Saturday, August 8, 2009

10 Thoughts: Oakland A's – July 2009

Current Record (thru July 31): 44-58
July Record: 12-14
GB – AL West: 17.5 (Los Angeles Angels)
GB – AL Wildcard: 16.0 (Boston Red Sox)

(1) Moss Holliday - OF Matt Holliday's July 24 trade from Oakland to St. Louis ended the single most dispirited, disinterested run by a professional athlete since NFL WR Randy Moss slogged up and down the exact same field for two seasons earlier this decade. Even acknowledging that Holliday had to deal with a change in leagues – and altitude – it does not excuse the half-hearted way he played on the basepaths, in the field and at the plate. Immediately after getting paroled from Oakland, Holliday returned to being the balls-out gamer who busts his ass on infield grounders and swings with authority (1.329 OPS since the trade). In 1989, Rickey Henderson was KILLED in the New York media for the exact same thing before being dealt to the A's. 20 years later, Holliday gets a pass.

(2) So Long, OC - SS Orlando Cabrera was dealt to the Twins on July 31. At the start of play on June 1, he was hitting .236/.280/.296. For the next two months, he hit .321/.354/.428. The A's terrible play in May (11-18) really got to Cabrera as his defense took a noticeable downturn and his loafing up the first base line was brazenly comical. He seemed to realize how far his stock had fallen and commenced with the hustling, but was so obviously auditioning for a trade that he all but dragged his luggage to the batter's box. Hilariously, both he and the A's implied that Cabrera
could come back to Oakland in 2010. I will eat my own ass if this happens.

(3) Everybody Hates Bobby - The Cabrera trade opened up the A's shortstop position for a few hours, before the team recalled Cliff Pennington's impotent stick from Triple-A. This led to yet another delusional tirade from erstwhile A's SS Bobby Crosby: "I think it's a joke that I'm not in there. I've done everything to prepare. I consistently take groundballs at short. I've been ready to play if this time came, and now I'm not in there." The A's are solely keeping Crosby (.633 OPS) around to f*ck with him, as he's a free agent after this season and the team clearly had no problem eating Jason Giambi's contract – which had roughly the same amount of dollars left as Crosby's.

(4) Brett Meets World - In his last seven starts, SP Brett Anderson is 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA. In that span, he's beaten the Red Sox twice and held the Rays and Angels to zero runs in 12 combined innings. He's nearing 120 innings pitched this season after throwing just 225 IPs in the minor leagues, so it's conceivable that the A's will shut him down in September. There's an outside chance he'll pitch against the Yankees later this month, so catch him on YES if you can. Or, just wait until the next A's game airs on ESPN. Should be any minute now. Let's give it one more day.

(5) Call It a Comeback - On
July 20, the A's trailed the Twins 12-2 entering the bottom of the third inning. One of the things you can see – if you watch enough baseball – is the precise moment that a team folds up its tent for the night (or the season). The A's hung a three-spot in the third and I refused to change the channel. I didn't think they'd win, but they seemed up for at least making it interesting. Ironically enough, my cable went out just as Matt Holliday hit a game-tying grand slam in the 7th inning. I fired up my rarely-used MLB Gameday Audio on the laptop as Jack Cust cleared the wall to give the A's a 14-13 lead and the eventual win. Woo!

(6) That Rajai Guy - I love my fellow A's fans. No, really, I do. All 800 of us. I love each and every one. A's fans would have you believe that because OF Ryan Sweeney is a solid Major Leaguer because he appears on Baseball Tonight's "Web Gems" from time to time and hits (an empty) .270. Meanwhile, Rajai Davis was nearly run out of Oakland while posting a .351 OPS through the end of May as a fifth outfielder. Since June 1, he's hit .336/.408/.504 in 143 plate appearances. Coincidentally, Sweeney's come to the plate 143 times since June 1st, too. His line: .292/.322/.401. Look, they're both no better than a spare part on a good team, as Rajai is clearly overachieving. But, Sweeney is the most overrated anonymous player alive.

(7) Mazzaro's World II - Last month, I gleefully assessed the arrival of Vin Mazzaro to our starting rotation. In July, his ERA clocked in at 8.51. He gave up 44 hits in 24.1 innings. He struck out just four more than he walked. Last weekend, I dragged my family up to the Bay Area and paid to see Mazzaro give up five runs in the first inning LIVE! It's possible I might've jumped the gun a bit on him.

(8) Buck You, Travis - OF Travis Buck continues to waste away in AAA-Sacramento. His .781 OPS there is better than any of the current A's outfielders (small sample size, PCL launching pad caveats apply). Since he publicly contradicted the front office regarding his own health in late May, he hasn't been back to the big leagues. This is not a coincidence, but it's great subterfuge for the question: "Why are the A's unable to develop an outfielder with OPS above .781?"

(9) No Mo' Mar - Word 'round the A's is that the Nomar Garciaparra era will limp to end in the next seven days or whenever 1B Daric Barton returns from the DL. My lasting memory of the guy? How 'bout his
absurd contention that some ballplayers asked to be listed with a positive test result during 2003's steroid survey testing just to hasten formal testing? Worst preemptive strike EVER. You're not foolin' no one, son.

(10) Hot Links - Here's a
terrific rebuttal of sorts to all of the Jose Canseco backlash that came out of the A's 20th anniversary celebration of the last Oakland team to win a World Series. And, here's Howard Bryant's depressing piece on our boy genius GM. Two things stand out: (1) Beane's bizarre "hey, I didn't ask Michael Lewis to write a book about me!" stance on Moneyball - considering the amount of access Lewis had and (2) Beane openly sh*ts on the A's home ballpark. Yes, it's a toilet. A's fans know this. But, that overt negativity only keeps new fans – the guy whose job moved him (and his family) to the Bay Area or the college freshman at Cal who relocated from Arizona – from ever wanting to attend.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I find it amazing, really, how many baseball people relish in the downfall of your A's in the post-Moneyball era and are quick to say that it doesn't work. It's crazy how many of them miss the point that the undervalued stats that led to the A's success are no longer undervalued -- and hence, the large market teams have started paying premiums for the stuff that the A's noticed first. Consider:

Youkilis: Large market team - $40M
Swisher: Large market team - $27M
Zito: $126M
Ja. Giambi: $100M+

But, by this definition, the philosophy failed?

It seems like the next great challenge in baseball is figuring out the draft. There simply HAS to be a better predictor of Major League success then what they're doing now which is, largely, guessing. It amazes me that baseball teams spend so much money on scouting when they consider one major leaguer every couple years to be a "successful" career.