Escape from New York

A year ago, the A’s opened the All-Star break by losing four straight in Minnesota. That was the continuation of a nine-game skid that set the table for a 32-42 second half.

Anybody else sensing deja vu following a three-game whipping at the hands of the Yankees this weekend? This one extended the A’s losing streak to five games, and now that they head to Tampa Bay — one of baseball’s best home teams — I can see this thing getting out of control.

Work committments limited me to seeing only a bit of Friday and a tad bit of today’s contests. But this is one of those series where the box scores speak volumes. The A’s, as their roster is constructed, simply can’t hit, at least not consistently. Ryan Sweeney was the only guy to collect an RBI (he had four) all weekend. Ridiculous.

Does anybody want to watch this lineup anymore? I mean, Jack Cust (1-for-9, eight strikeouts) is the lefty version of Richie Sexson. Donnie Murphy is one of the worst hitters I’ve ever seen. Jack Hannahan is just not very good. I think the state of the A’s offense was best summed up last Sunday, when Rob Bowen (now at .196) was summoned to pinch-hit against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning.

And let’s understand something. This is not a hitting coach problem. This is a personnel problem. You can see why general manager Billy Beane is acting as if he’s conceding the division to the Angels.

Ugly. Real ugly.



  • Bee

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with you, Rick. Hitting is the A’s chief problem and they need to do something about it very soon. Mark Ellis is frustrated, Geren is frustrated, you’re frustrated and the fans are frustrated. I don’t think we have anyone in the minors who is an offensive giant (no pun intended), although Wes Bankston and Brooks Conrad have been hot of late. We desparately need a big bat in the middle of the lineup and Jack Cust isn’t it.

    If Billy is really serious, I think he should clean house now, get what he can for those who are not hitting and let the AAA guys learn to be MLB players for the rest of the year. They might just surprise us. I think the following should go: Jack Cust and his strike outs and now non-existent homers, Emil Brown (he’s not the RBI machine he was at the beginning of the year, probably because the pitchers are now up to top form) and Donnie Murphy who was designated for assignment today. Maybe we should bring up Landon Powell from Sacramento and move Rob Bowen. Or maybe not. A fire sale of sub-250 MLB hitters would send a really strong message to the rest of the team that no one is safe unless they start hitting: fouling off pitches to hasten the departure of lights-out starters, bunting for base hits, or just plain getting hits or walks to get runners on base and then bringing them home. These guys are better than what they’ve shown at the plate the last couple of weeks. They need to wake up. I agree it is not Ty Van Burkleo’s doing. He’s a great hitting coach.

    On the pitching side, my response to Calvino’s colorful comparison of Huston to Monica Lewinsky is that the only difference is that no one gets any pleasure out of Huston doing it. I think he needs to be moved and I hope the Milwaulkie deal goes through. Huston has been wonderful in years past but this year he has … well … sucked. He’s either injured or his head isn’t on straight. Let’s get something for him while we can.

  • Bee

    By the way, yesterday was anyone else screaming at their TV sets to walk Giambi when he came up in the bottom of the 6th? You could have heard me 3 towns away. And my worst fears were realized. When Duke is on the mound, we should treat Jason as if he were Barry Bonds and walk him automatically. It just make sense. Let’s face it. He has Duke’s number.