A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, September 27, 2003

ALDS Pitching matchups

The pitching matchups for games 1-3 are set. As Matt predicted, it's as follows:

Game 1: Pedro Martinez vs. Tim Hudson
Game 2: Tim Wakefield vs. Barry Zito
Game 3: Derek Lowe vs. Ted Lilly

Grady Little wouldn't say for sure who would go in Game 4. It's likely that if the A's lead 2-1, Pedro would pitch game 4 and Wakefield game 5. If the Red Sox lead 2-1, then John Burkett would pitch game 4, with Pedro held out until game 5.

Playoff Schedule
Get it here. Some shocking developments: A's-Sox Game 1 is the "insomniac special" (at least for East Coast fans), starting at 7 p.m. PDT after all. Game 2 is 1 p.m. local time, slipping into the time slot occupied the rest of the week by Marlins-Giants.

This means both National League serieses will be two games old before Oakland-Boston even begins.

ALDS Rotation News
Red Sox: Pedro and uncertainty.

A's: Hudson, Zito, Lilly, and TBA.

I'd say Pedro vs. Hudson; Wakefield vs. Zito; and Lilly vs. Lowe.

Regardless of how the series stands after Game 3, I predict that neither Pedro nor Hudson would return until Game 5 (if necessary) or the Championship Series. Both teams have a history of giving their top starters full rest in the playoffs. In 1998 Boston needed to win twice (trailing 2-1 to Cleveland) and saved Pedro for a potential Game 5 that never came to pass.

On the other hand, if you came to learn that Pedro were pitching Game 4, how much moxie would it take to send out Harden to face him? I claim that's actually what I'd do, at least with a 2-1 series lead. This claim preempts some second-guessing but leaves open some "first-guessing."

After thinking through some crude game theory, Harden vs. Pedro is definitely right with a 2-1 lead, less so with a 1-2 deficit. In general, two skewed pitching matchups (skewed opposite directions) are more likely to produce a split than two close pitching matchups. A "split" is good if you only need one win, bad if you need both.

To be honest...

I hate the playoffs while the A's are involved. I want them to win so bad, that I get only a minor sense of relief if they win, and extreme disappointment if they lose. I actually enjoy the playoffs more when the A's aren't in it.

I also hate going to games against the Red Sox or Yankees. I hate it because I hate being surrounded by obnoxious fans who think they own the place. For that reason alone, I really don't want the Red Sox or the Yankees to win the pennant.

So I'm trying to envision these playoffs unfolding, and I keep thinking about playing the Red Sox, and then possibly the Yankees, and then possibly the Giants (whom I would also hate losing to, because they have every advantage over the A's except World Series championships, and being the jealous guy that I am, I want it to stay that way).

The thing is, that even if the A's win the World Series this year, I'm probably not going to enjoy any of it while it is happening; I'll be too nervous. They only way I will be able to enjoy it is in retrospect. Perhaps I should just do as Billy Beane does: don't watch it until it's over. I'd save myself quite a bit of money in playoff tickets.

Does anyone else ever feel that way, or am I just nuts?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Pitching matchups, Seattle

Now that we've clinched and Seattle is basically out of it, it's totally unclear who will actually pitch, and also not so relevant. Best guesses:

Friday (7:05): Justin Duchscherer vs. Joel Pineiro
Saturday (1:10): Barry Zito vs. Jamie Moyer
Sunday (1:05): Ted Lilly vs. Freddy Garcia

But if they want to give Mulder a trial start, that could change; if the M's are eliminated in the final days they may want to give a start to Rafael Soriano to see how he does, the A's may want to give Lilly some rest and give that start to Harden, or Lilly could start tomorrow and Harden on Sunday, or ... it's not entirely clear what will happen, but fortunately it's not so relevant either, which is nice.

(Mandatory Disclaimer: This is NOT counting pre-hatched chickens but rather planning ahead when presented with a ticket purchase opportunity.)

Today I got the e-mail that other season ticket holders got, announcing the "pre-sale" on individual game ALCS tickets. If anyone else got that and needs schedule help, here's what I believe the situation would be, if Oakland were in the ALCS. (Otherwise the tickets would be refunded so this would all be moot.)

Game 1: Wednesday, October 8 (OAK @ NYY or MIN @ OAK)
Game 2: Thursday, October 9 (OAK @ NYY or MIN @ OAK)

Game 3: Saturday, October 11 (NYY @ OAK or OAK @ MIN)
Game 4: Sunday, October 12 (NYY @ OAK or OAK @ MIN)

begin "if necessary" disclaimer here
Game 5: Monday, October 13 (NYY @ OAK or OAK @ MIN)

Game 6: Wednesday, October 15 (OAK @ NYY or MIN @ OAK)
Game 7: Thursday, October 16 (OAK @ NYY or MIN @ OAK)

Someone please correct me on these if I'm wrong. The upshot of it all:

"Home Game 1" == Wed 10/8 or Sat 10/11
"Home Game 2" == Thurs 10/9 or Sun 10/12
"Home Game 3" == Mon 10/13 or Wed 10/15
"Home Game 4" = Thurs 10/16 or N/A

Opposition Research: Continued

Barring an Act of God, the A's are going to see the Red Sox next week. I've had to follow baseball less attentively since I moved a few weeks ago, but I thought now would be a good a time as any to report on the team I've seen maybe seventy times this season.

