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So Long, Hanley; Who Do We Call Next?

Update at 12:00AM:

Okay, it must be said: I'm loving this 2012 Oakland Athletics team. It feels very 2002 or 2006, which is something we haven't felt in a very long time. I find myself rearranging my schedule around A's games; something that didn't happen in July of 2007, 8, 9, 10 or 11. Each game almost feels like the back-end of the 2002 streak, even though we've only (ha!) won six in a row. But not everyone is yet a believer. Here's some of what is being said about us:

Joe Sheehan: [The A's] have more holes than can be filled at one trade deadline. Better to see what you can get for some of these great stories -- Bartolo Colon and Jonny Gomes and the fluketastic Cook (.156 BABIP, 0% HR/FB) -- and keep your eyes on 2014. SELL

Shane Ryan: Which brings us to the luck factor. An 8-0 record in one-run games? A 14-2 record on the month despite only +21 in the run differential department?

We've already talked about the greatness of the Oakland staff, but can it possibly explain those numbers? The answer is, probably not. At least not all the way. If the tremendous pitching continued, you'd probably give them a fair shot to compete against superior offensive teams gunning for the wild card. But that list is long (Angels, White Sox, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Indians), and so is the season. The reality is that the team hitting will likely stay at its current low level, while the unconscious pitching will inevitably come back to earth. We're living in a baseball world where it takes a minor miracle for the extremely poor teams to make the playoffs, and that's exactly what Oakland will need.

They're not wrong. Despite their hottest month in a long, long time (currently 15-2 in July; 9-1 in their last 10 games), this A's team still has some holes that can't be ignored before the trade deadline if we are really going to take a shot this year. The A's are 8 games over .500, slow-dancing with hottie .542, in sole possession of second place, leading both Wild Cards, and 5 games back of the Division lead, but wow; could they use another hitter.

I usually don't care about "near trades", but I find myself incredibly disappointed (and actually kind of upset) that the Dodgers basically traded nothing and got Hanley. That should have been us! I really think Hanley was perfect for the 2012 Oakland A's, and now we're settling for other options. But there will be other options; either Hanley's contract was too much for Wolff, or Beane is looking elsewhere.

Let's look at the other side of the coin. We made the front page of Sports Illustrated last night:

Yes, that's right: Oakland, which ranks 28th in attendance with a $55 million payroll and last in the league in runs with the worst hitting team in franchise history but for the 1908 outfit, is a playoff contender looking to add players and payroll.

"I think you're a fool if you don't," Beane said. "I've always felt like if there's an opportunity, you have to grasp it. We have had a good feel for what we are most of the time. We made the [Johnny] Damon deal and the [Jermaine] Dye deal when we felt like we were good. So my short answer is that when you sit here in July and playing for the playoffs, it isn't where you're team is, it's where you're headed. And we've gotten better and better and better and we're very deep in pitching -- and we're going to get more soon."

So, does that answer our question? I think we're BUYERS!

As for changing "clubhouse chemistry", I don't buy it. Pennington is out on the DL anyway, and the more wins the A's can collect, the more fun they are going to have, regardless of the personnel. If there was ever a team who was used to shuffling players in and out of the inner circle, it would be the 2012 A's. If (and oh, boy is this a big "if") the A's really want to compete, they need more offense, especially to counteract the rookie pitching that will wear down in August/September, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen.

So with Hanley off the table, who is the new hot prospect? Do we continue to try to upgrade at shortstop? Catcher? Third base? And most importantly, who are you willing to part with on the current team?

Gametime at 4:07 tonight. A's go for 7 in a row!