A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Johnson, Blanton, Lehr called up

With Sacramento finishing its AAA playoff run with a sweep of Iowa for the PCL championship, the A's have called up three of the key cogs from that team to the big leagues. They are:

First baseman Dan Johnson, who earlier this month was named the MVP of the PCL for his .299/.403/.534 season with 29 homers and 111 RBI.

Right-hander Joe Blanton (whom you've read about before in this space, among others), the A's top pitching prospect from the "Moneyball" class. Blanton went 11-8 with a 4.19 ERA for the RiverCats, with 143 K's, 34 BB's and 199 hits allowed in 176.1 innings.

Righty reliever Justin Lehr, of course, has been up with the big league squad a couple of times earlier in the season (including earlier this month before being sent down in favor of Jairo Garcia). Lehr had a 2.65 ERA and 13 saves for Sacramento, and has a 5.59 ERA with Oakland.

Johnson and Lehr were already on the 40-man roster; Blanton was added today. To make room, the team designated catcher Mike Rivera for assignment. That confirms at least part of Mad Dog's speculations on the 40-man roster moves from a few days ago.

Meanwhile the major-league A's have been struggling a little bit this week. They were definitely lucky to escape with a split of the Texas series, and wasted Barry Zito's fine effort in last night's game as Anaheim trimmed the division lead to 1 game. Today they're up 5-1 behind Hudson, Scutaro, and a bunch of bases-loaded walks; let's hope they can hold out, as Anaheim is currently trailing Texas 1-0.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Where were they in 2000?

Now we are in the midst of the quest for a 5th consecutive playoff spot. Hank Greenwald said a few days ago that the A's were going for a 3rd straight division, but I really think the only goal of the season is to get to the playoffs, then succeed in the postseason. Think Anaheim and Florida over the last 2 seasons are lamenting that although they won the World Series, they didn't actually win their division? No way. With the current format, which I have no problem with, the goal of the regular season is to get to the playoffs.

I moved to the Bay Area in June of 2000. It took me about two months to decide that the team I should be rooting for is the Oakland A's. I haven't changed my mind on that. I was there in game 5 of that first playoff series, when T Long kind of meandered around a deep fly in the first inning and the Yankees scored 5 and A's never recovered. Chavvy hit a foul pop to end that game, and from that second until the present, I thought, "We'll get 'em next time." It has been a great run, which has featured uncountable great games, and a very countable 4 game 5's which the A's didn't win. I feel I have been along for the whole ride. I was checking out the A's stats to see which of them have been along for the whole ride. Here's what I came up with:

Name.....years on A's...notes
1. Eric Chavez.'98-present..the one position player on all 5 teams
2. Tim Hudson..'99-present
3. Barry Zito..'00-present
4. Mark Mulder.'00-present

I think most A's fans could have guessed that these 4 players were on all previous playoff teams. But how about these 2?

5. Eric Byrnes.'00-present
6. Jim Mecir...'00-present

Both of these players surprised me. Looking at the stats, Eric only played 10 games in 2000 and 19 in 2001, but he was around. Jim Mecir appears to have spent half of 2000 with Tampa Bay and half with the A's. Anyway, it would be fair to say that Eric and Jim have been along for at least some of the 5 year playoff run. Surprising to me at least, is that Justin Lehr and Esteban German, although not members of the A's all 5 years, have been in the A's organization for at least 5 years.

4 guys were let go at the beginning of this year, who had been in all 4 previous years: Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Tejada, Frank Menechino and Terrance Long. I would say except for Miggy, moving those guys made sense even without considering financial constraints.

The other personnel which have witnessed this whole run in an A's uniform would be Ken Macha and Ron Washington. I was going to post where every other current A's player was playing in 2000, but suffice to say they were somewhere else, be it college, another major league team, or another organization. It sure has been a great run. This team is different and I think this year will turn out differently. I dont know how, maybe they'll miss the playoffs, maybe they'll get swept in the first round, maybe they'll win the first round. It seems like if they could get past that first round, they'd be an out-of-control beer truck through the whole postseason, running over everybody. That's what I'd like to think, anyway. I keep trying to tell myself the A's are not a great team, they are just a good team. But I don't believe it. They are a great team and their greatness just has not shown itself. Yet.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Lucky lucky

Despite getting woefully outplayed, the A's managed a split with Texas. Even if Anaheim wins tonight, we've kept pace with them over four games where we figured to have a schedule disadvantage. It's off to Seattle for three, where we are missing Jamie Moyer (who always baffles the A's, though he has finally fallen off the cliff people have been predicting for years.)

