A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Some news is bad news

Bradford to have back surgery, out for 3-4 months. It seems like every spring training around MLB, there are a couple of guys who people suddenly realize are injured and need to have surgery.

Anyway, this is where the depth comes in. Huston Street seems to be the obvious choice for first in line, although if Meyer wins a rotation spot (unlikely with him getting lit up in his first appearance, to the extent that his spring ERA is shot; I think the A's will look for excuses to hold down his service time clock), Yabu could win the final spot in the pen. Or Tyler Johnson might be kept. Street would not be a significant downgrade from Bradford, so no huge loss here.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Price of Rubies

At SFGate.com there is a pretty good story about Erubiel Durazo and where he oughta hit in the lineup. I think Ruby is an enigma, mainly because I dont't hear him talk very much, and wonder what upside could be.

Last year, he hit sixth much of the time -- and he had the highest average there in the past 30 years among all players with 250 or more plate appearances, batting .359. He also led the majors last year in homers (19) and RBIs (67) while batting sixth.

So he was the best 6 hole hitter in baseball? That's a little bit of a backhanded complement. Kinda like how my father-in-law says to my mother-in-law, "That dress wouldn't look half bad on you if you lost a few pounds." Being a DH automatically diminishes his value to some of my baseball purist friends. This year he won't hit 6th. That made me wonder, what is his future? If he excels and has a monster year, his value will be high and this will be his last year with the A's. If he has a bad year, are we going to want to re-sign him? If I like an A's player and want him to stay around, maybe I root for a medium year? Ruby said in the same story:

I love being here,(general manager) Billy Beane knows that.

That he loves being here may help him stay a tiny bit, but plenty of other players wanted to stay and were traded or not re-signed. Wanting to stay doesn't help very much if the price/value equation doesn't work out in the A's favor. I am waiting, and maybe I'll have to wait a long time, for some ballplayer to say, "Management, I have made enough money in my life, and I want to be on this team, you give me whatever contract you want." I think Kirby Puckett said something to that effect once to Twins management. Tony Gwynn might have done something similar with the Padres. I am sure the players union doesn't want to hear about a player with that attitude. But in some cases, it might be the right move for a player who is happy where he is at. No matter what free agents say, they gravitate towards money. I am not against that, I am just saying once in a while it's not the only thing that matters.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Who would you want back?

Every year the A's lose important pieces of their team and keep competing. An interesting question, if the A's could get back anyone they have lost over the last 5 years, who would you want back, forgetting for a second about money? Here are some ideas:

Tejada was great, but Crosby has a great upside. Let the kid play.

Damon was awesome, but I feel better about Mark Kotsay in the A's CF in 2005.

Is there anyone who would want Jason Giambi back after all of his problems?

Mark Bellhorn? Where would you put him? Jeremy Bonderman? Eric Hinske? Ditto.

A healthy effective power hitting Jermaine Dye will be missed, but we hardly ever had that anyway.

We don't really have any data on how badly Hudson or Mulder will be missed. I am betting one of these guys has a great year and one does ok or gets hurt. This one is hard to gauge. There will be bumps in the road to fill these guys shoes, mixed metaphorically speaking.

Of the players the A's have lost in the last 5 years, I think the only 2 whose loss has definitely left a hole which hasn't been completely filled are Keith Foulke and Ted Lilly. Even Lilly's value could be questioned, but he turned a corner in the 2nd half of 2003 and became a solid starter. If that spot is the #4 starter position, maybe one of these young guns fills that spot effectively too. As far as Foulke is concerned, I never expect to see another closer season from anyone as good as Foulke's 2003. The stats probably won't bear out my opinion, but that season was one of the best closer seasons in the history of baseball. And that was the year Gagne saved 55 and won the Cy Young. Keith Foulke was more valuable to the A's in 2003 than any closer has ever been to any team.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Barton hospitalized

Bad news for A's prospect hounds: 19-year old catcher Daric Barton, the top prospect acquired from St. Louis in the Mark Mulder trade, was hospitalized with appendicitis on Sunday night. The A's are saying he'll be back in camp before the end of spring training, but who knows if that's accurate or how fit he'll be when he returns.

If I recall correctly, an emergency appendectomy during spring training utterly torpedoed Adrian Beltre's 2002, and he still looked lost in 2003, although it's impossible to say if that was related. (I hear he had a fine 2004.) Let's hope Barton is able to make a full recovery.

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