MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

In flux A's rounding into form

Following more offseason change, players may be settling into roles

In flux A's rounding into form

OAKLAND -- The Oakland A's aren't looking for excuses.

They want victories.

Those have been hard to come by this season.

Their 3-0 victory against the Yankees on Sunday allowed the A's to claim their first home series of the season (taking three of four) and become the 15th and final American League team to win 20 games this season.

Could it be the start of something good?

"At this point, we want to win a series," said catcher Stephen Vogt, who provided the runs on Sunday with a two-run home run in the sixth and sacrifice fly in the eighth. "It doesn't matter who it is."

Vogt's two-run homer

But it was three wins in four games, and it was against the Yankees, who may not be living up to their expectations, but are still tied for first place in the AL East. So there's no reason for the A's to discount what they accomplished.

It could be a starting point for a rebound by this A's team that is coming off three consecutive postseason appearances while averaging 93 regular-season wins in those three years.

When a team undergoes a massive roster overhaul from one year to the next, it can take time for everyone to find a comfort zone. And the A's certainly revamped their roster in the offseason. Only 12 of the 25 players on their active roster were with the A's at any point last year, and just three of the members of the starting lineup -- catcher Vogt, second baseman Eric Sogard and right fielder Josh Reddick.

Not that manager Bob Melvin feels that makes the struggles so far this season acceptable.

"We have made a lot of changes over the course of the last several seasons," he said. "My first year here, 2011, we traded three All-Stars after that season (pitchers Gio Gonzalez, a 2011 All-Star, and pitchers Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill, 2012 All-Stars)."

Chavez tosses eight scoreless

And what happened? Well, on June 30, 2012, the A's were 13 games out of first place in the AL West, the same deficit they faced on Sunday morning. They went on to win 57 of their final 80 games that season, overtook the two-time defending Al champion Texas Rangers and won the AL West.

Then they won the division again in 2013 and earned a Wild Card in 2014.

Now comes the challenge of 2015.

The active roster includes only two players who appeared in that 2012 postseason -- Reddick and reliever Evan Scribner.

Left-hander Scott Kazmir is the only active member of the A's from the six players the team sent to the All-Star Game last July in Minneapolis. Reliever Sean Doolittle is on the disabled list. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is in Toronto. First baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss is in Cleveland. Catcher Derek Norris is in San Diego. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in Detroit.

"We are used to changes around here," said Melvin. "It's an approach that has worked well."

And it could work again, but it can take time for new faces to get comfortable in new roles.

"That's part of it," Vogt said of the revamped roster, "but the other part is look at our team experience-wise."

Fourteen members of the 25-man active roster haven't even put in the three years of service time to have gone through salary arbitration. And the A's do have 10 players on the disabled list, including the team's elder statesman, center fielder Coco Crisp, closer Doolittle and starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.

"So maybe some of the guys have taken time to get a feel for their role," he said.

And there is a solid foundation for a potential turnaround. The A's 3.63 ERA ranks third in the AL, behind Tampa Bay and Kansas City. The A's lead the AL with eight shutouts. And their rotation, in which Pomeranz is the only one missing from the season-opening five-man alignments, has an AL-best 3.19 ERA, which belies a 16-20 rotation record.

Jesse Chavez is the poster boy for A's starters. With eight shutout innings on Sunday, he claimed only his second win in eight starts, but he has a 2.38 ERA in the starting role and has made six quality starts.

"When you step back," said Vogt, "you realize we're only a third of the way there. We've got a lot of season to play."

And the A's have reasons to look forward to what remains.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.