I don’t know how many wins the A’s will finish with this season, and it seems a tall order for them to run down a playoff spot. But I can tell you that the clubhouse environment is the healthiest I’ve seen it since I began covering this team in 2007. Not that past teams had toxic chemistry. This club has been filled with nice guys ever since I’ve been around it. But it just felt like there was no identity, no real personality or fire to past teams. This team has it. Again, I don’t know how much it will ultimately be worth in the standings, but it’s a positive sign and bodes well for the future if a sizeable core of this team returns in 2013. Players talked about this element after Wednesday’s 3-2 victory that completed a sweep of the Red Sox.
Third baseman Brandon Inge, who spent his first 11-plus seasons with the Detroit Tigers, said it’s as good of a clubhouse as he has been around. “We have a lot of fun,” Inge said. “Win or lose, we still have a lot of fun. That’s the name of the game. Any job you’re at, you need to have fun at what you’re doing.”
“When I was (with Boston) in 2007 and 2008, it was one of the best clubhouses I’ve been in,” said first baseman Brandon Moss, who has spent time with four big league teams. “You came in and it was just a great place to be. Same here. We’ve got a lot of characters on this team. We all mix really well. It’s a good place to be.”
I think a lot of credit goes to manager Bob Melvin, in his first full season with the team, for instilling a positive culture. I also think the A’s have imported good clubhouse figures — Inge and Jonny Gomes are a couple that jump to mind. They also have a few more characters, as Moss indicated — guys who have a screw loose in a good way. Gomes and Josh Reddick are two examples. Ryan Cook has a bit of under-the-radar nuttiness to his personality, and that keeps things loose even in tough times, and Oakland has had some this season.
The A’s have always had good character guys — no one works harder or has more of a team-first attitude than Kurt Suzuki. But there’s an intangible with the 2012 club that is allowing it, thus far, to play better than most expected back in spring training.
Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday …