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I was thinking about this the other night when I heard someone on TV mentioning that Superman Returns was a flop at the box office. I said to myself, "Wow, it must've really tanked to have been considered a flop." Maybe $50-75 million in receipts, I thought. But lo and behold, I found out that the movie actually pulled in $178 million thus far. I don't believe that includes international receipts either. But since the movie cost a reported $300 million to make, many see the near $200 million take as disastrous, especially as Pirates has made about $321 million. Many think that this might spell the end of the Superman franchise at the movies, at least until the next aspiring Bryan Singer comes along to take over.

After reading baseballgirl's post last night about expectations, that led me to believe that the same conclusion about the A's. The expectations for this team were sky high before the season started. Many felt that because the team performed above expectations in last year's "rebuilding season" that the additions of Thomas, Bradley, Perez and Loaiza (as the fifth starter) would make this team unbeatable. A's fans were shouting it from rooftops for all to hear.

Perhaps X-Ray vision would've helped us realize that Bradley wasn't over his injury-plagued history, Thomas would take a while to get the engine running, Perez would be Ginterized and Loaiza had his arm surgically replaced with a gas can? But I still thought that given all the flaws of the teams in the division that the A's were clearly superior as did many of our fellow SB Nation bloggers. What has gone wrong so far? The starters were very good and Zito remains good, but Blanton has been "All About Eve" this year, Haren is experiencing a big-time slump (I still think Haren can be a top of the rotation guy) and Saarloos hasn't been able to replicate his success from last season. I mentioned Loaiza, but I do think that the hope was to get nothing better than fifth starter performance from him and fourth if Harden's injuries persisted which of course, they have. Loaiza isn't doing it, plain and simple.

The offense was the problem for much of the season, but it seems to have awakened a bit since Bradley has returned from the DL. Now if only Macha would finally bat Chavez lower in the order perhaps it would help even more.

The defense and bullpen have been as advertised. As a matter of fact, this bullpen is statistically speaking, the second-best bullpen in the American League right now. It has allowed only 117 total runs, 108 earned. Only the Minnesota Twins have allowed fewer.

I expected a lot more than 51 wins at this point given the hype heading into the season (partially generated in my own head), so I do understand the negativity from fans at this point. Given the team and the expectations, this team should be better. And with the way they've performed on the field, perhaps there is little to hope for even if they hold onto the division and make it to the playoffs. Wouldn't the Tigers roll over them? If the Twins make it, would there be any hope against a Liriano/Santana rotation in a short series? Wouldn't the Red Sox or Yankees pound our pitchers? Aren't the White Sox one of the most complete teams we've seen in baseball in years?

Regardless of how things go over this next week leading up to the trading deadline, I've tempered my expecations a bit. I'm prepared to deal with whatever way the team decides to go, be it trading Zito for Milledge and a pitcher (or some other package) or staying the course and hoping that Bradley can continue to spark the offense, Haren's slump is temporary and Harden can return and help a push into the playoffs. Cause as it is now, my expectations have been lowered dramatically...and isn't that a much healthier place to be? Warner Brothers certainly wishes they had theirs lowered...as well as available budget.