Oakland A's Season Recap

Oakland A's Dream Season Comes to an Early End

The Oakland A's had great expectations for themselves at the beginning of the season. They were the only ones with a positive outlook on the team that traded 3 of it's better pitchers in the offseason in Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey. From those trades they brought in Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick, Ryan Cook, and Derrick Norris. An impressive haul of prospects by the magical Billy Beane, but surely those players weren't ready to perform well at the big league level. Oakland had also made a few value signings in Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Jonny Gomes, traded for Seth Smith, and to top it off a Cuban phenom at the age of 26 in Yoenis Cespedes. Many of these players seen as has beens, and really just looked to fill roster spots for a year. 

Many expert analysts had this team as a 100 game loser before the season started and picked even the lowly Mariners to pass them up, leaving them as the 4th place team in the AL West that looked to be a pretty stacked division. The Texas Rangers coming off their second consecutive World Series loss, figured to be primed for a repeat after losing only a few key players, but replacing them in house with great alternatives. The Angels had stolen away CJ Wilson from their division rivals in the Rangers, and added one Albert Pujols to anchor their already stacked lineup. 

Adding to the negative vibes before the season had started was the impending San Jose move. Although Oakland businesses and the city have been willing to discuss building a new stadium in Oakland, Lew Wolff is insistent on moving to San Jose. This has angered many of the fans in Oakland for a couple years now, and is the main reason fans are not willing to show up to the games. With all this negativity leading into the season, it's no surprise that expectations were so low. But that is why we play the game...

The season started in Tokyo, Japan in late March. A match-up between the A's and Mariners most likely to promote one of Japan's premier players in Ichiro Suzuki. This was one of a few scheduling blunders by MLB that really got under my skin. The A's were counted as the home team for these two games, some 5000 miles from Oakland. So not only did they have to travel to another country, they also would only play 79 games at home this season. After a split in Japan, they returned home to play more SPRING TRAINING games... again, a questionable move by MLB.

March and April were months to forget, with the A's sitting at 11-13 on May 1st. Once May hit the A's started to show promise, getting on a roll and winning 3 of their first 4 series. Josh Reddick became the first A's player since Jack Cust in 2009 to hit 10+ HR's in a month. He had ignited the struggling offense and the Oakland boys looked like a team that might play well. That's when Cespedes got hurt, and the A's went into a tailspin losing 9 straight between May 22 and June 1st.

At this point, I was waiting for the massive sell off that happens yearly when we drop out of contention. But Billy Beane stuck to his guns and decided to wait till closer to the July 31st trade deadline before making any rash decisions. The players would reward him for that patience.

The season looked the most bleak on June 10th. Sitting at 9 games below .500 and 13 games behind the Rangers the A's had reached a new worst for the season. Luckily they were pulling into Colorado, a hitters paradise and just what the A's needed in order to get their bats going. Colorado had been a struggling team all year, and they were flirting with a 6 man rotation at the time. Meanwhile for Oakland, Brandon Moss had just been called up a few days previous from AAA Sacramento where he wasn't doing too well. But he did have a clause in his contract that if the A's hadn't called him up by the middle of June, they had to release him. Kila Ka'aiHue had just been placed on paternity leave, and Moss was about to make an impact in a big way.

The A's went on to sweep the Rockies in convincing fashion and things were beginning to look up, a series win against the Padres, and another sweep over the LA Dodgers who owned the best record in baseball at the time, was giving the young team some confidence. As June came to an end, Oakland sat 5 games below .500 at 37-42 but had just completed their first winning month all season.

July was a magical month, the A's went 19-5. This was their 2nd best record in franchise history. Many heroes emerged in Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick, Moss, and Carter. Also, their pitching ranked 2nd in the AL, closely behind a Joe Madden led Rays club. This was the month of the walk-off for the A's in which many of their contests ended in last inning runs. This for me was the most exciting month of baseball I had ever witnessed, besides the 20 game winning streak in the 2002 season.

