Tag Archives: Oakland A’s

Bartolo and the Kings

Bartolo Colon’s suspension for testosterone wasn’t all that shocking to me. I like Colon, he seems like a nice guy that’s having fun in the twilight of his career, and in the end I don’t care that much that he used something that was banned. How else  could a 39 year old increase his velocity after having it be down for a few years? German surgery? I’m sure that helped, but not as much as the cream and the clear did. At least he said bye to his teammates which is more than Melky can say. I’ve seen a few people say the A’s are done, and I couldn’t disagree more. Of all the positions on the team, starting pitching is what they have the most depth in. Colon was only 10-9, so it’s not like the A’s lost a Cy Young contender or anything. This is a team that is used to moving on, and unless it’s Reddick or Cespedes getting popped, this team will take it in stride and move on like they have all year. If baseball really wants to stop the cheating, maybe they’ll introduce a new rule that gives teams the option to cut a players contract and guaranteed money to make all players who use something a little more weary of doing it. Imagine if the Yankees simply cut A-Rod one year into his contract after they found out he used steroids. Seems fair to me, you put the organization in jeopardy, you lose millions, and with millions on the line it would make them question their actions a little more. It wouldn’t deter everyone, but I think it would help.

The Sacramento Kings are heading to Virginia Beach!?! Not exactly a hot spot for basketball, but once again it shows how desperate the Maloofs are to get out of Sac since they’ve burned that bridge a few times over. The Nets, Wizards, Sixers, and Bobcats all reside in that general area, and are in the bottom of the league in attendance (aside from the Sixers), why would Virginia be any better. The only reason the Kings don’t draw in Sacramento anymore is because the fans hate the Maloofs so much they don’t want to give them any of their hard earned money. Can’t say I blame one of them. Oh, and they kinda suck, and are always spending the least they possibly can on team payroll, so that factors in a little too. Even if they do agree to a deal and everything seems set in place, the Maloofs are really good at backing out of a plan, so I won’t believe it until they’re breaking ground for the new arena in Virginia. The only hope for the Kings staying in Sac is that the Maloofs go broke and need to sell the team in order to stay afloat financially.

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F*^%in A!!!

Who’s getting pied is THE question every home game.

It’s been forever since I’ve written a post. I don’t really have a good excuse except that maybe I was a little depressed that all three of my Oakland teams might soon leave the city that I’ve always rooted for. I won’t be mad if they stay in the Bay Area, but that’s far from guaranteed. It’s not that I haven’t been watching sports, but my week off from the blog turned into two, then two months, then four. If we actually have some readers out there still, I’m sorry! Maybe the A’s will get me rolling again now that I don’t have to talk about stadium situations and can talk about the awesomeness of the team.

By now you’ve probably at least heard of the A’s remarkable winning stretch in July, but it dates back to June 10th just after they lost 9 games in a row. At that point in the season I thought the A’s were done, I didn’t watch many games, but in the midst of a nine game losing streak who really does want to watch their team go through misery. Since June 10th, they’ve won 24 of 33 games, and moved into a tie for the second wild card spot and are only a half game behind the Angels in the AL West, after sweeping the Yankees in a four game series this weekend. Are they contenders? They’ve taken 5 of 6 from Texas this season, and won the series against the Yankees (the two best teams in baseball), so it’s not out of the question. It’s so crazy that every time the game is within a run or two going into the last couple innings, the team, the fans, and even the other team seems to feel like the A’s are going to win, and for this month plus run it’s happened nearly every time. They have 11 walk off hits from 11 different guys (None named Manny Ramierez who was supposedly a huge risk to sign). I don’t think they had 11 walk off wins in the past three years combined! Will they keep up this torrid pace? Probably not, but they’ve shown that they are going to make every team get all 27 outs every game, and can’t be counted out even when they’re down to their last strike. Since everyone has the stats I just regurgitated on the A’s I figured I’d go through their roster and let you know some interesting things about some of the seemingly 40 key contributors on the 25-man roster.

Yoenis Cespedes – If you haven’t heard about him by now, you must not watch baseball. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons of who he could be, and I’d pick Bo Jackson as my comparison. If Yo knew football, he could be a running back. Good thing they don’t play football in Cuba or he may never have made it onto the A’s roster. With him in the lineup the A’s are 38-24 without, 12-20. To say he makes a difference when he’s out there is the understatement of the post. Oh and he’s 18 for 38 with 4 homers during the last 9 games. There’s a ton of press out there on Trout being the MVP and ROY. Maybe there should be a little talk about Cespedes. After hitting .150 on breaking pitches before his hammy and hand injuries, he’s now hitting over .400 on breaking pitches since the injuries. I’d say Yo knows adjustments. To top it off, all the beat writers seem to think he’s a very nice guy.

Josh Reddick – It’s the first time we’ve had the 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup that A’s fans can be confident in for the last six years. Looking back, I can’t believe we had Suzuki as our clean up hitter for two years. While Reddick’s 21 homers has been very nice, he also leads the MLB in outfield assists with 9 showing off his arm. He seems to give the team the Nick Swisher mindset keeping everyone focused and loose at the same time, and is a true leader.

