Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!
Relative to expectations.
How things play out versus how I expected them to play out has always been a matter of importance to me. I used to taunt Yankees fans with the idea that with all their team’s money and publicity, anything short of winning the World Series is a failure. The A’s, on the other hand, have generally outperformed expectations year after year under Billy Beane’s Moneyball system—so much so in the early 2000s that Michael Lewis wrote an enthralling book about it that was made into a hit motion picture.
That success on a shoestring budget kept me warm as an A’s fan until about 2014. That’s when the pangs of disappointment from never having even gotten to the World Series under Beane really began to feel tiresome. Another promising window of contention came and went as the Matt Chapman and Matt Olson-led core failed to make the playoffs in 2021 after three disappointingly early postseason exits.
A full-scale rebuild ensued last offseason. And now the A’s are terrible, sitting at the bottom of the AL West at 20-37, 16½ games behind Houston and 5½ behind the fourth place Seattle Mariners. There have been a few bright spots, mainly on the pitching staff, with Frankie Montas putting up solid numbers yet again, surprisingly good performances from the likes of Paul Blackburn and Cole Irvin, and some promise coming out of the bullpen from relievers like Dany Jiménez and A.J. Puk.
But even when the pitching is lights out, the A’s sputtering offense often falls short of providing the modicum of run support needed for a win, effectively pulling the rug out from underneath another brilliant start. How many absolute gems from Frankie have been squandered this season? And how would you feel about it if you were him?
So we continue to suffer as the A’s come up short time after time, just as they did yesterday in Atlanta. The A’s have now lost seven in a row and 10 of their last 11 games.
And to answer one of my earlier questions, I count five squandered Frankie gems in April and May.
But hey—none of us figured the A’s would be contenders in 2022. And it could be worse. You could be a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels have lost 13 in a row and the team’s ownership has smashed the panic button, firing three-time Manager of the Year Joe Maddon on Tuesday. The Halos haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, but they were looking like contenders until just a couple of weeks ago: on May 24, they were 27-17 and running neck and neck with the division leading Astros. They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, the reigning AL MVP in Shohei Ohtani, and another top-tier All-Star in Anthony Rendon (though he’s hardly earned his keep so far in Anaheim).
Surely, expectations were skyrocketing before this epic skid. Now they’ve run aground.
I doubt Angels fans expected this turn of events, and Maddon was taken by surprise at his firing, as he told Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic in an exit interview of sorts.
It’s cold comfort, the greater misfortune of others. But it will have to tide us over for now. Perhaps the A’s will outperform expectations going forward. Perhaps the A’s newest callup Jared Koenig will cheer us today with a dazzling debut. And perhaps the A’s offense will find a way to get a few runs across to end the team’s losing streak. I will definitely be tuning in to find out.
- Ashford: Game #57: Wright shuts down A’s in 3-2 loss
- Hall: A’s roster moves: Stephen Vogt back from IL, Matt Davidson called up
- Kawahara: ‘They’re doing what they can’: Braves first baseman Matt Olson looks back at the A’s ($)
- He: Olson faces A’s for first time, praises team for memories
MLB News & Interest:
- Franco: Angels Fire Joe Maddon
- Rosenthal: Q&A with Joe Maddon after surprise firing from Angels: ‘I want to manage’ ($)
- The Athletic: Joe Maddon never found his footing with Angels ($)
- Franco: MLB Suspends Hector Neris, Dusty Baker
- Torres: This Week in Minor League Baseball: Troy Johnston’s hit binge, Jackson Chourio’s eye-opening May ($)
- Ghiroli: Phillies managerial candidates: An early look at who could land the job full-time ($)
- Bowden: My early All-Star team picks for the American League and National League ($)
- Adams: Trevor Rosenthal Hosting Showcase Today
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
Oly was by all accounts gracious with his former teammates yesterday.
Not that anyone ever doubted how lovely a person Matt Olson is, but the body language of everyone in these photos pretty much sums it up. https://t.co/OpyI2wmwWw— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) June 7, 2022
Congrats to Stephen and Cristian! Maaaaybe Pache will get one in Oakland someday.
Vogt and Pache received their World Series rings pic.twitter.com/GfOWUUNYb9— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 7, 2022
Blackburn still hanging with the best of 2022.
2022 AL Pitching WAR Leaders— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) June 7, 2022
Martin Perez (2.9)
Nestor Cortes (2.6)
Paul Blackburn (2.1)
Alek Manoah (2.1)
All Leaders: https://t.co/69sTvmMHhU
Oly on his Oaktown days.
Oly shares his thoughts on facing the A’s and what it was like to play in Oakland pic.twitter.com/HHRGfTMA0K— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 7, 2022
Congrats to Marcus Semien on a historically good day.
Marcus Semien is the first player with 7 hits and 3 homers on a single day since Joe Morgan on July 31, 1973. pic.twitter.com/Ul6hO2TfdC— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2022
Trevor Rosenthal threw 95-96 mph at his showcase but ended with a cramp in his hamstring area. 14 teams attended.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 7, 2022
Kap and Chap featured on #NationalBestFriendsDay. I did not know this was a thing!
Smoke rubbing elbows with rockstars.