A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Terrence Lo... oh, screw it.

Friday, August 29, 2003

The 2003 Draft Progress Report

Last year's draft has gotten a lot of publicity because of Moneyball. This year's draft won't get that, but it might be interesting to see if the A's learned anything from their experiment one year later. Here's a rundown of this year's first 10 rounds, and what they've done so far in the minors.

1. Bradley Sullivan, Houston, rhp
Sullivan threw a lot of pitches in college this year, so the A's are treating him gently. He's pitching out of the bullpen in Kane County (low A). So far, so good: 5 games, 9 IP, 9K, 4BB, 1.93 ERA.

1. Brian Snyder, Stetson, 3b
Snyder is a walk machine. Check out this line in Vancouver (short season A): .239/.420/.310. He has 39 walks with only 113 ABs, meaning he draws a walk in over a quarter of his plate appearances. But while a .420 OBP is very good, at some point he's going to need to actually hit the ball.

1s. Omar Quintanilla, Texas, ss
Draft experts called Quintanilla a reach by the A's, but so far he's looked like the A's best pick in this draft. He hit .341/.401/.442 in Vancouver before being promoted to high-A Modesto. In five games there, he's hit .409/.458/.773.

2. Andre Ethier, Arizona St, cf
Ethier didn't have much trouble in Vancouver, either, where he hit .390/.444/.610 in 10 games. He was quickly promoted to Kane County, where he's gone .277/.352/.345.

3. Dustin Majewski, Texas, cf
Majewski had some success in Vancouver, too, going .291/.390/.440. He just got promoted to Kane County last week.

4. Edward Kim, James Madison, 1b
Eddie Kim has not gotten a promotion from Vancouver, but his numbers also look good: .308/.398/.442.

5. John Peterson, Florida St, lhp
Peterson has been quite respectable in Vancouver: 46 IP, 39 K, 14 BB, 3.91 ERA.

6. Luke Appert, Minnesota, 2b
Appert's been taking taking lessons from Snyder in Vancouver: .190/.349/.226. That's 41 walks, 32 hits in 168 ABs.

7. David Castillo, Oral Roberts, c
Castillo, too: .218/.329/.303 in Vancouver.

8. Michael McGirr, Richmond, rhp, r/r
McGirr hasn't looked like anything special in Vancouver: 68 2/3 IP, 52 K, 21 BB, 4.72 ERA.

9. Grant Reynolds, Kennesaw St, rhp
Reynolds is also in Vancouver, but hasn't pitched much yet: 22 2/3 IP, 18 K, 11 BB, 5.56 ERA.

10. Matthew Lynch, Florida St, lhp
Lynch is in Kane County. Nice K/BB ratio. 55 2/3 IP, 39 K, 10 BB, 4.37 ERA.

Sullivan looks quite promising, but it's still very early to tell. The other pitchers look OK, but not outstanding.

Of the hitters, four are doing quite well, thank you, while three are taking a lot of walks, but doing nothing else.
And that appears to be the risk of the high-walk draft strategy: you can get guys who won't swing at bad pitches, but who can't (or won't) hit the good pitches, either. Will those guys learn to hit? Does power actually develop later, as long as the hitter can control the strike zone? That's what we'll be watching for. Stay tuned...

Pitching matchups, Tampa Bay series:

Friday: Joe Kennedy against Tim Hudson. What the heck has happened to Kennedy? The last two years he's posted ERA's around 4.5 as a 22- and 23-year old (a very young one, May birthday.) But this year, he's at 6.47. His K rate is down a bit, his BB rate is up a bit, his HR rate is up significantly, but he's also getting much more hit-unlucky, at least eyeballing the stats. Here's one for the statheads, where a low K-rate is foreshadowing a lack of improvement...

Hudson has, of course, been nails his last few starts, and I expect nothing less of him this time.

Saturday: Rob Bell against Ted Lilly. Bell is a thoroughly nondescript mediocre righty. Meh.

