Are my ears deceiving me?

Wow, what an explosion by the A’s today. Four entire runs through the first five innings against Tampa Bay. That’s their season-average and they still have half the game to go.

Not overly crazy about Sean Gallagher yet, but I wouldn’t call the Rich Harden trade a waste, yet. I mean, I wasn’t that impressed with Harden when he first arrived.  Gallagher has had two opportunities to deliver a shut-down inning, and twice has allowed at least one run. That’s a problem with him.  The A’s have given him four such opportunities (and the definition most skippers use for a shutdown inning is an inning in which a team has scored multi-runs to take a lead) in his past five starts, and Gallagher is 0-for-4.

Anyway, while listening to the terrific tones of Ken Korach, I started thinking about all the the guys contributing for other clubs who have departed since Jason Giambi started the trend after 2001. Not to say it would’ve been realistic, or even prudent to keep all of them, but it’s interesting to consider the possibility.

Check this out: LF Eric Byrnes (Diamondbacks), 2B Ray Durham (Brewers), SS Miguel Tejada (Orioles), 1B Jason Giambi (Yankees); RF Jermaine Dye (White Sox); CF Nick Swisher (White Sox); C Ramon Hernandez (Orioles), 3B Marco Scutaro (Blue Jays), C Jason Kendall (Brewers). [And yes, I know Byrnes is hurt, but c’mon, gotta include Byrnsie].

The rotation would be: RHP Dan Haren (Diamondbacks), RHP Rich Harden (Cubs), RHP Joe Blanton (Phillies), RHP Chad Gaudin (Cubs), LHP Barry Zito (Giants)

Think that team might be doing slightly better?




More on the medical front …

The A’s medical news comes fast and furious these days, so here’s the latest following Bob Geren’s daily pre-game media chat:

Eric Chavez’s right shoulder surgery took place today as expected and, according to team officials, it was tremendously successful (have you ever heard any professional team actually say that a player’s surgery was a disappointment?). Chavez actually had three different procedures performed on his shoulder area, all aimed at repairing and stabilizing his labrum. He also had some work done on his biceps tendon. 

The A’s had said they didn’t know what type of operating would be done until doctors began the surgery. The upshot is Chavez faces six months of rehab and that he should be ready to play at the end of that time, which would be right around the time spring training begins in mid-
February. He won’t start throwing for 4 1/2-to-5 months. “They were very, very pleased following surgery,” A’s trainer Steve Sayles said. “It’s all up to rehab now … but, you know, things happen.”

Don’t read too much into that last part. I think Sayles just meant that there aren’t any guarantees that surgery cures everything. We already know that based on Chavy’s three surgeries last off-season that weren’t the cure-all he hoped they would be. …

Today’s A’s lineup vs. the Rays: Mark Ellis 2B; Carlos Gonzalez CF; Frank Thomas DH; Jack Cust RF; Bobby Crosby SS; Jack Hannahan 1B; Kurt Suzuki C; Eric Patterson LF; Cliff Pennington 3B.

Geren said he wants to give Patterson more at-bats to show what he can do. Cust played some RF last year so we’ll see how that goes. Geren also wants to see Pennington, a switch hitter, bat from the left side with the Rays throwing a right-hander in Andy Sonnanstine. … Surprised to see Hannahan in the lineup instead of Barton? Hannahan is 3-for-8 with 2 HRs vs. Sonnanstine lifetime. He could certainly use some encouraging vibes as he walks to the plate, that’s for sure … 


Ryan Sweeney to DL

The A’s just announced  that Ryan Sweeney was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb he suffered last night while making a diving catch. Did anyone see that reaction of his on TV while he was tying his shoes in the dugout after that catch? He suddenly jumped out of his seat in pain and grabbed his hand. You knew then that something was wrong. It’s impressive the type of season Sweeney has put together considering the bumps and bruises he’s gotten along the way.

The A’s recalled Eric Patterson to take his spot on the roster. You’ll remember Patterson struggled mightily at the plate in his recent call-up, and he played left field while he was up. The obvious choice is to just plug Rajai Davis in at CF and shift Carlos Gonzalez to RF. But they might give Patterson a look in CF instead.


Limping along

Gonna be a short one today, because let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot to discuss at this point. The A’s are horrible offensively, and that fact is starting to burden the team’s pitching and defense. To me, the best embodiment of where this team is right now came when Detroit scored its final two runs on Sunday, when first Bobby Crosby, then Jerry Blevins took turns throwing the ball away on the same play. Baseball follies at its purest.

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Play ball … eventually

Just an update on the rain delay taking place here at Comerica Park. First pitch is now scheduled for 4:55 p.m. (West Coast time). That will amount to a 50-minute delay if indeed we start then. It poured pretty good about 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Local weather reports predicted one last period of rain any time now, and officials wanted to let that pass rather than start the game and immediately have to stop it. … When we do get underway, Dan Meyer will be making his first start of the season for the A’s and fourth of his career. Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust are back in the lineup after both sat out yesterday. The A’s lineup: R Sweeney RF; Mark Ellis 2B; Frank Thomas DH; Carlos Gonzalez CF; Jack Cust LF; Bobby Crosby SS; Kurt Suzuki C; Daric Barton 1B; Jack Hannahan 3B. … The Tigers: Curtis Granderson CF; Placido Polanco 2B; Marcus Thames LF; Magglio Ordonez RF; Miguel Cabrera 1B; Gary Sheffield DH; Ryan Raburn 3B; Edgar Renteria SS; Brandon Inge C …





