Feel bad for your Athletic brethren.

Don’t get me wrong, the A’s are still pretty damned close to being a playoff lock.  If the season ended today, they’d be the top Wild Card, three games ahead of the second, and 4.5 ahead of the first team out.

But the A’s went dead cold at the very wrong time: a four-game series with their division rival.  After a close-fought first game, the A’s were limited to just one run in the final three games.  Suddenly, the Giants are 4.5 back in the division at the start of the month’s final season.  That’s not undoable, but with only three games left against the Angels, the A’s will need some help.

While it’s not as extended a slump as the Giants suffered through, the timing of it is at the worst time for A’s fans.  So, imagine they feel like Giants fans did as their lead slipped away in June.

Of course, don’t feel too bad.  The A’s still have the third-best record in the AL, and a record more than a slight better than the Giants (.572 vs. 547).  And it’s not like the Giants are in first place.  But boy, it feels a lot better to be a Giants fan right now.

In light of the 13-18 record the A’s have since the trading deadline, which have included two losing streaks of four (or more) games, there is one question that I have that might irk the A’s fans who bother reading this:

When is someone going to blame Billy Beane?

Maybe they are…I’m not reading all the A’s blogs, but boy, I haven’t seen it yet.  But the A’s had a good rotation before the Jon Lester trade, with newcomer Jason Hammel being the weakest point.  Now, there’s no doubt that Lester is an excellent player, and his 2.66 ERA in six games in about in line with his season performance before the trade (2.52 ERA with Boston).  But they lost Yoenis Cespedes, a key part of the offense, that Beane tried to Moneyball a replacement with Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld.  But Fuld has a .229 average with the A’s, and a .647 OPS.  Gomes has a .257 average and a .349 OBP with the A’s, but not a single extra-base hit to leave his OPS at .606.

Meanwhile, the A’s are averaging 4.03 runs per game since the trade, down from 4.90 runs before the trade.

There’s more going on than just this one trade, of course, but their offense just doesn’t look the same without Cespedes.  He wasn’t a perfect player, and Lester has done pretty much everything he was advertised to.

But a few days ago, before the sweep by the Angels, Billy Beane was asked if he had any regrets on the deal.  Beane replied with “I’m happy to have Lester’s three wins.  Those are three wins I don’t know we’d have without him.”

That’s right.  Mr. Moneyball himself just referenced wins as a reassuring stat.  Pitcher wins.

There is trouble afoot in Athletic-land.  The team still has time to turn it around, but…they have less time than the Giants did.