A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Friday, June 04, 2004

I recant

I think I've been too hard recently on Jim Mecir. I was looking at his recent game log, and he's actually been very, very good overall for the past month or so. His strikeout rate is way up, his baserunners allowed is way down... in fact, the only two runs he's surrendered are the homer to Casey Blake last Friday in Cleveland, and the one to Jose Valentin on Tuesday in Oakland. Admittedly, those are some pretty important solo home runs (each worth very close to a half a game, as much as any solo home run can be worth), but on the whole his performance has been adequate. Like a typical knee-jerk fan, I was focusing on the most recent and most notable incident rather than the whole of his body of work. Sorry, Jim. You haven't been that crappy. But, uh... try to keep the ball in the yard in close games in the 9th, ok?

Prospect update

3B Mark Teahen has been promoted to Sacramento after compiling a .335/.419/.543 line in two months at Midland. Teahen hit 6 homers, 4 triples and 15 doubles; let's hope some of that extra-base power matures into home-run power as he scales the ladder. His ability to hit for average and work the count is already very advanced, obviously. I'm not sure whether this promotion has anything to do with the injury to Eric Chavez; Beane recently stated that the organization has a wealth of third basemen, but all of them are at the lower levels. This could be an attempt to change that.

Already at Sacramento, Joe Blanton hasn't really done much in the past month. His strikeout rate has dipped a bit, and his season line is now 3-1, 3.39 with 73 hits, 45 K's and 15 BB's in 69 IP. That's fine, but not really eye-opening. It doesn't look like he's on the super-fast track to Oakland, especially given the success that the current starters are enjoying. And there has been no indication that there is an opening in the bullpen, although if/when Justin Duchscherer gets his chance at a high-leverage bullpen role, Blanton would be a perfect guy to slot into long relief. Of course, all this is contingent on Blanton getting his act together and dominating AAA like we've been expecting him to.

Blanton's rotation-mate Mike Wood, who pitched some with the big league club last year, is having a slightly better season: 7-3, 2.35 with 58 hits, 50 K's and 18 BB's in 65 IP. He might actually be the first one called up in long relief. I have no idea what's happened to Kirk Saarloos, who doesn't seem to have pitched for the Rivercats except for one 6-inning start right after he came over in the Chad Harville trade. I assume he's injured, but I haven't heard anything.

In terms of hitters, Dan Johnson is still mashing (.292/.413/.513), and Nick Swisher is also on a modest roll (.272/.391/.512). Of course there's also always Graham Koonce (.282/.380/.500). Koonce may never hit for much average in the bigs, but with his power and patience, he'd be a middle-of-the-pack first baseman in the major leagues right now. On the other hand, much-maligned Scott Hatteberg is having a fine season himself in Oakland, so I won't quibble. But Koonce must surely be a nifty piece of trade bait as we approach deadline-dealing season.

Teahen was really the only prospect of note at Midland, but now that role has been occupied by Brant Colamarino, who was also recently promoted (from Modesto). Colamarino, a first baseman, made short work of the California League, hitting .355/.450/.601 there prior to his promotion. Only Eric Chavez in the entire Oakland organization has hit more homers this year than Colamarino's 11. Midland has a few more guys who are semi-famous (due to Moneyball), but nobody is really performing noticeably well.

Further down the ladder, Brad Knox has had a couple of rough starts recently, dropping his line to 4-3, 2.43, but he still sports a ridiculous 76/10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59.1 innings at Kane County. I have a feeling he's not long for the Midwest League.

The amateur draft, of course, starts on Monday, and the A's are (as usual) loaded with early picks due to free-agent departures. The loss of Keith Foulke and Miguel Tejada have resulted in the A's being awarded 4 extra picks, but the two for Tejada are the usual sandwich-round pick and the Orioles' second-rounder, not their first, since they pick in the top half. Regardless, the A's have 4 of the top 40 picks. Next time I'll do a little profile of some of the likely candidates. Perhaps I'll wait until after Sunday to do this, since that's A's SABR Day at the Coliseum with David Forst and Rob Neyer. I'll be there, with my annoying draft questions that Forst won't dare answer for fear of tipping their hand before the big day. :)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Good: The A's won tonight, on a walkoff two-run homer in the 12th inning by Bobby Kielty. The home run broke a 4-4 tie and snapped the A's 3-game losing streak.

Bad: Eric Chavez had to be removed from the game after being hit on the wrist by a pitch from White Sox reliever Damaso Marte in the 11th. Chavez was wearing a cast after the game and said, "It's broken." He'll be x-rayed tomorrow and it's still unclear how long he'll be out.

Ugly: The bullpen woes continue. Chad Bradford surrendered a two-run homer to Frank Thomas in the 8th to allow Chicago to cut Mark Redman's lead to 4-3; then in the ninth, Jim Mecir (yes, Jim Mecir! Why was he out there?) gave up a two-out, game-tying homer to Jose Valentin. Fortunately, Justin Duchscherer came out for the 10th... and the 11th... and the 12th, going three scoreless innings for the win. I shudder to think where the pen would be without Duke.

I realize that Rhodes is coming off two straight blown saves, but... he's still the closer. He has to be. I still believe that he's the best pitcher in the bullpen. And if you're going to use someone else, why Mecir? He's awful. He is absolutely the worst pitcher on the staff! If you're going to give somebody else a chance to close, why not Duchscherer, who has been lights-out all season?

Anyway, the big news from tonight has to be the Chavez injury. Let's keep our fingers crossed; wrist injuries have been known to linger way past when it seems like they should be healed, and sap a hitter's power.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


The A's wrapped up a disastrous road trip today, falling to Cleveland 4-3. Oakland managed only one win in six games against Boston and Cleveland, and the weekend sweep at the hands of the Indians was particularly awful for the A's bullpen. On Friday Jim Mecir gave up a walkoff home run to Casey Blake to lose 1-0; on Saturday the A's couldn't hold a 6-2 lead and Rhodes gave up three runs in the 8th to lose 8-6; and today, Rhodes was again the goat, turning Tim Hudson's 3-2 lead into a 4-3 loss in the 9th on a single, walk, double and wild pitch.

Despite the last two days' evidence, I think Rhodes will be fine in the long run, as he's a very good pitcher with an extremely strong track record. But the rest of the bullpen, aside from Justin Duchscherer (who has been doing outstanding work in the long relief role), is really shaky. I think the team's #1 need right now is for a hard-throwing right-handed setup man. Maybe that man could be Joe Blanton; Earl Weaver preferred to acclimate his rookie pitchers by having them work out of the bullpen instead of the rotation, and there's a lot to be said for that strategy. Regardless, such a move would allow Bradford and Rincon to be used primarily as situational righty/lefty options, which I think is how they are most effective, and would also allow Mecir to be banished from view (at least during any close games).

At any rate, it's been an ugly week. Let's hope the A's can get rolling again when they return to the Coliseum for a twelve-game homestand.

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