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An Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle

I'm frustrated. You're frustrated. I can pretty much guarantee that Billy Beane is frustrated. The A's have been an enigma all season long. Yes, the injuries have hurt significantly as the team hasn't had a fully healthy squad all year except maybe opening night.

But the team's huge victories...the 10 game winning streak for example seem to be followed by a resounding thud. The team goes from sweeping the Yankees 3-0 in New York and sweeping both the Mariners and Dodgers at home to losing two out of three to Colorado and essentially having their offense completely stymied by the Diamondbacks pitching.

They take three of four from Boston in one of the toughest opposing ballparks in baseball to immediately losing to a guy with a 7 plus ERA in Baltimore.

No wonder AN has had more ups and downs this year than Dave Chappelle. Billy Beane and the A's are now a mere 13 days away from the non-waiver trading deadline. And I imagine that the front office must still be torn about which direction to take the team. The A's sit in first place, but the streaking Angels look like they are about to pass the A's in no time, especially considering the upcoming schedule. Outside of these next two games in Baltimore, the A's are challenging the 2006 elite teams in the AL over the next two and a half weeks.

Still, I'm not the type to give up on a team with a little over two months to go in the season and first place in our grasp (not within, but in). Yes, key players like Chavez are banged up, but the offense has showed that it can score runs against the Red Sox. It has owned Seattle this season. And I've got to think that Billy Beane and Lew Wolff are too damned competitive to let this go.

So the next 13 days should be awfully interesting. Every time I feel like I should be writing this team off, they always seem to surprise me. Maybe that's just the way they function the best, with the doubters in tow. It might just be my hope springing eternal and naive optimism, but I think the A's should still go for it this season. I don't think they're as far away from being there as many of you seem to feel.

Regardless, over the next two and a half months, there will something about the A's to enjoy and that's Barry Zito's final days with the Oakland Athletics. If you can, I'd suggest trying to hit the Coliseum for a Zito start before it's over because it's always fun to see that big bender in person. And you're only going to have a few more times to do it. That's why he is the subject of my FSN Bay Area column this week. We're going to miss you Barry, even if you signed a deal with the devil (aka Scott Boras).