First of all, if you're wondering whether or not to give up on the season this is a really easy one. Don't give up on it because what do you gain from giving up? It's not like there will be a headline in the paper, "Fan Officially Gives Up On Team" with an in-depth interview of why you selected this day and how you will spend your summer with all the free time you have just accrued.
Perhaps you might ratchet down your expectations (and if you choose to go that route, I have a nurse who can help you), but again it's not as if the bullpen is going to say, collectively, "Finally, some random fan's expectations have fallen to the threshold we need in order to succeed!"
So basically: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. As for the latter, you've been getting lots of practice.
I am a bit concerned about some of the "talent evaluation" decisions of late and will dissect them here. (Feel free to drop a Junior Mint in; they're quite refreshing.) Please note that these are all observations I made before they played out -- I do not do hindsight. (I have never criticized letting Tyson Ross go or letting Santiago Casilla go, because I did not foresee their rebirths either.)
I think Brett Lawrie is a bit better than his first 6 weeks have shown, but the problem is that he isn't a lot better. In swapping 4 years of Josh Donaldson for 3 years of Lawrie and 3 prospects, the A's must have believed that Lawrie was going to bust out to be a Donaldson-lite, but that isn't really who Lawrie is.
Lawrie has never had patience at the plate, so his "three unintentional walks in 37 games" should not be viewed as a fluke. It's kind of who he is and always has been. He has only HRed twice and is slugging a paltry .341 but he has never really been a consistent slugger (his career slugging percentage currently stands at .418 and even that is boosted by his gaudy .580 slugging his rookie season).
Lawrie has always been an excellent defender who has 20 HR power and hacks a lot. That's not a poor man's Donaldson. It's a rich man's Kevin Kouzmanoff. Sadly, Lawrie's current slash line of .261/.295/.341 is not that far off from what you can reasonably expect: Look for the OBP and SLG to rise a bit, perhaps to .315 and .380, but as the center piece in a trade for 4 years of a star? Fail.
I was really disappointed that Jesse Chavez did not make the A's rotation out of spring training. Kendall Graveman had been in A-ball 12 months prior and Drew Pomeranz is a two-pitch pitcher with spotty control. Chavez was so clearly the best of the three, with his legitimate 4-pitch repertoire, excellent control, and solid track record when not gassed by a career high in IP.
Sure, Graveman could have come out of the gate on fire like he was in the Cactus League and Pomeranz could have continued the mirage that was his 2014 success. But how Chavez wasn't the one assured of a spot and the other two fighting for the last spot -- or Graveman simply put in AAA to prove himself at that level and delay his service clock awaiting a need -- is beyond me.
To me it's a joke that Pat Venditte has not been called up at any point yet and I do not think it's a stretch to argue that his presence on the roster might have averted no fewer than 3 losses (that could have gone on to be wins or losses). A side-winding lefty when he's not busy being a 3/4-delivery righty, who would you have preferred to see in a one-batter matchup: Logan Morrison vs. Dan Otero or Venditte? Pablo Sandoval batting LH against Angel Castro or RH against Venditte? Adam LaRoche vs. Fernando Abad or Venditte?
The thing about it is, I'm not even saying that Venditte is good. We don't know; all we know is that as a LOOGY and an additional RH reliever, there are many spots in which he could be a good choice when you need to try someone in a bullpen in which no one is succeeding.
More maddening is to see for whom Venditte has been denied a spot on the 40-man roster and a chance to try his hand -- make that his hands -- at big league pitching. Chad Smith? Angel Castro? Edward Mujica?
If you haven't followed it, Venditte is at AAA sporting a 1.23 ERA in 22 IP. He has allowed 11 hits and he has struck out 21. The walks (11) are a little higher than you'd like to see, but my goodness you can't see giving him a shot in the A's current bullpen -- which has one lefty and he has been terrible -- over Chad Smith or Angel Castro???
By the way, Venditte's career ERA in the minors over 8 seasons? 2.39. But there's no room for him in this bullpen, no way we can spare a spot on the 40-man for him over Castro or the transient Alex Hassan.
So yes, a lot of players (many of them relievers, some of them guys asked to field a baseball with the glove-thingy on their hand) are not performing. And the increasingly desperate Bob Melvin, along with his wacky sidekicks such as Mike Gallego, are not always making the right calls. But the front office needs to be evaluating players better than it is doing right now, and that part is most certainly not bad luck or misfortune.