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A’s Road: Present and Future

By: Brett Menominee
bmenominee@gmail.com
7/29/2009 4:06 pm

Here we sit entering the month of August, I take a look back at the A’s season thus far and it’s easy to pick out negatives. As a fan you always get that optimistic feeling when you get a hint of spring air on the nose. This year, one thing was certain, and that was we were going to need to put some runs on the scoreboard because our pitching was too young and too unproven to rely on. That being said, Billy Beane went out this winter and retrieved some “bats”. Matt Holliday was thought to be a nice pickup, and Jason Giambi , Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparra, Aging vets were going to be experiments much like Mike Piazza, Eric Karros, Frank Thomas, David Justice and on and on. The same formula that has worked time and time again; this year the experiment blew up. Well, Holliday is now a faint memory as he became part of a wildcard race with the St. Louis Cardinals, Giambi and Nomar have spent time on the Disabled list but when healthy are batting a combined .223 and Cabrera has been nothing more than average. After a typical slow start in the month of April, it only seemed to stay the same and eventually get worse as May and June came to a close.
Why spend any more time on the past. Let’s look towards the present and the future. As the summer days become less and less, it’s safe to say that the A’s season is all but done, yet I’ve been more excited watching them play baseball lately. You might think that statement is odd, but throughout the month of July I’ve noticed the Young A’s playing with a little jump in their step. Sure there have been the days where we lose 1-0 still or the nights we lose 8-2, but then the next night we rally back from a 6-2 deficit only to win 8-7. The Constant theme here is inconsistency and that has a lot to do with the youth of this team, especially the pitching. If I can take any positive out of this season, it’s the experience that our pitching staff will have under their belts. Coming into this season when I heard names like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Josh Outman I had nervous hope. Since June started, guys like Cahill, Anderson combined with Vin Mazzaro, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden have caught my eye, and have made me excited to watch. Yes they’ve all hit their fair share of road bumps along the way, but I can definitely say that progress has been made. With arms like these, I can see the A’s in for bigger seasons than when there were names like Hudson, Mulder and Zito around. When I think of the A’s, I’m of the mentality that although they may be down for now, they’re never down and out. I’m a believer that the future of the A’s is bright and that bright road is paved by pitching.
Pitching is fine and well, but what about hitting? They say pitching wins championships, and while that may hold true, I say that you need a good balance of both offense, defense and pitching to bring the brass home in October. For years now, we’ve tried to get those aging bats for a cheap price in hopes that The Bay Area will revive them. While it has worked from time to time to create a spark, I think it’s time to do it the way of the small market team and rebuild from within. There are some nice young pieces on the Major league roster already and a group just waiting to show their true potential in Sacramento. I’m a big fan of guys like Ryan Sweeney, Mark Ellis, Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell, Tommy Everidge and am looking forward to seeing Travis Buck, Cliff Pennington, Aaron Cunningham and Matt Carson one day show their worth. Unfortunately being a small market team means being patient and letting talent develop unlike the Yankees who can buy into success immediately. We were spoiled in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the farm system flourished with talent. I want to see the A’s succeed like anyone else, but I also realize that sometimes it takes a while for talent to gel and progress into a winner. A small market fan in baseball goes through a vicious cycle, but in the long run winning makes the juice that much sweeter.