Sunday: Jeremi Gonzalez against Rich Harden. Gonzalez has apparently come out of nowhere to have a nice little season. Don't believe it. His K/BB sucks, he's giving up a fair number of homers, and he's even averaging 107.5 pitches per start, which can't be good. (He's coming off an injury, IIRC.) We'll see how The Phenom does against a lackluster D-Rays lineup.

The return of Adam Piatt to the Coliseum. I suppose few will notice.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Very quietly the A's are about to put a W6 into the "streak" column of the standings.

As much hype as the 20-game streak got, one thing this team has done really well over the last few years is put up the four-game, five-game, and six-game streaks. (I say that purely from observation and impression; it's possible a study would prove or disprove this claim).

It's a team that will have long stretches of .500 ball, either (if you really like the talent) disappointing given its perceived talent, or (if you're pessimistic about the talent) indicative of the team's true strength. But the stellar won-loss record at the end of the year seems to come from putting up a lot of winning streaks against almost no losing streaks.

How and why Oakland accomplishes this is an exercise for the reader.

Parting thought: Did anyone else hear Bill King last night tell the story of the Carney Lansford for Tony Armas trade, in the context of Lansford's improving the team's infield defense? Did Lansford see about a 90% decline in range from the early 1980s to when I first saw him, or were people just that imperceptive?

Things Are Looking Up

Tuesday, I went camping with my family at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. My three-year old daughter took one look at the giant redwoods and proclaimed them so tall that even her big sister, age six, could not climb them.

The world is like that for three-year-olds. Everything is huge. You look up to people who, like big sisters, can conquer big things.

That evening, after dark, my wife took the kids to get ready for bed. I found myself alone at the campfire. I looked up through the giant redwoods at the stars. That night, the planet Mars was closer than it has been in 60,000 years.

60,000 years ago, my ancestors probably sat as I did just then, huddled around a campfire, looking up at the stars. Perhaps they saw Mars, brighter than ever, and consider it a god: O, great god of war, grant us victory in our battles against our enemies.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, modern men don't have to wait long to hear whether their prayers are answered. I got my radio out, put my headphones on, and tuned in to the A's game. Bill King was telling a story:
Back when he was announcing the Warriors, they had a game in Boston snowed out. They had to get to Muncie, Indiana, to play their next game against the Cincinnati Royals. They couldn't fly out of Boston, so they took a train instead to New York. They had to wait several hours at JFK Airport for a flight to Chicago, and then they'd take a bus to Muncie.

At the airport, Nate Thurmond ran into a famous midget actor, and struck up a conversation. Bill King came upon them, and the mere sight of a man hardly four feet tall talking to a man nearly seven feet tall was something he'd never forget.
Back to the game: the A's won a long, twelve inning battle, 2-1. Praise Mars!

And so the universe is like this: sometimes, you've got your buses and airplanes , your radios and TVs and computers, your ERAs and OBPs and EQAs and UZRs, and you think you're big enough to climb every tree Mother Nature puts in front of you. But sometimes, you're just a small man at a campfire, dwarfed by the redwoods, subject to the whims of the stars.

Game of August 27

Went to the game tonight. The play Chavez made to start the 5-4-3 was incredible, probably the best defensive play I've ever seen live -- it was an incredibly hard-hit smash that he reached to his right on, gloved, and without thinking or reeling or anything, turned and threw hard immediately to second. He also made a very nice play later, and Ellis made a great play on a ball hit up the middle. All in all, very good defensive game for the A's.

Zito looked good, not great. The O's bailed him out by swinging at some pitches early in the count and making outs on 2-0 counts. His curve was very sharp, but he didn't really have that good command. But definitely a good outing.

Had some good at-bats, too. Ruby looks like he can still recognize whether a pitch is a ball or a strike, but doesn't really know what to do with the strikes. Tejada's first HR was absolutely crushed -- the second one barely made it onto the ledge, but still obviously a pretty well-hit ball. He looked like he knew what he was doing up there, a change from the Tejada of early-year. Chavez looked awful in K'ing twice against Hentgen and then smoked a homer later against a reliever (I forget whether it was Bauer or Carrasco.)

