Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The Oakland A's Monday #25
Some burning questions (and answers) as we've hit the 20-game mark. Our heroes are 12-8 and tied for first in the AL West…
DH/LF Jack Cust is currently hitting .157 with 22 K's in 51 ABs. Was he just a one-year wonder?
A general rule for stupid baseball fans is anything that happens in the first month of the season is predictive for the next five months. Cust remains a "three true outcomes" player, as an insane 59% of his plate appearances have resulted in a home run, walk or strikeout. Last year, during Cust's "breakout" season, he endured a far worse slump from May 22 to June 14 (.135/.250/.173) over an almost identical number (52) of at-bats. This season, Cust is getting on base (.368 OBP) and, in his last few games, has swung towards the opposite field more. No reason to panic…yet.
SS Bobby Crosby is currently hitting .313/.368/.475. Has he FINALLY arrived?
See above, you stupid baseball fan. Crosby had nearly 1,600 at-bats entering this season and was a career .240/.310/.391 hitter. So, can anyone honestly think that anything can be gleaned from his first 87 plate appearances this year? Crosby's current line owes a lot to this past weekend, as he took advantage of some bad Royals pitching (Hideo Nomo!) and fielding (LF Mark Teahen played at least two outs into doubles for Crosby). Last Friday morning, Crosby was hitting .254/.306/.373. He went 8 for 13 with 3 XBHs and 2 BBs in his next three games. April means nothing.
1B Daric Barton came highly touted and had a terrific debut for the A's last September. How's he look this year?
Well, it is early, but I can confidently say that Barton is already on the short list of worst defensive first basemen I've ever seen. His tracking of pop-ups across the vast expanse of foul territory in Oakland can't be captured with words, so I've included a familiar cartoon to illustrate how awful his routes are. His hitting has been marred by occasional at-bats where he inexplicably swings out of his shoes, instead of maintaining the doubles stroke that got him here in the first place. Since a four strikeout game in Toronto on April 10, he's hit .316/.409/.447.
The A's lead the league in ERA. Is it smoke n' mirrors or can they keep it up?
The heavy-lifters are newcomers Dana Eveland (2-1, 1.90 ERA) and Greg Smith (1-0, 3.00 ERA). I'll assume that you've never heard of them, if you aren't an A's fan. Eveland is a doughy lefty who can touch the low 90s and has drawn comparisons to a young David Wells (effective, but inconsistent). Smith tops out at 88 mph, with a wicked change-up. It's still way too early to predict how they'll pitch this year, but there are some constants with the rest of the staff: Rich Harden is hurt and Joe Blanton hasn't missed many bats. Keep an eye on Keith Foulke, who's been solid this year (he's currently on the DL, but not expected to miss much more time). He could be headed to a contender come July.
Could DH Frank Thomas be coming back to Oakland?
There are rumblings that the A's wanna bring him back, now that he pissed and moaned his way right out of Toronto. Our current DH, Mike Sweeney, appears to d-o-n-e as an everyday player – his power has evaporated over the past three years. But, don't discount his "The Erstad Factor" as he's already become a favorite of the local media and teammates for everything that has nothing to do with hitting a ball. Bringing Thomas on wouldn't be much of a risk. If he rakes, the A's could flip him before the trading deadline. If he sulks, all he'll have cost is the pro-rated league minimum.