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"Status Quo For Now": Frustrating, But Not At ALL Bad

Fans who are upset that the A's didn't improve this week are being exactly what we're supposed to be: Fans. We want good things now, not later; our vision leans towards instant gratification and not long-range vision, and that's ok. I understand and even endorse the passion.

However, I do not buy the more analytical view that the A's should have mortgaged good future pieces, like Dan Straily, to get better now because "this may be our best window to compete". The rebuild is a couple years ahead of schedule, but with the same players -- some of them, like Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes, are better than anyone thought they would be at this point, and others, like Brandon Moss and Chris Carter, have come out of obscurity, nowhere, or both.

That doesn't mean the A's are surprisingly competing only because "everything has rolled right" in ways the team can't sustain or improve upon going forward.

I expect that next year, 2B will be better than it is this year, because I think Jemile Weeks is having a terrible sophomore season and will almost certainly improve his hitting next season while his defense either improves or stays the same. SS is bound to be better next year because honestly it can't really be worse. The A's will likely get more production out of their catchers, when Derek Norris returns with a 1/2 season under his belt and Kurt Suzuki (if he's back) isn't nursing an injured left hand. 3B will probably be improved because it will be the best of Brandon Inge and Scott Sizemore, rather than just Inge. These improvements will offset the regression that is bound to take place elsewhere, such as at 1B and likely RF.

On the mound, rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and A.J. Griffin will still be young and fresh, just more experienced. Brett Anderson figures to be back, healthy, and having had time to get a lot of the rust off. The A's will also have Dan Straily and Brad Peacock to choose from in creating the "best 5" and/or providing needed depth as the inevitable injuries hit. This team is not suddenly going to have mediocre starting pitching in 2013.

More to the point, one of the reasons the future looks as bright, if not brighter, than the present is that the A's have depth. Out of Parker, Milone, and Griffin, it's perfectly likely one of them will either get injured or become strangely ineffective. The ability to slot in a Straily or Peacock without missing a beat is why the future rotation is good. 5 good young pitchers does not a good young rotation make. 8 is more like it.

The A's are going to lose players to injury, eventually to free agency or to regression. It's the ability to replace those players with equally good players that will keep Oakland highly competitive. Moss or Carter might heavily regress, but as long as they don't both regress the A's are in good shape at 1B. That's why you keep them both. The same is true of having "too many pitchers". You never have too many pitchers. You can just have "barely enough" when some of them start to wobble and others fall down. Just ask the Texas Rangers, who were so deep in starting pitching this season that they recently added Roy Oswalt and then today added Ryan Dempster.

I just don't buy that the "window of competing is now". It was 2013-15 before and the A's haven't lost anyone -- thanks in large part to Billy Beane's refusal to part with his best young talent right now. There is a beautiful wave of "next generation" (Straily, Peacock, Gray, Choice, Head) and "subsequent generation" (Russell, Maxwell, Roberton, Olson, Stassi, De La Cruz, Cole...) that can potentially enable to "hold serve" -- to stay as good as they "currently are" when they first see some regression as this year's magic turns to reality, and then later as they start to lose an Anderson, a Cespedes, and so on. This organization is in really good shape right now, winning with less talent than they figure to have tomorrow, which is less than they'll have the next day. To have that, you need to have tremendous depth, and following the trade deadline I'm pleased to say that the A's still have it.