Monday, June 25, 2007

The Oakland A's Monday #10

Overall: 39-35 (3rd Place, AL West)
Last (Two) Weeks: 5-7 (2-1 vs. Astros, 1-2 vs. Cardinals, 2-1 vs. Reds, 0-3 vs. Mets)

From 1999 through 2006, my Oakland A's have been playoff contenders deep into September. That string of consistency had to end sometime and 2007 is shaping up to be that year.

Oakland just completed a three game series against the Mets in which our offense put up 1, 0 and 2 runs, respectively, in each game. On the season, the A's are next to last in the American League in runs scored. They now sit a season-high nine games behind the Angels who appear ready to run away with the division.

And, as long as they insist on giving four at bats a game to Earth's Worst Hitter ™ (who must be cooling off after a hot week or two, since he just had another one of "those" articles written about him to deflect his inherent offensive incompetence from fans) they'll continue to struggle.

So, here are five ways to fix the A's and save their season:

Bench Jason Kendall and start Kurt Suzuki - It might be blasphemy to those who eat the tripe that Kendall's "game calling skills" are too valuable to sit, but words cannot capture how much he's hurting this offense. Yankee fans: remember Rafael Santana in 1988? Kendall's hitting worse than that. Met fans: remember Rey OrdoƱez in 1998? Kendall's hitting worse than that.

Suzuki 'The Dragon' Steamboat is only 4 for 9 in limited action with the A's, but he's clearly not intimidated by big league pitching. And, for A's fans who want to play the "too young" card, Ramon Hernandez became the everyday Oakland catcher in 1999 at the same age as Suzuki, 23. Hernandez missed a month with an injury, but was otherwise good enough to "game call" the team back into contention for the first time in six years.

Leave Mike Piazza as DH, platoon with Jack Cust - I've gone back and forth on the "Piazza to catcher" argument. From reading Piazza's quotes, it's obvious that (1) his heart isn't in a return behind the plate and (2) physically, he can't do it, either. Piazza is a career .324/.408/.592 hitter vs. lefties. Obviously, that's not indicative of his current, diminished skill set, but he did put up a 1.071 OPS vs. southpaws in 2006, while he's become barely passable vs. righties. Let Cust rake versus righties and accept his walk, home run or strikeout approach. Instant upgrade.

Trade for Houston's Brad Lidge - I hate, hate, hate when fans try to propose trades for their favorite teams. It usually involves their team giving up five or six sh*tty players in exchange for someone's superstar. I accept that I'm a hypocrite, but at least I'm not one of those idiot fans.

Lidge has fallen out of favor in Houston as fans and management don't seem to think he'll ever overcome the bomb that Allah Pujols hit off of him in the 2005 NLCS.

Therefore, I propose Oakland dealing RH reliever Santiago Casilla, 27, and catching prospect Landon Powell, 25, for Lidge. Casilla has nothing left to prove at AAA and has been very effective over the last month the A's. He's ready to be a late inning set-up guy with the stuff to close down the road. Meanwhile, Powell, who's battled weight problems and injuries, is killing the ball at AA-Midland (.391 OBP, .502 SLG).

Bring up Daric Barton - For the uninitiated, Barton was the crown jewel of the Mark Mulder trade a few years ago. While should-be All Star Dan Haren was also acquired in that deal (ditto the lamentable Kiko Calero), Barton was uberprospect that everyone was salivating over. He doesn't slug like you'd want from a first baseman, but he's an on-base machine with gap-to-gap power. Y'know, kind of like current 1B Dan Johnson's supposed to be.

Johnson's out of options and the redundancy of his roster spot means he'd have to be traded (no way he passes through waivers). This means it's sink or swim for Barton, but if he's not ready for prime time, Nick Swisher can move back to first, while playing time in left field can be split between various spare parts.

Play Marco Scutaro more - This originally read "trade for Miguel Tejada". Don't look at me like that, it was a good trade proposal, too. Unfortunately, Tejada is likely out until August or September with a fractured wrist. That leaves my old friend Marco. Note that this has nothing to do with Scutaro's imaginary "clutchitivity". In fact, it has everything to do with the fact that SS Bobby Crosby is stinkin' almost as bad as Kendall.

Scutaro has a career .710 OPS vs. RHP. Certainly not great, but loads better than the .595 OPS that Crosby has put up against righties in 2007. Crosby is better than that, but for now, he's dragging the offense down. Play Scutaro vs. RHP with Crosby playing vs. LHP (.767 OPS against in 2007).

Marco started for 2B Mark Ellis last night against the Indians and the A's lost. Do the other four things and start Scutaro for Crosby, damn it. I guarantee you'll win.

Or, just win this Saturday when I'm at Yankee Stadium. Please?

This Week: at Indians (3), at Yankees (3)

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