting.  Subtract Josh Reddick‘s sudden heroics and the offense has been anemic.  Coco Crisp is not reaching base, as an OBP of .333 for the month of August attests.  Without him on base, the offense has sputtered.  Those behind him are not playing much better.  Not to beat the drum too hard, or too long, but La Potencia is hitting .214 for August with two homeruns, one adding meaningless padding to the A’s blowout last Friday.

Not good enough.  Not close.

The A’s have the Astros coming next week.  Here’s what they have to do.  They must sweep the Astros at home.  They must win their coming series with the Indians and the Mariners.  They’re at home, and this team is built to play within the Coliseum.  If they don’t do that, they need to win series on the road against the Orioles, the Tigers and the Rays to stay within shouting distance of the Rangers who play the Astros, White Sox, Mariners and Twins in the same period.

Remember, the Rangers are better than they were in May.  They beat good teams.  They thrash lesser teams.  They will win those series.  Here’s a dash of cold, clear water.  If the Rangers get a six or seven game lead on the A’s, the A’s will not catch them.  Not the way they’re playing now.

The solution is simple.  Start hitting.  Play better.  Get better.  Beat good teams.  Thrash lesser teams.  Start now.  There is no tomorrow.  Or at least there won’t be come September.