By Jason Wojciechowski on September 27, 2005 at 12:21 PM
Let's ignore the fact that the A's had the division in their grasp and fell apart down the stretch for the second year in a row (I won't throw things, I won't throw things, I won't throw things), and focus on two positive things:
- Dan Haren was locked up for four years (his arbitration years), so the entire rotation could be set for next season, with all five starters from this year either under contract (Harden, Haren, Zito) or under control (Saarloos, Blanton). I'm pretty sure Joe Kennedy's still under control of the team as well, so that's really six potential starters, which obviously gives Beane some flexibility if he wants to try to upgrade certain things this off-season.
- With the A's practically eliminated, there's no chance of pushing guys too hard and letting them re-injure themselves, perhaps with long-term consequences (Harden, Crosby). It'll be all kinds of Hiram Bocachica and Freddy Bynum from here on out, and for that we should be a little glad.
As I've said before, the difference was probably injuries. With Crosby and Harden for a full season, this team, despite no respect from the dreaded "mainstream media," would have actually made it come down to the wire, instead of almost causing a photo finish but really finishing something like six or eight games back. And as I've said before, the A's have a clear area they can focus on for next year: health.