I know, I know. We are 8 games back in the AL West, our offense has struggled all year long, our pitching staff has been riddled by injuries, and we just seem to have bad luck. That being said, I see no reason why we can't turn our fortunes around in the second half. Anderson, Braden, and Jackson all return after the All-Star break. Will they all return fully healthy? Nobody knows for sure, but I do think that if they do, we could easily make a run at this division. There are several positive factors that suggest that contention this season is not far-fetched.
First of all, the division leading Texas Rangers are under major financial restrictions. Their dire financial situation was emphasized by their trade for Molina, in which the Giants picked up all of the catcher's salary in return for a pretty good prospect (Maine). I truly doubt the Rangers will be able to afford a big name player, such as Roy Oswalt, in a trade this year. It also doesn't help that the most appealing target on the market, the relatively inexpensive Cliff Lee, is on the M's, who would probably prefer not to trade within the division.
Second, the Angels are stuck in a state of limbo of sorts. Their most obvious need is for a big bat that could fill in for the injured Kendry Morales. However, Mike Napoli, who is currently filling in at 1st, is hitting just well enough (821 OPS) that the Angels might not want to part with big time prospects in return for a bat. Napoli will not be pushed into the DH role, as that is already being assumed by Hideki Matsui, who although greatly underperforming (746 OPS), seems to have that position locked up. Scoscia also seems to prefer Mathis and Wilson over Napoli behind the plate on an everyday basis. So, it seems that there is a good possibility that the Angels will only make a few minor moves this year.
Lastly, the A's do not have many players with good trade value. Unlike past years, like in 2008 when Beane traded both Harden and Blanton, or in 2009, when he traded away Holliday, this Oakland Athletics team lacks a big name who makes such a difference to the team that their removal from the roster means certain doom for the rest of the season. The most obvious trade chips Beane has are Ben Sheets and Coco Crisp. Sheets, however, has underperformed thus far, and as a result, probably possesses little trade value. Even if Beane somehow miraculously convinces another team to send away some decent prospects for him, there is no reason to think that the team will become exponentially worse with his departure. In fact, a guy like Clayton Mortensen or Vin Mazzaro (with both Braden and Anderson coming back into the rotation soon), could be able to easily replace his production. Crisp, on the other hand, probably has even less trade value than Sheets, as he has been unable to stay healthy this year. That, in addition to the facts that Oakland has an option on him for next year, that we have no obvious replacement for him in CF, and that Beane has long adored the speedy outfielder, point to the idea that he probably will not be moved this year.
So A's fans, I think we have a chance. Perhaps I am just writing this as a way to convince myself that we still have hope, or perhaps I actually truly can see us making the playoffs this year. But I do implore you, do not give up hope yet. There is still hope (I think).