The Pen – Probably the most underrated part of this team. Once they got rid of Fuentes the bullpen seemingly has no holes. No doubt the starting pitching has been amazing, but the bullpen is also leading the AL in bullpen ERA, and has been a huge reason the A’s have the best team ERA in all of baseball.  Sean Doolittle was a highly touted first base prospect that switched to being a reliever less than a year ago. All he’s done is pitch lights out after flying through the minor leagues this season and continued that success on the big stage to the tune of nearly two K’s per inning. Ryan Cook, the A’s All-Star rookie was thought to be a throw in during the Cahill deal. He started his career with a 29 inning scoreless streak. Though he’s faltered a little lately, his 42 appearances have only yielded 8 total runs given up over 42 innings of work. Not bad for a throw in. Evan Scribner has quietly worked his way into the back end of the bullpen when they have a lead. He’s a waiver wire pick up from the Padres and keeps getting them out of tough situations when the starter hits that rare wall. Grant Balfour and the much maligned Jerry Blevins have been putting up zeros after a tough start to the season. One cool thing about their bullpen is that nearly every guy throws in the mid-90’s and has at least one nasty breaking pitch, which was even more of a reason to DFA Fuentes.

Jarrod Parker – What’s not to like about the Cahill deal? Parker seems like a better and cheaper pitcher than him, and we got our closer and back up catcher out of the deal as well. 12 of his 16 starts this season he’s given up two runs or less, and he’s still learning in his rookie season! One of those bad starts was when he had the flu as well, so that’s a high percentage of quality starts for even a veteran.

Tommy Milone – The first couple times I saw him pitch I wasn’t too sold, but 9 wins later and I’m a believer. Just like Parker, Milone has the ablilty to make his fastball come out of his hand the exact same way his change up comes out keeping hitters off balanced. They might square one up, but that’s just because they guessed right. While Parker throws quite a bit harder, they are like the lefty and righty versions of themselves.

Aussies in the Rotation – Travis Blackley was cut by the Giants, and the A’s promptly swooped him up and threw him into some starts when the always injured Brandon McCarthy was on the DL. He didn’t pile on wins, but for a waiver wire pickup he’s posted a nice 3.36 ERA. Blackley has pitched all over the world and has taken advantage of his chance to shine in the A’s rotation in what was possibly his last shot in the big leagues. AJ Griffin, the third Aussie pitcher on the team, was the A’s 13th round 2010 pick. All he’s done is go 2-0 pitching into the 6th in every start with a 2.72 ERA.  Not sure if either will still be in the rotation when/if McCarthy ever is healthy and with the return of Brett Anderson looming, but I’m a fan of both these guys.

1B Platoon – To say I was happy when they finally sent Barton down to AAA for good doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about him. The Brandon Moss and Chris Carter platoon is working beautifully over the last month. A position that the A’s have had a tough time filling seemingly since Giambi left, they finally seem to have a good situation going. I’ll credit Melvin for putting them into good positions, because they both play a decent amount, and both seem to produce when they’re in there. They are two of the eleven walk off heroes.

Actually have power – Between Brandon Inge, Seth Smith, the 1B platoon, and Johnny Gomes they finally have players that can hit the ball out of the park outside their 3-4 hitters. When Inge hits another one, they’ll have six players with 10 or more homers. That hasn’t happened for them in a season for years let alone 2/3 of the way through one. For those of you that still think Billy Beane only cares about OBP, think again, he’s shifted to a less patient squad that hits the long ball over taking a bunch of walks. They are aggressive early in the count and often if they see a pitch they like.

Bob Melvin – He might be the manager of the year. Every button he pushes seems to work out well. His spring training mantra of running out every play has kept them all hustling on every play. He’s been part of winning teams before and knows how to motivate these guys even when everyone picked them to finish last in the division. Since he took over last year it looks like the players are having fun out there instead of when Boob Geren was just having them go through the motions, and even admitted to not knowing how to do a double switch.

The Lowlights – Jemile Weeks shows a flash or two of last season, but then promptly goes back into a slump. He hasn’t looked very patient at the plate swinging at a lot of bad pitches. Coco would be on this list with him, but he’s picked it up lately including his walk off hit yesterday. Kurt Suzuki has been a huge disappointment this year. He has been hurt, but if you can’t contribute anything on offense, I’ll take my chances with a rookie at catcher. He finally hit his first homer of the season, so maybe this will get him turned around. Cliff Pennington’s average fell off a cliff this year. Like Suzuki maybe he’s been injured since he just went on the DL, but his offensive production hitting under .200 with no significant signs of improvement make that the position most likely in need of an upgrade.


The A’s Re-Rebuild

Oh the holiday’s brought up a few sports topics especially the Raiders since they played, but a lot of my hometown friends seemed to be talking about the A’s once again being in rebuild mode after the division rival Angels and Rangers made an array of championship caliber moves. I can’t completely blame the A’s for thinking about rebuilding after they saw what their divisional opponents did, but at the same time it feels like they aren’t even going to try AT ALL for a few years. They kinda half-assed the rebuild the first time around when they sort of rebuilt by trading pitchers, but then traded away a kings ransom (Cargo) for a crappy Matt Holiday. This time it’s really full on rebuild mode, and they are trading away any and all assets they have which should include Andrew Bailey in the near future (he was the only piece I honestly didn’t mind seeing go). They’ll probably ship off Brett Anderson as well when he comes back from his Tommy John surgery next season. The most perplexing part of these trades to us fans is that they had control over these pitchers for a long time before they even hit their arbitration years. Not signing Willingham or Matsui also put the writing on the wall that this team isn’t going to compete for awhile because they have zero offense outside Jemile Weeks now. Hell they aren’t even keeping around the beloved backup catcher who doesn’t even cost much to keep.