All in all, a good game, well played. If they can play like this they will do great against Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Hatteberg in the 12th. Yay.

Brian Giles is a Padre now. This probably guarantees that he won't be an Athletic any time soon. Could Oakland have offered a package comparable to (Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, and PTBNL)? If so, would it have been wise to do so?

For reference, assuming a center field platoon we have:
Chris Singleton, .283/.325/.393 vs. RHP in 2003 (.276/.310/.416 three-year split).

Eric Byrnes, .300/.350/.562 vs. LHP in 2003, but just .267/.291/.427 career.

Any word on Nick Swisher's defense? (He's a "better" prospect than Jeremy Brown to the extent that Singleton/Byrnes reflects a greater organizational upgrade need than Ramon.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Baltimore matchups:

Tuesday: Jason Johnson vs. Rich Harden. I think Harden will have a good outing against the Orioles; he looked bad last start out, but the O's are nowhere near as good a lineup as the Sox. Johnson is getting incredibly lucky in the ERA department: 87 strikeouts, 60 walks, 16 HR, and even 161 hits in 148 innings, but a 3.83 ERA. I don't know how he manages that. He's a pretty mediocre righty, which is the sort of pitcher the A's should handle.

Wednesday: Pat Hentgen vs. Barry Zito. The Baltimore Sun apparently reports, as I found out when I clicked on Hentgen's player page, that the A's may be interested in Hentgen. This wouldn't be the worst of acquisitions, though I suspect it's just an idle rumor.

Thursday: Rodrigo Lopez vs. ????, possibly John Halama. Lopez has apparently dropped off from his excellent rookie season, as he sports a 5.45 ERA, but this is an illusion; he's actually improved his K rate and BB rate, while his HR rate is roughly identical. He's just getting horribly hit-unlucky (and got quite hit-lucky last year), or possibly the O's defense sucks. Given who that defense is composed of (B.J. Surhoff???) I'm guessing it's the latter.

This starts the 12-game stretch of games against the O's and Rays, where ideally we open a gap with the Red Sox, who are playing Toronto twice, the Yankees six times, Chicago twice, and Philadelphia in a makeup game. After that, we have the bookend AL West round-robin, and they get seven against BAL and TB plus three against the White Sox and Cleveland; I'd like to be three up going into that sequence. Seattle, of course, has the same schedule as us over these two weeks.

Should be a good race.

Our #2 Prospect

The farm system is not in such great shape as far as potential stars go -- we've got some OK AAA depth, but not so many frontliners. Here are the top prospects by acclamation in the Oakland system (not counting Harden):

1. Bobby Crosby
2. Joe Blanton
3. Nick Swisher
4. Shane Komine

Blanton is having a hell of a year, and I'm glad that the rumors sending him to Toronto in an Escobar deal fell through. His numbers so far:

Low-A 133.0 144 19 6 2.57
AA 34.2 29 7 1 1.30

As you can see, Blanton dominated the Midwest League, and hasn't missed a beat upon promotion to the Texas League. His professional career so far has been thoroughly outstanding. At 22, he was a bit old for the Midwest League (born 12/11/80, he's an "average 22" -- baseball ages, for those of you who don't know, are measured on July 1.) He's definitely on the fast track. (Incidentally, to keep track of all our prospects, I heartily recommend this page at Baseball America, which lists all the A's minor-league stats on one handy page.)

But, you know, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect. What can we expect from Blanton? I'm going to focus on those Midwest numbers: what does a dominant season in low A-ball presage?

The obvious features of Blanton's stat line: he walks almost no one, strikes out a ton, gives up relatively few homers. Only one pitcher in the past 5 years in the Midwest League (where Blanton pitched) has had a strikeout rate of better than 8 per 9 innings (Blanton's was 9.74) and a K/BB rate of better than 5 (Blanton's was almost 8) while pitching 90 innings "as a starter" (definition: minimum 4 IP/GP.) That player? Mark Buehrle in 1999. The next year, Buehrle tore through AA before having a decent major league debut, and the next year he was a top-notch AL starter. Buehrle was 20, two years younger than Blanton.

