As the regular season winds down, more and more teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Up next is Ken's Brother from Excuse Me For My Voice. He took a break from writing about Cal football to help finish our list of the teams that didn't make the playoffs. (Stay tuned this week for the newly-ejected postseason squads.)
Dear Oakland Athletics,
I won't lie, I didn't see nearly enough of your games this season, but I knew the story from the get-go: We were going to have a good time.
Let's be honest, following the A's can be like listening to a broken record. The team will always be young, with a couple of older injured veterans to provide sage advice. Our manager will always just sit there, wearing a hat. And let's be honest, with our lack of power this season, I wouldn't have minded if Jose Canseco visited the clubhouse a couple of times for old times sake.
We all know your place in the Bay Area sports team food chain, and frankly I kind of like it that way. We don't get the ridiculous expectations placed on us that the 49ers do, we don't get the hype the Giants do, we don't get hated on like the Raiders do, and we're not mocked like the Warriors are. If only we could outdraw the San Jose Sharks every now and then, we'd be doing pretty good.
But why concentrate on the negative when there are oh so many positives?
The Good Times: For me personally, the highlight was in April when we held Roy Steele day. The voice of God came back and even announced a couple of names. His enthusiastic pronunciation of Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) got me through subsequent series with the New York Yankees.
Rajai Davis(notes), everybody's favorite UCONN alum stole a ridiculous 50 bases this season. Sure, we all know that Rickey Henderson could have come out of retirement and swiped 70 this season, but still this was an exciting development.
I know that I've never been a fan of Daric Barton(notes), and it's all Dan Johnson's(notes) fault. But Daric did bring the bat, and he lead our team in games played and at bats. And he hit .273 for us, which exceeded my Lance Blankenship esq expectations for him.
We all knew we could pitch, but we didn't know we'd be that good this year, from Dallas Braden's(notes) perfect game to Trevor Cahill's(notes) 18 wins, this was the main reason we finished at 81-81 on the season.
The Bad Times: Honestly, I'm going to skip this. I had low expectations, and we didn't do that bad. Yay for 81-81. Let's build on that and take the next step: Seriously contending for the playoffs.
Shape Up Or Ship Out: You're going to need a plan going forward.
Here's who we should say farewell to ...
• Eric Chavez(notes) — Don't get me wrong, my heart breaks for him. In 2004, we surveyed the landscape and invested wisely in what should have been the best person to hand a six-year $66 million dollar per year contract, too. It just hasn't worked out for either of us the way it we wanted it too. What has been the most heartbreaking is that for the past two years, we've all cringed every time he fielded a ball, or swung a bat, knowing that he could disfigure his body at any time. He could have thrown in the towel, but he keeps coming back trying to justify his contract.
• Jack Cust(notes) — I know it's harsh to say goodbye to someone who hit a respectable .271 for us this year, and hit a HR every 27 at bats, but I'm tired of his act. Way too often the A's let someone like him or Erubiel Durazo or Matt Stairs(notes) stick around for about 5 seasons too long.
• Ben Sheets(notes) — I'm glad you came, I'm glad we took that chance, I'm glad you got in 20 starts. I'm just not happy you finished the season with us. Why we couldn't have traded him for a box of towels or something useful is beyond me. He's not in our long term plans, and we've got plenty of good young arms. We should have taken any offer we could have gotten and saved some of our limited and precious cash.
And here's who we should ask to stay ...
• Mark Ellis(notes) — You won't win the Gold Glove, you're not an All Star, you're not going to lead the league in anything other than an inability to grow facial hair, but you're Mark Ellis, the best thing to happen at second base in Oakland ever. And trust me, I'm the guy with an autographed picture of Mike Gallego on my desk.
• Coco Crisp(notes) — Don't get me wrong, I don't want you back as a "starter," I want you back as our fourth outfielder. Trust me, someone of our young nucleus of Rajai Davis, Chris Carter, Ryan Sweeney(notes) will get hurt, get in a slump and we'll totally get you into like 80 games. So pretty please with cherries on top? Stick around for another year? Unless the A's finally agree to let Rickey Henderson into the building on a permanent basis, we need you around to keep teaching Rajai how to run.
See You Next April,
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Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.