Sure they got some nice prospects back for Cahill and Gio, but the growing sentiment with my A’s friends is that this team has completely given up, and they won’t be following anything they do next year or possibly ever. I can’t blame them at all. It’s going to be painful watching this team, even more so than last seasons error filled crap fest. I’ve heard numerous times that it might be better to just root for a new team, like say, the Giants. This statement pretty much crushed me every time I heard someone say it over the past couple months, especially when my Uncle said it who is one of the main reasons I’m an A’s fan at all. Some of the most loyal A’s fans over the years jumping ship to a team that I didn’t necessarily hate, but am starting to hate them more and more. Honestly, the best part about the Cahill trade is that he’s going to the Giants rival the Diamondbacks. I can see him getting numerous 4-6-3 double plays against their weak hitting lineup, but even that will only bring me minimal enjoyment.

Anyways, the A’s are in a real life version of Major League the movie as the owner is desperate to move, and seems to be fielding the least competitive team possible. There also seems to be a growing dissent for the A’s moving to San Jose among fans, and I’ll be the first to say I’d love to see them stay in Oakland by Jack London Square, but at the moment that isn’t a realistic option if we want them to be competitive again (aka get corporate sponsors to push them into the $80-$100M range in salary). Can they draw people at the coliseum if they are good? Sure, but they’ll never have a large payroll that exceeds $70M, and teams have caught up to them on all the sabermetrics stuff that helped keep Billy ahead of the competition during the early 2000’s. On an even playing field, there’s noway to compete with such little salary to work with.

It feels like the odds are against them whether it’s moving to San Jose and being blocked by the Giants. And seriously, how many fans would the Giants really lose?!? They are in SF, a HUGE city, and can take all the fairweather east bay A’s fans if they haven’t jumped teams already. Whether it’s Oakland coming up with a viable option to build a new park for this team or San Jose. It doesn’t matter what’s being proposed or done for them, it almost feels like they’re inevitably going to have to move out of the Bay Area just like the Kings will probably have to move from Sacramento. I’m not sure what my A’s friends think of them moving out of California, but as lame as they think people in San Jose are, I’d much rather have the A’s there instead of some other state. Recently it sounds like the Giants aren’t going to give up their gold mine of sponsorships (SJ) without a fight, and Selig is too stupid to make a ruling on anything, so they probably won’t know what they can or can’t do until he’s retired or dead. Once again the A’s will go into another season with no direction for the future, and most likely losing more fans in the process. They need new facilities. They need more sponsors. They need a fresh start, and now I’m just hoping it’s going to be in the greater bay area or in California. No plans have been discussed outside the bay area, but I’m sure those talks will start soon if something doesn’t give. Mark my words!


Goodbye Josh

Although Josh Willingham only donned the green and gold for a season, he was one of my favorite A’s players in recent memory, and it appears he’s heading to the Twins. Even if he doesn’t end up going there it doesn’t look like he’s going to be with the A’s either way. Whoever ends up with him, they got one of the most underrated guys in the league. Sure, Josh might miss a game here and there, he doesn’t play the best defense in the world, but he does give you consistency whether you have someone good hitting in front/behind of him or not at all he puts up production. He might be the first guys that came to Oakland, and didn’t bitch once about the hitting in the spacious coliseum. He didn’t bitch about switching to the AL for the first time in his career after being in the NL for five years (looking at you Holliday). He even wanted to stay in Oakland for one of those “hometown discounts” us A’s fans hear other players willing to take to stay with other franchises. While 29 homers and 98 RBI’s isn’t a monster season, in this Oakland offense, it was. I honestly can’t understand why more teams weren’t interested in him or making a push for him when he’s putting up solid numbers in the worst hitting park in baseball. I mean, didn’t Jayson Werth get a kings ransom last year for doing less than what Willingham did this past season? Why aren’t teams trying to offer him what he’s worth? There’s tons of defensive deficient outfielders out there that produce far less (see the entire overpaid Anaheim outfield). At least the A’s will get a couple compensation picks out of it or some money to bid on Yu Darvish with, since that’s all we really seem to value these days…


Winter Meetings Bringing Some Winter Depression

As I heard the Miami Marlins making it rain with their signings of Reyes, Buerhle, and Bell simply because they’re moving into a new stadium and now have more money. It couldn’t help make me wonder if the A’s could do the same thing if they were moving into a new stadium as well. Maybe they won’t spend on that same level, but it does give me some hope that they will be able to spend like the big boys one day. Unfortunately that we won’t really know if that day exists anytime soon because the MLB still hasn’t made any rulings on the A’s stadium situation and possible move to San Jose after three very long and frustrating years of waiting. All the 1,000 A’s fans have had to look forward to is if Andew Bailey or Gio Gonzalez gets traded for a bunch of minor league guys this off-season. At least last year they were throwing offers out there to Beltre and other free agents. This off-season it’s back to standard operating procedure. Our spending has gone down for three straight years, and even when we are in the free agent market nobody wants to come to Oakland unless they’re a semi-washed up pitcher or reliever. Even guys that want to stay in Oakland like Josh Willingham for a discount nonetheless, which is unheard of, since no hitter ever wants to stay in the spacious Coliseum can’t sign with the team because we’re waiting on the MLB’s ruling. I don’t fault Billy Beane like some have in recent years, because it’s impossible to build a team or plan for the future when you don’t know where you’ll even be.

