I try to follow the Oakland Athletics, since they are my local team. The A’s are a low budget operation as far as baseball is concerned, and I suppose if you look at it like that, maybe they are not doing too bad. But they are doing bad, and have really fallen apart at this time.
The Athletics started out in first place at the beginning of June, and seemed to be surging. It was an illusion. Today, they are 8 games behind and looking up at everybody. Why are they looking up? It involves a number of factors, all repairable. But will they be? I doubt it.
First, the A’s play in a pitcher’s park. Look at the thing. The park is in Oakland. This is a detriment in itself, because of the Bay Area weather. Every year I look at the folks in December at Green Bay and laugh at all their equipment as I sit there in shorts on a sunny day. But the Bay Area is cold folks. Up until September (August sometimes) to go to a night game, you need two pairs of socks, a jacket, ear coverings, gloves, and a blanket is not amiss. If you go to San Francisco, a face covering is not amiss either. So, the team goes from the 90’s back east to the cool 60’s here. Quite a change. Then there is the fog. That’s right fog. The air gets cold and heavy at night. The ball doesn’t carry well. Many players leaving Oakland become great home run hitters. This is not just a coincidence. And then there are the lights. They are not too good. Worse, in the outfield it is brightly lit, because the NFL had the park put in extra lights for an Oakland Raiders playoff game once upon a time. The extra lighting was so nice, you think someone would have put it in all around the park, but no. So, besides being cold, and the air heavy, the lights are a bit confusing. The park also has huge foul ball areas. I can of like them, since I move out of the way really slow. But pitchers get lots of extra outs at the Coliseum. Also, the ballpark is fairly long, over 400 in centerfield. Sorry, no short walls here. So, we have a pitcher’s park.
So what type of team does the General Manager want to build? You got it. A power team. This doesn’t work for many home games. But he does it every year anyway. What type of team do the A’s need (and have)? A running, single – double hitting team. Power doesn’t work at home. Running could work in any park. But our GM wants power, so we waste time and money each year on the power hitter that doesn’t. This year we had Fox. But games lost playing these guys. Now the A’s out of desperation, have actually stolen some bases and are using bunts. The fact that it works is still not getting through to anyone. But at least they have figured out how to win a few games, but it may be too late.
Then we have the pitching. Just look at their ERAs. All the A’s starters are all most over 4.0. The middle relievers are split between 3.0 and around 5. Our closer is good, but often wasted on ties or games that are behind. And these pitchers play in a pitcher’s park. Fixing the middle relievers would really help this team. Why anyone with an ERA of 6 would be on a major league roster I just don’t understand. Gosh, we have minor leagues, don’t we? With our hitting, we should not be carrying any pitchers with an ERA of say 4. Remember, we don’t hit.
Then there are wierd managing decisions. Time and time again, players who are hitting are sat. Last week, Baily the saver came in, faced one batter, saved the A’s behind and got pinch hit for. The A’s then lost the game, where they were ahead in the ninth inning as the sorry middle relievers came in, one after the other. Baily should have hit. The A’s have this nutty thing about pitchers getting hurt if they swing at the ball. Gosh, Bailey could of just stood there and took three strikes. Truthfully, several of our pitchers are good hitters. We could use them.
Then as with many teams who are “poor” are back-ups leave much to be desired. This is a problem hard to rectify, but could at least be improved. Bring up minor leaguers sooner. This could make the club more attractive for playes trying to break into baseball. As it is, when the A’s develop good players, they leave because they want to be on a winner at sometime during the career.
We also have kind of dopey owners, who keep announcing they want to move the team. Then they closed off the third deck, the cheapest tickets, in the middle of a recession. Closing the third deck makes the ball park sound hollow, and the place is really pretty empty now, since the team is doing bad, people are poor, they are mad at the owner who keeps talking about moving the team, and the A’s don’t seem to like to keep any player that really resonates with the fans. Anyone who is a little out there, but fun, is immediately gone. The A’s are boring.
So, these are my ideas to improve the A’s. What do you think?