A's struggles unrelated to trade talks

A's struggles unrelated to trade talks

ST. PETERSBURG -- The player with the most big league service time on Oakland's active roster leaned back in his chair during a pregame card game late Tuesday afternoon and offered a light-hearted reminder.

"Nine days and counting, boys," bellowed 38-year-old lefty Alan Embree. "Nine days and counting."

The reference, of course, was to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Already this month, the A's have dealt three-fifths of the starting rotation with which they opened the season. Embree, fellow reliever Huston Street and free-agent-to-be second baseman Mark Ellis have been mentioned as likely candidates to follow Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin and Joe Blanton out of Oakland.

Justin Duchscherer, Oakland's All-Star right-hander, has been traded twice in his career, and while he tries not to pay attention to whatever rumors are out there, he's pretty sure that many of his teammates are wondering about the immediate future.

"I hate to say that, but there's just so much of it," Duchscherer said before the second game of a three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field. "That's part of life in baseball, though. You have to know that going in. It's a possibility that you'll get traded every year, every day."

That said, Duchscherer waved off the notion that trade rumors have anything to do with the team's recent struggles.

"I don't think so," he said. "I mean, it's the same for every team. Just because we've made a few trades already doesn't mean we're more or less likely to make more. I don't think the way we're playing has anything to do with it."

Beyond that, Duchscherer insisted that he knows next to nothing about the rampant rumors.

"I don't really follow it, but there are some guys who know every rumor, every deal, every little thing," he said. "Dan Haren was like that. He was always on the Internet, and he knew everything that was going on. Then you have guys like me.

"When we traded Harden, some guys were like, 'Oh, I've been hearing about that for two weeks.' But I had no idea it was out there at all."

After Blanton was traded, Duchscherer publicly wondered if the spate of deals meant that ownership was waving the white flag on 2008. On Tuesday, he clarified those comments.

"I didn't mean any offense or to suggest that they're giving up on us," he said. "But you have to look at it from our point of view. Take Harden. He was a big part of our team; I think we won 12 of his 13 starts or something like that. So you wonder, 'Why would we trade him?' I think that's normal.

"But then I saw Sean Gallagher throw and thought, 'Oh, that's why we traded Rich. We got someone younger who throws 100 miles an hour, too.'"

Gallagher was part of the four-player package the A's got from the Cubs for Harden and Gaudin on July 8.

"As a competitive athlete, you just want to feel like you're playing for something every day," Duchscherer said. "Hopefully we can get going in the right direction again here soon and get that feeling back. We still have a good team. We're just banged up and struggling right now."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.