Then the news broke that CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols will be joining the division rival LAAAAAAA for about $325M. No big deal for Moreno, just a couple additions to get more people in LA waving those game changing rally monkeys. I do hope whoever runs the CJ Wilson is a douche site keeps it going. It makes a ton of sense for the Angels to do this to try and take over the LA market while the Dodgers are in a rough downtime, and while doing so they also stole the division rival Rangers #1 starter. Weaver, Haren, Santana, and Wilson is a ridiculous rotation that was already good last year. Trumbo and Pujols makes for a solid heart of the order. The A’s haven’t spent as much as Moreno did in one day on payroll for the last four years combined made me even more depressed. While I’m not overly worried that Pujols will live up to his humongous contract, it will suck to see him playing against Oakland for 18 games a season. Another thing for A’s fans to be depressed about is the fact the Astros are joining their division which means we have more even competition to get that 3rd place finish next year. Fortunately you need 25 guys to play well to win, so there’s a little hope, but a more likely scenario is having to hitch more of my rooting interest on the Warriors and Raiders for the next couple years…


Best Baseball Teams On Film

On the heels of one hell of an introduction to the MLB Postseason, a lot of us have received the shot in the arm we needed to get captivated by baseball in the form of a dramatic 162nd day of the regular season. Even though the A’s failed to qualify for the postseason for the fifth straight year, my season isn’t quite over yet. Today I’ll finally be heading out to the theater to check out the new Billy Beane flick, “Moneyball.” I’m really curious, and in some ways scared, to see how I feel about it. The movie looks great on paper. A-List actors, well-respected writers, and a critically acclaimed director make it an immediate favorite to win the World Series of baseball movies. Even the reviews are pretty much nothing but solid. I’ve even heard the word OSCAR tossed around. But I’m scared to get my hopes up to high for a movie I’m about to see, let alone one about my beloved A’s.  I’ve found over the years, that the way I feel about the team is reflective of the way I feel about the movie, and vice versa. So, I’m especially curious to see how I digest Moneyball, which documents the 2002 season, which will forever be etched in stone in my memory. I went to somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 games that year, including the historic 20th win in a row, as well as the game 2 victory over Boston in the ALDS (Dyslecix and I left the Coliseum with little doubt that this series was a wrap). For that reason, I expect plenty of goosebumps as some of Hollywood’s finest reenact some of my most memorable A’s moments. Every clip of the movie I’ve watched so far has looked pretty bad. I didn’t see The Social Network or Capote, so I don’t really know what to expect when it comes to screenplay and directing. All I can hope for is that the movie doesn’t change the way I feel about the A’s. If anything, I’m worried it’ll make me long for the good ol’ days when my team was a winner. We’ll know, though, if that happens, then the movie was a success. In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at other famous movies about a particular MLB Baseball team and see how it helped form opinion – either about the team or the movie….

Minnesota Twins: Little Big League I’ve always been neutral on the Twins. On the one hand, they’re a fellow low-budget, moneyball-type team. On the other team, they seem to pop up against the A’s in the playoffs every few years. I love this movie though, for two reasons. The fella who plays Lou is Timothy Busfield, who’s from Sacramento. Even more impressive is that Billy Heywood is played by Luke Edwards. Many of us remember him as the little brother of Fred Savage in the classic Nintendo film, The Wizard. Few of us remember him as the title role in the based-on-a-true-story, I Know My First Name Is Steven.

Chicago Cubs: Rookie Of The Year The only way you don’t love this movie is if you’re over 30. Otherwise, you dreamed of breaking your arm and magically being able to throw 105 mph. This movie always reminds of a relaxing weekend day, probably because that’s always when it’s on TV. It’s also probably because it’s about the Cubs, so all of the game footage is during the day. People often fail to make the connection between Henry Rowengartner and Kevin from American Pie, but overall, he was good in this movie – except when he struck a guy out and said, “Kewl!” The Cubs have been scouring the Little Leagues ever since, and have yet to find a pitcher as good as Rowengartner.

Cleveland Indians: Major League I & II I probably would have liked the Indians no matter what, since my best childhood friend’s cousin was the manager of the team from 1991-1999. Even if that weren’t the case, I’d always be a closet Indian fan thanks to the Major League movies. Know what else? I probably would have never picked them to go to the World Series this year either if it weren’t for these movies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Sandlot I’m pulling this one out of my ass here. I’ve seen most of the Sandlot a thousand times, but mostly on TV, and therefore rarely in its entirety. So, if I’m wrong about the kid ending up on the Dodgers, please forgive me. But if it’s true, it’s only fitting that one of that classic group of kids ended up on a good team. I liked the Sandlot gang and I like the Dodgers (with the exception of 1988)

New York Yankees: *61, Pride Of The Yankees, The Scout – For all the movies about the Yankees, I don’t think I’ve seen any of them. That’s pretty reflective of real-life, where I have a vague grasp of Yankees history, but haven’t really made the effort to get to know all the facts.

Anaheim Angels of California: Angels In The Outfield Don’t like the Angels. Never saw the movie. Looks like a pretty star-studded cast with Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Adrien Brody, and Matthew McConaughey. I’m still not gonna go and watch it though. My life seems to be better without the Angels around.

Boston Red Sox: Fever Pitch I gave this movie a chance, because I thought it would at least be entertaining. Negative feelings about Boston aside, this movie was so bad, so bad, so bad. If this movie was about my favorite team I would stop liking them. I’m trying to picture the Oakland version of this movie, but all that comes to mind is Poetic Justice…

Detroit Tigers: For The Love Of The Game I’ve never seen this, but it stars Kevin Costner, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear. I know of one friend who swears this is a great movie, but she’s a Red Sox fan, so perhaps I’m better off steering clear.

San Francisco Giants: A League Of Their Own Tom Hanks plays Bruce Bochy in this touching film about a bunch of women who came together to build a winner. Geena Davis stars as Buster Posey, and Madonna shines as pitcher Matt Cain. Lori Petty scored a breakthrough performance in her role as Tim Lincecum. But perhaps the star of the show was Rosie O’Donnell as Pablo Sandoval. The physical resemblence is out of this world.

