Coming into the 2015 MLB season, the Oakland A’s were by no means considered a favorite to win the World Series. But given that they were coming off three straight trips to the postseason, the A’s were at least expected to be competitive in the AL West. Fast-forward to now, 51 games into the season, and they have the worst record in the American league at 19-32.
On paper, this doesn’t look like such a bad team, with a 3.25 ERA from starters and ninth-place rank among AL teams in runs and OPS – not bad for a non-offensive team. However, where this goes downhill is the bullpen, which is pitching a league-worst 4.91 ERA. Their defense hasn’t helped matters either with 45 errors already.
There are some encouraging signs since top reliever Sean Doolittle is back from injury and should help lower that 4.91 ERA mark. Plus infielder Ben Zobrist is now healthy after a knee injury forced him out of action. And manager Bob Melvin pointed out just how badly these guys were missed by saying the following:
“These are very important guys for us. You lose your No. 3 hitter and closer, it’s going to take its toll on you. Not only production-wise should we be better but also psychologically, two of our better players complementing 25 guys, making us feel better about who you are.”
It’s definitely nice to have these two back, however, Zobrist and Doolittle are hardly enough to right the ship. This is especially the case when CF Coco Crisp, 1B Ike Davis and pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Eric O’Flaherty and Jarrod Parker are still hurt. Assuming Oakland could start the season over and get these guys healthy, they certainly would be a competitive team. But the unfortunate reality is that you can’t just hit a reset button, and the A’s may want to consider thinking about the future.
Assuming Oakland doesn’t pull the trigger now and trade for prospects, they could be mired at the bottom of the AL West for years to come. After all, they have one of the league’s worst farm systems, and they’re not a big-market team that can just shell out millions to quickly get contender pieces.
In reality, other contenders are already looking at what they could get from Oakland, including left-hander Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Zobrist. Kazmir is especially an attractive option because he’s good enough to start in any rotation, and he makes a reasonable $13 million per season. Clippard has been one of the few brights spots among Oakland relievers with his 2.25 ERA. The only holdup here is his $8.3 million salary, which is a fair amount for a reliever. As for Zobrist, he’s still a good-hitting infielder who could be an upgrade at second base for playoff contenders.
There are still over 100 games left in this season, which makes it fathomable that Oakland could make up the 12 games that they currently sit behind AL leader Houston. However, the much-better alternative is ushering in the future now by getting rid of some attractive assets that could fetch big-time prospects.