Since the last week of the season, we've seen Beane, via Pravda-on-Mission Street, announce that the A's 76-86 record was the result of the high number of injuries suffered by the team in 2007.
To my eyes, this looks like convenient excuse-making and willful blindness.
Certainly, there's no disputing the fact that many front-line A's players were disabled for significant chunks of the season.
My questions are:
- How good would the A's have been had they been at something approximating full health for most of the season?
- Even if the core of the team had been good enough to challenge for the division, could the A's really have been expected to be as healthy as would have been necessary to contend?
My contention is that a team that was expecting major contributions from Bobby Crosby, Mark Kotsay, Jason Kendall, Dan Johnson, and a clearly declining-at-the-plate Eric Chavez (not to mention rolling the dice on Mike Piazza and Shannon Stewart) was going to have trouble scoring runs -- and that a team that was expecting Crosby, Kotsay, Chavez, Milton Bradley, Justin Duchscherer, Esteban Loaiza, and Rich Harden to somehow stay healthy all year was bound to end up with a lot of AAAA/replacement-level playing time.
(And with Chavez and Kotsay in particular, even had they both been optimally "healthy" as they could be, their respective chronic conditions still would have sapped their offense and impacted their defense.)
Now, I do tend toward the pessimistic and recriminatory. So I could well be overstating the case and I haven't done a comparison of projected runs created for the A's planned '07 Opening Day roster < illuminates Spork-signal in night sky over Gotham >.
But the injuries -- numerous as they were -- certainly weren't the sole determining factor for the A's being 10 games under .500 this year. I'd argue that they weren't even a terribly significant factor.
Am I entirely off base here?