Oakland Athletics: Moneyball TO BE DETERMINED…..


Moneyball Movie Premiere Recap

Unfortunately my invitation got lost in the mail somewhere, surely, so I wasn’t in attendance for the movie premiere of “Moneyball” in Oakland tonight. Therefore, I couldn’t really recap it any better than the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s some highlights…

Brad Pitt, Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin were among those on the red carpet at the Paramount Theater in Oakland on Monday evening as “Moneyball,” the movie based on A’s general manager Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland team, made its national premiere.

“It’s very cool,” Pitt said as he paused on the carpet to speak to two Bay Area papers. “We’ve been gearing up for this viewing for a long time. This is a special screening for us.

“The people of Oakland gave such a great response. They stayed up with us for hours on end to tape the baseball scenes and never lost energy. We see a lot of fans from the ’02 season. It’s just special.”

Having played Beane in a movie, Pitt disclosed that he now follows Oakland, and he said, “I feel a bit romantic about the A’s.”

Another of the major actors, Chris Pratt, has a less than storied baseball background. Pratt, who plays first baseman Scott Hatteberg, said he has not hit a home run at any level, including T-ball, and in the movie, Pratt, a right-handed hitter, must bat lefty. Through the magic of cinema, his homer gives the A’s their record 20th consecutive victory.

Pratt nails Hatteberg’s preparations at the plate, and he accurately captures Hatteberg’s joyous trip around the bases on the game-winning homer.

“None of it was spontaneous,” Pratt said. “That was the one physicality that I really spent a ton of time trying to mimic exactly.”

High-powered baseball agent Scott Boras walked the red carpet, and though he’s called a bad name in “Moneyball,” he described the movie as “great for baseball.”

*Other observations from the Moneyball premiere: Jonah Hill is HELLA skinny. Philip Seymour Hoffman looks like Sandy Lyle again.


Moscoso Def

You wanna dance? Guillermo Moscoso’ll make you dance. Well, half the time. Like Chappy and I determined earlier today, he’s either lights out, or gets lit up. Today he was on fire though. Neither of us caught the game, since it was a weekday day game, but we both certainly kept up on it. Oakland A’s pitcher, Guillermo Moscoso carried a perfect game into the 6th, and a no-hitter deep into the 8th. Apparently today’s start, coupled with his last start against Seattle, set an Oakland record with 30 consecutive batters retired. On paper, he didn’t appear to be particularly dominating. He struck out just four and had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 3 : 19. But an outstanding performance is outstanding regardless of how it looks. And while the game itself doesn’t have much significance for the A’s for this season, Moscoso is looking more like yet another Oakland young player that, with a full season’s work, can help carry the team back into contention next year.

Highlights….

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_09_07_kcamlb_oakmlb_1&mode=video

 


“Moneyball” Means The A’s Will Be Around In September

While Chappy and I have spent the majority of the 2011 season calling for Bob Geren’s head and preaching conspiracy theories about ownership sabotaging the team, Moneyball the movie has begun to emerge and take us back to the good ol’ days. The movie has been in the works for years now, but it looks like it’ll finally come out this September. It’d be really nice if the A’s were still playing when it comes out, but I’m not holding on to much hope for that. Hopefully it’ll force fans outside of Oakland to wonder, “what the hell happened to the A’s?” A star-studded cast gives the movie credibility, and the presence of Brad Pitt as A’s GM, Billy Beane, will help a lot of guys convince their wives and girlfriends to go with them to see it. Aside from Pitt, I’m interested in seeing Jonah Hill in a serious role, as the fictional Peter Brand, who is actually based on Paul DePodesta. I’m also excited for Andy from Parks & Rec to play Scott Hatteberg. The cast is so stacked that Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t even have any lines in the trailer, and Robin Wright is nowhere to be seen, from what I can tell. The best part about all this for me is that I noticed former Royals pitcher, Jason Grimley, appears on the list of characters. That can only mean one thing – that the incredible 20 game win streak of 2002 is going to be recreated. In fact, I can tell just from the swing that Hatteberg’s walkoff homer from that game is in the trailer. Having been in attendance that night, I already have goosebumps just thinking about that moment being in the film. The downside is the list of filming locations includes Fenway Park, which was the site of games 3 and 4 of the ALDS that year, when the A’s squandered a 2-0 series lead and lost to the Boston Red Sox. That’s going to be a harsh reminder of walking out of the Coliseum after Game 2, thinking the series was in the bag. Nonetheless, you can bet that I’ll be hitting the theater to catch this one when it comes out….

 


Slow Out Of The Box

There’s quite a few surprise teams here in the first week of the MLB season, like the Orioles and Royals, but let’s focus on the negatives here. There are four teams that are playing downright ugly baseball to start the season. It’s not hard for us A’s fans, since we’ve had the privilege of witnessing 10 errors in the team’s first 4 games. Fortunately they were able to scrape out a 2-1 victory today to pull back up to 2-4. The Giants were able to do the same by beating the Padres pretty handily, though Brian Wilson had a shaky debut. 2-4 ain’t pretty, but to me, it’s a whole lot better than 1-5, or even worse, 0-6…. No one expected the Rays to be contenders this year, but no one thought they’d be this bad. Even fewer people thought the Red Sox would be this bad. I’m loving it of course, but I’ll hold back from piling it on until the season’s over and they DIDN’T make an improbable run into the playoffs. Obviously they’re off to the most disappointing start, but which team here has the most reason to panic early on?….


