A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rotation almost set

According to Ken Macha at the A's official site, Joe Blanton has the 4th starter spot nailed down. That's cool. The rotation will go Zito, Harden, Haren, Blanton, and whoever gets that 5th spot. It sounds like Meyer may start the season in AAA, which sounds fine to me. The 5th starter spot is a weird spot anyway, sometimes a 5th starter will miss a start if there is a rainout or an offday. One of these years a manager will try a 4 man rotation for a whole season and be successful. For the past few seasons the A's would seeemingly win about 70% of the games started by the big 3, then try to go .500 in the games started by the 4th and 5th starter. What would make them get really hot would be when the 4th starter got hot. In 2002 it was Lidle, '03 it was Lilly, '04 it was Harden. This year's rotation has a totally different vibe to it, but not a bad vibe. I get the feeling the bullpen is going to get a lot of decisions, again not a bad thing. They are ready.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Do spring training stats have any meaning? I get the feeling the answer is "No". Unless someone does something truly remarkable all through spring training, spring stats will be totally forgotten once the regular season starts. It is about the process. Getting in shape, remembering what to do on certain plays, hitting the cutoff, working on a new pitch, and for a very select few on the bubble, trying to prove you belong on the team. Probably less than 10 percent of the players could have a spring training which could change the location of their games during the regular season.

Do last season's stats have meaning? Definitely. People easily forget that the A's did some things really well last year. The thing that made '04 less than a success was their inability to get that 92nd win on the 2nd to last day of the season. If you are that close to success, I'd say you are a success. Cases in point:

American League Fielding Percentage

1. Oakland...0.986
2. Anaheim...0.985
3. Toronto...0.985
4. Chicago...0.984

Although fielding percentage is not the only metric to determine defensive quality, the A's were the best. Every guy on the A's should be proud of that, but I think what led to that most was 1) Ron Washington 2) Eric Chavez 3) Mark Kotsay 4)Marco Scutaro 5) Bobby Crosby.

Fielding Assists

1. Oakland...1806
2. Detroit...1708
3. Baltimore.1680

An assist is an out that took one player to throw it and another to tag or force a runner. The A's were probably so good at this stat because of all the ground balls thrown by the pitchers. But again, with all those grounders, the A's did a great job of turning them into outs, which is really the job of the defense. I think you can forget about trying not to let runs score and just get outs and you'll do pretty well. Not that a good play at the plate couldn't save a ballgame, it certainly can, but turning as many ground balls into outs as possible is the path towards maximizing wins.


1. Anaheim......90
2. Oakland......91
3. Toronto......91
13. Kansas City..131
14. Detroit......144

The amazing thing about this is the team with the 2nd most assists made the most errors. I guess that means the Tigers pitchers were making batters hit gound balls that should have been outs but ended up being errors. The A's made 53 less errors while fielding 98 or so more ground balls.

Double Plays

1. Oakland.....172
2. Kansas City.170
3. Chicago.....166

Ground Ball Double Plays

1. Oakland.....146
2. Detroit.....145
3. Kansas City.142

The A's made the most double plays, and the most ground ball double plays, and the teams that did 2nd best in those 2 categories, KC and Detroit, made the most errors in the league, therefore having the most extra chances for DPs created by their own ineptitude. The A's really were the best defensive team last year in the AL. And they played the season without a guy I consider to be the best defensive 2nd baseman in the game, Mark Ellis.

Although the A's lost starting pitching, they didn't lose much else and appeared to have gained relief pitching and have a bunch of young guys who are getting better. Another good year on defense will help the cause.

Monday, March 14, 2005

First cuts of spring

The A's have optioned relievers Jairo Garcia and Chris Mabeus, infielders Freddie Bynum and Adam Morrissey, and outfielder Matt Watson to AAA Sacramento. In addition, pitchers Evan Fahrner, Brad Sullivan and Billy Sylvester, infielder Brian Snyder, and outfielders Jack Cust and Richie Robnett were assigned to minor-league camp. None of these moves is a big surprise. Garcia and Mabeus had an outside chance to be part of the bullpen, especially following the Bradford injury, but several factors have combined to leave them still on the outside looking in: 1) they still have options; 2) they didn't pitch well in the spring; 3) Huston Street has been really impressive; 4) Keiichi Yabu doesn't look like he'll make the rotation, so the team may need to make room for him in the bullpen.

Regarding point 4), Macha has said that they still haven't deviated from "Plan A" which is to give the three young guns--Danny Haren, Joe Blanton and Dan Meyer--the last three spots in the rotation behind Barry Zito and Rich Harden (both of whom have been lights-out thus far this spring). I think this is good news, if not for 2005 then certainly for the long-term future of the A's, and also for fan interest. As I've opined in the past, there's nothing better than watching talented prospects develop into quality major-leaguers before your eyes. Except perhaps for watching them develop into young superstars, which is a treat that A's fans over the last five or six years have become a little spoiled on.

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