Well, maybe it is. At least right now. But I never really thought the A's were going to compete for the AL West in 2008. I thought this was a team that Billy Beane was building for the future while hoping it wouldn't be a complete failure on the field this season. A lot things happened to make the team worse than most thought, especially lately, but I do truly believe that the A's are going to be much improved in 2009.
And we're starting to see signs of the team building for the future. Instead of pulling Lenny DiNardo out of the pen or Kirk Saarloos out of baseball purgatory to take a start, the A's are turning to Gio Gonzalez today. I'm really excited to see his stuff. I think he'll be one of the pitchers for the A's foundation moving forward. He's going to be very important to the A's success (or failure) over the next couple of years. The funny thing is that Gonzalez will likely be a third or fourth starter down the road. In front of him in terms of ability are Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and possibly even Vince Mazzaro. And these pitchers don't appear to be very far away. Mazzaro has made great strides forward this year and is now in Triple-A. Caill has been exceptional in Double-A and probably won't be far behind with his absolutely mouth-watering worthy groundball to fly ball ratio. Imagine that in the Coliseum. Brett Anderson is also pitching like a future ace at Midland. These pitchers aren't as far away as we think.
Course pitching isn't and hasn't been the problem with this team. It's the hitting that is the pain for any A's fan. It wasn't that long ago that Giambi and his crew of out-of-shape RC car racers were smacking the ball all around the Coliseum. So it's been especially painful to watch this current crew cutting their teeth. But with guys like Suzuki, Ryan Sweeney and Carlos Gonzalez maturing before our very eyes, I'm pretty sure that I see what Beane and company see and that's a team that just needs a little bit of help offensively. So if Beane uses some of that money this offseason to sign a bat and maybe trade for another one using a chip like Henry Rodriguez than the team could be much better than people will think in 2009.
That's the beauty (and sometimes curse) of having great pitching. It's that you realize that the team doesn't need that much offensively to be a good team. So while it seems like this current crop of players the A's are running out there are painfully inept, fear not because you can't keep a good organization down.
The A's will prove that in 2009. Mark that down now because it's about all we have to help us survive the rest of what will be an ugly remainder of 2008.