Aug 5, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielderYoenis Cespedes
(52) hits a single during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Red Sox 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As soon as the trade for Jon Lester was made official, fans started questioning how the offense would produce without Yoenis Cespedes. Couple the loss of La Potencia with the recent struggles of Brandon Moss (0 for 17), John Jaso (0 for 17) and Stephen Vogt (0 for 23) and there is justifiably some cause for concern.
The six games since the trade have not put these fans at ease either, scoring 19 runs. The Athletics’ offense struck for eight of those runs came in one inning on Saturday, fueling the victory. Minus the big inning, the Athletics’ offense has provided an average of 2.2 runs/game in the other five contests. With Cespedes in Oakland, the A’s were averaging 5 runs/game over the course of the season.
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Yes, this is a substantial decrease in production at the plate, but the sample size is small. Over those 6 games, the A’s have faced a Royals’ team whose pitching staff ranks 3rd in the AL in ERA, and a Tampa Bay team that ranks 4th.
The team was struggling at the plate before the Cespedes trade as well. In the six games before the trade, facing a depleted Texas staff and the launching pad that is the Houston staff, the A’s offense mustered 26 runs. Houston and Texas rank last and second to last in the AL in ERA. The only team in baseball with a worse ERA than either team is the Colorado Rockies.
This is not to say that a difference in seven runs should be discounted, but the quality of the staffs faced should provide some hope for the Athletics’ offense moving forward. The weekend series against the Minnesota Twins offers the perfect opportunity for the Athletics’ offense to step up.
In her Drumbeat following Thursday’s loss, Susan Slusser interviewed Vogt. “Any time you lose a guy like Cespedes, everybody tries to step up more, and I think that’s carrying over into our at-bats,” Vogt said. “I’m as guilty of that as anybody.”
Moss, Jaso and Vogt will find their rhythm as the season progresses. It’s better that they are struggling now, as opposed to in the playoffs. The Athletics’ offense has been struggling, yet they have a 3-3 record over the past six games. Also of note, A’s starters over the last seven games are 2-5 with a 5.77 ERA. On the flip side, the bullpen has been remarkable of late, and currently have a 26 1/3 inning scoreless streak in the works.
The starter’s struggling has coincided with the team’s offensive struggles, and the team hasn’t fallen apart. Once this team starts clicking again, they will be tough to beat.
This optimism, plus the addition of playoff ace Jon Lester should spell a lengthy playoff run for the Athletics in 2014. I still make this trade.