The Oakland Athletics enter their contest against the Cleveland Indians with a 39-50 record. With the trade deadline looming and plenty of prospects knocking on the A’s (revolving) door, what does the second half hold for the green-and-gold? We ask our Crystal Ball next…
The Oakland Athletics will enter Friday’s contest sitting 21 games back of the first place Houston Astros. The A’s have also dug themselves quite a hole in the Wild Card standings, despite the American League’s collective struggles.
Playoff baseball is virtually out of the question this season for the A’s. Looking ahead to next season may not be a better solution, either. The future could be bright for the A’s, but the playoffs, at this point, seem a few years away.
The youth movement has begun washing over the city of Oakland with youngsters like Matt Chapman, Ryon Healy and Franklin Barreto leading the way. The young, promising round of prospects have, however, forced a few veteran players out of the city.
Fan favorite Stephen Vogt was sent packing for Milwaukee when the A’s decided to roll with a combo of Josh Phegley and Bruce Maxwell. So while steps have been taken in the right direction, the A’s still have plenty of work to finish this year.
Trade Season Is Here
The A’s will open the second half with plenty of questions still remaining about Sonny Gray‘s future with the club. Gray has generated plenty of interest from other teams and the A’s value Gray very highly.
Billy Beane and David Forst will likely demand plenty of talent in return for Gray. As of now, Beane’s office hasn’t received any serious offers for the right-hander. The A’s are trying to sell the point that Gray will be an affordable option for the next few years.
Will that be enough to make a deal happen for Gray? It’s possible. Expect the A’s to deal their ace by the deadline.
In addition to Gray, the A’s will need to unload their remaining veteran talent. Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce, Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie will need to be moved this month. Parting ways with their remaining veterans will be the final step of Beane’s youth movement.
As we approach the deadline, Lowrie’s time in green-and-gold appears to be running short. His presence in the lineup currently blocks Franklin Barreto’s path to the big leagues.
Barreto received a taste of big league action this past month, but was sent down shortly before the All-Star break. He is expected to play a large role with the A’s moving forward, but will need an opportunity to contribute daily.
Our Crystal Ball has Lowrie as having a 100% chance of being dealt before the deadline. Expect the A’s to ship Lowrie to a contender looking for a solid switch hitter with plenty of veteran experience.
More Of The Same?
With the A’s expected to go younger in the second half, it goes without saying that expectation for the second half are set reasonably low. The A’s have already lost 50 games this year and that number is only expected to grow as the season comes to a close.
Injuries and slow starts from key veteran players have plagued Bob Melvin‘s team. Heading into the second half, the A’s should be a younger and more energetic bunch than their first half counterparts.
Healy, Chapman and Barreto will all face struggles, but the hope is they’ll adjust and succeed on the big league stage.
Committing to the youth movement will be Oakland’s number one priority in the second half. The A’s have performed semi-youth movements before in the past, but this year will need to be different.
Simply trying to tread the water will no longer suffice. Beane and the A’s will struggle to find many opportunities to win in the second half, but those struggles will be worth it in the end.
Expect not more of the same, but hopefully something entirely different.
Final Say: The A’s have one job to do in the second half: continue their youth movement. IF they can fully commit to what they started back in June, expect different results in the second half. The A’s will lose their share of games, but hopefully you’ll be able to spot glimpses of a bright future ahead.