A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Friday, April 22, 2005


A great game tonight, as the A's rallied against dominating Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in the 9th to pull off a dramatic 4-3 win on Scott Hatteberg's 2-out, 0-2 single. So despite going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, as Ken Korach pointed out on the radio before Hatteberg's at-bat, "1 for 13 could win it for them." And indeed it did.

The other big news today is that the A's have locked up Bobby Crosby for five years. Crosby, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year and franchise fixture at shortstop, will get $12.75 million over the life of the deal, including a $250,000 signing bonus. The deal takes him all the way through his arbitration years to free agency, and is similar to the contract signed by Rich Harden last month. I loved the Harden contract, and although I'm quite as ecstatic about this signing, it's still a very comfortable deal for both sides. Crosby certainly has the capability to be an MVP candidate two or three years down the road, but he's not there yet--unlike Harden, who is already an early frontrunner for the Cy Young award (after his gem at Safeco field last night, Harden's ERA sits at a microscopic 0.44).

Curiously, like Harden before him, Crosby is currently injured as of the time the contract extension was announced. (Harden's contract was finalized during the week that his first start of the season was pushed back due to a blister on his right middle finger.) Crosby's been on the DL since he was diagnosed with a fractured rib on Opening Day.

Isn't it Great to Have Ellis Back?

Rich Harden pitched a gem last night. The A's are now 8-8, and you'd suppose with an 8-8 team there would be just about as many high points as low points. From my point of view there have been almost nothing but high points. Of course I am still giddy over the fact that I can go home every night and watch these guys I love so much play baseball.

Last night I was just saying, "Isn't it great to have Mark Ellis back?" And on the next pitch he hits a triple into the gap to get the A's up 1-0. Don't let anyone tell you the most exciting play in baseball is the home run, it's the triple. But what was up with the sound and camera crew in Seattle last night?? They missed shots and had weird sounds coming in and out all night. Someone must have passed around the kind bud. On TV you never got to see Ellis running on that triple.

Later Booney hits a hard ball up the middle and Ellis gets to it and fires wildly to 1st. Boone turns to run towards 2nd, and here is the only really good shot the camera men got all night. From an outfield camera, as Boone starts towards 2nd, the ball hits the fence in front of the dugout behind 1st, then Kendall zooms into the picture sliding, mask coming off, he swoops in like Spiderman! Then he fires a strike back to Ellis and Boone is out by 10 feet! It was a gift hit which coulda been an E4 but it didn't matter because he was out at 2nd anyway due to the great play of Jason Kendall. Many of the A's players were smiling after that play. Jason Kendall appears to be very happy playing for the A's. The announcers keep bringing up that he played 9 YEARS in Pittsburgh and his team never made it to .500. It is those kinds of plays he made last night which will help him break that streak.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

One that got away

Of the first 5 batters that came to the plate last night in Seattle against Zito, 4 of them scored. It appeared that it just wasn't Zito's night. Again. But after the grand salami by Boone, something subtle changed. Zito didn't have his best stuff, but there were no more runs for the M's through the 6th. I figured he'd be out by the 3rd, my wife and I were yelling, "Get Dukey up!" at the TV almost immediately and through a lot of those first 6 innings. But Zito battled. When the A's got to 4 runs he was off the hook for the L.

Huston Street came in to pitch the 7th in a 4-4 tie. His stuff looks just awesome, and if Byrnes catches that ball by Dobbs. the A's probably win this game. Even after it got to 7-4, it STILL wasn't over. Chavvy got to 3-1 with the sacks juiced and a 7-5 score. One liner, one tweener, one ground ball with eyes and the A's probably win. One K and Chavvy goes and sits down and thinks about how he's been bad. It was a loss but it was a good game. I think they will take it to the M's tonight.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mulder, Hudson, and the minors

Well, it's been an eventful 7-7 start which sees the A's in a pack in the AL West, where the four teams are separated by half a game. Meanwhile, ex-A's starters Mulder and Hudson are continuing their ways. Mulder continues to struggle; he picked up his first win of the season last night with eight two-hit innings, but the performance was not as good as that sounds; Mulder threw "only" 57 of 95 pitches for strikes, and walked three while striking out two. It's better than his first two disastrous starts, but not exactly the strike-throwing machine he was before last season's bizarre meltdown. Hudson, meanwhile, is dominating the NL, with 9 K's in nine shutout innings last night, leaving him with 17 strikeouts against 5 walks in 22 innings, with two runs allowed.