August was another great month. The A's posted an 18-7 record. They got a major boost in Brett Anderson coming back from a season ending injury last year. He hit the ground running and pitched very well for them. Also this was the month that the bullpen really separated themselves from the rest of the league. Balfour took back the closer role and never looked back after Cook struggled to shut out games, in many opportunities. The last game of August was a 20-2 drubbing of the lowly Red Sox. The A's were really hitting their stride and making major improvement on what was a 13 game deficit for the division lead. Although, they did lose a major contributor in Bartolo Colon who was caught using PED's.

September was more of the same for the boys in Green and Gold. 17 wins and 11 losses. They made the best of their opportunities and beat the bad teams and took one or two from the good teams. They played the Yankees, Tigers, Angels and Rangers and had a losing record against all of them in the month. But still had a winning month and made up even more ground in the chase for a pennant. With 3 games left at home against a very tough Texas team, the A's were trailing by 2 games. It seemed improbably that they would win all 3 to win the division, but this A's group had defied the odds all year.

The last 3 games were magical, like they were from a story you only see in Hollywood. The Coliseum was rocking and it was sold out for all 3 games. The ruckus crowd helped the boys win all 3 in convincing fashion, leading some to believe this was the best team in baseball surging at the right time. I can honestly say, this was the best 3 games of my life. I made up an excuse to leave work so I could witness the games, and I will never regret it.

With all the momentum in the world with the A's, they headed into Detroit. This was another thing that irked me about the season. The A's had "home field advantage" yet they were forced to travel and start on the road across the country. The first two games didn't go well. In fact they dropped them both, and Coco Crisp made the worst play of his life in allowing a ball to drop right in front of him off his glove and allowing Detroit to take the lead in game 2.

The A's dragged back to Oakland licking their wounds from the brutal road games in Detroit, but they were back in front of the greatest fans in baseball. And they would not disappoint. Anderson pitched the game of his career in my opinion, stifling the big Detroit bats over 6 innings. On came the trio of Cook, Doolittle, and Balfour to close out the game and all of the sudden the A's were back in it down 2-1 in the series.

Game 4 was a typical A's walkoff winner. They got down early and never really clawed their way back. In the 9th inning they hung 3 runs on Valverde. Coco was the hero for the second night in a row, after robbing a big homer from Prince Fielder the night before.

But in game 5, their magic had run out. Verlander came to the mound and pitched one of the best games of his career and shut out the A's that looked utterly lost at the plate. A 4 run inning for Detroit undid any hope of a comeback, and for once in the season, the A's had been stuck wishing for more.

For me, this was the year of the A's. Granted they came up short of their goals, but in terms of what everyone else expected (including myself) they destroyed everyone's predictions and made them eat their predictions.

Next year the core of this team returns and they seem primed to improve in every facet with the young pitchers having even more seasoning under their belt, and the young star players in Reddick and Cespedes have more experience. They do have some pending free agents in McCarthy, Gomes, Inge, and Colon. They picked up Balfour's option, and declined Stephen Drew's. Beane does hope to bring back McCarthy, Gomes and Drew if the price is right. With the departure of Cliff Pennington via trade and a weak shortstop market, I believe they have to get the Drew contract situated. But he is represented by Scott Boras, so that may complicate things.

The addition of Chris Young from Arizona also seems to muddle the picture for me. Coco is locked into one more year here in Oakland and is making $7.5 million so he will be tough to trade. Plus, I think he is a major addition to this team because of his defensive play, his bat, his speed on the bases, and his character. So I'm not really sure where Young fits on this team. I see the A's dealing Seth Smith and potentially Coco during the offseason, but the bulk of this team should be back and better than ever.

Here's to another great year in 2013, hopefully this time the trophy comes to the other side of the bay!

By Bill Montoya


We're back!

After a long layover, we're back to bring you some sports insight from fans for fans. New posts should be up later today and all throughout the week. Stay tuned as we have a few posts we are working on as I type this!  Stuff we're working on:

  • A recap of my Oakland Athletics dream season that was cut short
  • A post about the World Series wrapup