Some believe that a superstition is anything that people believe that is based on myth, magic, or irrational thoughts. They are beliefs that are steeped in lore or tradition, and it is usually difficult to pinpoint the exact origin. Superstition is also believed to be a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason, knowledge or experience.
Baseball has a deep cultural tradition of superstition; there is just way to much time to think, re-think and then contemplate some more. This is exactly what happened after the A’s traded fan favorite Yoenis “La Potencia” Cespedes to the Red Sox on July 31st. The A’s went into a deep funk, all but giving up their A.L. West lead and best record in baseball by a sizable amount of games. The fans cringed, became angry and eventually blamed it on “The Trade.” This is ridiculous for many reasons:
A) Pure numbers. Cespedes hasn’t put up impressive numbers in Boston. He has 5 homers and 30 RBI in 175 AB’s, hardly great numbers…more like average. His horrible OBP actually went down to a terrible .294 as of this writing. Lester on the other hand has been a solid 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA and at one point in September was the only pitcher in the rotation that was a guaranteed solid outing. I also would have infinite more confidence in Lester starting a one game play-off than any other pitcher in the rotation, something Oakland fans haven’t been able to say since the Dave Stewart era.
B) Injuries. In September alone the ball-club had injuries to Reddick, Punto, Lowrie, Vogt and Doolittle. John Jaso also never recovered from his concussion and won’t be seen until 2015. Craig Gentry and Kyle Blanks have been out for so long they are all but forgotten.
C) Horrible pitching. Scott Kazmir has been lit up in 4 of his last 6 starts, Sonny Gray has lost 4 out of his last 5, and the bullpen has been terrible. These are the ERA’s for the last 30 games. Kazmir: 8.58, Doolittle: 8.44, Scribner: 7.11, Cook: 5.87, Chavez 5.19. (with Kazmir being 3-6 5.86 and Hammel being 2-5 4.61 post All Star break.)
D) Post All Star Hitting blues. Brandon Moss has been the biggest disappointment here. He was hitting .268 with 21 homers and 66 RBI at the break, since then he is .179/4/15. A tremendous and disturbing drop off. Alberto Callaspo has hit .203 and played horribly defensively. The numbers at the catching position dropped off dramatically, as did Josh Donaldson’s HR totals. The usually dependable Coco Crisp has battled injuries and a .199 average. The outfield as a whole has been a disappointment with Josh Reddick leading the way with a .270 average.
The only conclusion that I can draw here is that a lot of bad shit happened, and I’m still not going to a palm reader any time soon. The numbers are right in front of you. This will be the end of the line for some of these players, some will be riding the bus in the minors and for others…the life of the platoon player. This is something that happens in baseball, and ALL sports. Sometimes it ends quickly and sometimes it peters out slowly, unfortunately for the A’s it all happened at the same time. We can only hope that they have one last run in them.
Are these the writings of a sabermetrics person who likes answers black and white with little room for who the hell knows? Gary, maybe you are only a bad ass on the surface and this is your coming out party. Just kidding, but seriously, you guys should be celebrating. Life is good, no? Newsflash. The A’s have a 3 game lead on the wild card contender. Time to look ahead and think about playoff matchups so the A’s don’t bow out in the first round, wave those superstitious cow bells and what not.
Maybe impossible to really know why, but you lay out some solid reasons here, and make some sense of it all. My simple rule is don’t break up a good thing. The A’s were cruising out of this world when these trades happened. That’s what surprised me. Of course, they did it with the future of facing Detroit and the long playoffs…pitching and more pitching and maybe the fact that they were cruising so high was a sign that they were gonna crash. Maybe the A’s saved their ass from an even worse season with these trades. It looks like they will sneak into the playoffs but mostly because the Mariners have kind of choked in their last 10 game. Either way….as you say Gary, one last run for the A’s. That we can hope for.
With the Brewers it’s much easier to figure out. We made no trades. Pitching has been ok, even kind of good, but the hitting has done more than suck. It totally disappeared.
Such a steep decline. Each series, I’ve been thinking they will catch gear again.