A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Friday, July 15, 2005

Long live Rich Harden

The A's best pitcher was on top of his game tonight, taking a perfect game into the 8th inning and finishing with a masterful 2-hit shutout of the league's highest scoring team, the Texas Rangers. Harden threw only 81 pitches in the complete game, including 61 strikes, and struck out 8 against 0 walks. For the season, Harden now sports a 2.23 ERA and has allowed only 52 hits and 24 walks in 76.2 innings, with 66 strikeouts. Stud.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bye Bye Byrnsie

I love Eric Byrnes. The dude is really really fun to watch. Tons of hustle. But he is a 4th outfielder. Maybe destined to be a 3rd outfielder some day but expendable. Byrnes is also extremely streaky. He can win a big game with a homer or a great catch, and he can totally blow a game by not touching home plate or making a bad throw or getting a bad read on a ball. Maybe that is part of his alure, he can be terrific or awful depending on when you look. Streakiness is hard to measure with good stats, but Byrnes appears to be the streakiest player in history. Sometimes he is red hot, and then he'll go for a few weeks and hit nothing. Cal Ripken was a notoriously streaky player but he streaked his way in the the Hall of Fame. I was hoping for a masher, I don't really see Payton as a masher but he seems like he can help. I am high on the 2 pitchers we got, Witasik and Kennedy, Overall the trade may be painful, but for the stretch run, it looks good.

That was quick

Well, it did seem that having Jay Payton and Eric Byrnes was redundant, and now the situation has been resolved. Byrnes was traded to Colorado along with infield prospect Omar Quintanilla for LHP Joe Kennedy and RHP Jay Witasick.

First, the new guys. Joe Kennedy is a strange case; he was a fabulous pitching prospect in the Devil Rays system, then they rushed him to the majors and he took his lumps for a while. Traded to Colorado, he had perhaps the best season ever by a Rockies pitcher last season, pitching 162.3 innings with a 3.66 ERA. He somehow allowed only 17 home runs, a mighty impressive feat considering the environment. He's looking a bit lost this year, as his ERA is over 7. But he's still just 26 years old and making $2.2 million. He could be a bargain in the 5th starter spot, although early noises have surfaced that he will start out in the bullpen.

Witasick has had some good years out of the bullpen, and this seems to be another one of them. He's 32, so he's probably not washed up quite yet. He could be valuable for the A's, but as bullpen filler goes he's not going to be terrible.

What can you say about Eric Byrnes? He's definitely an entertaining figure. As a ballplayer, he's basically just Jay Payton but with slightly more unreliable defense. But I think he'll be a great fit for Colorado--his hustle and defense will help them. As a hitter he has decent power and reasonably good plate discipline, but breaking balls from right-handers tie him in knots. On Planet Coors, those balls don't break, and he can hit them a long way. As an A's fan, I'll miss having him in there to pound left-handed pitching, making an occasional highlight-reel catch in the outfield, and, of course, his Captain America moments--like when he tackled a drunken fan who had run onto the field, or when he cleared himself to play after examining his own shoulder X-ray.

Quintanilla was probably the best prospect the A's had at Midland going into the season, but he's been struggling somewhat with AA pitching and the A's had drafted his replacement already anyway (Cliff Pennington, the team's top pick this year). Plus, 2004 draftee Kevin Melillo has been on fire, earning a promotion from Kane County to Stockton. I don't think we'll miss Quintanilla much, though it's fair to say that Rockies fans hope he turns out better than the last 2B prospect we traded them (anybody remember Jose Ortiz?).

So the day basically shakes out like this for the A's:

Byrnes -> Payton + cash. Probably a wash, though personality-wise, we'll miss Byrnes.
Bradford -> Witasick. Also a wash, though Bradford is a risk coming off that injury.
Quintanilla -> Kennedy. This is where the A's win. A pretty generic middle infield prospect into a 26-year old pitcher who has a chance to be really good.

Bradford dealt

Well, the rumors were true. The A's traded right-handed reliever Chad Bradford to Boston for outfielder Jay Payton. This isn't a surprise, since it's been in discussion for at least a couple of weeks while Bradford was on the DL (he's expected to be activated before tomorrow's Red Sox-Yankees tilt).

Sentimentally, I'll be sad to see him go. Bradford was always fun to watch, and had some great, great seasons during the A's run of success. Baseball-wise, I guess the deal makes sense, since the A's are getting great work out of Justin Duchscherer and Kiko Calero. I'm not sure what role Payton fills, though. It seems to me like he's just another guy who can play center in a pinch and spot against lefties--except he's not as good as Byrnes or Kielty. Supposedly the A's are also getting cash out of this, but that's necessary only because Payton is making $3.5M to Bradford's $1.4M.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Another Win Against the Bitch Sox

Batgirl calls the White Sox the Bitch Sox, I guess I owe her a dollar for biting her rhyme. The A's made it to the all star break one game above .500. Outstanding. You almost wonder if the A's don't want a break right now, keep it rolling. But the break is what it is, and while it was a rollercoaster first half, the A's gotta like their chances the rest of the way.

With the huge signing of Kotsay, the question of what kind of moves the A's should make by the trade deadline becomes more interesting. The rumors are rampant, Bradford for Payton, Byrnes for Payton...The A's almost need to slump a little to find a weakness. Starting Pitching? Relief Pitching? I guess what the A's really need is a bigass bat. If they could get a rent-a-player to play 1st and mash for the rest of the season that might be good. It seems like long term that spot is for Dan Johnson though. That bigass bat could play left field too. I am pretty much convinced that the A's could use a bat and that this masher should play 1b or LF. Is there one of those guys available?

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