Doin Cali Storylines

Jim Harbaugh is going to be the 49ers new coach for the next five years. Great signing for a guy who is forever embedded in California going all the way back to High School, to coaching Stanford, and now his newest job as the 49ers head coach. Solid move by the coach for choosing the Niners over the Dolphins. It was a great move to stay where his family is, and even more so because he decided to go with the NFC West over the AFC East. I think he liked beating Pete Carroll so much in college in Pete’s last year at USC, he wanted the chance to do it twice a year in the pros. I’m not a big Niners or NFC fan, so that’s all I have to say about that, maybe By will have a post on it sometime later breaking it down, because it is the biggest thing they’ve done since they beat the Giants in the playoffs.

The Raiders fired Cable a couple of days ago as Mceezy already told us. I’ve let the feelings I had on the firing set in a little more over the last couple of days, because originally, I was pretty mad since the Raiders players seemed to respect Cable so much. Now, I’m not quite as mad as the initial shock of the announcement. I’m thinking that Al hired on Hue Jackson as the OC last year, because he wanted to groom him into the next HC. Hue improved the offense by leaps and bounds this year by actually getting them into the endzone last season. I remember last year, we went through a three game stretch where all we managed were field goals, and watching the offense was painful more times than not. They might have scored a TD in that three game stretch, but it was a defensive one.

Anyways, my theory goes like this. Al was going to roll with Cable this year, and see how Hue did with getting the offense functioning like a real offense again. Both were reasonably successful, so no changes were made for the first half of the season. Al probably would’ve kicked Cable to the curb if had a crappy record at the bye week, but that wasn’t the case. Since they were still in the hunt, Al decided to let the year play out and waited through December to see if Cable could get them to the playoffs. He didn’t, and when Cable emphatically said after the season finale win over the Chiefs “we aren’t losers anymore”, that probably pissed Al off more than anything, and was the final straw in a tenure that had him switching QB’s, punching assistants, and receiving battery charges from ex-girlfriends. If they don’t hire/promote Hue Jackson who has the players respect already, then it will be another one of Al’s crazy decisions that I will never understand. The players overall were outspoken against the firing, but I think having a familiar face leading them next year would negate some of that negative energy. So the moral of this rant, if Al hires Hue then I’ll believe he really had a plan. If Al hires someone else, he’s should be checked back into the insane asylum.

The A’s new ballpark. The Oakland City Council approved spending  ¾ of a million dollars into looking at a site in downtown Oakland for a new baseball only park for the A’s. I’m not really sure what this means, but I know there isn’t going to be a stadium anytime soon. I think this was a counter to San Jose trying to find a place to put the A’s, which Lew Wolff has longed for. It’s sad that the MLB still hasn’t concluded their research to decide where is the best fit for the A’s new park if there is one, after only two years of research. If they put me on that committee, I bet I could figure it out faster than two damn years!

Speaking of San Jose, how does the San Jose Hornets sound? It wouldn’t be possible till 2014 (when CP3 is gone), but Larry Ellison easily has the funds to buy the Hornets from the league and the wherewithal to make that move happen. He might do it just because he got punked when he was trying to buy the Warriors. It would be a pretty bold move to try to steal them away to San Jose, especially since the Warriors have as strong a fanbase as any in the league. I wonder if he’d just do it to take money and value away from Lacob and Gruber who bought the Warriors? Probably, because I think this guy HATES losing at anything, and I’m sure losing out on buying the Warriors is still eating at him. Five NBA teams in California seems like a little much, especially when three are in Northern California. I guess we will see how it all plays out, but I thought it was an interesting rumor nonetheless. The Kings are the most likely to move of the current teams here, so maybe there would still only be four teams in Cali if Ellison bought the Hornets.

The Lakers shenanigans leading to losing. I always love when Lakers fans start panicking after a few loses. I’m sure if I was a fan of theirs I’d be a little worried, but seriously, they still have the third best record in the west, so stop bitching Laker Nation. Even though their players are missing practices because of their IPhones, Ron doesn’t like the way Phil yells at him, and Odom is convincing teammates to sign waivers to be on his reality show, they shouldn’t be worried. They’ve gone through much worse with Kobe and Shaq, so they will right the ship. Last year just before the playoffs started, they played some of their worst ball of the season, and that sure didn’t seem to stop them from winning a championship. December and January isn’t the time to worry about the Lakers. This is a team that has been to the finals three years in a row. Sometimes you probably get bored during the season. I think that’s what is happening here more than anything…


More A’s Activity

The tinkering continues in Oakland as the Athletics acquired 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff today from the Padres. He’s not exactly a guy I rosterbate to, but he can probably man the corner better than anyone else in house. He comes to Oakland with a minor league PTBNL (rumor is a fellow called Eric Sogard. We’ll hold off on him until we know he’s in the deal) . Going back to San Diego is Scott Hairston, who was just acquired from San Diego last summer. The A’s are also sending fringe player Aaron Cunningham in the deal. Cunningham looked promising in his time in AAA-Sacramento, but never found his stroke in the majors, batting .211 in limited action. I’ve seen a good majority of his progression through the minors since he was acquired from Arizona in the Dan Haren deal. While he was one of my more exciting prospects, I ultimately concluded that he’ll probably project to no better than a 4th outfielder on a big league team. Hairston, meanwhile, was the clear odd man out immediately following the Coco Crisp signing. All in all, the A’s acquired a position of need – and quite frankly their most dire by far – while trading away from a position of strength. …Strength in numbers at least.

