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The Oakland Athletics: A New Hope?

BOSTON - JULY 06:  Starting pitcher Brett Anderson #49 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates his shutout against the Boston Red Sox on July 6, 2009 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Athletics defeated the Red Sox 6-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Tim NguyenCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

 

Every die hard Oakland Athletics fan dreams of repeating the glorious World Series Championship of 1989. It has been twenty years since. Twenty years filled with dynamic players that just could not make it to the next level and become champions for our beloved Athletics. The closest that they have come to the ring in recent years would be 2006, with the likes of Danny Haren, Barry Zito, Joe Blanton, and Rich Harden in the pitching staff in addition to Nick Swisher and the infamous Milton Bradley leading the way.

At the time, Oakland General Manager Billy Beane got sidetracked from his rebuilding plans after shipping off two of the Big Three to Atlanta and St. Louis, respectively. After watching the Athletics making a run for the playoffs, Beane traded then top outfield prospect Andre Ethier for hothead Milton Bradley and a flawed infielder in Antonio Perez. At the time, the deal looked like a good one. Nobody, not even mastermind Billy expected Ethier to blossom into one of the elite outfielders in the game today. Had Beane not pulled off that trade, the A's probably would not have made the 2006 playoffs, let alone the 2006 ALCS. But, and this is a bit but, they would have been prepared for the future. Then again, knowing Beane, Ethier would probably have been traded anyways for a "better future", just like Dan Haren and Nick Swisher both were.

Now is the time for Beane to begin reaping his reward for years of meticulous trades. And he already has. Acquired in the Dan Haren trade, Brett Anderson has proved to be one of several gems in this season. After a rough start that questioned Anderson's path to the majors, Brett straightened everything out and threw a two-hitter against the vaunted Boston Red Sox, always a tough team to beat, let alone two hit. Josh Outmanhas been another gem acquired by Beane. The lefty was a part of the Joe Blanton trade, and before his Tommy John surgery, Outman was pitching towards an outstanding Rookie of the Year campaign. Add that to occasional strong showings by top prospects Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, and the A's show a pretty dangerous rotation heading into 2010 and beyond.

The offensive side of the game, where the A's have perenially struggled ever since the second coming of the Bash Brothers in Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez, is still a work in progress. However, all hope is not lost as the A's top prospects are mainly position players whose ceilings are endless. The current top prospect in the Oakland organization is first baseman Chris Carter, another holdover from the Dan Haren deal. Adrian Cardenas is a top prospect to take over for Mark Ellis at second base. He came from the Joe Blanton deal along with Josh Outman. At shortstop are Cliff Pennington and newly drafted Grant Green out of USC. Third base is, of course, going to be manned by Brett Wallace, the gem from the Matt Holliday deal.

The outfield looks bright too. Ryan Sweeney has proven to be a mainstay in right field, Rajai Davis is a late bloomer in center, and prospects Travis Buck, Sean Doolittle, and Aaron Cunningham head off a solid list to compete for the rest of the outfield spots.

Though they are having a losing season, the future is bright, with bright stars everywhere. And those stars are starting to shine as the season dulls. The Oakland A's are hot once, again, and in a couple years, they will be good enough to challenge the rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the AL West crown.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is hope after all. We just have to wait.

 

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