A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Turning it around

Well, the A's have won 3 of four on their current Midwest road trip, including tonight's vintage Tim Hudson performance: 8 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs. So the turnaround that I had been hoping for looks like it's on target.

The bullpen has been a major factor. After a shaky April followed by atrocious performances against the Yankees and Twins earlier this month, the pen has gone 11 scoreless innings this road trip, allowing only 5 hits. That's exactly what I was hoping for when I suggested that they could fare better against weaker lineups.

And speaking of turning it around, how about this:

Batting average vs LHP/vs RHP:
Eric Chavez .245 vs LHP, .214 vs RHP
Erubiel Durazo .324 vs LHP, .263 vs RHP
Scott Hatteberg .438 vs LHP, .300 vs RHP
Eric Karros .129 vs LHP, .182 vs RHP

Recall that Chavez, Durazo and Hatteberg are all left-handed hitters, and Karros is a righty specifically imported to mash lefties (against whom he is hitting .297 for his career). Weird, huh? I suspect these are all small-sample flukes, but it's encouraging that Chavez, in particular, is having some success against lefties, considering how helplessly he has flailed against southpaws in the past.

Karros is a platoon player, so it's weird that he's not hitting lefties (and a little unfortunate that he's not hitting at all), but given the choice, I'll take the strong performance against lefties by three regulars in exchange for the poor showing by one part-timer. And Karros has hit the ball pretty squarely recently (including a 2-run homer in the first inning of tonight's game), so he still has plenty of time to turn it around.

These splits are particularly germane because it looks like the A's will be getting a seriously heavy dose of left-handed pitching in the next couple of weeks. (Fortunately, it's not particularly *good* left-handed pitching, but the A's do have a near-monopoly on top lefties in the AL... the only top lefty starters on other teams that spring to mind right now are Jamie Moyer, Johan Santana and CC Sabathia, and of those, only Sabathia is having a good year so far.) Kansas City has four lefties in their rotation: Brian Anderson, Darrell May, Jeremy Affeldt and Jimmy Gobble. Affeldt is the only one of those with the stuff to shut a team down, and he's very inconsistent. Detroit will probably throw both Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson during their three-game series next week in Oakland, followed by the Royals again over the weekend. So Karros could find himself playing quite a bit over the next week or so; let's hope he finds his groove. And let's hope whichever of Hatteberg and Durazo is also in the lineup continues to rake against their fellow portsiders.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Bye-bye, Frankie

The A's have dealt veteran infielder Frank Menechino to the Blue Jays for cash and/or a player to be named. Menechino had been sent down to Sacramento when the A's activated Mark McLemore from the disabled list; meanwhile, Toronto just placed their shortstop Chris Woodward on the DL, so it looks like Frankie will be joining the Jays' big-league team.

Menechino is a seven-year veteran of the A's and a fan favorite, but hasn't really hit at all in the last several years, leaving patience at the plate as his only useful offensive ability. But Menechino is a versatile infield defender, and you could do worse (a lot worse) as your utility infielder. Best of luck to Frankie in Toronto. Meanwhile the A's seem to be happy with Marco Scutaro and McLemore.

Extra Innings

Robert Baun on Extra Innings 610 KFRC after the game last night, had this conversation with a caller:

caller: Since Duchscherer has been doing so well, how about switching his spot with Zito?

Robert Baun: Let me get this straight, you want to put Duke in the rotation and send Zito to the bullpen?

caller: yeah.

RB: Where are you right now? Stay where you are, what I want you to do is raise your right hand, and call over the bartender and say, "I'd like to pay my tab and please call me a cab." It would be unfair to your neighbors if you were to drive home in the condition you are in right now.


Duke really has worked out well for the A's lately. We need to give credit where credit is due, A's management had a tough decision when they had to choose between Duke and Harville, that decision was the right one. You need a long man when the starters get knocked out early but you also need a long man for a 15 inning game. Great game to win. I am not going to add a make hay cliche to this post but this team is rolling. Texas is a pretender, the Angels are hurt, the schedule is easy and there is a white elephant moving up fast.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Winning streak

The A's now stand at 15-16, and are six and a half games behind division-leading Anaheim. That's not where I had hoped the team would be at this point in the season, but there are some encouraging signs for the next few weeks.

First, the Angels seem to be suffering nearly an injury a day to their regular lineup. I have mixed feelings about the Erstad injury, since I'm not sure Erstad is a more productive player than Casey Kotchman right now, but there's no doubt that missing Salmon, Anderson and Guillen is really going to hurt them. So hopefully they won't be able to continue their torrid pace.

Second, the A's have now passed from their very tough start-of-season schedule into the soft part, and look to be poised to string together a bunch of W's. After the divisional round-robin, the A's played the Yankees six times and the Twins 3 times (with 3 against Tampa Bay thrown in); that is a tough stretch of games. But the next 12 contests for Oakland are against Kansas City and Detroit, two teams that are really struggling, followed by Cleveland to close out the month. I really think that the team should win at least 11 of the next 15 games.

Will that be enough to catch the Angels? I don't know, but I'm hoping to at least make up some ground. The A's have been pretty efficient at putting the hurt on bad teams in the last several years and winning the games that they are supposed to win. I'm still worried about the bullpen, of course, but these next couple of weeks should give them some time to get straightened out against some lineups that aren't quite as dangerous as Minnesota and New York's. I think the goal should be to just stay within a couple of games of the Angels until the All-Star break; I'm quite sure that the team will be improving itself mid-season, whether through a trade or a callup. That'll put the A's in position to go on one of their now-traditional second-half tears.

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