A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Return of the RBI King

Jermaine Dye has 4 rbi in 2 games. He is back. Dye was acquired in July 2001 and proceeded to drive in 59 runs in 61 games. Epic numbers. But alas, on that fall day in the playoff game against the Yankees started by Cory Lidle, he fouled a pitch off his leg, broke it, and hasn't been the same since. Until now. Last spring I made what turned out to be one of my worst prognostications. I told everyone, "this is Jermaine's year", and he had one of the worst seasons I have ever seen from a good player. It is way too early to be making predictions, but maybe last year my crystal ball had the right information, just the wrong datestamp, so here we go again. Jermaine Dye, MVP.

Speaking of comebacks, how about Jim Mecir? They said on TV that he lost 22 pounds, and he looks like a new man out there. All that extra weight must have been supressing the movement on his pitches, cause his pitches seem to have way more bite this year. Looking good, Jim.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Announcer Says, "Eric Byrnes!" and the Crowd Goes Wild

I couldn't have asked for a better first game of the season last night. A back and forth 1 run battle. The bottom of the 8th was like a movie. With the A's down 1, Jeff Nelson pitched until there were 2 outs and runners at the corners, then Macha made his move(s). He sent up announced pinch hitter, Billy McMillon to pinch hit for Damian Miller. When Showalter countered with lefty Ron Mahay, McMillon was called back into the dugout. The announcer says, "Eric Byrnes!" and the crowd goes wild. Watching on TV, I started clapping myself, and then the camera started panning around the crowd to beautiful girls with Eric Byrnes signs jumping up and down, cheering. Who can't get excited about that? Eric took one pitch and sent the second HARD into the LF corner, both runners come scrambling in and Byrnes is rounding the bases like his hair is on fire. Wash gives him the stop sign, but instead of being in the 3rd base coaching box he is way up the line in LF waving frantically so Byrnes can see him. Stand-up pinch-hit game-winning big-cut-on-his-forehead bad-ass 2 run double.

Rhodes closes pitching to 4 batters, A's win. Couldn't have been any better.

After the game they interview Byrnes. He says, "I looked up at the scoreboard after that first pitch, and it said '82'. I thought it was a fastball, so I thought I better start early on the next pitch." I have never heard a player say he used the speed he saw on the scoreboard to prepare for the next pitch. Then this morning on the radio, he says, "I + V = R." This goes against what I learned in physics, V = I * R (Voltage equals Current times Resistance). But Byrnes equation was "Imagination plus Visualization equals Reality." Kind of a Spicoli take on Metaphysics. Sounds good to me.

Monday, April 05, 2004

A's sign McLemore

The A's have inked Mark McLemore (released on Friday by the Orioles) to a one-year contract to help shore up their suddenly thin infield. McLemore is a shell of his former self, but he can still take a walk and at least nominally play every position in the infield (and corner outfield, too). Actually, he's a lot like Menechino, except he switch-hits. I think he's a decent stopgap for the A's given their current injury situation. If he gets 500 AB, though, I'd be worried about the team's season. McLemore has been placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 26; he'll be able to join the team this weekend.

That just about does it for the off-season. Opening Day for the A's is tonight, and I'm excited. Hudson will be starting against Texas, and Marco Scutaro will get the nod as the starting second sacker, which I think is the right choice. I'll try to post my impressions of the Opening Day game when I return from the Coliseum tonight. In the meantime, I'll leave you with the Opening Day roster:

== ====== = = == == ===
53 Chad Bradford R R 6-5 205 9/14/74
58 Justin Duchscherer R R 6-3 190 11/19/77
29 Chris Hammond L L 6-1 195 1/21/66
32 Chad Harville R R 5-9 185 9/16/76
15 Tim Hudson R R 6-0 165 7/14/75
45 Jim Mecir R R 6-1 230 5/16/70
20 Mark Mulder L L 6-6 215 8/5/77
55 Mark Redman L L 6-5 245 1/5/74
33 Arthur Rhodes L L 6-2 212 10/24/69
73 Ricardo Rincon L L 5-9 190 4/13/70
75 Barry Zito L L 6-4 215 5/13/78

== ====== = = == == ===
17 Adam Melhuse S R 6-2 200 3/27/72
26 Damian Miller R R 6-3 220 10/13/69

== ====== = = == == ===
3 Eric Chavez L R 6-0 205 12/7/77
7 Bobby Crosby R R 6-3 195 1/12/80
44 Erubiel Durazo L L 6-3 240 1/23/75
14 X-Mark Ellis R R 5-11 180 6/6/77
50 Esteban German R R 5-9 165 1/26/78
10 Scott Hatteberg L R 6-1 210 12/14/69
4 Eric Karros R R 6-4 225 11/4/67
11 X-Frank Menechino R R 5-9 200 1/7/71
49 Marco Scutaro R R 5-10 170 10/30/75

== ====== = = == == ===
22 Eric Byrnes R R 6-2 210 2/16/76
24 Jermaine Dye R R 6-5 220 1/28/74
23 Bobby Kielty S R 6-1 225 8/5/76
21 Mark Kotsay L L 6-0 200 12/2/75
4 X-Mark McLemore S R 5-11 207 10/4/64
13 Billy McMillon L L 5-11 195 11/17/71

(X)- Disabled List

[Rich Harden was optioned to Sacramento so he can get some work in during the next couple of weeks; due to off-days, the A's won't need a 5th starter until April 15.]

Barry Zito, Forever

Well Forever is a mighty long time, but Barry was dominant on Friday night. For those of you who didn't watch the game, his stats looked like this:

7 3 0 1 4

but the stats don't tell the whole story. Zito dominated. Half of the major league pitchers have never had a game in the majors which they dominated so completely. All 3 pitches were working and the best curveball in the game, even when the Giants expected it, was routinely tapped to 2nd. There was exactly 1 pitch hit hard, and it was hit by Barry Bonds. There should be some consideration for hits by superheroes to be discounted in regular players stats.

Bill James has written a lot of stuff about baseball that has been rehashed in a lot of blogs lately. One of his premises is that sometimes if you look at stats, you might learn something you didn't see by watching. Some amongst the writers have taken it a step further and said, "Don't believe your eyes, believe the stats." I don't think that is what James meant. And this "Zito shrinking K, therefore shrinking value" theory is something impossible to believe in when I watched Friday. Sure there were only 4 K's, but many many weakly hit balls, many times Zito was way ahead in the count and the batters got a piece of his pitch, but a tiny piece. Rick Peterson used to talk about BA against in different counts and that is a great metric to use. Zito was ahead in the count all night, and the batters couldn't get anything to hit their bats square. Bonds hard hit came on the first pitch of the AB, even the GREAT ONE knew he didn't want to be behind in the count.

Sometimes you can believe your eyes. Zito is ready for another Cy Young year.

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