While this move addressed some questions, it also raises just as many in my mind. Obviously the team got a veteran third baseman which they needed, but what does this mean for Eric Chavez? Don’t get me wrong, I’m about two full years removed from having stopped counting on Chavez being on the field, but I at least need some closure. Last I heard he was almost healthy. Granted that probably applies to him 95% of the time, but still. Perhaps he’s going to spend the majority of his time at DH, but wait, isn’t that what they brought Jack Cust back for? I really hope this move wasn’t made to clear room in the outfield for Cust. The other thing I still wonder about is the future of the third base position. Surely Kouzmanoff can’t be the long term solution. He’s a career .261 hitter whose average has declined in each of his three full seasons in the bigs. Not one to ever pay attention to fielding statistics, I couldn’t help but noticed that he’s cut his errors drastically each season, from 22 to 11 to just 3 last year. His fielding percentage has gone up each year as well, topping off at .990 last season. At least having a good defensive third baseman will alleviate a lot of roster concerns. I just really wish we had someone promising there in the minors. Brett Wallace was the most hope I’d had in years, and now he’s in Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, I’m equally excited about Michael Taylor. I just can’t come up with anything more exciting than Adrian Cardenas when I think about the A’s prospects at third. Problem is, Cardenas isn’t even a third baseman. It’s okay though, a good player is always just a trade away. At the rate the A’s are going, there should be a few more before the season rolls around.


The Duke Finally Speaks Out on His Depression

I had so many questions when Justin Duchscherer, the Athletics two-time all-star, decided to shut it down last August for the season. He seemed like he was on the road back to joining the A’s with a quality outing in Sacramento I figured he’d rejoin the team soon. Then out of nowhere he shut it down and cited emotional distress, aka depression. I was pretty curious what actually happened with him, since there were never reports on what it was truly about. The only updates A’s fans got were the ol, he’s making progress, he’s entered a program to treat his condition, etc. The A’s Drumbeat reports that the media phone interview with Duchscherer shed some light on his abrupt leave of absence from the organization. They said he was “paralyzed” when he got off a plane for a rehab start in Sacramento. It was the first time he’d ever felt that way in his life. He was diagnosed by the medical staff, and they found there were some off-field issues that had caused him to feel the way he did. In particular, he had never completely gotten over his divorce from a couple of years ago.

I think I can safely say for all of A’s fans, that we are glad he’s got his head right, because he is one of those guys that we need on this team. Duke has always been a fighter and we know he can make it through whatever is plaguing him. He’s never been a complainer or hard to please. They’ve moved him from a starter, to the bullpen, to long reliever, back to starter and he never complained (not to the media at least). He’s the whatever I can do for the team kind of guy, which was why the leave of absence last year was so strange!

Awe, Duke said he missed working with Kurt...

Awe, Duke said he missed working with Kurt...

It was good to see that we agreed to a new contract for him, and based on the interview this IS our best move we’ve made this off-season. He sounds like the anti-Favre as he wants to help the young guys and mentor them. He want’s to teach them how to pitch well when they don’t have their best stuff, and we know he will. Thanks for keeping it classy Duke, we are rooting for you this year. You are already my #1 feel good story in 2010!


State of the Athletics’ Nation

The Classic A's fan paradox: 1/2 maybe this is our year, 1/2 wake me up when the season's over.

The turn of the decade is nearing us, and the Oakland Athletics are in a different position than they were in last year. Around this time a year ago, the A’s had made a blockbuster deal to acquire Jack Parkman Matt Holliday. This move had A’s fans excited that their team had taken the express lane on the rebuilding highway. Gone were future centerpieces Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith, and the arrival of Matt Holliday lead to the signings of veterans Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra, and Orlando Cabrera. The moves had the A’s poised to challenge for the division crown, just two seasons after the rebuilding process had begun. Well, things obviously didn’t work out as planned, so we’re back to square one. Let’s take a look at the moves the A’s have made so far this offseason.

Signed Dallas McPherson – This was the first noteworthy move of the offseason for Oakland, as the A’s added some depth at Third Base, where the incumbent has become an enigma after injuries have sidelined Eric Chavez for a good portion of the last three or four years. The only real 3B prospect in the farm system, Brett Wallace, wasn’t projected to stick at third, but we’ll get to that later. The A’s took a flier on McPherson, who once was considered a top prospect. However, numerous injuries, mainly to his back, have derailed his career somewhat. Interesting that GM Billy Beane went after a third basemen whose biggest downside is his back. Hmm, thought we already were set there. Nonetheless, McPherson should play a key role in returning to the championship. The AAA championship that is.

Traded for Jake Fox and Aaron Miles – The A’s didn’t give up much in this deal. Relief pitcher Jeff Gray dominated AAA as a closer, but for some reason, never really fit in with the big league team’s plans. Outfielder Matt Spencer has produced above expectations since being acquired in the Joe Blanton deal, but never really figured to be a major league prospect. So, to get players with big league experience, such as Fox and Miles seems like a precursor to more short-term moves. The A’s got a power hitting third baseman, who, surprise, has been called a liability defensively at third. But, no one questions Fox’s power, which is the primary reason the A’s acquired him. He should see more time at DH or OF than 3B while wearing the green and gold. Miles, meanwhile, was considered a throw-in from the Cubs, since he apparently turned out to be a clubhouse cancer. Players with spotted pasts always seem to clean up their act in Oakland, largely because they’re out of the spotlight. Since the middle infield basically consists of Mark Ellis and a handful of AAAA players, such as Cliff Pennington and Gregorio Petit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miles play a bigger role than Fox when the season gets underway.

