Acquired: Drafted in second round (2006).
Contract: One year through 2011 (eligible for arbitration after 2011).
Position: Opening Day starting pitcher; worst death stare ever.
2011 Projected ERA: 3.67
2010 Season: Cahill's 18-win season sparked an interesting debate between stat-centric sabermetricians and old-school fans. The mainstream consensus was that Cahill delivered on his minor league hype (#11 on Baseball America's 100 Top Prospects list in 2009) as the 22-year-old was the youngest Oakland starter to win at least 18 games in almost 30 years. He made the All-Star team and received a bit of Cy Young buzz as the calendar turned to September. On the stat side, the argument was that Cahill's unsustainably low BABIP was the reason for his "breakout" season and that he may not be as awesome as his ERA indicates. These facts, however, aren't in dispute: Cahill's groundball rate was 56%, he found success with his curveball last year after ignoring it for the most part during his rookie season and his strikeout rate was a mediocre 5.4 per nine innings. Old school vs. new school…sports-entertainment's least interesting feud rages on.
2011 Over/Under: Oakland manager Bob Geren has tabbed Cahill for the Opening Day start against Seattle. The "ace" expectations are in place which probably means the analytic A's are rewarding Cahill for last year's top-level performance and ignoring his less impressive peripherals. That projected 3.67 ERA seems awfully high for a groundball pitcher who's blessed with a strong defense behind him and a home park that generally doesn't help out hitters. Take the UNDER.
By the Numbers: 21 years, 251 days – Vida Blue was the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher in team history as he got the nod in 1971. Overall, OF Claudell Washington (20 years, 220 days in 1975), OF Rickey Henderson (21 years, 106 days in 1980) and 3B Eric Chavez (21 years, 119 days) were the youngest to ever start for the A's on Opening Day. Who was the oldest? DH Reggie Jackson (40 years, 324 days in 1987) followed by SP Tom Candiotti (40 years, 213 days in 1998) and 2B Joe Morgan (40 years, 196 days in 1984). Hey, YOU try writing 30 different player reviews without liberally lifting from the media guide once or twice…or thrice.
Surefire 2011 Prediction: Cahill will oppose Seattle's King Felix Hernandez on Opening Night. Hernandez -- in 17 career starts -- is 9-4 with a 2.87 ERA against the Athletics with 110 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. And, it won't matter. Oakland's kinda-sorta improved offense combined with the Mariners' inarguably awful lineup will result in a 3-2 win for Cahill in the first game of the season. He'll go six-plus innings, giving up one run and striking out six. The game will not sell out. Sigh.
Old School Rap Track for the Season: Same Song, Digital Underground featuring 2Pac