I've spent a lot of this past season asking myself a very simple question, over and over and over again. What if?
As in, what if Rich Harden could stay healthy for more than a game at a time? What if Esteban Loaiza had surgery on his knee during the offseason and been good to go at the beginning of the year or closer to it? What if Mike Lowell wasn't a douche lord and unnecessarily collided with Mike Piazza? What if Huston Street didn't have a funky nerve or Duke didn't have an 80-year-old grandmother's hip? What if Eric Chavez would decide to finally get his myriad of health issues fixed by a dude in scrubs with a scalpel? What if Bobby Crosby would take 10 minutes one day to watch video of Travis Buck keeping his bat back enough so he can pull pitches inside and go with pitches outside?
Alas, this is not a "healthy" practice (pardon the choice of words). But one thing kind of dawned on me as the A's finally got back to .500 yesterday. Have the A's been a better team when they've had more "key" players on the DL? The A's have been a .500 team nearly every month this year, being one game under .500 for April, one game over .500 for May and two games over .500 for June. There are two exceptions to that rule. July, the A's went a dreadful 9-18 and August, the A's are 14-7 so far this month. And if you think about it, the A's are probably missing more key players now than they have been all year. They're essentially down to their third string third baseman and shortstop. Buck, who is arguably the team's MVP this year, is out. The bullpen finally just returned to close to full strength (albeit without Duke's hip) and that is a big difference maker with the team.
But the team has won in August with a lot of unexpected names being a part of it. Hannahan, Suzuki, Murphy and Scutaro. The A's have actually hit .500 for the 18th time this year, two short of the Oakland record of being at .500 20 times in a season. I mean, the A's have already set the record for injured players, so why not set the record for getting to the ultimate sign of mediocrity? It's just funny because these crazy bunch of players have actually brought us to a point where they just might be a winning team again for the first time since July 7. It's just sad that the month of July derailed the season so badly. What if...? There I go again.