Oakland Athletics: What Now?

Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) is relieved by manager Bob Melvin (6) during the eighth inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s game was one of the most thrilling back-and-forth playoff contests that I’ve ever seen. Both managers made questionable calls (Ned Yost pulling James Shields for a rookie, Adam Dunn not seeing the field), but for all of the imperfections that were displayed, the simple perfection that is baseball prevailed.

The Oakland Athletics, and their fans, were dealt another heart-wrenching elimination on Tuesday. Simply, it sucked. Yet, I still find myself looking forward to next year, cheering on the same team, and renewing my season tickets. Maybe I just love to be hurt by those that I love.

Next season, the A’s could have a whole new look. They have some trade chips that could help the team rebuild for the future, when talented prospects, Daniel Robertson, Matt Olsen, Renato Nunez and Seth Steich arrive in Oakland in two or three years. But that is discussion for another date.

Right now, all of us are left to ponder: what’s next? The A’s have enough returning to conceivably contend again next season. The returns of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin will bolster the rotation throughout the season. Ideally, Craig Gentry and John Jaso will be healthy, and hopefully there will be an addition of some defense to a club that desperately needs it.

Another factor floating around is that the division is only getting better. Seattle made their case to make the playoffs this season, and were only eliminated on the final day. The Angels could fall back to Earth, but the Rangers will be better than they were, and Houston is an up-and-comer.

If the A’s want to rebuild, we may have seen the last of Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick. I am skeptical if Billy Beane could trade Josh Donaldson, with all of his value to the team, and not cause a fan revolt.

Josh Reddick was starting to put up some great numbers down the stretch, and his defensive abilities only increase his value. Brandon Moss can mash with the best of ’em, and Jeff Samardzija is a viable #2 starter in any rotation.

Whether or not these players get dealt could all be up to what is offered in return. If one goes, all seem likely to go, yet, none of them are traded for a pittance. The return will have to be substantial, and these are three players that can rebuild a farm system.

Right now, just an hour after that heartbreaking loss, I think Billy brings the band back together, and adds a couple of clutch performers to the mix. For me, two things on my wish list are a setup man, and a defensive catcher. Luke Gregerson was solid all season, but there were nights he just didn’t have “it”. Tuesday was one of those nights.

After Geovany Soto left the game due to injury, the Royals were able to steal at-will against Derek Norris, propelling them to victory. He was injured, and I get that, but I’d like the opposition to have at least a little fear of running.

The Oakland Athletics have a lot of decisions to make in the coming weeks, leading to the Winter Meetings. Until then, we will be providing our take on what we think should happen all offseason long.