Beane, like Brian Sabean of SF Giants hype, makes his bones when it counts most-- during the trade deadline. This year, the flutter of butterfly wings could be heard from the A's camp. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Barry Zito's name would pop occasionally, but without much merit or context. Beane shifted his strategy to last off-season instead, picking up perpetually cranky Milton Bradley and an aging agit-prop artist Frank Thomas to bolster the cheese-whiffing line-up. He added Esteban Loaiza (gulp!) to support the pitching staff. If anything, Beane has foresight. Odds are always in favor of Rich Harden straining an oblique muscle or a hammy or whatever muscle we’ve never heard of, and to miss significant time. The A's receive mega-bonus points when he returns. Moreover, the Kirk Saarloos-Brad Halsey conundrum, a project of deep curiosity to SFist, has actually worked for the better part of selected innings here and there.
Ultimately, Beane's genius for finding the right kind of 'mannish' man to slash the A's into the playoffs will be measured by Milton Bradley's fire. The otherwise light-hitting, vanilla line-up Beane assembles each year, typically has that one white-hot firebrand that carries them after the all-star break. In the past, it was Tejada, and to some extent, Giambi when he was focused on success and not his physique. Today, Bradley is their 4-tool horse who, despite his cantankerous nature, is their best player, and can carry a squad of grown men on his back. Just ask BJ Ryan of Toronto. On Sunday, Bradley took Ryan’s best body blows and wacked a 400-plus foot walk-off bomb over the centerfield fence. What every half-witted prognosticator ever predicted about Bradley’s talents will finally be proven correct this fall-- the dude rules! Plus, the A's own the month of August. After last nights lackluster showing, they are 103-40 during the month of August since 2001. What is that, a .725 winning percentage? Truly off the scale, and why they'll beat the great pretenders from the South.
SFist Kevin contributing