R.I.P., 2013 Oakland Athletics

It’s been another good season for Bob Melvin and the A’s, but it's over. (USATSI)
It’s been another good season for Bob Melvin and the A’s, but it's over. (USATSI)

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It's been a heck of a year for the Fightin' Athletics of Oakland, but that year is over. With the loss to Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Game 5 of the ALDS, the A's 2013 season is done. 

And now comes the grim business of mourning and eulogizing the freshly departed ... 

What went right

Did you believe the A’s could do it again coming into this season (don’t answer, Oakland fans)? Many did not, yet they fought their way to a second straight AL West title. In matters related, the offense was one of the AL’s best once you correct for the run-suppressing effects of O.co Coliseum, Josh Donaldson is deservedly bound for a top-five finish in the AL MVP balloting, and Bartolo Colon worked almost 200 innings and pitched to a 2.65 ERA at age 40.

But wait, there’s more! Brandon Moss tallied 30 spanks. Coco Crisp enjoyed perhaps the best power season of his 12-year career. The team defense was excellent. The bullpen was strong. Sonny Gray pitched like an ace after joining the rotation in August, and Bob Melvin provided steady leadership and a wise commitment to platooning.

And they did all that despite a payroll that ranked 27th in MLB.

What went wrong

Yoenis Cespedes’s production dropped a bit (Home Run Derby belt and title notwithstanding). Josh Reddick had a generally disappointing season at the plate. The rotation behind Colon was inconsistent until Gray joined the corps, and they got just 44 2/3 innings from Brett Anderson. Off the field, the franchise’s uncertain future in Oakland becomes more of a concern each day.

Above all, though, it was another first-round exit from the postseason. The likely reality doesn’t make for good copy, but it’s probably nothing more than simple misfortune -- “it” being the fact that the Athletics have lost in the first round in seven of their last eight trips to the postseason. While that streak is not indicative of any kind of flawed roster construction, it is a streak.

MVP: Donaldson. The 27-year-old provided stellar defense at the hot corner and at the plate batted .301/.384/.499 with 24 homers, 37 doubles and 74 unintentional walks. Donaldson’s OPS+ of  148 ranked fifth in the AL this season.

LVP: This one’s tough because the 2013 A’s didn’t have a truly bad core contributor. So we’ll go with … The O.co Coliseum.

That’s right, the A’s ballpark is the LVP. It’s the chief cause of the franchise’s limbo status, it’s hostile toward fly-ball hitters (of which the A’s have quite a few), and it barfed up sewage on multiple occasions this season. Worst of all, its surface occasionally bore the incriminating scars of … football.

Free agents to be: RP Grant Balfour, SP Bartolo Colon

Gameplan heading into the offseason

As you can see immediately above, the A’s don’t have many free agents, but they do have two key free agents. It would be very unlike the contemporary-era A’s to pay the going rates for a proven closer, which is what Balfour now is. So it seems likely he’ll walk. As for Colon, a reunion seems more of a possibility. He’s at ease in Oakland, he’s reinvented himself as a command hurler, and the A’s need known quantities in the rotation -- even known quantities in their 40s. Elsewhere, there’s little reason to change what’s worked so well over the last two seasons. They’ll almost certainly exercise their 2014 options on Crisp and Brett Anderson.

Ridiculously premature prediction for 2014

The Rangers return to the top of the division, but the A’s claim a wild-card berth. Jarrod Parker enjoys a breakout season.

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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