Unfortunately, next year is where it seems we should all be looking. The A's this year didn't do enough in the offseason. Signing Mike Piazza and hoping the other guys can stay healthy and pick up the slack isn't a great game plan. Sure it could have worked, and I'd have jumped for joy, but the injured and sucky stayed injured and sucky. Haren's development, along with Gaudin's and Kennedy's good shows, were nice steps, but there weren't enough back-up options. Pretty much, the A's have only one way to win: pitch real well, score just enough runs to eke out a small lead, and hold it in the pen. When one (and then two) of those went down, the formula failed.
Regardless, the A's are still able to turn it all around next year. That's the great thing about them. Down, but never rebuilding (or should I say always rebuilding).