Last night (yes, before tonight's win) I had an epiphany. Admittedly, it was a pretty obvious epiphany, but amidst all the losing I was often having trouble seeing the obvious.
And here goes: The good thing about the last two weeks is that we know who we are, warts and all. We go into the off-season (playoffs or not) better knowing our flaws and what needs to be done.
This matters a great deal. Last September Beane found out something about his then-team, and he acted. The two off-season trades were made, in large part, because Beane believed we weren't likely going very fair as then constituted. Yes, the Huddy trade was in anticipation of his coming free agency, but clearly the Mulder trade was a trade Beane thought would better the team--whether Mulder had been locked up or not. I liked at the time that he realized the need to remake the team. I like even more how it has worked out.
And now--especially after the last few weeks--it's clear that more needs to be done. Very clear. The A's need two more bats. That's the unmistakable truth of the team. The bats can be a corner outfielder and DH/first baseman--the easiest places to fill. I think it is more certain than ever that next year we will have those bats. I don't think we'll go into another season with the crossed fingers we entered this one. No more Thomas/Byrnes/Kielty/Rookie for two spots. No more aging injured players for two spots. Johnson and Swisher get two of the four nods, and very likely the other two players will be a clear and unmistakable upgrade over what we've had for a long time. I think the A's will be significantly better in these spots.
And there's more good news from the last two ugly weeks. Haren and Blanton continue to pitch exceptionally well. Especially Blanton, who very few on this site have ever seemed completely sold on. He really appears to be better than we thought he was. And Haren can just be wicked at times. The rotation seems to be very strong--stronger than I thought it was two or three weeks ago.
So, I think there has been some good news to come out of all this recent ugliness. And, the truth is, we're still very much alive this season.