Time to Give Up on the 2015 Oakland Athletics


Yikes. That wasn’t a headline I really wanted to write. Optimism is fun sometimes, and it can help keep people interested, but once in a while some fans need a harsh dose of reality. If that headline made you too depressed already, I suggest you read something else. It’s about to get a lot uglier.

Going into the season, I was optimistic. I expected a win total in the mid-80s and a decent shot at one of the wild card spots. I like the new offense, the pitching seemed deep and the defense looked like a potential strength. If things went well, they could end up adding some pieces at the trade deadline and finishing with 90-plus wins. If some key players underperformed or got hurt, I could see them finishing around .500, maybe a little lower.

Well the latter of those two directions has been an understatement of the Athletics first two months. The bullpen and defense have been much worse than they are capable of being, and some key players (Ben Zobrist, Coco Crisp, Sean Doolittle and Ike Davis) have been hurt.

So, reasonably speaking, this team as currently constructed is not going to continue their 100+ loss pace. If no trades are made, and most of the team is healthy, they’ll get better. They’ve had so many bad breaks–they’ve been flukishly bad in one-run games. The defense will improve, the offense could put it all together, Kendall Graveman could solidify the back end of the rotation, and (hopefully) the bullpen can be at least 75 percent of what it was last year.

If all of that happens over the next four months, again assuming the roster is basically still the same, we can optimistically say the A’s will play at a 95-win pace (a .586 win percentage) for the rest of the season. That’s how much I actually like this current roster. That would give them a 66-47 record for the rest of the year, which would be 83-79 at the end of the season.

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If 83-79 seems like the absolute best-case scenario that could possibly happen, things really aren’t looking too bright for this team. They’re not as bad as they’ve played so far. Not even close. But they’ve spent the last two months digging themselves into a humongous hole that they aren’t quite good enough to get out of. I just don’t see this roster playing at a 100+ win pace for the rest of the season–even if everything goes right.

Unfortunately for you optimists who are still reading, this means that the Athletics should trade their assets now, before other sellers start throwing in the towel. Billy Beane views no player as indispensable, and will move anyone if he gets a good enough offer. That’s the perfect attitude to have for a seller, as some team may overpay for a need to stay in contention.

Now don’t misinterpret this article as a call for NBA-style tanking. That just doesn’t work in baseball like it does in other major sports. The players on the field should absolutely keep doing all that they can to win. And for the fans, it will be fun to see the players of the future get regular playing time. Mark Canha and Brett Lawrie may finally put it all together. Marcus Semien will have plenty of time to improve his defense at shortstop. We can see if Billy Burns’ bat is legitimate. Maybe we’ll see some minor leaguers like Joey Wendle or Matt Olson get a cup of coffee in the big leagues. Even if the team isn’t in contention, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the 2015 A’s.

What do you think? Are you still holding out hope? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @mattmcsports27.