I actually think the Sox are a much better draw than the Twins, despite being a total offensive juggernaut. Something about playing in the Metrodome just makes me nervous -- turf, ceiling, speakers, crowd noise ... the whole bit. Plus, Minnesota is on fire right now, while Boston's fate is pretty much dictated by the pitching quality, which, like New England weather, could change dramatically at any moment.

Make no mistake; the Red Sox starting nine is nasty. As of this morning:

                       R/L  AVG  OBP  SLG

C Jason Varitek S .276 .355 .514
1B Kevin Millar R .273 .347 .463
2B Todd Walker L .283 .333 .424
3B Bill Mueller S .324 .396 .538
SS Nomar Garciaparra R .302 .347 .520
LF Manny Ramirez R .323 .425 .583
CF Johnny Damon L .272 .345 .406
RF Trot Nixon L .306 .396 .578
DH David Ortiz L .286 .363 .594
Consider this: a lineup of nine Johnny Damons (the worst of the Sox starters) would outhit the Oakland A's (.746 team OPS). Nomar and Manny are well-known mashers; Varitek, Mueller, Trot, and Ortiz are having career years; Walker and Millar are solid; Damon is obviously no stranger. However, Ortiz, Trot, and Walker all lose considerable value against lefties, while Damon (.710 OPS) and Nomar (.682 OPS!) play significantly worse on the road. It deserves mention, though, that virtually nobody crushes lefties better than Manny (1.107 OPS).

Here's the likely postseason bench:

                       R/L  AVG  OBP  SLG

UT Damian Jackson R .252 .288 .313
IF Gabe Kapler* R .261 .325 .370
IF Lou Merloni* R .275 .368 .363
UT Dave McCarty* R .333 .356 .500
C Doug Mirabelli R .253 .305 .422
[* - includes stats with other teams]

Jackson and Kapler often have replaced Walker and Trot, respectively, against LHP, though with mixed success. Merloni and McCarty are the defensive back-ups, though only our boy McCarty has pinch-hitting value. Mirabelli is usually Tim Wakefield's personal catcher, but with Varitek's great year his playing time should be minimal. In short, a passable but unimpressive bench corps.

Here's where things get interesting. Which one of the following doesn't belong?

                       R/L    IP   ERA  WHIP    K/9

SP Pedro Martinez R 183.2 2.25 1.05 10.00
SP Derek Lowe R 197.1 4.56 1.43 4.97
SP Tim Wakefield R 200.1 4.13 1.31 7.55
SP John Burkett R 178.2 5.19 1.37 5.24
Even though both are falling short of their great 2002 campaigns, Lowe and Wakefield can be unhittable if in form. I'll always remember Burkett for his All-Star Game martyrdom last year. Nice one, John.

The celebrated bullpen:

                       R/L    IP   ERA  WHIP    K/9

RP Byung-Hyun Kim R 78.1 3.22 1.12 7.58
RP Scott Williamson R 19.0 6.63 1.53 9.00
RP Alan Embree L 55.0 4.25 1.18 7.36
RP Jeff Suppan R 57.0 5.37 1.44 4.58
RP Scott Sauerbeck L 14.2 6.75 2.18 8.59
RP Mike Timlin R 82.2 3.59 1.04 6.97
RP Bronson Arroyo R 14.1 2.51 0.84 6.28
As my roommate recently said, "If you had told me before the season that the Sox would have a 1-2-3 punch of Kim, Williamson, and Sauerbeck in the 'pen, I would have predicted 130 wins." He's known for occasional hyperbole, but the point stands -- that Williamson and Sauerbeck, guys with absoluely filthy stuff, would have pitched this poorly is really astonishing. Maybe Williamson is injured worse than presently thought, but there's really no explanation for lefty-killer Sauerbeck.

As for the others, Timlin is a workhorse setup man, Embree is a power lefty, Suppan should be the long man, and Kim will probably close. Arroyo is the underutlized wild card (he pitched a perfect game at Pawtucket this year), and could possibly be replaced by Casey Fossum or Brandon Lyon, two guys with significant injury concerns.

Overall, these subplots jump out at me:

Hudson v. Pedro -- The rematch of the August 11th game will be a great one, maybe the best duel until the World Series. Hudson's line from that game: 9 2 0 0 1 7. Not bad.

Foulke v. Closer by Committee -- The A's capitalized off of Williamson and Kim to steal two games at Fenway a month ago, and Manny took Foulke yard in Oakland a week before that. As great as Foulke has been this year, the Red Sox offense is ideal for getting to him -- by forcing his change-up to be in the strike zone, they're going to make him work, just like they did at the game I saw on August 20th (28 pitches for 4 batters).