This is obviously an optimistic comp. The other guys closest to meeting those descriptors, though, are not too shabby. Dan Haren last year had only 7.88 K/9 IP in 101 innings as a starter at age 22, but had a K/BB ratio of over 7. He's now starting for the Cardinals. Brian Lawrence threw only 80.1 innings but had a K/BB ratio of over 6 in 1998, also at age 22. He had superb minor league seasons in 1999 and 2000 before becoming a solid major league starter in 2001 and 2002. Bobby Basham last year, at age 22, had a K/BB ratio of over 10 (!) in 87 innings, with a walk rate of 0.92. His season is probably the best comp for Blanton's. He's struggling in AA this year, which is a bad harbinger.

There's no real great comp for Blanton's Midwest League numbers in the last five years. Lawrence, Buehrle, and Basham are the only players in the past five years with a walk rate of less than 1.92 per nine innings (Blanton's was 1.29), a strikeout-to-walk ratio of at least 3, and 80 innings pitched as a starter. I've got in front of me the list of all pitchers in the past five years (at least the ones listed in The Baseball Cube, which has obviously incomplete data) with at least 8 K/9, a K/BB of at least 3, 4 IP/GP and 80 IP in the Midwest league. I'm not sure it's terribly significant, though; most of these guys do not have control nearly as good as Blanton's. Here are all the guys with BB rates under 2 per 9 IP:

  • (Joe Blanton, 2003, age 22: 9.74 K/9, 1.29 BB/9)
  • Mark Buehrle, 1999, 20: 8.30, 1.47. Top-notch starter by 2001.
  • Brian Lawrence, 1998, 22: 8.85, 1.46. Solid starter by 2001.
  • Bobby Basham, 2002, 22: 9.96, 0.92. Struggling at AA in 2003.
  • Jorge Cordova, 2000, 22: 8.91, 1.99. Converted to relief in 2002, doing OK in AA, nothing special.
  • D.J. Houlton, 2002, 23: 8.83, 1.92. Doing OK at AAA, seems to have been injured for part of 2003 (only 52 IP.)
  • Beltran Perez, 2001, 19: 8.83, 1.97. Hit the AA wall, has been bad at that level in 2002-3.

For completeness, here are all the other guys on the list with what has happened to them. (I'm assuming injury when a guy simply disappeared without sucking first.) Hey, quantity over quality, right?

  • Jose Mieses, 2000, 20: 8.80, 2.47. Injury flameout.
  • Runelvys Hernandez, 2001, 21: 8.91, 2.58. Great in majors in 2003 before getting injured.
  • Juan Figueroa, 1999, 20: 10.85, 3.43. Hit AA wall.
  • Ervin Santana, 2002, 18: 8.94, 2.94. Top prospect in Angels system, dominating high-A in 2003.
  • Jose Acevedo, 1999, 21: 9.16, 2.90. Similar results in 2000 as repeater, failed trials in majors.
  • Josh Hall, 2001, 20: 8.30, 2.65. In AA now, climbing ladder methodically, OK but nothing special.
  • Ryan Snare, 2001, 22: 9.23, 2.90. Great in minors in 2002, solid in 2003, recently traded to Texas.
  • Jake Peavy, 2000, 19: 11.04, 3.57. Kickass 2001 in minors, having growing pains in majors.
  • A.J. Burnett, 1998, 21: 14.07 (!), 3.40. Had breakout 2002 for Marlins before being destroyed by Torborg.
  • Renyal Pinto, 2002, 20: 8.45, 2.57. Doing OK at high-A FSL in 2003.
  • Aaron Krawiec, 2001, 22: 9.98, 2.99. Did OK in 2002 in high-A, apparently injured for much of 2003.
  • Tyler Johnson, 2002, 21: 9.79, 3.12. Injured for part of 2003, converted to relief.
  • J.D. Durbin, 2002, 20: 9.11, 2.85. Excellent in 2003 in high-A.
  • Andrew Good, 1999, 20: 8.55, 2.40. Injured in 2000, rose through minors, passable for D-Backs this year.
  • Matt Miller, 1998, 24: 9.66, 2.40. AAA journeyman.
  • Alan Webb, 1998, 19: 10.57, 3.03. Hit AA wall.
  • The entire Mariners' affiliate's rotation in 2001:

