"Embarrassing" Defensive Play Has Become a Theme for Oakland A’s 2011 Season

Following another sloppy 7-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday afternoon, A's manager Bob Melvin was asked in his post-game press conference if he was aware that the A's were now the worst defensive team in the Major Leagues.

"I'm very aware of that," Melvin responded to the question.

To sit through the entire press conference, though, which lasted only about five minutes, it is not hard to sense the growing frustration by the manager to his team's complete, at times, ineptitude towards defense.

As it was on Saturday, the A's received another good pitching performance from their ace, Trevor Cahill, only to waste it behind four errors on the field.

As Melvin explained, though, "really, we played worse than that."

Cahill "pitched very well. We gave him no help as a team."

The first two games of the weekend series against the Texas Rangers have seen the two clubs flip-flop in their standings for worse defensive team in the league.

For anyone that has watched the A's play all season, it seemed an inevitable fate.

Defensive standouts last season, Daric Barton and Kevin Kouzmanoff, played their way right out of Oakland with their poor glove work early in the season.

Barton had eight errors in just 65 games.

Kouzmanoff committed nine errors in an even fewer 46 games.

Add Cliff Pennington's 17 errors this season, the six errors contributed by Scott Sizemore since taking over for Kouzmanoff, Kurt Suzuki's seven errors and Jemile Weeks' league-leading 11 errors for a second baseman and you have the makings of a very ugly defensive infield.

While the offense has received the majority of the blame, the defense has been the inexcusable culprit that has killed the A's momentum during hot streaks and seen them linger around the AL West basement for most of the season.

Consistent and reliable defense would have made up for some deficiencies in other aspects of the game at times.

"You can not pitch on days, not hit on days, but you should bring your glove every day, and that's inexcusable," Melvin had to say regarding the A's defensive showing.

"As a player, you better be embarrassed. As a coach, as a staff, everybody. There's nothing more embarrassing than playing bad defense," Melvin added.

It's too late for the A's to correct their problems and still expect to make a run at the division title this season; they've dug themselves into too large of a hole.

"We'll continue to work on it," Melvin says. "It has to be a commitment."

And so it should be.

The A's need to commit themselves to finding answers to the defensive shortcomings and enter the offseason with a clear idea of how to prevent these issues from carrying over into 2012.

Because this season? Well, "it's demoralizing and it's embarrassing. I don't know what else to say, no excuses," says Melvin.

To be fair, he was only commenting on today's sloppy showing, but he may as well have been commenting on the leather that has been on display all season.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for BleacherReport.com. You can follow me on Twitter:  @BMcClintock_BR.    

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