Rob Neyer writes about the great second halves that the Oakland A's have had the last few years. He points to Billy Beane's ability to get useful acquisations at the trade deadline as the key. This year's crop consists of Rey Durham, Ricardo Rincon, and John Mabry.
Now, Beane has done an exceptional job with the A's, but Neyer may be spreading it a bit thick.
No one, not even Beane, could have dreamed that a 32-year-old, journeyman, utility player such as Mabry would be a key ingredient in their success. He is doing things that are completely inconsist with his previous eight major-league seasons, not to mention his handful of games in Philly this year. By the way, Mabry was picked up on May 22 in the A's mass purge so I'm not sure that he qualifies for the discussion.
Rincon has pitched well before but has never had a combination like he has with the A's: low ERA, great strikeout-to-innings-pitched ratio, a great strikeout-to-walk ratio, and nearly a hit per every two innings picthed. Those are eye-popping numbers. His ERA dropped by 50% from his 1st half with Cleveland. I'll give him this one though. Maybe Beane saw something in 32-year-old, perennial prospect.
Durham is his usual self. Actually his numbers are slightly lower than his first half with the Pale Hose but still slightly better than his career numbers. He was just a good pick-up from a desperate non-contender.
Beane is a great GM, but he has also been extremely lucky with some marginal players contributing a great deal. Ah, what the Hell--it's a great story.