Monday, March 12, 2007
FC's MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics
Offseason Analysis: Let me first get this out of the way: WE FINALLY GOT OUT OF THE FIRST ROUND WE FINALLY GOT OUT OF THE FIRST ROUND WHOOOO.
Anyway, the offseason:
A lot of two steps back, one step forward. Frank Thomas to the Blue Jays? Two steps back. Replacement: Mike Piazza? One step forward. Barry Zito to the Giants? Two steps back. Replacement: Joe Kennedy? One step forward. Joe Kennedy from the bullpen to the rotation? Two steps back. Replacement: Alan Embree? One step forward. You get the idea. Shannon Stewart was the only acquisition that wasn’t accompanied by any stepping back, though now that Mark Kotsay’s been hurt and figures to miss a good chunk of time you could argue that’s negligible. Rule Vers (my favorite type of player) Ryan Goleski and Jay Marshall were also brought in, and at least Goleski has a pretty good chance to stick. All in all, though, not the greatest of off seasons for Mr. Moneyball.
Random stat from 2006 that was awesome: 2. Number of games Mark Kiger played all season, making his major league debut in the ALCS against the Tigers as a defensive replacement for the starter, D’Angelo Jimenez. Yes, it got that bad during after Mark Ellis went down in the ALDS. And no, don’t expect to see Mark ever again. He will make a fun trivia question, though.
Most Overlooked Player: Justin Duchscherer. Easily. I don’t think people realize just how great this guy is. In three full years now with Oakland, his rundown of ERA+ lines looks like this: 143 in 96 IP in 2004, 204 in 85 IP in 2005, 152 in 55 IP in 2006. This guy is the ultimate modern day fireman, and an absolute rock in the bullpen. Goes multiple innings in late close games. Strands baserunners at the time they’re most needed to be stranded. His health is arguably as important to this team as Rich Harden’s or Bobby Crosby’s going into 07.
Fun prop bet: Marco Scutaro: Number of memorable clutch hits: 6. I’m going with the over, just because he earned a lifetime pass from me for this last year:
Funnest non-roster invitee: Lou Merloni. The Boston folkhero just keeps on plugging along. 1,085 career at bats. .271/.332/.384 line. Incidentally enough, that should put him at least fourth on our middle infield depth chart, unless I guess you count Antonio Perez as a middle infielder (and baseball player). Grand holder of the revered, “I’m not D’Angelo Jimenez or Mark Kiger” title.
Player unlikely to live up to expectations: Much as I hate to say it, probably Piazza. Largely because his expectations involve replacing a guy by the name of Frank Thomas who just had the best offensive season for an A since the likes of Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada roamed these parts. A lot of people are thinking, “Well, hey, he hit pretty well at Petco Park last year, and that’s an extreme pitcher’s park, and he also caught, and now he’ll be DHing, he’s gonna have a great season.” I just don’t buy that. He hit .283/.342/.501 with 22 jacks, which is all fine and dandy, but I don’t see where he’s going to improve on that by getting older, switching to the American League, and staying in a pitcher’s park. Call me pessimistic.
Player most likely to finish second to David Eckstein in this years Holiday Inn Second Look/scrappy white guy award: Jason Kendall. Man look at this scrapper. Look at his manly stubble. He had that play last year in Texas where there was a past ball, and the dude tried to score from third, and Kendall just got the ball himself and dove at the plate in time to tag him out and win the game. GRIT. DETERMINATION. MANLY STUBBLE.
Mike Caruso Memorial Overrated Prospect Award: Javier Herrera. Dude's been hurt. Dude's been caught roiding. He has one professional season with an OPS over .818, at low A. Consider me not quite sold, tools be damned.
A Fake Newspaper Headline From Some Point In The Season: Harden Gives Piazza Eyeful
A haiku about this teams chances:
on paper okay
might have shot in al west
injuries will hurt