A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, September 20, 2003

I went to the game today...
and I'm sure everyone around me could see the steam coming out my ears as I watched the parade of Sacramento River Cats attempt to play pennant race baseball for the A's instead of the proven major leaguers they could have used. But I'm not gonna say anything else, because I'd basically just be repeating what I said in my last post.

Snelling/Bay Anomalies
How many young outfielders can you think of who
A. Are prospects, yet
B. Are not "toolsy"

I've been wondering whether Oakland's draft strategy leads to its shortage of good outfield options. Aren't a vast majority of projectable outfielders primarily thought of as "tools" players? (Outfield defense in particular requires the speed and/or the throwing arm; most "anti-tools" players seem to be catchers or corner infielders.)

Terrence Long: A Contrarian View
While we're being contrarian:

Long is a fine fourth outfielder. It's not his fault the A's have badly overused and overexposed him over three years. In fact it reflects somewhat well on him (but only somewhat) that he's been able to go out there when needed, center field in particular, and humiliate himself out of being so often the least evil option.

Mark Ellis: A Contrarian View
Don't get me wrong, I like Ellis. Many of you love him. I noticed from his scoreboard stats today, though, that he'd get creamed in any sort of arbitration hearing.

The "slumping Ichiro" has seen his batting average go all the way down to .307; A's leadoff man Ellis, meanwhile, took a .249 average into the game.

When I was a kid, before realizing (thanks to APBA) that OBP is Life, I would associate batting averages below .250 with either home run hitters or useless hitters. But Ellis is clearly neither a home run hitter (14 in his first 870 career at-bats, or one per 62.1) nor a slugger (career .380).

Slugging aside, a .259/.334 career AVG/OBP is pretty useful from a stellar defender. It's a fine line, though, since the .250/.317 of 2003 may be less than adequate.

This leaves you with either "he plays great defense" or "he does all the little things."

Re great defense, both our eyes and Win Shares say the same thing. A devils' advocate would point out that he does have 14 errors, though. I'd love a home/road split on that, since Oakland's home scorer is notoriously generous to fielders. Twice tonight A's players flat-out dropped a throw, only to be not charged with anything.

Re the little things, when you make an argument like this you have to be really clear about what the little things are and why they're useful, since otherwise it's hard to distinguish your heartfelt belief from the heartfelt beliefs of a Jeter groupies.

Bottom line, I do like Ellis a lot. He helps the A's win. He also, to an astonishing degree, helps my "suck" team win.

(Points-based league with hitting formula:
4*AB - 6*R - 8*H - 6*2B - 12*3B - 18*HR - 6*RBI - 6*SB + 12*CS - 6*BB + 8*K + 10*E

Pitching formula:
-9*IP - 16*W + 16*L - 20*CG - 50*SO - 16*Save + 6*Hit + 10*R + 9*HR + 3*BB - 4*K + 8*(Save Chances) - 4*Holds)

For the most part this league's formula is good at identifying stiffs. Most players will continue to accrue points the more they play, though a select few will continue to lose points the more they play. Of hitters , nearly all the point-losers are power hitters, though much to my annoyance Juan Pierre has a net negative for me since his batting average is so high.

Anyhow, by the league formula, Ellis is quite a useful "suck" player. Since we're generally agreed that in real life he's pretty valuable, I wonder how best you'd find the problems with the fantasy formula.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Stolen games

Tom Tippett has an interesting article on ESPN.com today, about stolen games. It seems like the A's have stolen quite a few games, using the more prosaic definition of games they should have lost but miraculously pulled out a victory in -- the Boston game mentioned, as well as the one where Mulder was knocked out and Ramon hit the three-run homer to win it, the two late games against the Yankees where we beat Rivera, the game where Donnelly shockingly gave up the lead. I was going to do a top-five stolen games and games given away (top of the list there is the two losses Zito suffered to Bonderman and the Tigers), may still.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Pitching matchups, Seattle

Mariners just lost to Texas, giving us a five-game lead going into this series. Two out of three basically clinches it (we'd have to lose all our remaining games and have Seattle win all of theirs.)