It’s ‘pen-demonium down there

I’m on board a train right now heading from Toronto to the Detroit area and thought I’d check in. I’ve never taken a train on a long trip before. No sign of Robert Redford or The Whammer on my car. Anyone seen “The Natural?” If so, you got that last reference. …

In today’s stories, I failed to mention that Brad Ziegler threw another shutout inning last night, running his record scoreless streak to start his career to 35. That leaves him two short of Oakland’s overall record for consecutive scoreless innings. Mike Torres had 37 straight in 1976. Ziegler is an amazing story. But it gets me to thinking about the A’s bullpen as a whole. It’s a little strange that when the ninth inning  rolls around, we have no idea who might be coming out to save a game. Bob Geren mentioned Ziegler and Jerry Blevins as possible options to close. You can probably throw Joey Devine in there too. And let’s remember, Huston Street is still an option. I have no  idea what to make of his situation right now. 

Something tells me most A’s fans would probably prefer to see Ziegler pitching the ninth right now. I can see why. But because a guy has success in the earlier innings doesn’t mean that will automatically translate to the ninth. Ziegler still has very few big league innings under his belt. And Blevins’ meltdown last night is a reminder that the A’s are relying on some very inexperienced guys down there.  Looking ahead to next season, who knows what the A’s might do with the closer spot? Should they give Street some more shots this season and determine whether  he gets first crack in ’09? Will one of his ‘pen mates be ready for the role? Do they look toward free agency? How would you like to see the A’s set things up for next season?





Woe the “O”

More evidence to indicate just how bad the A’s offense is right now (so bad that you can make the argument this is the worst offense they’ve ever had). Check out this from Elias:

“The A’s have scored 17 runs over their past nine games [through Wednesday, all losses]. The last time the A’s had a nine-game span without a win with 17 runs or fewer was over 30 years ago. In June 1978, the A’s scored 11 runs over the final nine games of an 11-game losing streak.”

But on the bright side, Midland’s Aaron Cunningham (acquired in the Dan Haren trade) is fifth in the Texas League with a .899 OPS, and Chris Carter (also acquired for Haren) has 30 home runs, 87 RBI at Single-A Stockton. See, the A’s do have good hitters. It’s just that none of them are up here, yet.




Another day, another … (?)

Well, what do you think will happen tonight? Losing streak is seven, and why, prey tell, is there any reason to think it won’t be eight?

Anyway, I was amazed at one of the stats that I read today, namely that the A’s have been held to a run or less in 29 games. That’s slightly less than one in every four. That puts a huge mental strain on a pitcher, and mental strain contributes to physical strain. Therefore, I’ll be curious to see how the A’s handle Greg Smith and  Sean Gallagher the rest of the way, not to mention whether they’ll shut down Dana Eveland now that he’s in Sacramento. The A’s track record has shown that they can identify and develop young pitching talent, and everything we’ve seen from Smith, Eveland, and Gallagher suggests these guys are on the lower end of the tank.

On the other side of things, what else can you say? In July, the A’s scored their fewest amount of runs in a full month since 1979.  That’s the team that lost 108 games. So I figured I’d put out their regular lineup against the one the A’s have been trotting out for most of the past two months. Who would you choose:

Position     2008         1979

C               Kurt Suzuki      Jeff Newman

1B             Daric Barton     Dave Revering

2B             Mark Ellis       Mike Edwards

SS             Bobby Crosby     Rob Picciolo

3B             Jack Hannahan   Wayne Gross

LF             Emil Brown        Rickey Henderson

CF            Carlos Gonzalez     Dwayne Murphy

RF            Ryan Sweeney       Tony Armas

DH          Jack Cust             Mitchell Page

Funny thing is, most of those names on the 1979 club were there when Billy Martin guided the A’s to 83 wins in 1980. Which inspires the question. Hypothetically, how would that Billy and the current Billy (Beane) co-exist?

Enjoy the game.




Much-anticipated arrival …

For those who have been calling for the debut of hotshot pitching prospect Gio Gonzalez, your wish is being granted. Bob Geren said before tonight’s game that Gonzalez will be promoted to start tomorrow night in Toronto, filling the gap in the rotation left by Dana Eveland’s departure. It normally would be Justin Duchscherer’s turn, but the A’s are bumping him back a day to give him a bit more rest. This also keeps Gonzalez, a lefty, on his regular four days’ rest.

Because the A’s rotation has been very strong (until recently) this season, the A’s have been able to stash Gonzalez away at Triple-A and let him develop. He’s had some ups and downs this season but he’s coming off eight shutout innings in his last start, so it’s probably smart to grab him when the good vibes are rolling. You’ll remember that Baseball America immediately ranked Gonzalez, 22, as the A’s top pitching prospect when he came over from the White Sox in the Nick Swisher deal.

The best part of this story: Gonzalez didn’t have his passport with him in Sacramento when he got the news last night. So he arranged to have a friend meet him in Chicago (Gonzalez is from the Miami area) and do a passport exchange before he flew out to Toronto. He’s scheduled to arrive a bit later tonight.

The A’s won’t announce a corresponding roster move until tomorrow, but they’ll also have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him. They can do that by placing Eric Chavez on the 60-day disabled list if they wish.

There’s also still a chance that Dan Meyer gets a start somewhere in the coming days. Sean Gallagher is scheduled to go Saturday, but Geren hinted that Gallagher’s start might get pushed back a bit. However it shakes out, Duchscherer — who is 30 and in just his fifth full big league season — must feel like an old man in this rotation, wouldn’t you say?