Sunday, March 27, 2011

30 A's in 30 Days: Tyson Ross

Acquired: Drafted in second round (2008).
Contract: One year through 2011 (not yet eligible for arbitration).
Position: Fifth starter? Long reliever? Harbinger of DOOM.

Note: Brandon McCarthy was named the team's fifth starter yesterday.

2011 Projected ERA: 4.31

2010 Season: I was at Phoenix Municipal Stadium with my family on March 18, 2010 when Tyson Ross
introduced himself to the world -- by way of the 9,000 fans who were in attendance that day. Ross entered the game in relief and struck out seven Diamondbacks over three full innings of work. Maybe it didn't make him household name, but Ross' performance all but assured the 22-year-old non-roster invitee a spot on the Opening Day roster. Ross had been a starting pitcher in the minors (with no Triple-A experience and only nine appearances at AA-Midland in 2009), but he pitched out of the bullpen for Oakland in 2010. He was used in mostly low leverage situations during seven April appearances. On May 11, he was sporting a respectable 3.32 ERA over 19 innings with 14 strikeouts. Four days son Jalen and I drove up to Anaheim to see our A's play the hated Angels. Justin Duchscherer was the scheduled starter. As the A's took the field in the bottom of the first, it was hastily announced over the PA system that Ross would be the emergency starter, replacing the injured Duchscherer. Jalen read the look on my face perfectly: "Are you sad because now we're gonna lose?" Ross was actually solid through the 3 2/3 innings, but as he passed the 50-pitch mark (which, to that point, was the most he'd thrown in any previous relief appearance) he collapsed...spectacularly. From that start until his final appearance in early July: 7.52 ERA, 20.1 innings.

2011 Over/Under: We can all agree that Spring Training statistics are meaningless, right? OK, with that out of the way...have you SEEN Ross' Spring Training statistics?! He's given up just one run in 15.1 innings! It remains to be seen if he's won the fifth starter spot (erstwhile White Sox and Rangers SP Brandon McCarthy was considered the front-runner as late as last week). If Ross pulls off the upset -- and his MLB innings are better managed than that night in mid-May -- I'm taking the UNDER.

By the Numbers: 1975 – Not that these things matter, but I'd be lying if said I wasn't curious: when was the last time the Athletics produced a homegrown, African-American starting pitcher? Off the top of my head, I think it was Mike Norris. He made his debut in April 1975 and won 58 games for the Oakland over a 10-year career. Norris was infamously plagued by drug problems and arm trouble -- missing six full seasons (1984-1989) due to one or both issues. He was one of my favorite players when I first became an A's fan and his 1990 comeback -- though, ultimately anti-climactic -- was a big deal to me. You only have to emulate SOME of this stuff, Tyson.

Surefire 2011 Prediction: Ross wears number 66 because he stands 6'6". This will be beaten into the ground by every opposing broadcast team when he pitches. By the end of the season, the only team meme mentioned more often will be "there's a LOT of foul territory here in Oakland".

Old School Rap Track for the Season:
I Got 5 On It, Luniz featuring Dru Down, E-40, Richie Rich, Shock G, and Spice 1

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