Released Santiago Casilla – One of my favorite A’s of the last few years, Casilla threw heat and for the most part was largely effective. He lacked control at times, however, and he always seemed liable to give up the big hit. He even closed some games out nicely when called upon. Casilla, like many A’s, was on and off the shelf with injuries, but proved to be a key asset in the bullpen. The A’s have no shortage of depth in the bullpen, so he became expendable. I have little doubt that Casilla will catch on elsewhere and play a big role as a setup man.

Declined to Offer a Contract to Jack Cust – This might be the biggest move of the A’s offseason. The Jack Attack was a mainstay in the A’s lineup, leading the team in home runs    each of the last three season. His “Custian” bombs won over many A’s fans, but his strikeouts and defensive shortcomings turned off the rest. He had a love/hate following from the Oakland faithful, and many, including yours truly, are happy to see him go. Sure, his power was nice, but the A’s are forming a new identity as a speedy, defensive team. Cust, believe it or not, is neither. There is, however, still a chance the A’s could bring him back at a reduced rate, but at this time, Cust is out of the picture.

Traded Brett Wallace for Michael Taylor – In case you forgot, Wallace was the key piece in the deal that sent Holliday to St. Louis. He was considered one of the best third base prospects in baseball. Though his defensive abilities there were question, the A’s insisted they would keep him at third, as opposed to moving him to first. They kept their promise, but clearly weren’t sold on him sticking at the position. Once Toronto acquired Taylor from Philadelphia in the Roy Halladay deal, they promptly sent him to Oakland in exchange for Wallace. Taylor seems like a slight upgrade skills-wise, but he comes in at a position of strength (in numbers at least) for the A’s. I see this deal working out well for the A’s, but fear that Wallace will turn into the Blue Jays’ franchise third baseman in the coming years.

Signed Coco Crisp – This deal seemed like it was years in the making. Over the last two full seasons, we’ve heard Crisp’s name circled around the rumor mill as a potential trade target for Beane. Now that he was a free agent, the A’s were able to get him for a mere $5.5 million, instead of giving up precious prospects. What’s interesting is he was signed for the same, if not more money than they would’ve had to shell out for Cust. Instead, they’re getting a smaller, faster, better defensive player. You know, basically like another Rajai Davis. Wait, they still have Davis don’t they? Well, perhaps there are more moves in the making, but the A’s now have four quality outfielders in Crisp, Davis, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Hairston. By the way, I use the term “quality” loosely. I just mean they’re probably too good to spend any time in Sacramento. Anyway, at this point, many figure Hairston to be the odd man out, but I still wouldn’t surprised to see Davis moved. As it stands, Crisp would take over center field, with Davis moving to left, and Sweeney staying put in right field. While not very intimidating on the offensive end, the A’s would go into the season with one of its best defensive outfields in club history.

Re-Signed Justin Duchscherer – This move was a no-brainer, just as long as you can wipe last season out of your memory. The Duke was coming off his second all-star appearance, and was penciled in as the staff ace, as he was really the only starter who had significant big league experience. Offseason surgery, however, delayed his start to the season. By the time he was ready to play physically, he had dug such a deep mental hole, that the only K’s he was throwing were to his therapist. The contract he got was a Billy Beane special, meaning it was largely incentive based. Those deals have tended to work out well for the A’s in recent memory – see Frank Thomas. Duke’s base salary is $2 million, but incentives can balloon it to upwards of $3.5 million. This signing doesn’t look too notable on paper, but if we get the old Duke back, that’s a huge addition.

This guy lost his banjo. If you find it, please return it to him.


When Will the A’s Retire Dave Stewart’s Number?

Today was Rickey Henderson day in Oakland.  The next 30 days will officially be Rickey Henderson Month in Oakland as well.  No doubt, this is all deserved, but it begs the question… when will it be Dave Stewart day?

There are plenty of arguments against retiring Stew’s #34.  He only spent upwards of eight seasons in Oakland… his career numbers aren’t overwhelming…. he only made the all-star team once…. and he never won that elusive Cy Young Award.  The A’s have a pretty exclusive fraternity when it comes to retired numbers.  Despite much history, only Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and Dennis Eckersley have their numbers plastered on the outfield wall Mt. Davis tarp.  That’s right… no Vida Blue, no Bert Campaneris, no Gene Tenace, no Mark McGwire, no Jose Canseco, and the list goes on.  However, if one were to list the most memorable Oakland Athletics in the last 45 years, Dave Stewart would surely be in that class.  He turned in one of the most impressive four year stretches ever during Oakland’s period of dominance from 1987-1990.  He complied a record of 84-45 with a 3.20 ERA.  He had an 8-3 postseason record with the A’s, including 2 of the 4 wins in Oakland’s 1989 World Series sweep of the Giants.

Statistics aside, Dave Stewart should be included in this class of legends.  Ray Fosse slipped that sentiment in during his speech today honoring Rickey Henderson.  It was received with an overwhelming ovation from the Athletics’ faithful.  Though he never won the Cy Young, he finished in the top four in the voting four years in a row.  More importantly, Stew has continued to bleed green and gold, even after his playing days.  He’s there any time someone else gets honored, and he still remains Oakland’s most intimidating starting pitcher since his heyday.  When it’s all said and done, the organization should retire his number for one reason: The fans want it.  A’s fans appreciate history as much as any other club’s, and I’d be surprised to hear any naysayers suggest that Stew doesn’t deserve this honor.  He was a terror on the mound and a class act off of it.  Since the A’s don’t appear to factor into the title hunt in the next year and a half, here’s hoping Dave Stewart Day is on the docket for the 2010 season.