Billy Beane: What Is v. What Might Have Been -- Beane could have had the AL's best OBP team, but instead he's stuck with only 10th best. He could have had a deep-pocketed SABR-friendly owner and Bill James, but instead he's got Steve Schott and the published works of Bill James. I believe the edge in pitching and defense makes Oakland a slightly better team, but I feel like Beane really needs this series win to get the media off his back.

* * *

Should be a great series. Now all I have to do is set a price ceiling for myself when I try and scalp tickets on Lansdowne.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Opposition Research: "Impossible Dream" Meme Growing
Here's Dan Shaughnessy, as linked to by the personal weblog of my favorite New Bedford Standard-Times columnist. (No, I don't have a second-favorite.)

To those who overdramatize story lines, AL playoffs are shaping up interestingly. One series (Yankees-Twins) features Big Market Evil vs. Small Market Cinderella. The other series (Red Sox-A's) features Big Market Cinderella vs. well, would anyone outside of Boston actually call the A's "Small Market Evil"? Maybe in Seattle they would.

Postseason roster

Okay, who's on this? These players clearly have spots:

OF (6): Long, Byrnes, Singleton, Guillen, Dye, McMillon
IF (4): Chavez, Tejada, Ellis, Hatteberg
DH (1): Durazo
C (2): Hernandez, Melhuse
SP (4): Hudson, Zito, Lilly, Harden
RP (3): Foulke, Bradford, Rincon

That's 20 spots which are clearly spoken for. It would be a shock if John Halama were not on the postseason roster, call it 21, though in theory they could take Duchscherer ahead of him.

The bullpen is the interesting part. Duchscherer as a long-relief righty? Or does Mike Wood get that spot? Is that spot even going to be filled? Will Mecir be there? Chad Harville? Presumably Neu isn't there.

Backup infielder is the other big question mark. Menechino has been that guy for most of the season, but the A's did call up Crosby before 8/31 with the apparent intention of getting him postseason-eligible (there are no DL shenanigans going on among the A's hitters, while the DL'd Mulder and Micah Bowie give them more flexibility as far as who pitches.) Given that, it's not entirely clear. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that they're both on.

So the 20 above, plus:

Halama, Mecir, Harville, Menechino, Crosby?

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


A mid-week clinching probably doesn't get much more dramatic than tonight. At exactly the right moment, down to the last strike with two outs in the ninth, Jermaine Dye finally hit that double to right-center I was talking about, to tie the game. Adam Melhuse comes through with a two-out hit to win the game in extras. Then Tim Salmon homers to put the final nail in the Mariner coffin. Sweet.

Extra ticket

I have an extra ticket for tonight's game against the Rangers (at 7:05). If you're interested in watching a game with me, e-mail me at develin at bantha dot org before 6.

New Link
I added a link to The Cub Reporter mainly because its proprietor asked for one but also because it's a pretty good read.

Almost added links to Elephants in Oakland and/or Oaklandfans.com but laziness set in.

Speaking of things people asked for, I still have a brief Mike Develin bio in my e-mail inbox. Never figured out where to put it for easy linkage. Might get to it tonight.


I forgot to post pitching matchups for this series.

In tonight's game, Tony Mounce was pounded by the A's offense, while Zito pitched decently -- his command wasn't there, and the Rangers helped him out a few times on that front, but he had it relatively together and was mixing his pitches well. A solid win if not overwhelming.

Tomorrow, Rich Harden goes for the A's against Ryan Drese for the Rangers. Wednesday, it's Tim Hudson (possibly unless they clinch, as Ken mentioned) against Joaquin Benoit for the Rangers. Looking favorable for the good guys.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Postseason schedule

Ken Korach said on the TV broadcast today that if the A's play the Red Sox, they would play the first two games on Wednesday, October 1 and Thursday, October 2 at the Coliseum. Game time TBA. I'm assuming, then, that Games 3-4 would be Saturday and Sunday in Boston, and Game 5 Monday in Oakland.

This helps Barry Zito's schedule. Right now, he's on turn to pitch this Saturday. This means he can pitch the following Thursday on his normal four days of rest. If the A's were to play on Tuesday-Wednesday, Zito would either have to skip his start in Seattle, or go on three days rest in either Seattle or in Game 2.

With this schedule, Hudson and Lilly are on target to pitch with six and seven days rest, respectively. Is that too much rest? If the A's can clinch at home against the Rangers, they can set things up so that they have normal rest.

If they clinch before heading up to Seattle, they could push Ted Lilly back to pitch Sunday instead of Friday. Then Lilly would be on four days rest going into Game 3. If they can clinch tomorrow (Tuesday), they could also pitch Hudson in Seattle on Friday instead of against Texas on Wednesday, and then he'd have four days rest going into Game 1.

So there's plenty of incentive to get it done ASAP. Magic number: 2.

Elephants in Oakland
Hey, there's another A's blog, and it even got a mention in InstaPundit, by managing to get a beat reporter fired.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Ted Lilly

Okay, I admit it, Ken was right.

I wonder if Harden's back spasms are made-up.

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