Friday, September 3, 2010

10 Thoughts: Oakland A's -- August 2010

August Record: 13-15
Overall Record: 65-66 (2nd place, 8.5 GB Texas)

(1) The Future is NOW Later... -- My A's called up top power prospect
Chris Carter from the minor leagues on August 9. After a slow start at AAA-Sacramento, he was batting .262 with 27 home runs on the season. I tried to remember the last time the Athletics' fan base was THIS excited about a debuting position player. 1B Carlos Peña in 2002? Nah. We overcompensated with our adoration due to Jason Giambi's departure in the previous offseason. 2B Brent Gates in 1993? Nope. Even though the '93 A's were an abominable squad, they still had enough star power (Rickey, McGwire, the remains of Ruben Sierra) to mute Gates' heavy hype. OF Jose Canseco in 1985-86? Yup. An impressive September cup of coffee in '85 whetted our appetites for what would be a Rookie of the Year campaign in '86.

In 20 plate appearances, however, Carter went hitless with one walk and nine strikeouts. He looked especially helpless on two-strike sliders, but the A's inexplicably left him in for a handful of late-inning pressure at-bats on the road. He was sent back down on August 15. 20 years earlier, the A's called up an OF/DH who also put up 20 unimpressive plate appearances. Perhaps
you've heard of him.

(2) "The Pope" Brett'Anderson Dinero! -- The next time any A's player starts lamenting the team's lack of national recognition or the abandoned ballpark they play in; I'd suggest the one benefit of baseball anonymity is the complete and utter non-reaction to this picture of Brett Anderson (posted to his now-defunct Twitter feed) and his zombie arm candy.

Make no mistake: this picture is obviously NOT news. But, off the top of my head, there are probably only 3 or 4 other MLB markets where this doesn't register at least a blip in ONE local news cycle (San Francisco (which is redundant with Oakland), Seattle, Toronto and, maybe, Arizona). M'girl Carrie posted the perfect lede to the story on my Twitter page: "Oh, the wonders that $40 worth of one-dollar bills can buy you! #HomelyNotComely"

(3) Solving Jack Cust -- I like Jack Cust. Really, I do. I liked him before
he signed a ball for my son during Spring Training in 2009. He's been the A's most productive offensive player since he joined the team in 2007. I like Jack Cust! I'm just sick of the guy and I think I've finally figured out why. This year, with runners in scoring position, Cust is hitting .187/.326/.307 (with 2 outs and RISP, he's hitting .219/.324/.406). In so-called "late and close" situations, he's hitting .083/.233/.194 and when the game is tied, he's hitting .169/.320/.254. Look, I get that "clutch" stats are junk, but the way Cust approaches clutch situations isn't as irrelevant. He's NOT getting the borderline 3-and-2 calls that he got during his walk-a-mania peak in 2007-08, but he refuses to expand the strike zone. Consequently, he leads the league in "taking a half-step towards first base, before realizing the umpire rung him up".

(4) Only 10-12 More Years Before It's Settled -- The "Pro Baseball for San Jose" website posted
these renderings of the possible new home for the A's. Your guess is as good as mine as to what this means. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig insists that the A's stadium issue is still under review. The city of Oakland remains optimistic (even in the absence of a clear, publicized plan). The city of San Jose has been ridiculously pro-active (even in the absence of a clear, publicized endorsement). The one undeniable element? Those ballpark pictures are purty. Additional, more informed analysis can be found here.

(5) Goodbye, Geren? -- On August 9, the Mariners fired manager Don Wakamatsu. He was Oakland's bench coach in 2008 and there's been a light smattering of speculation that he might be in line to replace current A's manager Bob Geren (whose contract only has a club option for 2011) at season's end. I'd put the likelihood of Geren returning at 60/40, but I'm rooting for Wakamatsu for the following reasons: (A) He fell out of favor in Seattle by being the only one in the organization with the balls to force Cantankerous Ken Griffey out the door; (B) He wanted to kick Chone Figgins' midget-ass (on camera!) for not giving maximum effort and (C) He's not Bob Geren.

