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The Next 10 Days, The Next 10, And The Next 10

It appears the A's season has been portioned, for June anyway, into a series of 10-day plans. For another 10 days, the A's will be without Ryan Sweeney but all indications are that Sweeney will be ready to go the day he is eligible to come off the DL. Andrew Brown's timeline appears to be about the same as Sweeney's, while limping sluggers Frank Thomas (thanks to the untimely return of interleague play), and relievers Casilla and Devine, figure to be non-factors for at least another three weeks. Mike Sweeney's prognosis is a little less clear. So...

The Next 10 Days (June 1st-June 10th)

For the next 10 days, as the A's take on the Rangers, Angels, and Tigers, we are looking at:

* A core infield of Barton, Ellis, Crosby, Chavez, with Hannahan in the mix.
* A core outfield of Buck, Gonzalez, E. Brown, with Cust in the lineup as DH.
* Two starts each from Harden, Blanton, and Smith, one each from Duchscherer and  * Eveland.
* A bullpen with Street flanked by a potentially effective platoon known as Ziegbree, plus Foulke and Gaudin.

Conclusion: The rotation will save the A's, the bullpen will be thin, and the offense depends on the fast start of Gonzalez and/or the timely returns to form of Buck and Barton. Thanks largely to the rotation, the A's have enough strength, still, to go 4-4 or better and that's what they need to do.

The next 10 Days (June 10th-June 20th)

Here's where things get complicated, as presumably players start to return, others may or may not get injured, but certainly more roster moves are necessitated. As the A's take on the Yankees, Giants, Diamondbacks, and begin a series with the Marlins, we are looking at:

* A core infield of Barton, Ellis, Crosby, Chavez, with Hannahan in the mix.
* An outfield of Buck, Gonzalez, and Ryan Sweeney, with Emil Brown likely relegated to 4th OF status (probably starting against a couple lefties) and Cust staying at DH vs. NYY and then competing with (probably) Buck for OF starts in the NL parks - do you want more offense/power or stronger defense?
* Two starts each from Harden, Blanton, Duchscherer, Smith, and Eveland.
* A slightly reinforced bullpen that adds Andrew Brown to the mix but still misses Casilla and Devine, who figure to miss most if not all of June.

Conclusion: The OF defense will improve to become a strength instead of a weakness, and the return of A. Brown, while helpful, will not feel anything like the returns of Casilla and Devine - possibly a week or two later. But if the rotation stays intact, given the relatively tame level of competition, the A's can go 5-5 or better during this stretch - and that's what they need to do.

Then...June 20th...Thomas should be back to DH, Mike Sweeney should be back, Casilla and Devine's returns should be imminent...but by then who knows which three other players will be dead. If it's Hannahan, Braden, and Rajai Davis, the A's should be ok; if it's Harden, Street, and Ellis, not so much.

Conclusion: Don't bother thinking ahead beyond three weeks. If you have a solid and deep rotation, you can compete. Go A's.