A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Losing streak

It's tough to motivate myself to post when the A's are losing, and the way they have been losing recently has gotten increasingly ugly. On Wednesday the offense finally came alive, with Hatteberg and Durazo homering, but it didn't matter as the pitching staff finally crapped out in a 16-7 loss to Texas, completing a brutal three-game sweep. That drops Oakland to 13-15, four games back of the division-leading Angels (and 1.5 back of the Rangers).

It doesn't get any easier, as the A's will play their next 12 against the Yankees and Red Sox. Now, admittedly, there has probably never been a better time to play these two teams, as they are both struggling mightily. Furious George has already shaken up his team in an effort to fix whatever ails them, but the result is still a lineup that has Tony Womack batting 2nd and playing left field every day--not a good sign. Meanwhile their defense is still by far the league's most porous, and the non-Unit members of the pitching staff are suffering the consequences on balls in play.

As for Boston, their rotation is increasingly patchy, with Curt Schilling and David Wells recently hitting the DL, Bronson Arroyo awaiting a 6-game suspension (but pitching lights out while it is being appealed), and Wade Miller not yet fully rehabbed. The offense is still putting up runs, but hopefully this roadtrip is where the A's hitters can get something going finally. Durazo has been showing signs of life recently (.375/.423/.667 in the last seven games), and even Chavez has been less hopeless on this latest homestand.

Long-term, I'm not as optimistic as I once was about the ability of this offense to perform at a championship-caliber level; some more credible power threats seem necessary. But I do still trust that whatever we need to get done, Billy will get it done.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Swish hits the wall, then hits the DL

Rookie outfielder Nick Swisher has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder that he suffered in a collision with the outfield wall at the Coliseum. Swisher was chasing down Seattle center fielder Jeremy Reed's triple to right when he slammed both his head and his shoulder into the wall. Memo to aspiring outfielders: walls are stronger than people.

To take Swisher's spot on the roster, the A's recalled utility man Jermaine Clark from AAA Sacramento. Clark is a good athlete who can play almost any position on the diamond and also has a keen batting eye; he was leading the Rivercats with 18 walks (more than anybody on the big league club) and 8 stolen bases (way more than anybody on the big league club). But with Marco Scutaro playing so well at shortstop and 2B already crowded with Ginter and Ellis, it's unlikely he'll be playing much during his stay in the bigs. (I'm sure he'll be sent back down if and when Crosby recovers from his ribcage injury.) Still, it's better to have insurance on the roster than to send Jermaine Dye out to play shortstop, as the White Sox were forced to do here last week.

I expect that Bobby Kielty will get most of the playing time in right field with Swisher out. Kielty has been swinging the bat well recently. Now if only Eric Byrnes and Charles Thomas could give us some production from the other corner outfield spot...

Rich Harden goes against Kenny Rogers tonight. Rogers used to have that weird 16-game winning streak at the Coliseum that spanned several years (during most of which he was not with the A's), but I remember that being broken last year, so there's no more mystique; he's just another innings-eating lefty at this point. Harden, while he was roughed up a bit in his last appearance, still seems well on his way to establishing himself as at least the best RHP in the American League. It should be a good contest.

Barry Zito in the Win Column, Finally

The A's won two tight ones against the M's this weekend. I went to the game Friday, and they had plenty of chances in that game too. I haven't heard if Swisher's collar bone is broken, but I bet it is. I broke my collar bone Sept 11, 1979. I remember the day well, it was 8th grade and it was the last time I ever put on a football helmet. I knew it was broken and it took about 6 weeks to heal. It was ironic to me when something else big happened on Sept 11th, because that was already a black day on my calendar. I think the risk/reward equation for running into walls may be such that players shouldn't run into walls. But it is hard to tell players not to go full out.

Barry Zito got the hard fought W yesterday, and although wins are one of the most misleading stats in baseball, players and the mainstream media like to talk about them, and so it's nice for Z to get one, when he has been pitching pretty well for the last few starts. Huddy used to always talk about how he never got as many wins as he should have, but I like to look at the A's record in games he started. It was like 27-7 last year, and to me that may be more important that the pitcher's record. The pitcher started and the team eventually won the game, it doesn't matter to me so much if he left with the game tied, or even if he left with a lead and the bullpen blew it, if his team eventually won, it was a good enough game. Sometimes pitchers suck ass and get a W and sometimes they dominate and get an L. Same thing happens to batters, sometimes they rip a hard shot right at someone and make an out, and sometimes they hit a 13 hopper into a hole or get a single on a swinging bunt. The reality is, baseball stats don't tell the whole story, or there aren't enough accurate stats available to the mainstream public. It seems like eventually they should quit sorting players by batting average and go to on base percentage or slugging percentage. Billy Beane probably already does that. We as A's fans reap the benefits.

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