Nothing is working for the Oakland A's, clearly. The bullpen was excellent to begin the year, but after being thrust exclusively into mop-up duty, the group of relievers that were second best in baseball in April were 28th best in May. The rotation and offense have oscillated between exceptional and terribad. No amount of Josh Reddick and Rich Hill has changed that, much less Max Muncy and Zach Neal.
So what does the team do now? I have some suggestions:
Less Burns, More Semien
For the love of all that is good and holy bat Marcus Semien in the top-half of the order. Although I've advocated this since the season began, I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Why is Marcus Semien still hitting 9th for the #Athletics? He leads in HR and pitches per PA, which are both things you want toward the top.— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) May 13, 2016
Through yesterday's games four Athletics are among the top-100 major leaguers in pitches per plate appearance (among batting-title qualifiers): Semien is tied for 10th with 4.35, Chris Coghlan is tied for 65th with 3.99, and Reddick and Stephen Vogt are tied for 89th with 3.90. I have no problem with Coco Crisp batting leadoff on days he plays but I would be perfectly content to see the A's make Semien/Coghlan/Reddick/Vogt four of the first five hitters, even if just for a few days. What is there to lose?
Why is Butler Still On This Team?
A genuine question many in the Athletics Nation have wondered is what purpose does Billy Butler serve at this point? He can't play defense, he can't hit, and he's an extreme liability on the bases. It's hard to put together a winning roster when you're relegating yourself to play shorthanded. That is just what the A's are doing as long as Butler remains on the active roster.
An alternative that might turn the tables somewhat is Nashville resident Renato Nunez. One worry about promoting the powerful corner infielder is that his development might be interrupted, and that is a valid point. 134 plate appearances above double-A aren't much. Still, at what point do we take Nunez's 148 wRC+ seriously? The Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter friendly, but Nunez has never been a below average hitter anywhere else. He's come close twice before: once as a 17-year old in rookie ball and again two years later as a 19-year old in A-ball. He has cut his K-rate at almost every level without sacrificing walks or power. I don't believe the reason he hasn't been given a shot yet is because he doesn't have MLB-ready skills. So why not give him a try?
The People Want Hahn
Multiple things are the reasons why Jesse Hahn has made just two major league starts this season, I don't intend to get into that. We're still left wondering why the team is insistent upon him wasting his pitches in the minor leagues. He's arguably the second-most talented pitcher on the staff, which for a team spiraling out of control, isn't something to be overlooked.
Let's see Hahn in Oakland again soon. If there is any chance at this team creeping closer to .500, I'm sure he'll be a reason for that to happen.
I don't pretend to know more than the current front office does and don't expect that even one of these proposed changes would turn this team around quickly. It's just that I've watched enough stale baseball the past few weeks to know the current iteration of the Oakland A's isn't going anywhere.
However, despite flatlining in Boston this week this team isn't yet lifeless. There's hope because, win or lose in 2016, the majority of the current roster will be here in 2017 and together with reinforcements from the farm will more than likely make up the next great A's team.