It may as well also be time to check in on the minors, where the news is generally not good. Up in Sacramento, 12 games in, the Cats are 5-7. Prospects there are few and far between: Dan Johnson and Dan Meyer are the only real prospects there. Johnson had a mammoth start but has been cool recently, for a total line of .256/.365/.558, which is of course quite good. Meyer, on the other hand, has been totally knocked up in his first two starts, allowing 16 hits, 12 runs, 3 homers, and only recording two strikeouts in eight innings of work. Along with the struggles of Cruz and Thomas, the Hudson deal doesn't look so good. (Meanwhile, the Mulder deal looks excellent as Mark continues to struggle, while both Haren and especially Calero have been very good as A's.)

Not-really-a-prospect-anymore Jack Cust is also at AAA, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention his bizarre line: three singles, two doubles, one triple, two homers, nine walks, 22 strikeouts, and 12 non-strikeout outs, which adds up to .190/.333/.429.

At Midland, Andre Ethier (a 2003 draft pick who has done decently but not spectacularly so far) is off to a hot start, .459/.512/.838 in the first ten games. Brant Colamarino of Moneyball fame, who completely failed to hit at AA last year, is also off to a good start, .450/.488/.725. Omar Quintanilla, certainly the best prospect the A's have at this level, is struggling, .233/.250/.233.

I'm not sure what's happened to Brad Knox, who dominated Kane County last year. He's on the Midland roster but has yet to appear. Steven Bondurant, who also dominated Kane County last year, has made two starts and done okay. Jairo Garcia was assigned to AA to start the season as well, and has struck out 7 with 5 walks in 5 1/3 innings.

Moving on down to high A-ball, the A's new affiliate in the Cal League is the Stockton Ports. In this notoriously high offense league, the A's top prospects are Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, Richie Robnett, and 2004 pick Jason Windsor. Suzuki is doing fine, Barton is doing okay, and Robnett is disappointing. Windsor has given up 11 runs in 13 innings, but only one homer and one walk against 15 strikeouts; I would consider this good news. Chris Dunwell, the third member of the Kane County pitching triumvirate from last year, is here, but appears to have been converted to relief, and in that capacity has thrown 8 2/3 bad innings.

Finally, in low-A Kane County, a pitchers' league, 2004 pick Kevin Melillo is showing the plate discipline and overall batting skills which drew the A's to him with their fifth-round choice; Melillo is at .394/.545/.667 in the Cougars' first 11 games. Another name to keep an eye on here is Ryan Webb, a high school pitcher who the A's uncharacteristically drafted last year; Webb so far has pitched 8 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts, two walks, and no homers (though he has allowed 12 hits and 4 runs.) Javi Herrera will also be here once he returns from his steroid suspension.

So, no real explosions from the A's top prospects so far. I'll check back in throughout the season with updates on our farm system.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Finite and Infinite Games

I've been reading a philosophy book called "Finite and Infinite Games". It is full of ideas about what games are and what they aren't. Here are some quotes:

A game is not played forcibly. If you must play you cannot play.

There is no rule that you must obey the rules, if there were there would be another rule about that and so on.

A game is different from a play in that there is no script, the outcome is always in doubt, a surprise.

That last one really hit me. Tonight while driving home from work listening to the game on the radio, the A's were already up 5-2, while I drove home they got up to 8-2, and suddenly I didn't want to watch it so much on TV. It seemed like a slaughter and I am not one who enjoys a slaughter even if it is my team doing the slaughtering. It wouldn't be any fun if the A's won all the games. After a while there wouldn't be any question about who won. It's the losing that makes the winning all that much more sweet. And after reading yesterday morning how Ray Ratto thinks the A's are desperate I look tonight at the AL WEST standings, and looky there, the A's are 7-6 and in first place. This is the same desperate, Mulder and Hudson-less team that we were talking about a few days ago. There is still plenty of doubt about the season. To me what isn't in doubt is that these guys are fun to watch and I have no trouble putting my heart into these guys for another run at jumping around spraying champagne on eachother. Every night I can't wait to watch a new chapter of this season and the outcome is always in doubt, a surprise.

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