The Oakland Athletics season hasn't completely fallen apart, but it's safe to say the season has been a bit of a disappointment. The A's have had some highlights, most notably from rookie second baseman Jemile Weeks. Beyond that, they've seen a lot of inconsistency throughout the roster. Although the AL West is not a place where teams dominate, inconsistent performances will keep a team out of the playoff race, which the A's are quickly discovering.
The A's now have 51 games remaining in the 2011 season, starting with three this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. They seemed ready to make a move back into the divisional race following the All Star break, but quickly ran into a brick wall when they were swept by the Seattle Mariners this past week. They now sit 12 1/2 back of first searching for an identity.
At some point they'll start calling up some of their minor leaguers. Guys like Chris Carter and Michael Taylor will get a late season chance to show the team they're ready to lead the way in 2012. Carter struggled last August before turning it on in September. Given his fielding issues, Carter is a guy the team needs to just stick at DH and see what he can do. Hideki Matsui has started to play better lately, but he's not really in the team's long term plans. If the team continues to struggle with Matsui in the lineup, it might be time to start looking to some new options. This very well could mean releasing Matsui to sign with a contender (since he likely won't clear waivers).
If the A's are going to take a step forward in 2012, the next eight weeks will be key to seeing what they have moving forward. If that means cutting loose some veterans so be it. At the same time, they'll need to figure out which players could net them compensatory draft picks since those are a gold mine to a team like Oakland.
Whatever the case, the team will look to win some ball games over the final 51 games. Given the way this season has turned, for the final stretch of the season we're going to use this one thread for recaps of the games. If a significant move happens, such as youngsters getting called up, we'll open up some new streams, but for now we'll stick with this one.