A few thoughts as the A’s head (thank goodness) into the final turn.
— Can’t help but think that second baseman Mark Ellis has played his final game as an Athletic, at least for the immediate future. I’m basing this completely on a hunch and history. Ellis and the A’s have kept a relatively tight lid on the progress made in negotiations for a new deal, but whenever a player and team stop talking during a season, it’s generally an indication it will be a challenge to get the deal done. Throw into the equation the thrift spending habits of the team for which Ellis currently plays, and well, that’s why my hunch is he’s gone. I hope he isn’t. Ellis is as professional as any player I’ve dealt with in my seven seasons around the team, and he cares too much at times. He’ll go down as an all-timer, so remember that, A’s fans, if he heads out the door.
— Interesting decision to sit Bobby Crosby in favor of Cliff Pennington down the stretch. Can’t say anything about Pennington has remotely impressed me, so I’m not entirely sure what the A’s are thinking. Then again, I don’t get paid to evaluate talent. That said, I thought Crosby made strides. He’s cut down the hole in his swing, and he’s shown he can hit the ball in the gaps. Whether his double power turns into homer power is another question entirely, and you have to wonder if this decision indicates whether the A’s are beginning the process of re-evaluating their shortstop position. Who knows? Maybe, they’ll ask Crosby to play third.
— Reading about the joke that is the Raiders this morning, and the thought occurs that this could be the A’s if general manager Billy Beane is not careful. Already, the players inside the A’s clubhouse are fully aware of the influence of the front office, and more than one coach over the past couple of years has expressed disgust with the way things are done. It’s one thing to be dynamic and hands-on when things are great. It’s another when a team isn’t good, because in that situation, players can tend to tune out the manager/coach because they know he really isn’t calling the shots. The one difference in the A’s situation and the Raiders is that there’s no question that Beane has manager Bob Geren’s back and vice versa. That said, the line Beane walks is a dangerous one. Just something to think about.
— Speaking of Geren, the great elephant in the A’s clubhouse is how much the A’s players truly respect him. I would imagine that most of them do, and they should, because the bulk of the A’s roster is composed of kids. But how the veterans feel might be different, and I’ve heard enough rumblings from enough corners to conclude that, for at least a few, that’s the case. Geren, for his part, is in a tough spot, because he doesn’t have enough talent to win, and unless a manager has that, it’s awfully difficult to gauge his effectiveness.