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Game Thread #104: Cleveland at A's

'90s Fireworks Night at the Coliseum.
'90s Fireworks Night at the Coliseum.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening everyone and welcome to '90s themed fireworks night at the Coliseum. I attended high school in the '90s and have fond memories of the grunge culture that dominated the early part of the decade. But even if your formative decade fell outside of the '90s I think we can all relate to the apathetic Nevermind generation as we watch what remains of the 2015 Oakland A's season. Like the coddled grunge-hippies of the '90s who became disenfranchised with the cold realities of life to the point that it became cool not to care, we too have entered a phase of melancholia after a spate easy riches.

Dispassionate interest is expected in a losing season, but what strikes me as odd is the scrutiny Billy Beane received in the media for trading Kazmir, Clippard, and Zobrist. Not criticism for the value received in return for those three players, mind you, but criticism for the simple act of trading them. For example, a recent article in the SF Examiner by Paul Ladewski claims Beane is more interested in dollars and cents than wins and losses. For support, Ladewski points to the current winning versions of the Astros and Royals because the A's have a similar financial profile, and "if the Astros and Royals can pull it off, there's no reason why the poor old A's shouldn't be able to do it, too."

Now hold on a second. Every losing team, rich and poor, trades players at the deadline. It's the unfortunate reality of a losing season. The Tigers came into the 2015 season with the fourth highest payroll in baseball at $173,813,750, but that team just traded David Price. Are the Tigers more committed to dollars and cents over wins and losses? Did the Astros have a sudden change of heart towards winning after trading players at the deadline in 2013? Of course not. The Astros' current success results from years of planning, in part due to deadline trades. The A's moved players at the 2015 deadline to make themselves better in 2016 and beyond. In other words, like numerous other teams do every season, the A's will sacrifice losing now to win later.

So are the A's historically more or less interested in winning as compared to the Royals and Astros? In 2012-14 when the A's made the post-season three seasons in a row, the Astros finished with 55, 51, and 70 wins respectively. In 2006, when the A's won the West with 93 wins, the Royals had 100 losses. From 1999-2006, eight seasons all under Beane, the A's never finished with a losing record while the Royals peaked at 83 wins in 2003; losing 104(!) in '04 and 106(!) in '05. Paul Ladewski is to have us believe these teams are more committed to winning than your Oakland A's.

Condemning a trade based on exchanged value is one thing, but to criticize a losing team for the act of trading a pending free agent at the deadline exhibits the naivete of a child attending their first live game. That professional sports writers have the gall to claim that Billy Beane worships the bottom line more than winning is historically preposterous. For Paul Ladewski to hyper-focus on the 2015 season, ignoring well over a century's worth of baseball seasons, as the sign post definitively dictating front office motivation league-wide is quite simply bad sports writing. Billy Beane and the A's can "pull it off" and have been for over 15 years.

But enough with my soap box, lets see who is pitching tonight.

Tonight is a replay of the July 10th game between the A's and Cleveland also started by Kendall Graveman and Danny Salazar. Unfortunately, Danny went nearly complete that day giving up one unearned run in 8.2 innings. Conversely, Kendall couldn't escape the sixth giving up four earned. Cleveland won that game 5-1.

Kendall's two starts since July 10th haven't been much better. He is on a stretch of three straight losses including a rough outing last time out in San Francisco where he was pulled in the second after giving up four runs. After seeing his ERA drop to 3.16 on July 4th, Kendall's ERA has ballooned up to 4.13 during this recent rough stretch.

The lineup provides few surprises as Stephen Vogt remains in the sixth spot reflecting his current 0-16 slump that hasn't seen him get a hit in a full week. Josh Reddick meanwhile looks to remain hot having gone 8-17 during a four-game double streak. Finally, Marcus Semien's average continues to plummet. He is now battting .247 after peaking at .314 on May 18. With Semien's skills at SS arguably improving, will we one day see him be able to play the position and hit simultaneously? We can collectively cross our fingers in prayer for an emphatic Yes!

Today's Lineups

Jason Kipnis - DH Billy Burns - CF
Francisco Lindor - SS Brett Lawrie - 3B
Michael Brantley - LF Josh Reddick - RF
Carlos Santana - 1B Ike Davis - 1B
Yan Gomes - C Billy Butler - DH
Lonnie Chisenhall - RF Stephen Vogt - C
Giovanny Urshela - 3B Mark Canha - LF
Michael Bourn - CF Eric Sogard - 2B
Mike Aviles - 2B Marcus Semien - SS
Danny Salazar - RHP Kendall Graveman - RHP