(6) Yay, Pitching! -- The A's 2.90 team ERA in August was their best single month of the season. In fact, in August, the staff surrendered its fewest hits in a month and posted its best WHIP and SO/BB ration. Hold that thought...

(7) Boo, Hitting! -- August saw the A's score their fewest runs in a month for 2010 with only 98. Low-water month-long marks were also achieved in batting average (.231), on-base percentage (.309) and slugging percentage (.342). Fun fact: on the season, the A's have collectively hit .242/.305/.324 out of the NUMBER THREE spot in the batting order. GAH!

(8) Cy Cahill? -- There are few things more ironically amusing than listening to A's fans rail against the same esoteric statistical analysis that our favorite team pretty much popularized more than a decade ago. After his start vs. Cleveland on August 25, SP Trevor Cahill's record was 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA (and, to that point, a 4-1 record with a 0.92 ERA in the month of August). ESPN's Buster Olney
posted this assessment to his Twitter account. In response, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron(!) posted this piece, which basically discounts ERA and any other statistic the pitcher cannot control. Cameron's take caused Olney to briefly go insane on Twitter. Finally, Cameron followed up on his original piece here. In reality, Seattle's Felix Hernandez has been more dominant than Cahill (despite a pedestrian 10-10 record) while Boston's Jon Lester and New York's CC Sabathia have the raw numbers AND wins to get the sportswriters' votes. And, in Cahill's last start of the month (August 30); he gave up nine hits and eight earned runs to the Yankees in just four innings. This is an appropriate last word.

(9) The Future is NOW in Rehab -- Remember Michael Ynoa? Signed in 2008 at the age of 16, he received the largest signing bonus ever for a non-Cuban international player. Minor League Baseball and amateur expert Kevin Goldstein listed Ynoa as the team's top prospect last year calling him a "once in a generation" talent. Baseball America referred to him as the best Dominican pitching prospect in at least a decade. Remember him? That guy? On August 24, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He's pitched a total of nine professional innings in the A's organization. I have nothing to add here.

(10) Marketing 101 -- On August 22, the A's held "Fiesta Day" at the Oakland Coliseum. (Not sure why they changed the name from last year's "Hispanic Heritage Day", but, whatever.) SP Gio Gonzalez was exploited respectfully asked to film
this commercial and the team wore Atleticos jerseys in honor of the occasion. Is there any reason why suckers such as myself who routinely dole out ungodly amount of money for expensive, authentic jerseys can't purchase the Atleticos version from the team's website shop? Not even a $22 t-shirt version? I would BUY this, A's! Why won't you listen to me?!


JPinAZ said...

A 20 years earlier comment about Ozzie Canseco regarding a hitting prospect but no 20 years earlier comment about Todd Van Poppel for the pitching prospect? You're starting to slip.

Jeff Hansen said...

How in the world did you know to make the D'Angelo Dinero reference???

Also, with regards to Cahill, I forgot which third-party said it, but I liked how they said that FIP & BABIP are about revising your expectations for the future, not retroactively dismissing the past. So the argument is "Cahill won't last" not "Cahill is lucky therefore not successful".

Aaron C. said...

@JP -- Good call. Brent Gates was listed as the A's #2 prospect by Baseball America in 1993. Three guesses who was #1? No, it wasn't Kirk Dressendorfer. Or Don Peters.

@Hansen -- True story...Mrs. Bootleg caught a Pope promo about a month ago and was captivated. I was SO proud of her. And, the Cahill debate is just silly to me. Unless Cahill can simultaneously fill the 3-4-5 spots in our batting order, any award he wins is just fluff.

Troy said...

Hmm, I wonder if the Giants sell their Gigantes t-shirts, jerseys, etc