Monday, April 23, 2007
The Oakland A's Monday #3
Overall: 9-9 (T-1st Place, AL West)
Last Week: 3-2 (2-0 vs. Angels, 1-2 vs. Rangers)
For whatever reason, this recent vintage of Oakland A's seems unusually somnambulant during the first few months of the season.
Back in 2001, the A's were picked by many to win the World Series. They had added Johnny Damon to the top of the lineup and featured one of the more exciting young teams in recent memory. They put up an 8-18 April, before going 94-42 the rest of the way en route to the postseason.
The following year, they weren't quite hyped to the heavens (they HAD lost Jason Giambi that offseason, after all). But, after an indifferent, underachieving seven weeks to start the season, GM Billy Beane blew the roster up on May 22. (Heavy) drinking buddies and, more importantly, Jason Giambi Sympathizers, LF Jeremy Giambi and IF Frank Menechino were sent packing. While super-prospect 1B Carlos Peña was demoted to AAA primarily because he was writing a "rookie diary" for MLB.com and was convinced his t'ish didn't stink.
My point is that it's often hard to find excitement for the Oakland A's in the early going, which is why we are all indebted to journeyman left-handed starting pitcher, Brad Halsey.
Quick recap: The A's have a guy with an arm made from Faberge Eggs by the name of Rich Harden. He's a once-every-ten-years type of talent, but he can't stay healthy. Predictably, he broke down not even a month into the season (just like last year).
The question on the minds of A's fans everywhere was who'd start in his stead. Most of us thought that Brad Halsey, who was one of the last cuts this spring and had a serviceable, if unspectacular 2006 (mostly) out of the bullpen, would be the guy.
Halsey thought this, too. In fact, he was certain of it.
Oh, how wrong we were. With the usual apologies to our friends at Fire Joe Morgan, here's what ran in today's San Francisco Chronicle:
Brad Halsey figured when he was held out of his start at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday that he was coming up to start for Rich Harden on Tuesday. He said he was told he was being held in readiness in case Harden couldn't go.
Nothing surprising here, if you know the cast of characters at AAA-Sacto. Let's see if it gets better.
Harden can't go, but instead of Halsey, the A's are going with left-hander Dallas Braden, and Halsey is convinced that he was bypassed because the A's found out that the left-hander is scheduled for an MRI exam later this week.
Braden is a 22-year-old screwball specialist who struck out 53 in 34 innings between rookie ball and single-A last year. Halsey, 26, has borderline average stuff to go along with 286 IPs and a 4.84 ERA over parts of three seasons in the big leagues. But, the MRI accusation intrigues me. Let's read on:
That makes Halsey furious because he said he complained of arm trouble all spring and was repeatedly told he didn't need an MRI.
"I kept going in and saying, 'My arm is bothering me, it's not right,' and they said, 'Oh, it's just biceps tendonitis, you'll be fine,' '' Halsey said by phone from Sacramento. "Then they send you down and screw you. I'm grinding it out, trying to be a team guy, and I get f -- . It's all just a business decision, because if I came up and pitched Tuesday and then had an MRI and had to go on the DL, they'd have to pay me major-league DL money. It's such a mom-and-pop organization."
Now, as an A's fan, I'm torn. Here's a fringe Major Leaguer bashing my favorite team and making a very serious accusation. On the other hand, he's the second A's player in less than six months to call out the team for a perceived lack of credibility on the medical staff.
SS Bobby Crosby was equally livid when he had to go outside the organization to find the correct diagnosis for the back injury that ended his 2006 season early.
But, back to the first hand…"mom-and-pop organization"? Hilarious! I mean, casual fans can surely see the low-rent, tacky green tarp that covers the third deck of the A's home ballpark (seats that rarely sell) and the succession of homegrown talent that have graduated to teams in higher tax brackets. The A's really aren't that far from selling indie CDs to supplement the monthly "Bake Sale for Payroll". And, let's hope that Esteban Loiaza's abuela makes tamales, again. Only 2 for $1 or 12 for $5!
A's general manager Billy Beane said he was not aware that Halsey was scheduled for an MRI and if Halsey was under the impression that he was set to start at Baltimore, his assumption was erroneous.
'K…Aaron loves his A's, but I'm calling bullshh… here. As outlined in Moneyball, Beane has his fingerprints on every aspect of this organization from in-game to administrative. Halsey is still on the 40-man roster, so if an MRI was in his immediate future, you can reasonably assume that Beane picked the doctor and scheduled the appointment.
At this point, I'm genuinely hoping Beane is lying, as the alternative scares me more.
This Week: at Orioles (2), vs. Mariners (2), vs. Devil Rays (3)