Swisher has looked pretty good so far, though he butchered a couple of balls today (but they were the extra-bases variety rather than the runner-instead-of-out variety, which are worth a lot less.) I'm very impressed with his approach; he seems to always take the count 3-2. I'm not sure if he's quite ready, but there is nothing wrong with an al dente star.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The guys who were NOT the Moneyball 13

I was rereading Moneyball last night. I know the A's are very excited about the players they drafted in 2002, including Nick Swisher, the first of the A's group to contribute on the major league level. But when I read about the other players at the top of that draft, I saw the names: Zack Greinke, BJ Upton, and Scott Kazmir. Just to play the devil's advocate, those guys are all in the majors now too. Maybe they weren't such bad picks after all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Re: What a game tonight!

It's nice to see Mad Dog posting again. I had moneyball in my lap while watching last night's game. I wanted to read the funny parts of the book to my wife when Nick Swisher was up. Then when Bradford was pitching I found a good paragraph on him, then Hatteberg. She hasn't read the book, I feel she probably won't because I have told her about many of the stories. What a story this whole team is. The pieces all seem to fit right now too.

Tonight's game was crazy. If you missed it you missed one of the most unusual games I have ever seen. Scutaro got the A's first hit, a 2-out double, the proceeded to score on back-to-back balks. 2 balks in a row. The very same bad move. The pitcher, Juan Dominguez, was in the set position and then appeared to want to step back off the rubber, but did something with his pitching hand first. And then he did it again. Later in the game, the A's scored on a bases-loaded hit batter, Swisher, then Mecir had a lead in the 9th and got 2 strikeouts on 7 pitches, but gave up a long homer to Soriano. I didn't think that screwball would work on Soriano, he swings a big long bat and when Mecir starts those pitches outside and wants them to tail back, Soriano is going to hit it hard, which he did. Then was a crazy bullpen fight between the Rangers in the bullpen and the fans. One of the Rangers threw a chair at the fans.
Then Buck Showalter is out talking to the umps for like 20 minutes. He looked like he was complaining about something. Anyone else think Showalter looks like an evil elf?

Then it looked like the A's were going to lose because Texas got 1 in the top of the 10th, but the A's got 2 in the bottom of the 10th, including a bases loaded walk by McLemore, to win 7-6. I decided Texas is a good team to dislike, between the chair thing and the fact that they used to be owned by George W. I think if we can take 2 of the next 3 we can forget about them as a playoff threat.

Monday, September 13, 2004

What a game tonight!

There, that should bring down my average post length.

I keep trying to get out, but they keep pulling me back in.

I used to be Mike here, but since I left a year ago I've been supplanted, so it is time to switch handles. Anyway, I wanted to talk a bit about the 2004 offseason. Specifically, for college draftees from the 2002 draft, this is the time when management needs to add them to the 40-man roster or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft. Since the A's had a lot of picks in that Moneyball draft, they might be headed for a roster crunch. From the 2002 draft, in order of being picked:

1) Nick Swisher is already up and on the 40-man (and kicking ass.)
2) Stephen Obenchain had a decent season last year but is at least superficially struggling this year at Modesto and Midland. He appears to be pitching mostly in long relief (40 games, 7 starts, 101.1 innings.) My guess is nobody will take a guy with a 5.11 ERA in AA in the R5 draft, so Obenchain should be safe.
3) Ben Fritz had a good season last year but this year is very disappointing: 77 K's, 50 BB's in 104 IP at Midland (though only 5 HR.) Doubt he is at risk of being taken.
4) Joe Blanton is anointed as the next great A's pitcher, although he hasn't had a very good season at Sacramento. Will need to be added to the 40.
5) John McCurdy has been a complete bust. He has more chance of being out of baseball than being taken in the R5 draft.
6) Mark Teahen was traded in the Dotel deal.
7) Jeremy Brown had a great 2002 and a mediocre 2003-2004. He might need to be added to the 40, but given the skepticism when he was drafted, I doubt he would get taken now.
8) Steve Stanley started the year at AAA, where he hit a huge wall. Busted down to AA, he has torn up the Texas League as he did last year (.419/.480/.507 in 169 PA's.) He'll probably get added, though his short stature may make him unappealing to other teams.
9) Bill Murphy was traded.
10) John Baker has established himself as a great prospect. Probably the favorite to be the A's starting catcher in 2006, probably 2005; he has done great this year at Midland and (briefly) Sacramento. Needs to be added.
11) Mark Kiger has been solid. He's played good defense and posted a good OBP. He is more or less developing on schedule (good at rookie in 2002, good at A in 2003, good at AA in 2004.) I see him getting added.
12) Brian Stavisky didn't do much until this year, when he put up excellent numbers at Modesto: .343/.413/.550. Probably not added.
13) Similar to Stavisky, Brant Colamarino was awful until this year, when he went .355/.450/.601 in 50 games at Modesto. Unlike Stavisky, he was immediately promoted to Modesto, where he hasn't done great (.273/.333/.438 with a big spike in strikeout rate.) I think he probably doesn't make the 40 either.

