Smith’s gem

Well, apparently Greg Smith found the “it” that had been missing. Been in the middle of another move — that’s three in four months now, and hopefully, the final one for a while — so was only able to catch the latter end of Smith’s rebound effort against the Angels, but it was just what the A’s needed for their series opener against the Angels. And with Rich Harden going again today, they should be in great shape.

I covered Smith’s last start against Philadelphia, and while he wasn’t bad, he wasn’t real good, either. I mentioned to manager Bob Geren after the game that it seemed to him as if Smith hadn’t been as sharp throughout June as he had been in all of April and most of May. Geren agreed with me but also said that he felt Smith was pitching “well enough to win.”

Smith, when I said the same thing, also agreed with me. But it was nothing he could put his finger on, other than he was spending an awful lot of time in the stretch and putting the leadoff hitter on a lot. Last night, he retired the leadoff hitter eight times in nine innings.

Pitchers like Smith are kind of strange, because even when they dazzle, their stuff isn’t so incredulous that the hitters look overmatched. And when they get hit hard, it often looks like their just a tad off. That’s kind of how it goes with Smith, so I don’t know if this is the start of a good trend or what. But what I could tell watching last night is that he seemed a touch more aggressive, a touch more confident. We’ll see where it leads, but it’s not like the guy has embarrassed himself up this point.

Now, Joe Blanton, that’s another story for another time.

How ’bout giving me your thoughts on Greg Smith and what he projects to being long term?






  • greg smith is my favorite of all a’s rookies this year, next to Sweeney. he reminds me alot of kenny rogers. i’m confident we’ll be talking about greg smith doing great things in the years to come. did i mention his mlb leading pick-offs?! ( 9 total i think)

  • Tom Dempsey

    Greg Smith reminds me of a young Tom Glavine. What I mean by that is he is left-handed and he works both sides of the plate with all of his pitches. If he stays healthy, I think he could get 150+ wins in his career. Rick keep in mind he’s only 24 years of age. Unless your name is Barry Zito, a pitcher’s best years are usually their late twenties and early thirties.

  • Mike

    His ceiling? Could be as high as Tom Glavine.

    His floor? Probably Jaime Moyer.

    That’s certainly not a bad thing.

    It’s been most fascinating to compare and contrast the A’s two rookie left-handers this season.

    They go into the break with nearly identical numbers. They are close in age. Yet the way each of them goes about their business couldn’t possibly be more different.

    Eveland has the “stuff” that scouts love. Everything he throws seems to have some movement.

    But at this stage, he’s still very much a “thrower”, with a sometimes shaky mental focus and confidence level. He can be knocked off his game mentally, as the stunning revelation that the ball he took off his wrist was “in his head” for a time.

    It’s harder to see Eveland’s ceiling, as baseball is absolutely littered with the shattered dreams of talented arms who could never quite make that final adjustment that is required when everyone around is just as physically talented as you are – or more so.

    I hope Eveland hangs out with Smith. It will make him better in the long run.

    Smith is more along the lines of a “pitcher”, and he’s much further along for his age then most pitchers of his type. Duchscherer, who is similar to Smith in his mental approach, but more excitable – like Eveland – took several years longer to reach the same level Smith currently sits at.

    Smith is a much more cerebral sort – the guy who lacks a single “plus” pitch, but gets Major League hitters out with a combination of location, tenacity, and a certain kind of mental toughness that is impossible to describe, but is VERY evident when seen.

    Smith has it, and that combined with a solid understanding of who he is, and what he has to work with, give him the higher ceiling of the two pitchers in my opinion.

    I could do a lot of winning with a staff made up of guys like Smith, Duchscherer, Foulke (in his prime) and others who understanding fairly early on that they can’t depend on their physical talents to earn them millions of dollars playing a child’s game – they must do it with brains, moxie, and plain hard work.

    I love those kind of players, and there are a lot of them on the 2008 Oakland A’s. This has been the most entertaining team to watch since the 1999 club.

    That club sparked the beginning of a long run of dominance in the American League. While this team isn’t as physically talented as the 1999 club, it may ultimately have the higher ceiling if it continues to be built in this manner.

