A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A's settle with Bradford

The A's have settled with RP Chad Bradford, agreeing to a 1-year contract for $965,000 and avoiding arbitration. If I'm not mistaken, Bradford was the last of the A's arb-eligible players to be signed. So that pretty much ties up all of the off-season loose ends (though the DePodesta signing has yet to be officially announced).

Meanwhile, pitchers and catchers are set to report... spring is in the air!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

DePodesta to the Dodgers.

At least that is what Peter Gammons reported last night. Today, the Dodgers are saying that DePodesta has not been hired but is the front runner for the job.

Assuming that he is hired, what is the affect on the A's?

The most in depth description we have of DePodesta comes from "Moneyball," where Lewis paints the A's assistant GM as "director of R&D," as well as being Billy's right hand man. Clearly he was important to the operations of the franchise over the last five years.

However, as Billy Beane has already suggested David Forst, another Harvard man who has been working under DePodesta would take his place. While I have no reason to doubt Forst's ability, I wonder if he can exercise the moderating influence over the tempestuous Beane that DePodesta has. I wonder what the level of trust would be.

Ultimately it's all well and good that good people from the A's are getting their chance and new people are coming up to take their place. However, the human element of making a complex, overworked office run smoothly should not be overlooked.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

DePodesta to the Dodgers?

This came up a few days ago, but I forgot to post about it and I notice that nobody else has either. Anyway, the word is out that the A's have given the Dodgers permission to speak with Paul DePodesta about their GM job. If you haven't heard, the Dodgers were recently sold to a new ownership group led by Frank McCourt, and they are looking into replacing their current GM, Dan Evans. Supposedly they were very interested in hiring away Billy Beane, but Steve Schott said that he would not allow Beane to leave before his contract expires. That's a relief, but losing DePodesta would be a major, major blow to the A's front office. He's been ready to be a full GM for years, but it's been awfully nice to have the best assistant GM in baseball right here in Oakland. I think we'll know relatively soon if he'll be hired away; I can't imagine that the Dodgers will be able to find anybody more qualified for the job, but hopefully they won't realize that. :)

While we're on the subject, check out this article that DePodesta wrote for the "Thought Leader Forum" at CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston). It's a little lengthy, and oriented towards a business leadership audience, but the ideas in it are very sharp and very well-presented, and there's some entertaining history of the role DePodesta has played in the A's baseball revolution. If you liked Moneyball, you'll probably find it worth reading.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The A’s and the Cubs in the World Series

Last year I was hoping for an A’s/Cubs World Series. It came close to happening again. I figure the A’s were a tag of home, or one clutch single from beating the Red Sox, and the Sox were one pitching change from beating the Yankees. Everyone knows how close the Cubs were. Oh well, the multiverse is mostly full of things that didn’t happen in our universe.

The “again” above refers to the 1929 World Series, A’s and Cubs. The more I learn about this World Series, the more amazing it becomes to me. I hope I am not boring people with my recap of it, maybe I am the only one who reads here who has recently discovered it?

In August of 1929 the A’s were in a pennant race, but Connie Mack, the A’s manager for 50 years!, called Howard Ehmke into his office to tell him he was being released. According to “Baseball’s 50 Greatest Games” by Bert Sugar, Howard said, “Mr Mack, I’ve never been on a pennant winner before, give me one more chance. There’s one good game left in this arm.” Amazingly Connie Mack, didn’t release Ehmke, but sort of demoted him to scout. He didn’t get to go on the last road trip, instead was sent to scout the Cubs against the Dodgers and Giants. When the WS was set to start, Connie Mack said, “Which game do you want to pitch?” Ehmke’s answer, “The first one.”

The A’s had 2 aces that year, Lefty Grove and Moose Earnshaw. Grove (20-6 2.81 ERA) was a flamethrower and a certified badass, who led the league in strikeouts 7 times and ERA 9 times. Earnshaw was no slouch either in 1929 (24-8 3.29). But Mack surprised the Cubs by starting soft-tossing Howard Ehmke, who’d only ever led the league in 2 categories, hit batters and earned runs allowed. But in Game 1, he pitched the game of his life, a complete game and won 3-1. It was the last major league win of his career.

Game 2, Earnshaw starting with Grove in relieving in the 5th, 9-3 A’s.

Game 3 Earnshaw starts again, but this time in a battle of curveballers with Guy Bush (the Mississippi Mudcat), Earnshaw loses 3-1.

Game 4. Here we go. With the Cubs trailing in the series 2-1, they needed a big game. Connie Mack gave the start to Jack Quinn, the oldest pitcher ever to start a WS at 45. He threw the spitter, but the Cubs seemed to be hitting the dry side of the ball and by the 7th inning had an 8-0 lead. In the bottom of the 7th, the A’s had the rally of all rallys. Don’t let anyone tell you the Bartmann incident was the biggest collapse in Cubs postseason history cause in the bottom of the 7th, the A’s got 10 runs on the Cubs. They closed with Grove coming in after the big inning and getting the save. One of my favorite players of all time was playing CF for the Cubs that day, Hack Wilson. 5-6, sometimes listed over 200 lbs with a big upper body and size 6 feet. Hack was a huge drinker, sometimes being put in a bath of icewater before games to sober up. He holds the single season record for RBI with 191 in 1930. Well Hack was a hack that day, misplaying 2 flies in center during the big inning though I have read it was a bad sun field that day. Final Score 10-8 A’s.

Game 5 Howard Ehmke must have impressed the A’s, cause he got the ball again in game 5. He only made it through 3 though, gave up 2 in the bottom of the 3rd and was relieved by Rube Walberg. Walberg had a good day in relief, cause he got the A’s to the bottom of the 9th with the score still 2-0 Cubs. The A’s proceeded to get 3 in the bottom of the 9th, and win the game 3-2. A’s win the Series!

1929 was a long time ago, but the legacy continues. I bet there is a lineage all the way down to someone currently in the A’s organization. Connie Mack Managed the A’s 1901-1950. There is probably someone who works for the A’s who remembers Connie.

A’s win the Series! Doesn’t that sound great? Anaheim is looking pretty good, maybe it IS the year of the monkey, but this could really be the year Billy Beane’s A’s win it, I can’t wait.

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