When the Oakland Athletics acquired starter Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline on July 31st, Oakland fans rejoiced knowing the addition of Lester gave their team one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball. About a month after the trade though, they are beginning to realize it may have been the biggest mistake of the season. In order to acquire Lester, the A's had to give up outfielder Yoenis Cespedes; arguably the face of their franchise, and send him to Boston. Before the trade Cespedes was hitting .257 with 17 homers and 67 RBI's. His .257 batting average may have been underwhelming but there is no denying the major contribution his home run and RBI total provided to the Oakland offense.
Cespedes was undoubtedly the heart and soul of the A’s offense and without him they have suffered. The Athletics still lead the majors in runs scored but without Cespedes in the lineup they slipped to 20th in runs scored for the month of August. Their lackluster offense is a viable explanation for their dismal record of (12-17) during the month. August marked the first time in two years that the A’s finished a month with a losing record and also saw their one game divisional lead evaporate into a five game deficit after they were swept in a four game series by their division rival the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this past weekend. The A's were outscored 18-4 in the series which shows that without Cespedes they no longer have the firepower to keep up with a top tier offense like the Angels.
The recent offensive struggles have made the Oakland front office so desperate for help that they acquired designated hitter Adam Dunn from the Chicago White Sox on Sunday morning. Dunn has hit 20 home runs through 106 games this season but is only batting .220 and has a career history of having a high strikeout percentage leading one to ask whether he will actually help the Oakland offense or hinder it further.
The fact that the A's now face a five game deficit with only a month remaining in the regular season means that a third straight division title is unlikely for them. Fortunately they still lead the American League wildcard race but that means they will have to play in a play-in game just to reach the American League Division Series. As of right now, two of the likeliest opponents for the A's in the play-in game are the Detroit Tigers and the Seattle Mariners. When taking into account that Detroit is the team that has eliminated Oakland from the playoffs the last two years, and that the Mariners would more than likely throw out ace Felix Hernandez in the game, it is easy to see why neither match up would really favor the Athletics.
At one point during this season the A's seemed unmatched and appeared to be a lock to play in the world series but today they look like a team with a defeated spirit that is limping its way into the final month of the season. An organization that had such high hopes for 2014 might now see its season end a lot sooner than it expected all because of a trade that seemed like a good idea at the time, but is quickly becoming one of the most infamous deals in Oakland A's lore.