    Clint Nageotte, 20: 11.05, 2.95

    Jared Hoerman, 24: 10.03, 2.88

    Rett Johnson, 22: 8.73, 2.73

    Kevin Olore, 23: 9.19, 2.33

    Derrick van Dusen, 20: 9.66, 2.25

    Nageotte and Johnson are among Seattle's best prospects. Hoerman was converted to relief and is doing OK in AA. Olore was great in high-A in 2002 but apparently was injured and converted to relief this year. Van Dusen hit the AA wall and has changed organizations twice.
  • Scott Atchison, 1999, 23: 9.37, 2.76. AAA journeyman.
  • Josue Matos, 1999, 21: 8.87, 2.74. Good in 2000, injured and mediocre in 2001-2, now a reliever.

Anyway, it's clear from his comps that Blanton is far from a sure thing (though those great 34 innings in the Texas league definitely shift the odds in his favor.) We should certainly not expect Blanton to be an impact player in 2004, as none of these players contributed significantly at the major league level in the year following their dominance of the Midwest League. However, Buehrle was great two years afterwards, and Lawrence was a good major league starter three years later; those guys and Basham, who appears to be hitting the AA wall, are the only three comps that really resemble the salient feature of Blanton's resume, the absurdly low walk rate. Blanton has a better K rate than Buehrle and Lawrence to boot, too.

Projections? I'm guessing Brian Lawrence, maybe half a year ahead, which would put him on track to be a good ML starter in mid-2005, which I'll definitely take. The Buehrle comp is probably unfair since Buehrle was two years younger in the year in question than Blanton.

In the meantime, I'll be watching Bobby Basham with interest.

Monday, August 25, 2003

This Terrence Long "Lucky 7" thing is getting weird. Can there be any explanation other than random chance? Why is Long's OPS is near .900 in the 7th slot in the order, and around .550 in other spots, each with roughly 200 ABs?

One thing I did notice about his splits: he hits way better when a runner is being held on at first base. Check out his OPS splits for 2003 (2000-02 in parentheses):

Nobody on base: .572 (.704)
Runner on 1st: .927 (.804)

So here's a hypothesis: perhaps having the infield at double-play depth, and the first baseman in really helps Long more than most hitters. Maybe all his ground balls get through much more often. And the way the A's lineup is constructed this year (with their highest OBP guy, Durazo, hitting two slots ahead of him), gives Long more opportunities with the defense in from the 7th slot.

Or, not. Maybe it's just the Long arm of the Law of Random Distribution doing its thing.

First Place, Baby

AL West

Oakland 76 55 .580 --
Seattle 76 55 .580 --
AL Wild Card

Oakland 76 55 .580 --
Seattle 76 55 .580 --
Boston 76 55 .580 --
* * *

4-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB

That's Terrence Long tonight, batting from the 7th spot.

Didn't You Used to Be The Seattle Mariners?
An A's victory at Toronto today (granting that one shouldn't count eggs before they hatch) would complete a 5-2 road trip and also leave three teams, competing for two playoff spots, tied at 76-55.

If you knew the contenders but didn't know the exact standings, you might think that Boston's sweep of Seattle is very good news for A's fans, in that either team's sweep causes the weaker opponent to stand much worse.

On the other hand, any result other than a sweep would have left the weaker-in-the-standings rival (namely Boston) at a worse record than 76-55.

