This has always been one of my favorite simple-yet-profound expressions, one I have used during difficult times as well as after a bad meal.
Remember back when the A's looked like they could do no wrong? Every time they needed to make a big pitch or get a big hit, every time they needed a break to go their way, luck, the ball, or fate rolled their way? That was 2 weeks ago. Now they can't do anything right and they can't buy a break. Such is life on the roller coaster that is a long season.
When the A's were 2.5 up with 146 to play, they were smart enough not to print playoff tickets, or publish their magic number, just yet. And now that Oakland is 3.5 back with 137 to play they are wise enough not to start rebuilding for 2017.
It can turn on a dime and it will. Before you know it, the A's will look great and everything will roll their way. Unfortunately, this is also not their last rough patch. It's a long season. Plenty of ups, ample downs, twists, turns, and breaks both figurative and literal.
Where I am not actually worried:
- Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker are too good to continue pitching badly. If they stay healthy (and I consider Anderson's ankle to be more of a blip), I am confident that both will come around to be legitimate "front end of the rotation" starters. If so, that's great news because their struggles are the single biggest problem facing Oakland right now.
- Josh Reddick and Chris Young, while not stars, are very solid players who combine excellent OF defense with a bat that is flawed but explosive. Both will come around, I believe, to be very productive and valuable players, especially if Reddick's efforts to use the whole field become more comfortable (where right now they may be somewhat laborious), and if Young can be platooned more like the A's envisioned.
Where I am actually concerned:
- Starting pitchers get injured a lot and the A's depth is overstated by many. Beyond Dan Straily it gets ugly, and the A's have at least two pitchers, Anderson and Colon, that make you hold your breath every time they so much as field a bunt or cover 1B. (When either of those two run to cover 1B, they look like two people in a 3-legged race whose left and right sides don't quite line up. Is it possible they're running together?) Anderson is the A's best SP and Colon is easily pitching the best right now. Losing either of them to injury would be a problem and it would also hardly be unexpected.
- The A's have little to no depth at SS. Jed Lowrie might get through the season playing 150+ games, but if he doesn't then the A's are looking at something like "Rosales and Sogard up the middle," or Rosales and the best of Weeks, Nakajima, Parrino. Be afraid. Very afraid.
- I'm just not sure about John Jaso behind the plate. Terrible arm and even whispers from scouts that perhaps his game calling leaves something to be desired. (Quoted in the SF Chronicle, would be linked here if I could find it on sfgate.com but as usual I can't: "One scout said Saturday that he thought Parker had fared much better with Derek Norris catching him at Tampa Bay and that John Jaso didn't appear to have as good a feel for what was working best for Parker on Thursday.") This matches what I have observed, which is a lot more times pitchers have shaken off signs, asked for a new set of signs, stared in for several beats, stepped off the rubber, etc., with Jaso behind the plate. Jaso has a legitimately good bat, one similar to Seth Smith's, but there is only one DH spot.
These are the areas I actually worry about, not that the team currently looks hapless and has lost 8 of 9. That's just the "sin 3π/2" part of the wave that is a long baseball season. The best news of all? Yoenis Cespedes is back! Let the good times start to roll again...For now...