A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Isle of Misfit Toys

I know the A's could tank, but my point is assuming they dont tank, I dont want to hear about the playoffs being a crapshoot. I dont think it is a crapshoot, but there is luck involved. Maybe it is more like poker.

So how we gonna win it all? I think the way to do it is figure out the weakness of the other teams. The management needs to take a big role in this, but guys like Kendall seem to be studying like crazy to get it together.

In the past my theory is, the A's were designed for winning in a season but not in the playoffs. They were the Isle of Misfit Toys. A cowboy that rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels, a Charlie in the Box. Magnante with the leg braces, Mecir with the club feet, Bradford with the 85 mph fastball and fear of the spotlight, Hatteberg with the numb throwing hand. Depo and Beane found guys with problems who could help them. That is cool and ecomonical, but when it really became tight in the playoffs, I just get the feeling they knew they were misfits. They were better than their opponents in all those series but they just couldn't put them away.

So what do we have now? A catcher with no power, the Big Hurt, with his crazy incentive-laden contract coming off 2 bad years, Milton Bradley and his attitude, Kotsay and his back, but I argue this team is not misfits anymore. Scutaro is the best backup player in baseball, and the 2nd best backup player in baseball is Melhuse. Even carrot top and Payton are awesome and underrated. I was at the game last night, and Duchscherer had SWAGGER out there. His body language told me he was ready to go 1-2-3 and he had no margin for error against the Red Sox. He was relishing the chance. It was epic out there. Strike 1, strike 2...11 pitches, 9 strikes a curveball for the first pitch and the last one. Game over. He reminded me of Foulke in 2004.

People can keep saying "one game at a time" and just trying to keep it cool, but this team is ready to win it all, and I just hope someone is thinking about how we pull it off. I am a little concerned about how the 3 dl guys fit in. I dont know if I want Crosby coming of the dl then going 1 for 34 down the stretch. I am not sure how we use Harden if we can get him. The pen? Street is the one I feel can reintegrate the easiest.

Then there is Barry Zito. He isnt really leaving, is he? I just can't accept it. My thought is maybe the only chance he stays is if the A's win the World Series. that is a tough call. The way Mulder has been, it is not going to scare Billy to lose Barry. but Barry is different. Barry is magical. My favorite player on my favorite team. Maybe when Ken Korach says, "let's not look ahead to much, just enjoy the run" he is talking about that too. Keep up the good work and enjoy the run. This is the best organization in baseball and it has been the best for 6 years at least. It is time to show the unwashed masses. Not assuming we will but we know we can.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tightrope Walking with No Net

Barry Zito won his 15th game today as the A's finished a sweep of the Red Sox. Without Manny, Papa, Veritek and Nixon, this team doesn't have its usual bite, but the A's are steamrolling everyone. 6th time in 7 years they have won at least 20 in August. That is amazing. I was at the game last night and out of all the great plays and hits, maybe the greatest thing I saw was a "look". From behind the fist base dugout, when Duchscherer came out to the mound and warmed up, I saw a different Duke than usual. I saw a guy with swagger out there. Here he comes in filling in for the injured Street, a tight 2-1 game Papelbon doing jumping jacks in the Red Sox bullpen. Tightrope walking with no net. Duchscherer is mowing from the first pitch. strike one, curveball. His body language looked confident in the extreme. Of course Swisher sometimes looks very confident, then strikes out, but this was different. Duke is relishing the spotlight. 11 pitches, 9 strikes, game over. It was epic.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Planning for the Endgame

There are 31 games to go for the A's. They are 6 and a half games up. It is not a big enough lead to be thinking about the playoffs yet, but I am. I am thinking, if the A's can just win 20 of 31, they will be just about assured of a playoff spot. So let's say they can do that, then what? A crap shoot? I don't think that's the way to win a playoff series, to act like it is a random event you have no control over. I guess what you do is try to set up your rotation, get everyone enough work and playing time so that they are sharp but not overworked. I think maybe now you start trying to figure out how to manufacture some runs. I thought pinch hitting for Thomas last night was a good move when they were up 7-0. Then Melhuse hit a pinch hit homer. I figure if the A's are in the playoffs, there will be big ABs for Scutaro and Melhuse. My buddy says for the A's to win the WS they will need Harden and Crosby. I am not so sure. Guys like Thomas and Kendall can smell the postseason from here, they seem really focused and tough right now. I might give Thomas an inning or 2 at first base right now, he might need to play first in the world series. We are going to need that bat in games without a DH. Maybe at least hit him some grounders, or is he too fragile even for that?

I am trying to figure out who is going to have a good stretch run. It looks like Kotsay is not 100% or he wouldn't be sitting so much. I don't mind carrot top out there, he gets some good ABs and made a couple nice catches out there in left last night. The pitching staff will be key, but that is the part of the A's team which seems completely under control right now. Witasik and Kennedy are as healthy as they have been all season. Getting Huston Street back would be a nice boost.

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