The A’s have gone down the rabbit hole since the last time Billy Beane addressed Oakland’s poor start to the season.
Much has changed on the field. The A’s are 1-8 since the last time Beane took an in-depth look at the team with this newspaper. Five of the eight losses have been by one run. They have extended their streak of games in which they’ve committed an error from five games to 14.
For the general manager, however, not much has changed. Talking before boarding a flight to watch the SEC baseball tournament this week in Birmingham, Ala., Beane said the team continues to need to ride out the rough stretch that has seen Oakland own the worst record in the Major Leagues at 13-26.
In falling 12½ games behind Houston in the American League West entering a three-game set with the Astros beginning tonight, Oakland has been in fifth place in the West for 10 consecutive days with no suggestion that will end anytime soon.
Getting away from the numbers, Beane cited big injuries and bad luck as part of the issue for Oakland.
“Obviously, all this is disappointing, but given the amount of players we have on the disabled list, that’s a problem,’’ Beane said. “With the guys we have on the field, there are things that could go better; it’s part of the process.
“I think we need to ride this thing out, get some players back. It’s similar to the last time we talked 10 days ago. We got Coco (Crisp) back, but we’ve lost (Jarrod) Parker and (Ike) Davis. We’re still looking to get (Sean) Doolittle and (Ben) Zobrist. We need to wait for guys to get back and hope that will help.’’
Crisp is back in left field and playing some excellent defense, but he’s just 2-for-40 at the plate. Parker is visiting Dr. James Andrews today to get an opinion on the state of his arm; he has a fractured epicondyle but it’s not yet clear if he needs a third Tommy John surgery. Davis went on the disabled list Sunday with a Grade 2 strained left quad. Doolittle, the closer, is two games into an injury rehab assignment as he comes back from a shoulder strain. Zobrist, the second baseman, will begin his injury rehab assignment with Class-A Stockton Tuesday.
As for the bad luck, Beane looks at the MLB-worst 1-13 record in one-run games and sees that his team has been competitive if not successful.
“To be 1-13 or whatever in one-run games when you are obviously competitive, there’s some (bad) luck involved there,’’ he said. “Any mistake we make has cost us. It’s far too early in my mind to start making big changes. We have to remember we are not playing with the team that we had in mind.
“Zobrist is a very big part of this club, and he’s gone. Eric O’Flaherty is gone too. We’ve got three of the main members of our bullpen from last year gone in Doolittle and O’Flaherty on the disabled list and Cook trying to work some things out in the minors. Add to that, we’ve taken Parker out of a slot in our rotation. Any team would be challenged to maintain through all that. It’s not that hard to figure out.’’
Ten days ago, Beane was willing to give the defense a pass, figuring it was just a bad spell. On that he has moved a bit with the defense committing a season-high four errors twice in the last nine games. The A’s have committed 21 errors in the last 14 games and a Major League-high 42 errors in 39 games, 10 more errors than any other team in the big leagues.
“Certainly the guys on the field at time have been lax at times, but they’ve also been incredibly unlucky,’’ he said. “No matter what, we have to deal with it. Bob (manager Bob Melvin) and I have been doing this a long time. We’ve been through it before. The one thing you learn is you have to be resilient.’’