OAKLAND -- It seems the fears of those who thought the A's blew it by trading Yoenis Cespedes have been realized.

Oakland's 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals at the Coliseum on Sunday was another impotent performance by an offense that had a middle-of-the-order hitter suddenly taken away.

The A's are 1-2 since Cespedes was sent to the Boston Red Sox for ace Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Save for one big inning, they've put together about as many hits as Vanilla Ice.

But pause on the panic. The same limitation the A's offense had with Cespedes still exists: They're prone to cold spells.

They are potent at times, and the Cuban slugger was a big part of that. But feast or famine has been the case all season.

All the trade did was improve the A's chances of enduring the famines by bolstering the pitching staff. Especially when you consider a cold spell could come during the postseason, the A's really need famine insurance.

"Our bats really aren't where we want them right now," said Josh Reddick, who provided the only A's runs with two solo homers.

"We know we're going to come out of it. We're all tired of waiting. We're a better lineup than what we've shown the last week or so. We all know that."

No question, the A's offense hit rock bottom against Kansas City this series. They had one big inning, an eight-run fifth in Saturday's victory. But in the 25 other innings, the A's totaled two runs on 10 hits. Only six runners advanced past first base.


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But that was less about the departure of Cespedes and more about the absence of Coco Crisp. The A's offense has been struggling, and the kickoff was when the leadoff hitter was knocked out with a sore neck.

Losing Cespedes doesn't help. His presence and pop helped Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss get pitches to hit. And he was one guy against whom pitchers knew they couldn't make a mistake.

But Crisp is the engine that drives the highest-scoring offense in baseball. Since his neck began bothering him again, the A's scoring production has sputtered.

In their last nine games -- against Texas, Houston and Kansas City -- the A's have totaled 36 runs. But 29 of those came in four games, all victories. In the other five games, the A's totaled seven runs on 29 hits, all losses.

Crisp played in just one of those nine, a 5-1 win at Texas. In the other eight without him, the A's managed 31 runs in 72 innings.

Three big innings produced 19 of those runs. Which means the A's totaled 12 runs in the other 69 innings -- 43 of those with Cespedes in the order.

The slumping began before the trade. Anyway, scoring ruts are going to happen with a lineup built on maximizing strengths of really good-to-mediocre talents.

"This team's really built for situational hitting," said Gomes, who got the day off Sunday. "I don't think anyone was doing anything too extreme offensively. ... One through nine, pretty much everyone brings more than one threat. We've got some fast guys who can hit homers. We got some big-swing guys who can shoot the ball the other way and hit-and-run. We've got a lot of guys who have a lot of options when they came to the plate."

When they are clicking, they are nearly unstoppable. They manufacture runs. They put pressure on pitchers. They get production up and down the lineup.

But when they aren't clicking, they don't have one player who can carry the offense, who avoids major slumps and lights it up no matter the opponent or situation. Cespedes wasn't that guy. Not yet, anyway.

The A's have scored at least seven runs in 31 games this season. When they feast, the A's get real gluttonous. But they've scored three or fewer runs in 42 games.

That's the A's. A sum greater than its parts. And Crisp is a key part.

"It's never the same without Coco," Reddick said. "He's our spark plug. He gets things going for us. Our record is fantastic when he gets in there and scores. ... We need him in the long run."

Undoubtedly, the immense talent of Cespedes was a boon for the A's lineup. He brought confidence. He instilled fear in opposing pitchers. But if that can be overcome, and Crisp returns, the A's offense will be good as it was before the trade.

Sometimes, that will be really good. Double-digit runs good. Other times, the A's will be thankful they have four aces in the rotation and a formidable bullpen.

Contact Marcus Thompson at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ThompsonScribe.