Sunday pregame update: Thoughts on Gio Gonzalez; Ichiro nearing milestones

Pretty ideal afternoon for baseball at the Coliseum, as the A’s try to split this four-gamer w/Seattle. …

–When we talk about the future of the A’s pitching staff, we tend to focus on Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro. But let’s remember that Gio Gonzalez’s development will also help shape the future of this staff. Gonzalez hasn’t looked as sharp in recent outings as he did during that four-start stretch that bridged July and August, when he picked up three wins. He’s still had good stuff — look at his strikeouts (24 in the last three outings). But his command has been off (17 walks over the last four outings).

So I’d say his remaining starts of 2009 will be pretty huge as far as setting him up for next season. I still like Gonzalez’s potential as a starter long-term as opposed to relieving. Some of that will depend on how he develops his change-up as a third pitch, and Bob Geren talked about how Gonzalez continues to work on that pitch. In key situations, he’ll still rely on his fastball and curve, but being able to give hitters another wrinkle to think about will make that fastball and curve even more effective …

–There’s been a larger group of Japanese media covering this A’s-Mariners series than usual, as Ichiro Suzuki is just one hit shy of 2,000 for his major league career. He’s also six hits shy of his ninth straight 200-hit season, which would set a new major league record. A few of us were talking before the game about Ichiro’s potential to rack up these kind of stats into his 40’s. I expect him to do that. You look at the way he flicks at the ball right now on a lot of his hits, and that’s something he can keep doing even as he loses some bat speed. So this string of 200-hit seasons may not stop any time soon if he stays healthy, which he’s done to this point. …

–Here’s today’s lineups

Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Hairston DH
Powell C
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Gonzalez LHP

Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 1B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Hall 2B
Johjima C
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Fister RHP

Joe Stiglich

  • Congratulations to Ichiro on getting his 2000th hit, but I am concerned about the fairness of a japanese player coming over after having a career in Japan and being considered a rookie. He is now the second fastest person to get 2000 hit (1406 games). Is that fair since he played 9 years for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s MLB equivalent.

    I also don’t think it was fair that he was given Rookie of the Year his first year in the MLB. It isn’t fair to guys who come up through the minors and have a good year when they break into the majors. Any Japanese player has an unfair advantage if they have played major-league caliber ball for several years in Japan. Maybe their Japanese stats should be taken into account when considering achievement awards in the American Major Leagues. What is everyone else’s thought on this?

  • Dnrapp

    If you are saying that the Japanese leagues are the same as the Major leagues then I disagree. From what I have read the Japanese leagues are more or less AAAA leagues. Notice that the only MLB players who go to Japan are those who don’t make it in MLB. Come on,Tuffy Rhodes was a MVP in the Japan leagues.

  • Dnrapp, I agree that the Japanese leagues are not quite up to the level of MLB, but they are way better than Triple-A, and that’s where the fairness issue arises. What you do about it, I don’t know, but it is worth the MLB brass taking a look at it. Suzuki (Ichiro) is a special player and probably would have done spectacular things if he had come over and played in our minor leagues, rather than playing in the Japanese leagues. But to call him a rookie after 9 years of professional ball is ridiculous. That was my real concern. I don’t remember who came in second in the ROY voting, but if I were him, I’d feel cheated.