Some thoughts as the 2010 season wraps up

Today’s lineups, as the A’s go for a four-game sweep of the Mariners and a .500 record for the season …

A’s — Davis CF, Ellis 2B, Cust DH, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Carter LF, Donaldson 1B, Hermida RF, Pennington SS; Braden LHP.

Mariners — Ichiro RF, Figgins 2B, Gutierrez DH, Smoak 1B, Bard C, Saunders LF, Halman CF, Mangini 3B, Wilson SS; Rowland-Smith LHP.

–Daric Barton’s strained quadriceps is still bothering him, though he’s available to pinch-hit. Josh Donaldson draws a rare start at first base, where he’s played plenty in the minors.

–Michael Wuertz won’t be available in the bullpen as he hasn’t thrown in a few days because of right thumb tendinitis. Wuertz said an offseason of rest should allow his thumb to heal, and he won’t require surgery.

–Holy cow, this season has flown by fast, but they all do. Here’s a few quick-hit observations/thoughts as the season draws to a close. Feel free to sound off on any of them.

***The A’s 2010 MVP: I think Trevor Cahill is a pretty obvious pick. Normally I’d go with a position player here, but Cahill’s mostly excellent work every fifth day is too much to ignore. He developed an effective curve ball and learned to locate his sinker and throw it to both sides of the plate. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to get better.

While Cahill’s emergence was the biggest success story on the pitching staff, I’d say Gio Gonzalez’s season was the most surprising. I think the A’s envisioned Cahill someday being able to produce as he did this year. But based on Gonzalez’s inconsistency for much of 2008 and 2009, did anyone expect him to be a 15-game winner so soon? Not me …

**Dallas Braden’s perfect game was the biggest highlight of the A’s season, I think we’d all agree. But that unfolded in a gradual manner, with excitement building with each 1-2-3 inning Braden delivered. If I had to pick the best single play of the season, I’d go with Gabe Gross’ over-the-wall grab that robbed Detroit’s Gerald Laird of a homer May 29 at Comerica Park. Pretty amazing effort, and it sticks out in my mind more than any other play. You can watch a clip of it here. Coco Crisp turned in a couple of highlight-reel grabs that are strong runners-up.

–Mark Ellis certainly made his push for his 2011 option to be picked up based on his torrid September, when he hit .413 and set an Oakland record with 43 hits. But just as scouts caution that you can’t read too much into a young player who tears it up in September, I think the A’s should only lend so much weight to Ellis’ incredible month when they decide on his $6 million option. That’s a hefty investment for a team that needs to find a power hitter or two and typically isn’t a big spender in the offseason. However, I’ve got my own selfish reasons for wanting Ellis back. He’s money when it comes to a good quote and is one of the most likable and cooperative guys in the clubhouse from a media standpoint. I still think the most sensible move is for the A’s to decline his option and see if he’s willing to negotiate a new deal with a lower base salary. That might depend on what kind of interest Ellis thinks he could get from other teams, though he’s stressed how much he wants to return to Oakland.

–Gotta give a special tip of the cap to David Feldman, an A’s historian who’s been a huge help finding stats every time that I’ve hit him up with a request. Talk about a beat writer’s best friend …

And thanks to everyone for reading the blog and taking time to share your thoughts this season. Spring training will be here before you know it! …

Joe Stiglich

  • Thanks Joe,
    The A’S ended on a good note and finished at 500, and ahead of the Angels.
    I agree with you about Cahill. Our MVP. Hey if we can get a couple of big hitters to go along with the great pitching staff and our speed demons(davis, crisp,pennington)we could really be good. Maybe Carter with a full year is one of those guys, but I think you have to spend money and get a proven guy.( not an easy thing for the A’S).
    Also I feel like we must keep Ellis.For obvious reasons. April will be here before we know it.

  • pboss

    We should try and get that left fielder from the Rockies, Car Gon. Oh yeah, we already screwed that up. I hope the don’t trade Taylor after his disappointing year in Sac. They need to show some patience with there young bats

  • john theye

    Another highlight was the rare 9-3 putout (Ryan Sweeney to Daric Barton, at the expense of Indians catcher Mike Redmond) on Friday July 2. Supposedly this was the sixth 9-3 putout in the AL since 1950.

  • Joe Stiglich

    And a more subtle — but terrific — play that happened late in the season was Pennington’s behind-the-back tag and throw to first for a double play. … Coco had a couple of great catches at the fence. There was no shortage of “Plays of the Year” candidates.

  • John R. Grout

    Though being DFA’ed wasn’t a complete surprise to Redmond… the Indians had already told him their plans to promote a younger catcher toward the end of the season… it had to hurt coming so soon after that play, which made ESPN and all the papers in both cities.

  • Hegenberger

    Thank you Joe for reporting on our A’s. I enjoy reading your columns and seeing you on csn.
    Will you be providing us with updates on Chris Carter’s progress in the Venezuelan Summer League?

  • Joe Stiglich

    I’ll post some periodic updates on Carter and the A’s prospects who are playing in the Arizona Fall League. Thanks for the note!