Young players Reddick, Milone, Parker and Cook and have produced sooner than expected

  • Oakland Athletics Jemile Weeks dives to reach third base safely on a triple hit against Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison in the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 29, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

OAKLAND --The trade deadline is less than three weeks away, and history suggests the A's will try shipping some of their best veterans out of town.

Yet they have good reason to ditch that familiar script this year. At 43-43, the A's sport their best record entering the second half since they were 51-44 in 2008. They are 2 ? games behind Baltimore for the second wild card spot.

After trading away three All-Star pitchers last winter with an eye toward the future, who would have thought this team might be worth improving for the present? But the A's are positioned to at least entertain the idea of being buyers as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

"I don't think if something is within your grasp, you ignore it," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "When we made these trades, we made them with the (emphasis on) the long-term future. But if the future is now, you'd be a fool not to make that attempt."

The A's face an uphill battle to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. They currently have five teams to pass — Tampa Bay (45-41), Cleveland (44-41), Detroit (44-42), Boston (43-43) and Toronto (43-43) — to catch the Orioles, who are 45-40.

They're also nine games behind Texas in the American League West race.

There's no doubt the A's have deficiencies. Their .225 team batting average at the All-Star break was the lowest in franchise history. They rank last in the A.L. in runs (319).

But the A's also show the grit of a team that won't fold. After staggering through a nine-game losing streak at the end of May, they rebounded and are 21-13 since.

As right-hander Brandon McCarthy put it, "we have a team that is young enough and dumb enough" to stay in contention.

Indeed, several young players have emerged sooner than expected.

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