Friday (7:05): Tim Hudson vs. Ryan Franklin. Franklin is another of these mediocre right-handers who is floating around the league. This particular exemplar is prone to the gopher ball. This should be an easy win, although obviously I've said that before when we've lost.

Saturday (1:05): Justin Duchscherer vs. Joel Pineiro. Pineiro is one of my favorite non-A's players. Of course, I also like Duchscherer a great deal. I'm expecting a low-scoring affair here, pretty much a toss-up.

Sunday (1:05): Rich Harden vs. Gil Meche. Seattle has the personnel to take advantage of Harden's wildness, as Edgar and Olerud draw large numbers of walks and the rest of the lineup mostly chips in nicely. Meche appears to be wearing down (he had TJ a couple of years back, probably not fully recovered, and he's thrown a bunch of innings this year.)

Despite Ken's apprehension about the rookies, these matchups look good for us taking 2/3 and basically locking up the playoff spot. I am cautiously optimistic.

Baseball Reference Sponsorships
A bunch of mine are about to come up for renewal. Here's my full list, with renewal asking prices; I'm actually a bit embarrassed by how long it is. Which of these would you keep? On the pages themselves what changes would you suggest to the sponsorship text?

(Assume that I value Baseball Reference enough to give Sean somewhere between $50 and $100 a year. Assume that I still want to target favorite players/teams and that I'm vain enough to link to myself--or better yet here, for any A's--but not so vain as to say something stupid.)

2002 Oakland A's - $20
Bobby Estalella - $10
Ben Broussard - $10
Aubrey Huff - $10
Keith Ginter - $5
Chris Snelling - $5
Jim Edmonds - $35
Matt LeCroy - $5
Matt Cepicky - $5
Les Lancaster - $10
Aaron Harang - $5
Mark Buehrle - $10

Hmm, so I can do cute font things. Green ones I'm inclined to keep, red ones I'm inclined to give up. As listed above that would be $65 (Edmonds alone would bump it to $100). Sean deserves $65, maybe $75 if I put down $10 on a rookie somewhere.

I think one of us should take Harden in the next auction and point the link here. Or we could have a bidding war, either way. :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Two Rookies vs. Seattle

The A's radio crew said that Ted Lilly is going to be skipped in the Seattle series, and instead, Justin Duchscherer will pitch Saturday, with Rich Harden going Sunday. That sure puts a lot of pressure on Tim Hudson to win on Friday night. If he doesn't win, and the two rookies pitch poorly (not an unlikely scenario), the A's four game lead could quickly become just a one game lead. Those guys over on USS Mariner who conceded the AL West race already shouldn't have jumped ship so early.

Looking at the way the rotation sets up, there are basically three slots that Lilly and Duchscherer need to fill: Saturday vs. Seattle, Tuesday vs. Texas, and the last game of the year, next Sunday at Seattle. If Lilly pitches Saturday against Seattle, then he makes the final start on seven days rest, which might throw him off going into the playoffs. Push him back to Tuesday, and he's on normal rest heading into the final regular season game and the playoffs.

But Lilly has been the A's best pitcher for the past month or so. If Hudson loses on Friday, I think they should throw Lilly on Saturday. Make sure you win the battle at hand before you tackle the next one. They really need to win at least one of the three games this weekend to really lock things up. I hope the A's understand this, and that they will be flexible about this decision depending on the outcome on Friday.

Where is Foulke?
Yahoo! Gamecast followers like me want to know. Maybe I'll check Game Chatter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

A Happier Post
Two hard-to-swallow losses actually bookended a seven-game winning streak.

Weeks ago I posted here about Oakland's uncanny ability both to produce long winning streaks and to avoid long losing streaks. The former almost always begin right after some heartbreaking turn of events; I'll still have such-and-such loss on my mind and then suddenly realize, oh hey, that's four wins in a row, or some N > 4.

[expletive deleted]
But which expletive would it be? That is, which expletive best modifies the name "Spiezio"? F'ing doesn't quite have the right ring to it.

As a 2002 Giants bandwagoneer I remember the October afternoon/night at Yerba Buena park, the second-hand cannabis starting to choke the air as SF nursed a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning.

