Well, 2011 hasn't been too kind to the Athletics, especially on the injury front. After playing much of the first half without closer Andrew Baily and starter Brandon McCarthy, the A's have now suffered their first injury loss of the 2nd half, and it's one that's going to carry over into next year as well.
The A's were thought to have a good shot at winning the AL West this year particularly because of their strong starting pitching, led by the two-headed monster or Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, so Anderson's loss is a huge blow to this starting rotation. It would be the equivalent of taking Matt Cain out of the Giants starting rotation, and not only is Anderson going to miss the remainder of the 2011 season, it's highly doubtful to expect anything sufficient out of him in 2012 as well. The Tommy John recovery time for a starting pitcher tends to fall between 12-18 months, which in best case would put Anderson at the start of his rehab at this point next year. Maybe he comes along and can contribute in the final month in 2012, but that would be absolute best case scenario. Now moving up into the 2 spot in the rotation and likely staying there through next year will be newest A's all-star Gio Gonzalez. With Rich Harden and Brandon McCarthy's healthy return, the A's still have a strong and deep rotation, but losing Anderson is going to have an effect on everyone on that team. It's really too bad too cause the A's were just starting to get healthy. Even star relief pitcher Joey Devine, who hasn't pitched since 2008 when he sported a 0.59 era out of the bullpen for Oakland, made his 2011 debut this week and Josh Willingham came off the DL in strong fashion with a 3-hit night and a home run.
Now, as we approach the trade-deadline, I think it's pretty clear what position the A's will take, and will likely be looking for teams they can unload veterans like Hideki Matsui, David Dejesus, Willingham and Kevin Kouzmanoff onto. Out of the bunch, I think the A's would be wise to hang onto Willingham. They don't have a lot of power on their roster at all, and Willingham is the one guy who's shown that he can hit the ball out of the ballpark on a consistent basis for this team. Matsui and DeJesus have been huge disappointments after coming over with big expectation in the offseason.