The A’s don’t always find a winning formula, miss the playoffs
Manager Bob Melvin truly believed he had a playoff squad this year, and that’s why Oakland’s stumble in September and the frustrating ending remains stumped for everyone involved.
Even after a 0-6 start, plenty of devastating injuries – including Chris Bassitt taking a line in the face in August – and the suspension of center fielder Ramón Laureano for performance-enhancing drugs, this group still believed he could come back. in the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.
“It’s probably the first team since I’ve been here that didn’t make the playoffs that I thought was a playoff team,” Melvin said on Monday. “So that was the most disappointing thing for me was the fact that we really felt like we were a playoff team, we didn’t make it, and I don’t remember a team since I’ve been here that is the case.
In the old days, these Athletics were the team that came together and won late, often in spectacular fashion.
This season, Oakland has watched their opponents do this regularly, and the A’s have never found the second-half magic that has long carried the club and helped them win the AL West in the shortened 2020 season. coronaviruses.
They acquired Starling Marte on the trade deadline and brought Khris Davis back for running. It wasn’t enough as Oakland finished 86-76 and nine games behind division champion Astros.
“We’re all disappointed, especially the way it ended, it was a tough September,” said Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations.
Bassitt returned from the frightening ordeal in which he took a 100 mph line in the face on August 17 in Chicago. He was operated on for three fractures of his right cheekbone. Immediately after the injury, Bassitt’s right eye was closed swollen.
Bassitt, 32, pitched twice more in September and finished 12-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 27 starts.
The loss of candidate Cy Young took a toll on the A’s off the field.
“Definitely when Chris fell it had a huge impact on everyone emotionally,” Beane said. “And we saw it on the pitch, it hurt us on the pitch too.”
ASSEMBLY OF INJURIES
Oakland never even saw Trevor Rosenthal’s field closer when it mattered. He signed a one-year, $ 11 million contract, then underwent two surgeries, first a thoracic exit operation in April and then another in July for a torn hip labrum.
Designated hitter Mitch Moreland missed time, as were outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Chad Pinder, to name a few. Right-hander Mike Fiers made just two starts before an elbow injury derailed his year.
Shorstop Elvis Andrus fractured his left fibula in third place to score the winning point in a 2-1 win over the Astros on September 25.
“We’ve had our fair share of injuries, but we’re not using that as an excuse,” Melvin said.
A big blow came on August 6 when mighty outfielder Laureano received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance.
The As missed his presence at home plate and in defense. Laureano, 27, of the Dominican Republic, produced .246 with 14 homers and 39 RBIs in 88 games.
Oakland announced that Laureano had heart surgery on Thursday and is expected to be in good health by spring training, and then will have to complete his suspension again at the start of the regular season.
“Look, we’ve taken a lot of hits this year, a lot of dramatic hits,” Melvin said. “He was also one of them. It stunned everyone for a while. … It hurts. He’s definitely the one who has done more harm than others.”
Even though the A’s insist they didn’t pay attention to the back-and-forth between the organization, the city and the angry fans, it couldn’t be missed.
Small crowds were the norm night after night, several times less than 5,000.
Meanwhile, team president Dave Kaval has traveled to Las Vegas on a regular basis to explore the options there. In May, Major League Baseball asked Oakland management to explore relocation options if no rough deal could be reached on the downtown waterfront site the team prefers.
Without knowing what’s next, it’s hard for the front office to make long-term commitments to players.
“What we do know is we’re in Oakland, we’ll be in Oakland for the foreseeable future,” Beane said. “And it has been since I’ve been here.