On the third hand, I still think the Red Sox are a much much better team than the Mariners. Oakland has a much better chance of outplaying Seattle over a six-week period than of outplaying Boston over a six-week period. Here's to the underrated AL West pennant race.

Actually, for playoff matchup purposes the best case is to win the AL West and have Seattle edge Boston for the wild card. Barring standings upheaval, this is the only way for the A's to draw the AL Central champion in the first round. Otherwise, Oakland as AL West champion would stand to face the wild card Red Sox, while Oakland as wild card would stand to face the Yankees.

The Mariners are (were?) due for a letdown, if only because Meche and Piniero were both pitching way over their heads. True, Freddy Garcia had underperformed, but even he had turned things around earlier in August.

... and the A's have loaded the bases ...

Anybody know off-hand how the A's have done with the bases loaded in the Beane Era?

Ask and ye shall receive.

I took a quick look at how the A's fared with the bases juiced from 1999 to the present, and they've actually done better than I would have thought (my general feeling was clouded by this year's performance prior to yesterday). Of course, the average over those seasons was helped more than a bit by the record 14 grand slams hit in 2000. Here's how the A's look relative to the average AL team each season:

            AB   HR  BB/PA  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS

2003 OAK 105 2 .063 .305 .315 .448 .763
AL 104 3.5 .062 .296 .323 .466 .789
2002 OAK 157 2 .061 .261 .298 .401 .700
AL 130 4.3 .058 .297 .321 .475 .796
2001 OAK 161 6 .063 .304 .325 .509 .834
AL 129 4.4 .062 .298 .329 .486 .815
2000 OAK 184 14 .088 .375 .415 .712 1.127
AL 147 6.4 .071 .296 .332 .505 .837
1999 OAK 166 8 .108 .259 .335 .488 .823
AL 138 5.6 .065 .281 .314 .472 .786
TOTAL OAK 773 32 .078 .303 .342 .523 .864
AL 648 24.1 .064 .294 .324 .482 .806
Generally speaking, Oakland's success with the bases loaded seems to have stayed roughly parallel to their overall offensive performance. The line in 2000 is historically great, but even in the below-average last two years, the walk rate has stayed above league average, something I'm sure we all expected. Overall, the only two teams that outperformed the A's in this situation were Seattle (.316/.354/.546) and Cleveland (.306/.333/.536). Ranked by OPS, here are the 1999-2003 team averages:


1. SEA .900
2. CLE .869
3. OAK .864
4. CWS .843
5. TAM .829
6. KCR .808
7. TOR .804
8. NYY .803
9. BAL .788
10. BOS .784
11. TEX .780
12. ANA .747
13. MIN .718
14. DET .659
Given that we're dealing with individual player performances of less than 30 PAs each, there is certainly going to be variation due to chance -- New York should be ranked higher; Tampa Bay, lower. But, in regard to walk rate and pitches seen per PA, that the A's did well while ranked 2nd in both categories over the five seasons bodes well for the organizational philosophy. It should be noted that the A's were never first in #P/PA, and lead only once in BB/PA (1999).

For a dose of pure comedy, check out the individual player lines from 2000, even in small samples. Nine Athletics had an OPS over 1.000:

Masher       OPS

Ja Giambi 2.352
Long 1.761
Je Giambi 1.357
Grieve 1.232
Fasano 1.262
Tejada 1.056
Stairs 1.058
Hernandez 1.170
Chavez 1.010
* * *

(After seeing Danny's comments below)

Re: sacrifice flies, the A's totaled 66 SF over the five years, just a bit more than the league average of 61.2. They led the AL only in 2001, when they tied with Seattle, with 17 each.

Admin Note and Post-Season Ticket Complaint
Pending some work with Blogger, a page of brief bios of us may be forthcoming. I wanted it just to be a template within this blog but it looks as though creating a new blog might be easier. Or I could cite laziness/fatigue and put it off to tomorrow.

