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A look at scenarios for the 2012 season

Prediction: Jemile Weeks will lead the league in helmet loss. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Prediction: Jemile Weeks will lead the league in helmet loss. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Getty Images

It seems as if ANers are split when they think about the 2012 season.

Some want the Athletics to completely, 100 percent stink and go for that No. 1 draft pick.

Some still want the A's to remain competitive, maybe making a reach toward .500.

Some of you can only picture the season ending one way: with Brandon McCarthy, fueled by the tears of Giants fans, dancing an Irish jig on top of a panda hat after securing the final out of the 2012 World Series at AT&T Park.

So I brainstormed some possible scenarios, thinking of what this season could look like.

1. "Not in your wildest alcoholic nightmare would you ever imagine such events unfolding!" — Bill King

  • In Spring Training, Brandon McCarthy injures a ligament in his right thumb tweeting a reply to Dallas Braden, who posted something insane from the trainer's table. McCarthy misses Opening Day and Guillermo Moscoso becomes the A's No. 1 starter by default.
  • Bud Selig and MLB decides to enact a world-wide blackout for the A's/Mariners Japan series, out of fear of embarrassment that people from other countries will believe that these are the best teams from America. In a press conference broadcast by ESPN, Selig says the day after the Japan series that only the Red Sox and Yankees will go overseas in the future.
  • Moscoso forgets that lucky clover he always had in his back pocket last season and his numbers regress to the mean.
  • Jemile Weeks is A's only All-Star after Ron Washington gets confused during roster selection, thinking he was Rickie.
  • Coco Crisp tears a knee ligament in May, is out for the season.
  • Brandon Allen, shuffling between first base, left field and designated hitter, leads the A's in home runs — with 15. Chris Carter leads the team in strikeouts, with a Custian 168.
  • Michael Choice converts to Scientology and believes that baseball does too much damage to his thetan levels, so he retires.
  • The A's offense is just as bad as advertised. Combined with league-average pitching, the A's finish 62-100, good enough for last place. However, the Pirates were even worse, going 59-103, earning the top draft pick.
  • Billy Beane selects a defensively challenged first baseman/DH in the first round of the MLB Draft.

2. Realistic

  • Dallas Braden's rehab goes a little faster than scheduled, and he is inserted into the A's rotation in late April.
  • The A's don't completely embarrass themselves against Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, losing Opening Night in Japan 3-1. Daric Barton drives home Coco Crisp with an RBI double to provide Oakland's only offense.
  • Instead of completely collapsing, Guillermo Moscoso and Brandon McCarthy kind of prove that their 2011 seasons were no fluke. As the new staff ace, McCarthy responds by going 12-10 on the season with an ERA somewhere around 3.50.
  • Grant Balfour, with 12 saves by the All-Star Break, is chosen as Oakland's All-Star representative, helping to fill out the AL bullpen. MLB makes sure not to have Balfour miked up. There are children present, after all.
  • While the pitching, led by McCarthy, is roughly league average, the offense really is as bad as advertised. Michael Taylor, Brandon Allen and Chris Carter don't quite pan out, averaging seasons of roughly 1 to 1.5 WAR each.
  • Jemile Weeks proves to be the best hitter on the team, posting a 2.7 WAR season. Daric Barton improves from his horrid 2011 season, proving to be a nice surprise at 2.1 WAR.
  • The A's don't lose 100 games, but still finish last in the AL West, earning a top-10 draft pick.
  • Sonny Gray gets a September call-up, putting together two or three quality starts while auditioning for the 2013 rotation. Michael Choice ends the season at AAA Sacramento.

3. Optimistic

  • Dallas Braden's rehab is ahead of schedule, and he is able to participate with the team in Spring Training. He is deemed healthy enough and ready to be the Opening Day starter.
  • With a 9-6 record at the All-Star break, Brandon McCarthy is named the A's All-Star representative. Jemile Weeks makes it onto the team as a reserve after an injury to someone on the team.
  • Chris Carter doesn't exactly break out, but he does well enough to own the designated hitter position, hitting 20 home runs, though only batting .250.
  • 2012 Daric Barton posts something closer to 2010 Daric Barton.
  • Tom Milone, a crafty lefthander the A's got in the Gio Gonzalez trade, proves to be a nifty pickup, winning 12 games and posting a FIP somewhere around 3.80.
  • Grant Balfour racks up 16 saves by the trade deadline, is dealt for a high-A hitting prospect. Coco Crisp is traded to a team whose centerfielder suffered a year-ending injury.
  • Collin Cowgill plays a passable centerfield after Crisp's trade, puts up a 2.3 WAR season, shows potential for 2013.
  • With the return of Joey Devine and the development of Fautino de los Santos, the A's finish the season with an envious 8th-and-9th inning combination.
  • The A's still have no chance of competing with Anaheim or Texas, but show that hey, maybe the young guys don't suck that bad, going 81-81.
  • Best hitter: Jemile Weeks, 3.1 WAR. Best pitcher: Brandon McCarthy, 5.0 fWAR. Rookie of the Year candidate: Tom Milone, 12-11, 3.88 FIP, 4.15 ERA.
  • Billy Beane wins the last game of the season. Just not the postseason.

4. "Just plain crazy!" — Bill King

  • Texas fails to come to an agreement with Yu Darvish, also whiffing on Prince Fielder.
  • God finally completes that trade with Oakland for Grant Desme by sending Tim Tebow as a player to be named later.
  • Dallas Braden named Opening Day starter, out-duels Felix Hernandez in a 1-0 perfect game win. Brandon Allen hits a solo home run in the third inning. The Japanese build a Brandon Allen statue outside of the Tokyo Dome.
  • Brian Fuentes is told the game is really in the Seibu Dome, not the Tokyo Dome. After misplacing his passport, Fuentes is left in Japan for the 2012 season.
  • Brandon McCarthy is named the All-Star game starter, possessing a 9-2 record with a 2.31 ERA by the break. Jemile Weeks, Brandon Allen, Chris Carter and Grant Balfour are also on the team.
  • The Angels find out that Albert Pujols is actually 41, not 31. Because of the falsified birth certificate, Anaheim refuses to honor the contract, cutting him and releasing him onto the open market. The Marlins finally sign him, keeping Pujols away from the AL.
  • Chris Carter and Brandon Allen become the all-natural 2012 version of the Bash Brothers. Carter finishes with 41 home runs, Allen with 37.
  • Jemile Weeks leads MLB in triples, stolen bases and helmet loss.
  • With new mechanics taught by McCarthy, ridding himself of the inverted W, Tyson Ross returns and shows his potential, winning 15 games.
  • The A's seize a weakened AL West, winning the division and going on a miracle run. Sensing big money for a sequel, principal photography on Moneyball II starts in August.
  • After both the A's and the Giants make it to the World Series, Bud Selig declares that the winner of the Fall Classic wins territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
  • Southpaw Tim Tebow, who won 7 games out of the bullpen with a 3.16 ERA, saves the final game of the World Series for Oakland.
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