Tonight's home run was a lot like that.

FEAR MECIR, indeed. I know I sure do.

Monday, September 15, 2003

67 pitches

Ted Lilly: five innings pitched, six strikeouts, no walks, one hit (an infield single). And he's out of the game. I guess we have a 7-0 lead, and I guess Peterson knows what he's doing, but this seems odd.

Jose Guillen is hurt

He heard something pop in his wrist. This could be a serious blow for the A's. Not only for losing Guillen, but for getting Terrence Long again. If Guillen is out for the year, forget what I said about being optimistic about our offense in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Long was complaining that Ken Macha didn't explain to him why he's been sitting lately. "I feel like they feel they don't need me to win."

Well, duh.

Macha's reply: "Too bad. He's 2 for his last 19. I'm sticking to what I always say - if you give good at-bats and hustle all the time, that's what you've got to do. Our focus should not be on who's in the lineup but on winning these games.''

The jury's still out on how good a manager Macha is, but I like him just for statements like that.

Pitching matchups, Anaheim series

Streaky streaky.

Our last matchup against the Angels this year. Let's hope there's no hangover from the late get-in after a night game.

Monday (7:05): Ted Lilly vs. Ramon Ortiz. Lilly looks like he's locking up spot #3 in a possible playoff rotation (knock on wood.) I can't say I'm particularly comfortable with this, as Lilly's 10-cent head may cause him to implode (last year's playoff results are also an inauspicious harbinger.) Ortiz's father died recently and he was away for a while. First start since getting back, we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday (7:05): Rich Harden vs. Jarrod Washburn. Harden will need to come up with a big start here. Hopefully he's up to the task, we'll see.

Wednesday (1:05): Barry Zito vs. Scot Shields. Shields did nothing to convince me he's actually a quality major league starter when he faced the A's recently.

Angels lineup is not so good right now, with lots of AAA callups getting prominent playing time due to the various injuries (Erstad, Glaus, B. Molina, Fullmer.) I'm happy with 2/3 here. Hopefully Texas can bludgeon Seattle a couple of times.

We've got 12 games left in the season. Current standings:

New York 92-57
Oakland 90-60
Boston 86-62
Seattle 86-63

A 3-game lead over two teams with 12 games left is in principle pretty secure, but the problem is that a) we have six games left with the M's, and b) Boston has a cupcake schedule. If we go 2-4 against the M's and Seattle picks up a game (and a half) during the rest of the schedule, neither of which is particularly out of the way of random chance, a tiebreaker is entirely possible.

What should the A's do with their rotation? As currently set up:

at Anaheim: Lilly, Harden, Zito
vs. Seattle: Hudson, Lilly, Harden (I'm assuming Duchscherer has his turn skipped, probable after his subpar outing today),
vs. Texas: Zito, Duchscherer, Hudson
at Seattle: Lilly, Zito, Harden (can flip-flop the last two but why?)

Now, hopefully it won't come down to that final game. But if it does? Hudson would be a possibility to go on three days' rest. (Note to Macha et al.: If we're up by a game, don't send Hudson in on three days' rest. Rather, pitch whoever, and if we do end up losing, then Hudson would start the tiebreaker game. If we win, you don't need to burn Hudson and he can still start game 1 of the playoffs.)

This has the random advantage of setting up the rotation perfectly for postseason should we make it.

I'm not going to talk about postseason pitching plans anymore for, uh, a while.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Is Jermaine Dye back?

I can't remember the last time I had seen Jermaine Dye turn on an inside fastball and hit it hard, but he did it twice last night. Dye's a big guy, and when he's not healthy, his bat gets slow, and he whiffs on even the fattest of fastballs. A couple more hits like last night's, and they'll start pitching him away again. If you soon see Dye take an outside pitch and whack a double to right-center, you'll know the real Jermaine Dye is back.

The recent lineups, with Guillen, Byrnes, Dye in the outfield, seem way more potent offensively than at any time this year. I was pretty depressed about losing Mulder; I didn't think the A's could win in the playoffs without him, because they didn't have enough offense to win the higher-scoring games that would result. But if Dye can hit like this, I might just get my hopes back up.

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