Your Oakland Athletics are losing games and ground to division opponents fast, with a bullpen that’s Totally Blowing It. They’ve lost six of seven, and sit at fourth place after splitting one series with the Angels and losing another, and also being swept at home by the Houston Astros.

Wait, What?

That’s right. Jeff Lunhow, Sig Mejdal and the ‘stros statistically-driven front office are beating Billy Beane and his A’s at their own game. Houston’s ZiPS projections have improved dramatically, and for the first time ever the franchise pulled off an 8-1 stretch on a Road trip. Their 2015 payroll sits at $70,910,100 — over $15 million less than Beane’s squadron of Outcasts & Misfits.

Several of the games have been heartbreakers. All kinds of things have gone wrong — the team has yet to win a day game, and their Hot ‘N Cold style of scoring makes them a bettor’s nightmare; left-handed pitchers are surrendering lots of hits to left-handed batters, hard-hit balls that might normally be doubles are flying right to opposing OF’s, Ben Zobrist went down, and Bob Melvin has had some trouble with getting home plate umpires to call a consistent strike.

But it’s just the first month of the season, and there are a lot of incremental changes the A’s will make to become a Winning Team. One bright idea might be to keep Craig Gentry (0.61) on the bench, and Mark Canha in the lineup.


  • The Athletics’ hottest hitter is Josh Reddick. Over the course of the week, he had a .500 / .571 / .833 line with 7 RBI, single-handedly bringing several games within grasp for the A’s.
  • The A’s (9-14) dropped to 6.5 games behind the white hot Houston Astros and are in fourth place in the AL West race. Houston has an AL-best 3.04 team ERA and the bullpen is pitching with a 2.18 ERA, so that might be the difference.
  • Oakland’s pitching situation looks like it’s in dire straits with Ryan Cook (10.80 ERA) and Eric O’Flaherty (11.57 ERA) pitching especially awful out of the bullpen. But Chris Bassitt (1.42 ERA) has looked promising early on in his early MLB career, and Evan Scribner (1.38 ERA) has stood tall for the A’s several times this year.
  • A.J. Griffin should’t be in Arizona too much longer. If the stars align, his return will coincide with Jarrod Parker‘s, Dan Otero will return to being Dan Otero, and left-handed specialist Fernando Abad will stop letting lefties put so many balls into play.
  • The A’s made three transactions this week. RHP Kendall Graveman was sent down to Nashville, and RHP Ryan Cook was brought up in his stead. Ben Zobrist was placed on the 15-Day DL and the contract of INF Max Muncy was selected from the Pacific Coast League.
  • Here’s a fun fact: The MLB went from 1922 to 1968 without seeing a regular season Perfect Game. The man who ended the drought? Jim “Catfish” Hunter.

White Elephant Weekly is edited by Emily Thompson, who translates, writes, and processes archives in Seattle, WA.