A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

A's bring back Frankie

Fan favorite Frankie Menechino was re-signed by the A's for a base salary of $400,000 and another $50,000 bonus if he collects 325 plate appearances. To make room for Menechino on the 40-man roster, they designated Jose Flores for assignment.

Oakland also signed three minor league free agents: RHP Eric Cammack, RHP Wayne Gomes, and utility infielder Ramon Castro. Note: this is not the Ramon Castro who was the Marlins' backup catcher. This is a much worse player who has spent the last 7 years kicking around the Braves' minor league system. As for the pitchers, Cammack had a cup of coffee with the 2000 Mets, and Gomes was a setup man for the Phillies before bouncing around to SF and Boston and now Oakland.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit from the article was the fact that the following players (in addition to the three minor leaguers mentioned above) will be invited to the A's spring training camp this year: Joe Blanton, Mike Rose, Jeremy Brown, Flores, Brian Sellier, and Nick Swisher. At least three of these guys are among the A's best prospects; I don't know much about Rose or Sellier. I'm curious to see whether Blanton, Brown and Swisher will have a chance to make the Opening Day roster.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Eck of a pitcher

Some athletes are so good they leave a permanent hole behind them. They set a standard of excellence so high, every athlete who tries to fill the same role, no matter how good, will suffer in comparison. They become, in our minds, the embodiment of perfection.

I can think of only five Bay Area athletes who, as I followed their careers, have made me feel that way:

Quarterback: Joe Montana
Free safety: Ronnie Lott
Power hitter: Barry Bonds
Leadoff hitter: Rickey Henderson
Relief pitcher: Dennis Eckersley

The A's have had some pretty good closers over the past few years. But I haven't really been able to enjoy them as much as I should have because, frankly, Dennis Eckersley has ruined it for me. Eckersley's five seasons from 1988-92 have totally spoiled me. Strikeonestriketwostrikethree. Oneouttwooutsthreeouts: shake hands, game over. Total dominance.

Baseball Prospectus once did a statistical study which determined that the 1990 Oakland A's had the best bullpen of all time. In fact, it was so good that even if you took Eckersley out of the equation, it was still the best bullpen ever. Throw in Eckersley's 0.61 ERA in 73 innings, and that bullpen outdistances everyone else by a huge margin.

So I guess I shouldn't totally blame Eckersley for my nervousness with every bullpen that has followed. Gene Nelson and Rick Honeycutt were a big part of those great teams, too. And they should get some props today, as Dennis Eckersley was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. They brought many of those saves to him. But Eck was king.

So congratulations to Dennis Eckersley: a well-deserved honor. And many thanks to Eck, Nelson and Honeycutt for making those years some of the most enjoyable years of my life as a baseball fan. You guys were unforgettable.

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