“Are we there yet?”

Don’t you feel like that 6-year-old in the back of the car. Spring training has been painfully long this year. I mean, the World Baseball Classic was fantastic viewing, but do we really need to add an extra week-and-a-half to the spring to accomodate it? I mean, the A’s wound up playing 35 exhibition games in Arizona alone. THAT’S ALMOST A QUARTER OF A SEASON!!!

I can only imagine how I’d feel if I were there. I haven’t seen one iota of spring training — you may have heard the newspaper industry is in flux, and it’s led to a reassignment for me — but you don’t have to be down there to get a complete sense of what you’re about to see. And what I see for the A’s is this:


Yep, the regular season is lurking like Lucy Van Pelt, calling out for the A’s to come kick this football. Only, the sense I get is that the A’s are about to land square on their back. Now, granted, a couple of times viewing Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill may put my mind at ease, but for now, not so.

From 800 miles away, here’s what I see.

— A rotation that has Dallas Braden — the same Dallas Braden who a year ago at this time was being sent down, having failed to make the bullpen — at the top of it. Enough said.

— A lot of leads blown late. Look, I think the Brad Ziegler story is as great as they come, but when I look at him, I don’t see “closer.” In fact, the way baseball works, he’ll give up a run in his first outing this season.

— Injuries, injuries and more injuries. Think the inability to get a new stadium and more revenue has anything to do with this?

— A lot of 8-6 losses. At least these A’s will be fun to watch. At least when they fall behind 3-0 in the first inning, we’ll have reason to keep watching. But the bottom line is that you have to get outs.

In other words, a whole lot is going to ride on the competency of Anderson and Cahill.

No pressure.


From bad to worse

OK, last night was extra bad. And in the context of what the A’s are doing lately, that’s really saying something.

In one park, you had Sean Gallagher getting lit up like a firecracker. In another, you had Rich Harden dominating.  That just says so much about the state of the A’s, and why that state would earn an “F.”

It’s not just that Gallagher has stunk lately and that Harden has been outstanding. It’s that Gallagher already has had issues with a sore shoulder (and I wonder if it isn’t bugging him; he just can’t be as bad as he looked last night), and that Harden has had no physical maladies at all since going to Chicago. Even pitching on four days’ rest has seemed to agree with him in a way it never seemed to for the A’s.

Now, if I’m Billy Beane, I want to know why the heck that is? What does that say about my team’s training methods, our exercises, etc. I can’t recall too many teams being rocked this many injuries two years in a row, and it’s not just old, breaking down players who are feeling the pain. Gallagher is only 22. Harden’s ailments were particularly galling, because he just now is approaching 27. It seems that donning an A’s uniform brings any physical issue to the forefront, and at some point, that’s on the A’s and not the player. I think the A’s passed that time a long time ago, and the Gallagher-Harden trade has put it into even sharper focus.

I keep a daily log of stats during the season, and here’s all you need to know about the A’s this season. Of the 25 primary players on the Opening Day roster (and I’m not counting outfielders Jeff Fiorentino and Carlos Gonzalez or pitcher Dallas Braden, because they were included only because rosters were expanded to accomodate the Japan trip), only seven have stayed on the active roster all season. That’s the kind of thing you usually see with clubs that lose 95-100 games, and well, that’s where the A’s are headed.

One of the lucky seven is Mark Ellis, and it kills me him go through this, too. He’s been around long enough that what he’s seeing must seem unacceptable. The A’s right now are overmatched against every team, and it’s a waste for a guy who’s such a winning player to be stuck in such a situation.

As for the other six on the list, here they are: Jack Cust (he was in the minors 10 seasons for a reason), Kurt Suzuki (he won’t hit .290 every year if he’s always playing 145 games, and that’s the A’s m.o. for their catchers), Jack Hannahan (stinks), Rob Bowen (never plays), Emil Brown (better than expected, but you’re in trouble if he’s your main run producer),  Huston Street (a bad, bad season), and Alan Embree (not much better).

So here’s a question. How long does Beane keep getting the benefit of the doubt among A’s fans. I see a lot of comments on here from folks who think Beane should be canned. I’m not of that opinion. But unless this organization solves its health woes, produces some hitters and has acquired some better pitching than we’ve seen, I can’t promise I’ll still feel that way at this time next year.