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Carlos Gonzalez slams A’s; Carter, Weeks picked for Futures Game

A story in today’s Denver Post has a very interesting quote from former A’s prospect Carlos Gonzalez, now playing for the Colorado Rockies, who visit the Coliseum this weekend. Gonzalez, of course, was shipped to Colorado along with pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith in exchange for Matt Holliday during the offseason.

“I think we have more talented players and a better team (than Oakland),” Gonzalez told the paper. “I know what it’s like to play over there. Here we expect to win every game. I think we are going to do fine against them.”

I guess you could say the kid’s not afraid to speak his mind. Gonzalez has been good with the glove, playing mainly left field, but he’s hitting just .180 in 50 at-bats.

–You might have seen Baseball America released the rosters for the Futures Game to be played July 12 in St. Louis. The A’s will be represented by first baseman Chris Carter and second baseman Jemile Weeks. Carter is having an excellent season at the plate for Double-A Midland. Weeks has been on a tear for Single-A Stockton after injuries that delayed the start of his season …

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September at last

Had the privilege to share a post-game table with A’s second baseman Mark Ellis and clubhouse man Steve Vucinich at the team’s hotel during the visit to Seattle last week. It’s a lost art among the print media, and it really can give you insight, even if the bulk of it may never see the public light of day.

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Leftovers from a rare win

The game story will be posted later, and I wrote heavily about the team’s injury woes. So a lot of the game stuff was overlooked. That’s kind of the way it is this time of year when a team is out of the race. The individual game doesn’t mean that much.

That’s what’s wonderful about the blog. Can get some leftovers in it right here, so away with go.

— Frank Thomas didn’t stick around to discuss his sixth-inning ejection by home-plate umpire Bill Hohn. Thomas apparently wasn’t happy with the way pitchers were being called inside. Looked to me like he didn’t do anything; I had to ask a couple of the TV people what exactly happened, because I didn’t notice anything out of line from where I was in the press box. Bob Geren, as insightful as ever (yes, that’s sarcasm), said: “I’m not quite sure.  It’s still arguing balls and strikes, and you’re not supposed to do that. He’s been around a long time. He knows.”

— Greg Smith had better command, and that’s just what the doctor ordered. Geren said the A’s talked to Smith about strike-zone effeciency between starts, and he wound up throwing 48 of his 90 pitches for strikes. That number doesn’t say a lot, but Smith was ahead 0-2 and 1-2 all night. That seems to indicate he’s not feeling the fatigue of pitching more than 100 innings this season.

— Smith also had the quote of the night, saying, “I think we’re about to come out of our funk.” Yeah, one win in a row. Woo-hoo.

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Smith’s gem

Well, apparently Greg Smith found the “it” that had been missing. Been in the middle of another move — that’s three in four months now, and hopefully, the final one for a while — so was only able to catch the latter end of Smith’s rebound effort against the Angels, but it was just what the A’s needed for their series opener against the Angels. And with Rich Harden going again today, they should be in great shape.

I covered Smith’s last start against Philadelphia, and while he wasn’t bad, he wasn’t real good, either. I mentioned to manager Bob Geren after the game that it seemed to him as if Smith hadn’t been as sharp throughout June as he had been in all of April and most of May. Geren agreed with me but also said that he felt Smith was pitching “well enough to win.”

Smith, when I said the same thing, also agreed with me. But it was nothing he could put his finger on, other than he was spending an awful lot of time in the stretch and putting the leadoff hitter on a lot. Last night, he retired the leadoff hitter eight times in nine innings.

Pitchers like Smith are kind of strange, because even when they dazzle, their stuff isn’t so incredulous that the hitters look overmatched. And when they get hit hard, it often looks like their just a tad off. That’s kind of how it goes with Smith, so I don’t know if this is the start of a good trend or what. But what I could tell watching last night is that he seemed a touch more aggressive, a touch more confident. We’ll see where it leads, but it’s not like the guy has embarrassed himself up this point.

Now, Joe Blanton, that’s another story for another time.

How ’bout giving me your thoughts on Greg Smith and what he projects to being long term?

 

 

 

 

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Harden’s injury, and more …

OK readers, here’s your chance. Weekly excerpts of your comments will appear in the Sunday Times. The more you tell me what you think, the more the readers will get a chance to know what you think.

With that, let’s get to some thoughts on the A’s.

— Had an interesting discussion Friday with Marty Lurie, who does such a fine job on the A’s pregame shows and with his “Inside Baseball, Saturday Night” program. He says the A’s should do all they can to keep onto Rich Harden, no matter what. Arms like that, he said, are so rare that you have to hold onto them.

I’m not sure I agree.

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