By Matt Furtado/KHTK Sports 1140

The Year of the Rise and Fall:

This past year for the Oakland Athletics was one with many ups and downs.

Going into the 2014 season, there was a ton of promise for a young team who won the American League West the past two consecutive years.

The A’s lived up to, and even surpassed, all expectations placed on the team.

For the first half of the season, Oakland was the best team in baseball. They had the number one offense and a pitching staff that could shut down any team, which created a historic runs differential.

Right before the All-Star break, Billy Beane made a trade to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.

Things were good in Oakland.

Things were so good in Oakland that the team had seven players named to the All-Star team.

A’s fans were ecstatic. A team poised to contend for a World Series was brewing right in front of their eyes.

But then, Beane traded away the nucleus of the lineup. He traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester.

Beane wanted a pitcher who the team could depend on in a do or die game, even if it meant giving up the team’s most dangerous hitter.

Oakland’s World Series hopes dwindled from that moment on. The team struggled in all aspects of the game. The A’s lead fell to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and finished 11 games ahead of Oakland.

A team, which had hopes of a World Series, was stuck hoping for just a playoff spot.

They snuck into the playoffs and faced the Royals in the Wild Card game.

A loss to the Royals in the Wild Card game sent the A’s home, and what looked to be an amazing season in April, ended as a huge disappointment in October.

And then the offseason began. The team with so much potential was dismantled.

Samardzija, Hammel, Lester, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Derrick Norris are all gone.

They brought in players like Brett Lawrie and Billy Butler in an attempt to soften the blow of all the offense the team has lost.

What to expect in 2015:

The offseason is long from over. The team is going to change immensely between now and the start of spring training.

The next few months will be an indication if the A’s are actually trying to win with new pieces, or if they are in full rebuild mode.

As long as the A’s have the great young pitching that they do, they will always be competitive.

Barring any massive changes between now and Spring Training, the team will hover around .500 in 2015.

Third place in the West, behind the consistent Angels and the much-improved Seattle Mariners, is looking to be a likely outcome.

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