A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Friday, October 29, 2004

Did the Red Sox outsmart the Yankees and Cards?

I thought the Red Sox made some great moves in the 2004 Season, ALCS and WS. Here are some:

1) Putting in their "Prevent Defense" late in the game. Meintkeiwicz at 1B, Pokey Reese at 2B and Kapler in RF. I don't remember another manager sending in a package like that late in the game. It seemed like every game ended with Meintkeiwicz catching the last out. I had this preposterous thought: what if Epstein and/or Bill James said: " Let's think of all the ways the Red Sox have blown it in the past and make sure we don't lose that way." They didn't want a repeat of Buckner's play so they looked at the whole league and found the defensive 1b least likely to make a game-losing play at 1b, and got Meintkeiwicz. I never remember a mid-season move for a defensive replacement at 1b. Then they would pull the line change late in games.

2) Fanconca's pitching changes seemed pretty good. He seemed to want to preemptively remove his starters right before they would start getting shelled. Maybe sometimes his hooks were too quick on Schilling, Pedro and Lowe, but again, he wasn't going to do what they did last year and leave Pedro in too long, they already knew that was a way to get beat.

3) Francona said after they beat the Cards: "We had really good scouting of the Cards hitters. We learned that you could pound Edmonds up and in and we did that all series." So the Red Sox brain trust was working round the clock to find the weaknesses in the Cards hitters. Weren't the Cards scouts doing the same thing? Apparently not, because it didn't appear those Cards pitchers had any plan. Maybe they had a plan, but they couldn't execute it.

4) Getting Keith Foulke and using him to his fullest, tons of work, great results. Peter Gammons said on ESPN Thursday morning, "No one knew Keith Foulke was this good," What? I knew, Beane knew, Francona knew, most A's fans probably knew, Peter Gammons didn't know Keith Foulke was this good.

Of course there was tons of luck, there always is. But I'd like to give the Red Sox management some credit on this one. They got what they needed and optimized the team for success.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is the world ready for a Red Sox Championship? Is this the end of the world? I dont think so. John Miller last night on the radio said something to the effect of "If the Red Sox win tonight, they will be up 3-0, and in 100 years of postseason baseball coming back from a 3-0 deficit has happened only once. If it was 2104 maybe we'd be saying that the Cardinals are due, but to have it happen in successive series after not happening for 100 years seems unlikely."

It may be what killed this curse was an assassin's calm calculated attention to detail provided by Theo Epstein. Maybe for the first time in franchise history, he made moves with only one goal in mind, to win. Trading Nomar to get Cabrera and Meintkeiwicz and Reese and getting Francona, Schilling and Foulke are going to go down in Red Sox history as some of the gutsiest right-on moves of all time. Every GM has always had the chance to make a few moves like that, but Theo appears to be locked in on just what this team needs. Or maybe it all revolves around Dave Roberts' steal of 2nd in game 4 against the Yankees or ARod's slap in Game 6. There is always some luck involved. I'd like to think the netherworld has better things to do than get involved with sports. Ever notice that the documentation of ghosts, ufo's and the paranormal has gone way down since the advent of the camcorder?

In a small way I wanted it to get to game 7, winner take all, schilling's bloody sock involved again. Maybe it still will. A sweep is pretty anticlimatic, but I was pretty sure the heroics of the ALCS were once in a lifetime as I watched them, I still think that. I suppose it would be unlucky for me to root for the Cardinals tonight if only to get more baseball out of this season? So I won't. One more big game, D-Lowe. Let's go for the sweep, Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Lachemann hired as bench coach

Rene Lachemann, who was a coach for the A's during the 1980's, was hired to fill the void left at bench coach by the firing of Chris Speier. I don't really remember much about him from his days as manager of the expansion Marlins (1993-96), and certainly not anything from before that. Most recently, Lachemann was bench coach for Seattle the past two seasons.

The other coaches on Ken Macha's staff (Washington, Fischer, Hudgens, Young, Geren) all had their contracts renewed for 2005.

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Coming Out Party for Keith Foulke

The Red Sox are up 2-0, and Keith Foulke has not allowed a run in 12 straight appearances. The rest of the world is getting to see the greatness of Keith Foulke. I already knew he was that good. Maybe all A's fans knew it, that guy paints and paints and throws changeups whenever he wants and just keeps batters off balance. I haven't read about him excessively studying where hitters weaknesses are, but he must be working on it. Probably all pitchers go over where to pitch hitters, but it appears Foulke is able to find that one spot where a hitter won't beat him and pound him there. That AB Sierra had in game 6 9th inning comes to mind. Foulke seemed insistent on throwing him pitches up and outside. He seemed to know that spot was not going to get him beat. Maybe it is just Foulke's control that is exceptional and not his knowledge of the hitters. I think it is both, and I really doubt we'll see a lot of Cardinals hitting balls hard off him for the rest of this series. When Francona was hired by the Red Sox, the owner asked him who they might need to pick up, Terry's words were succinct, "Get Keith Foulke."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League is, in practice, a league where teams send organizational players who they either want to evaluate or want to get more playing time. A's players are on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, along with Royals, Phillies, Marlins and Angels players.

The A's have sent six players to the AFL. Of these, John Baker, Huston Street, and Omar Quintanilla are legitimate prospects; Jeremy Brown and Steve Obenchain are formerly injured players who need more PT; Jason Perry tore up Modesto after struggling mightily in Midland, and is probably being evaluated for a spot on the 40. How are they doing? (VERY small simple size caveats; also, level of opposition in the AFL is wildly inconsistent, from A-ball tools players to refined AAA guys)

Baker has struggled in 22 plate appearances -- .167/.318/.222. Okay, 22 plate appearances is nothing, but this probably slightly increases Beane's motivation to get a free-agent catcher to hold down the fort for a year or two.

Brown has even less of a sample size, 12 PA's at .200/.333/.300. At this point, he's out of the A's plans, and is doing nothing to change that. Looks like another year at Midland for the rotund Hueytown native, unless Suzuki or Powell is pushed there.

Perry is hitting well: .294/.333/.618 in 36 PA's. Of course, .618 means three homers and two doubles, highlighting the small sample size. He may be clawing his way to a 40-man roster spot, or maybe trade value.

Quintanilla is solid: .333/.371/.455 in 35 PA's. He's pretty much on track to be the A's 2B in 2007, the way I see it, assuming he continues to develop at a reasonable pace.

Obenchain is stinking up the joint: 9 K's, 7 BB, 2 HR in 11.2 innings (did I mention small sample size?) Seems to be doing nothing to establish himself as a prospect. I'm not really sure why he's here. Maybe the A's had to send a pitcher and had no one else, but why not Chris Dunwell, who is probably borderline on the 40? I guess Dunwell has pitched a lot this year.

Street continues to make a strong push to be on the roster in 2005, breezing through the league with 11 K's and no walks in 8 2/3 innings, no homers, one earned run. I think he could use more AAA time, but he hasn't failed yet, maybe we should just push him.

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