Meanwhile I share Ken's angry lament about A's ticket policies. Thanks mainly to the early deadline, I won't be exercising my season ticket miniplan holder's rights to post-season strips. Perhaps more on that here soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Caught two "live" glimpses of today's game, both on TV screens with no sound. First, from California's Capitol building, a 5-2 A's lead. Then, less than an hour later from a restaurant in Old Town (Sacramento), a 16-2 A's lead.

Anybody know off-hand how the A's have done with the bases loaded in the Beane Era? For a team that relies more on working the count than on jumping on pitches, you'd expect the "patience gap" to be even bigger with the bases loaded than otherwise: Players on other teams would be all the more eager to make something happen, while A's would be all the more aware that a walk means an automatic run.

This should translate to many fewer grand slams, though it's possible that Oakland's bases-loaded performance would shed some light on whether Beane dogma works.

(I know in theory and in simulation, it's uniquely correct: OBP is life--we've probably all been intuitively aware of this ever since we first paid close attention to baseball, or played APBA or Strat or such. What I wonder is how effectively real live human ballplayers can adopt this philosophy. I also know that quite a few people took the Angels' 2002 success as a rebuttal to the "take a lot of pitches" approach to hitting; those people have been surprisingly silently lately, with Anaheim's regression to the mean.)

PSA for anyone in Toronto who might be reading this and going to the game tomorrow:

Don't bring your children or non-baseball loving significant other. This game is going to be long and slooooooow. Ted Lilly and Cory Lidle are two of the slowest starting pitchers in the game today.

Hard to believe that in over 100 years of baseball, this is the first time the A's have hit two grand slams in one game.

As I suffered through reading my latest Sports Illustrated this week, I was stunned to find something that actually piqued my interest: mention of Eric Chavez as a career second-half hitter (.256/.331/.471 before the break; .299/.361/.535 after). Here's the picture in terms of OPS:

OPS by Month, Career

2000 2001 2002 2003
Apr .883 .780 1.064 .853
May .704 .814 .801 .661
June 1.011 .667 .883 .887
July .687 .970 .748 .883
Aug .963 .862 1.007 .925
Sept .851 1.137 .669 ???

Overall, it does look like Chavez finds his groove a bit better after the All-Star break, but he also consistently has one terrible month a year, usually in the first half. In 2003, for example, remove his stellar .211/.272/.389 May and suddenly he looks like the upper echelon player we all think he should be: .290/.363/.525.

Not content to start the laundry quite yet, I took a look at his oft-mentioned lefty-righty problem. (MLB.com's double splits feature is really cool, by the way.)
2003 vs. RHP                        2003 vs. LHP

Mar/Apr 76 .303 .404 .500 .904 Mar/Apr 20 .150 .190 .450 .640
May 56 .321 .397 .607 1.004 May 39 .051 .075 .077 .152
June 53 .302 .339 .566 .905 June 50 .280 .327 .541 .868
July 59 .271 .353 .576 .929 July 24 .292 .393 .375 .768
August 59 .390 .463 .644 1.107 August 25 .160 .214 .280 .494
Total 303 .317 .394 .574 .968 Total 158 .190 .244 .348 .592

Now what does all this mean? Honestly, I really don't know. I was hoping for better samples -- 20-25 at-bats just isn't enough to draw any meaningful conclusions (e.g. Aaron Riggs hitting .440/.500/.960). But, how about the fact that the month in which he got the most at-bats (June) was also his most productive?

I've felt for a while that he was just a step away from breaking through against southpaws. Some at-bats he looks solid; it's the awful ones that give me pause. .230/.300/.400 is probably passable. .051/.075/.077 is definitely not.

* * *

Here's hoping Hudson's hand holds up today. A slight dropoff from his true ability should be acceptable, but the A's are in serious trouble if the effects linger. Duchscherer and Wood should do pretty well, just as long as they force Halama back into the bullpen. If Halama does start, he really should do so only at the Coliseum:

       ERA  WHIP  BAA

Home 3.19 1.19 .228
Away 5.22 1.61 .301

* * *
Am I the only one that wants odds for Devon Travis going to the show?

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