Those guys are the Moneyball Thirteen. As for the others, Shane Komine looked great until this year, when his K rate cratered and he started giving up HR's at Midland; he probably won't be taken but might deserve a spot on the 40. I think Brad Knox was taken out of JC; he'll need to be added (go check his stats if you haven't already, they're amazing; Knox/Dunwell/Bondurant were great at A. Not sure why Knox was passed over for Bondurant for a promotion.) Chris Dunwell was taken right behind him: 145 K's, 36 BB's at Modesto (a higher than desirable HR rate, though); probably doesn't need to be added. Shawn Kohn went nuts at Modesto, and I mean totally nuts: 68 K, 4 BB, 1 HR in 43 innings and has continued to pitch well at Sacramento (37 K, 7 BB in 42.2 innings, though 7 HR.) He will be taken if he isn't added, so I would put him on (and you might see him in the 2005 major league pen, though the talk is all about Street and Garcia. That seems to be it as far as 2002 draftees go.

Other people who might need to be added: Chris Mabeus had a good season in relief for Midland, but I don't see the A's adding a guy on 20 good innings in relief. Nelson Cruz is having a good season at the plate; he seems to have not played at all in 2003, I'm not sure why, but he may need to be added.

So, the guys who probably are going to be added: Brad Knox, Shawn Kohn, Mark Kiger, Steve Stanley, Joe Blanton. That's better than I thought (which means worse, it means these guys haven't really developed in bulk)... so the A's will only need to make room for five guys. Who is going?

Let's take a look at the current 40: P (16): Bradford, Dotel, Duchscherer, Garcia, Hammond, Harden, Hudson, Lehr, Mecir, Mulder, Redman, Rheinecker, Rhodes, Rincon, Saarloos, Zito C (4): Melhuse, Miller, Rivera, Rose (who was just called up) IF (12): Bynum, Chavez, Crosby, Ellis, German, Hatteberg, Johnson, Koonce, McLemore, Morrissey, Rouse, Scutaro OF (8): Byrnes, Dye, Edwards, Kielty, Kotsay, McMillon, Swisher, Watson DH (1): Durazo The alert among you will note that that's 41 men. This is because Saarloos and Ellis are on the 60-day DL, which during the season doesn't count against you (but does for the R5 draft.) I'm not sure why the A's only have 39 (they called up Rose today and DFA'd Ramon Castro, not sure why they had to do that.)

Of these, Dye is not going to be back. I doubt Freddie Bynum is on the 40 next year; he was the guy who would be traded for Jeff Kent, and he's a tools guy. Koonce will probably be allowed to move on, as will McLemore. Mike Rivera seems useless; he's probably out the door. Miller is probably allowed to walk. Hammond is a free agent and likely gone. Rheinecker, who has not progressed in a couple of years, might be DFA'd. Barring trades, I don't see anyone else.

So that's 41-6+5, which is 40 exactly, so the numbers might work. However, if Miller walks, the A's need a starting catcher, and unless they decide to go with some combination of Melhuse/Rose/Baker, that guy will take up a spot. 41. German could be let go, but they need a utility infielder; I don't see why it would be German, but I don't see it being anyone else on the 40. Still 41. (Maybe Rouse.) The bullpen seems fine. Kielty and/or McMillon might leave, but the A's would need people to replace them. Matt Watson, who has done fine at AAA, is a candidate here, or possibly Edwards.

So it looks like the A's will have some sort of a roster crunch. The interesting thing about the Moneyball draft is that tools guys are usually the ones taken in the R5, so maybe drafting guys who can't sell jeans will lead to those guys (Brown again being the primary example) not being taken in the R5.

Anyway, yeah, this is too long. I will try to curtail things in the future.

How I got out of debt

When I graduated from college, I had run up some debts. I had maxed out 3 credit cards, and had some other debts. I read a book about getting out of debt, and I don't remember what the book was called but I remember one concept. It was, take the littlest debt and work hard to get rid of that one, then the next... It wasn't quick but I got rid of all debt now except my student loan and my mortgage. I figure if you don't have a mortgage, you are paying rent which is just money gone anyway, so a mortgage is probably the only "good" debt. And I am getting close to being done with the student loan.

So the reason this applies to the A's is, they are on the home stretch. 20 games left all against the division, 2 games ahead. Take 'em down one at a time. Texas is 5 games back and barely still alive in the playoff picture. Take them out first this week. If the A's could take 3 of 4 then by friday Texas would be 7 out with 16 to play with 2 teams ahead of them. They'd be done.

The A's have scrambled their way to where they are right now. It's a good place to be in the standings. According to Tim Hudson, "we always go to the playoffs and we never run away with it." Barry Zito showed yesterday he is ready for a final push. He said give me the ball for the 7th even though I have already thrown 108 pitches. And he won a great 1-0 ballgame against a tough Indian team. I would think Huddy would not want to be shown up tonight. Let's go A's.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?