Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/12/12
The Oakland A's hopes of winning a World Series title came to a halt on Thursday night, losing Game 5 to the Detroit Tigers after coming back from a 2-0 series deficit. But they will be back. Oakland shocked the Texas Rangers and shocked the baseball world this season. There's no better way to put it. At the beginning of July, they were still four games under .500 and 12 games back in the AL West. Then they caught fire and started to eat away at the lead the Rangers held. By the time the final series of the regular season came -- against the Rangers -- Oakland was in striking distance, just two games behind. The A's would sweep Texas, taking all three games to win the division for the first time since 2006. Yes, they were somewhat exposed in the playoffs against the Tigers, but this team showed heart like no other, and always refused to go down without a fight. Oakland may seem like the beneficiary of a lot of luck, a team that's primed to return to a statistical mean in the coming years, but that's a false statement. General manager Billy Beane traded away some of Oakland's top pieces at the end of last season, but strengthened his franchise by doing so. He dealt Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey all away in return for what looked like nothing at the time. As it turns out, that nothing turned into something, and something special at that. Beane is finally where he needs to be: in a position to make the postseason on a yearly basis. Only a handful of A's from this year's team will enter free agency -- unless Beane gets to them before they hit the market. Brandon McCarthy is one upcoming free agent who he may look to keep in his starting rotation to compliment those who led the team down the stretch while McCarthy was on the disabled list. Other candidates for new contracts include Stephen Drew and Grant Balfour, both of whom made huge contributions during the year. Other than those three, most of the roster should be back in 2013 -- as nearly all are eligible for arbitration.  Beane also has the ability to go into free agency as a buyer, especially since Oakland had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball this past season. Don't expect him to go after the likes of Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke, but players like a Brandon McCarthy instead. Beane hasn't spent a lot of money on free agents in the past -- with the exception of Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes -- and it's not time to start. And the A's riches go beyond the big-league roster. Some of the best prospects in the organization are about ready to make the jump to the majors. Minor leaguers such as Michael Choice, Dan Straily, Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray all could see time in Oakland next season.  But how much longer will the franchise even be in Oakland? Ann Killion of The San Francisco Chronicle deems Oakland potentially moving to San Jose "dormant," as the A's have struggled to fill seats recently. The A's may not have removed the tarp from the O.Co Coliseum upper deck during the playoffs, but that place was packed with fans. Nonetheless, the A's stadium limbo continues to hamstring what the team can do financially, making a cost-efficient ballclub a necessity. However, Oakland should expect to continue filling its stadium up going forward, as the A's should be making more postseason appearances going forward.
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