  • Byron

    I think Smith could be a very dependable starter for us; he doesn’t seem to have the dazzle of Harden, but, what’s wrong with a very solid 3rd or 4th starter? He seems to be far more dependable than Blanton is currently, and I’m sure we’ll keep him. I am more comfortable with his starts than Dana Eveland’s at this point, but not as much as Duke’s.

  • Bee

    I agree with most of what Mike says. Smith could be a good influence on Eveland. They complement each other very well. Smith will be a very valuable asset to the team for the next few years. He, Eveland and Gonzalez sure make the Haren trade look great. Not to denigrate Danny at all. The D-backs got exactly what they wanted with him–he’s doing great! I miss him, but, as Mike said, this year’s A’s team is very exciting and entertaining to watch.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the elder Sweeney and the Hurt can come back soon and contribute with their bats at DH. Cust gets the occasional HR, but I am not sure it is worth the miriad of outs (mostly strikouts) with runners in scoring position that we have seen from him lately. What’s with him not swinging at close pitches with the count at 3-2? It can’t all be bad umpiring.

  • AsFan

    Are the A’s buyers or sellers this year?
    I can gush about the pitching, …it’s easy!
    I can speak well of the defense when Emil, Cust, and Chavez are not fielding.
    …but that leaves the offense and it stinks. Friday’s line up without the names:
    247 1 at bat
    The return of Frank is welcome but this line up with Frank & say; Holliday, zip through the second half and into the playoffs.
    1st hurdle is Holliday’s $5 million in ’08 and $12 million in ’09. Before fans reject this let me remind you that Frank is NOT on the A’s in ’09.
    In other words; look over those batting averages once again.

  • Texas Todd

    To compliment AsFan’s remarks, I believe the A’s are 25th in the Majors in team batting avg. Need offense not pitching. In fact, pitching staff has been great considering the lack of “O”

  • Jan K Oski

    Hey Todd, what happens when the A’s do get men on base? They have one of the highest avg in the majors. I’d much rather see hits with men on than meaningless hits to keep the BA up.

    Let’s go Oakland!

  • Texas Todd

    Agree Oksi! Howver, tell me how many times in the last month or so have the A’s scored more than 2 runs, yet still are in contention. That would be an interesting statistic. Geaux A’s!

  • AsFan

    2008 Games
    runs won loss
    0 0 11
    1 1 17
    2 1 5
    3 7 5
    4 5 7
    5 10 1
    6 7 1
    7 8 0
    8 2 0
    9 3 0
    10 1 0
    11 1 0
    12 1 0
    13 2 0
    14 1 0
    15 2 0
    Usually the runs margin tells a lot about a team but the A’s scoring is skewed both ways as a young team is usually an erratic team. Offensive consistency is also hurt by Geren’s A’S Leading MLB with DL visits year after year;
    2-33 W-L 0-2 runs (35 gms/30 runs)
    12-12 W-L 3-4 runs (24 gms/84 runs)
    17-2 W-L 5-6 runs (19 gms/103 runs)
    21-0 W-L 7-15 runs(21 gms/202 runs)

    The lopsided scoring is very obvious in the A’s games of 10 + runs:
    8 games/159 runs (Almost 20 per folks!)

    To me, the way to eliminate a lot of the erratic scoring is to introduce an offensive player that will affect those 0-2 runs games in an positive and offensive manner.

    Frank is a given and helps but not as much as you want because he pushes Cust into the OF where he represents potential runs for rivals. That and the flaw that Cust has been unable to hit anything but fastballs and pitchers know it.

    Jan is right, you want hitters to get tough with batters on. Adding a Holliday in LF maximizes that and can lift scoring on all games. In tandem with Frank the A’s lineups become lethal.

  • AsFan

    Sorry.. the chart had columns when I submitted it.
    Also, I may be off a game here or a run there but not enough to skew anything for these discussions.

  • AsFan

    Harden was just traded.

    I just wanted to say Berkman is a major upgrade over Holliday and Houston’s roster is overloaded with players in their mid-thirties.

    The problem now is you traded your shut down artist in any playoffs for some so-so (prospects?!) from the Cubbies played out system.