The last-place Oakland A's are on a six-game losing streak and their offseason moves look worse by the day
The A's have gotten little to nothing from most of their winter adds
The Oakland Athletics were one of baseball's best stories last season, winning 97 games en route to a Wild Card Game berth. The A's swell play from the summer on obscured the fact that spring contained few hints of their pending brilliance. Oakland left May with a 29-28 record, good for fourth place and a 6 1/2 game deficit in the division. Why is any of this relevant? Because the 2019 A's may need to follow a similar blueprint in order to overcome a poor start.
The A's lost their sixth consecutive contest on Wednesday, dropping a 7-3 game to to the Boston Red Sox. At best, Oakland will enter Thursday tied for last place in the American League West. To make matters worse, the A's 14-19 start can be charged in part to a putrid winter.
Seven players on the A's 25-man roster were acquired after the completion of last season -- and boy have they given David Forst and company reason for buyer's remorse.
First baseman Kendrys Morales -- a necessary late-March grab due to Matt Olson's injury -- entered Wednesday's game with a 41 OPS+ and two extra-base hits in 25 games. The other right-side infielder, Jurickson Profar, has been worse. Profar entered with a 35 OPS+ and a case of the yips, a condition that has resulted in six throwing errors in 27 games at the keystone (note that he entered the season having made four throwing errors in his first 67 games at second base).
Veteran backup catcher Nick Hundley has also been a drag on both ends of the ball: he entered Wednesday with a 23 OPS+ and he hasn't graded as a scratch defender since 2014. That leaves Robbie Grossman and his 93 OPS+ as the success story of the bunch. Yikes.
The struggle has been real for the A's offseason pitching additions, too. Mike Fiers lowered his ERA below 7.00 with his Wednesday start -- a performance that saw him yield three runs in five innings, for the record. Marco Estrada is on the injured list, yet found time to accumulate a 6.85 ERA and allow seven home runs in his 23 healthy innings. Reliever Joakim Soria has permitted 23 baserunners in 14 innings -- a bad ratio for anyone, but especially a high-leverage arm. As with Grossman, even the best of the group has been good only relatively: Brett Anderson, a re-addition, has a 1.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go with his 99 ERA+.
The good news for the A's is that it's hard to see the entire group continuing to produce so little. The bad news is their poor start has put them in a hole. The A's were always unlikely to contend for the division crown, meaning they were instead aiming for a wild-card spot. As it stands, the A's already have seven more losses than either the New York Yankees or Cleveland Indians, the two teams who would currently square off in a Wild Card Game.
That's not an insurmountable deficit, not one-sixth of the way through the season, but in order to book a return trip to October the A's need to find their 2018 magic -- and soon.
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