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The A's
2005-05-06 12:39
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Oakland A's

2004 Record: 91-71 (.562)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 86-76 (.531)

Manager: Ken Macha
General Manager: Billy Beane

Ballpark (2004 park factors): McAfee Coliseum (101/101)

Who's replacing whom?

Jason Kendall replaces Damian Miller
Nick Swisher replaces Jermaine Dye
Mark Ellis returns to take playing time from Marco Scutaro and replaces Eric Karros
Keith Ginter replaces Mark McLemore
Charles Thomas replaces Eric Karros and Billy McMillon
Jermaine Clark last year's spare parts
Joe Blanton inherits Tim Hudson's starts
Dan Haren replaces Mark Mulder
Kirk Saarloos inherits Mark Redman's starts
Hudson Street replaces Chad Bradford (back surgery)
Kiko Calero replaces Jim Mecir and Arthur Rhodes
Keiichi Yabu replaces Chris Hammonds

Current Roster:

1B – Scott Hatteberg
2B – Mark Ellis
SS – Marco Scutaro
3B – Eric Chavez
C – Jason Kendall
RF – Bobby Kielty
CF – Mark Kotsay
LF – Eric Byrnes
DH - Erubiel Durazo

Bench:

R - Keith Ginter (IF)
S - Adam Melhuse (C)
L - Charles Thomas (OF)
L - Jermaine Clark (UT)

Rotation:

L - Barry Zito
R - Joe Blanton
R - Rich Harden
R - Kirk Saarloos
R - Dan Haren

Bullpen:

R - Octavio Dotel
R - Huston Street
L - Ricardo Rincon
R - Justin Duchscherer
R - Kiko Calero
R - Juan Cruz
R - Keiichi Yabu

DL:

R - Chad Bradford [60-day]
R - Bobby Crosby (SS)
S - Nick Swisher (OF)

Typical Line-up

L - Mark Kotsay (CF)
R - Jason Kendall (C)
L - Eric Chavez (3B)
L - Scott Hatteberg (1B)
L - Erubiel Durazo (DH)
R - Mark Ellis (2B)
S - Bobby Kielty (RF)
R - Eric Byrnes (LF)
R - Marco Scutaro (SS)

Hey, this just in: the Yankees are terrible. But guess what? So are the A's. In fact, of the seven teams the Yankees have played thus far in the season (including Oakland tonight), the A's have the second worst record (to the Devil Rays, who of course just took 3 of 4 from the Yanks and are now 5-2 against them on the season).

How bad are the A's? They're just 3.5 games better than the Yankees and have a .388 Pythagorean winning percentage to the Yanks' .443. All the A's have really had working thus far has been the bullpen (3.43 ERA, 8.85 K/9) and 2/5 of their starting rotation (Rich Harden: 1.82 ERA and Joe Blanton: 2.67 ERA). Naturally, the Yankees will be drawing both Blanton and Harden on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The good news is that Blanton may be headed for a heartache. His Rueter-like strike-out rate of 2.97 per 9IP seems to have finally caught up with him against the Mariners in his last start (4 IP, 4 R, but 3 Ks). Then again, he struck out 8.33 per nine in his minor league career, so perhaps he'll catch up with his strikeout rate before it catches up with him. On the flip side, not one of the A's starters has allowed more hits than innings pitched, not even Barry Zito, who has 37 of each and enters tonight's game with a 5.84 ERA and a 1-4 record. Speaking of Zito and strikeout rates, should he maintain his current 4.86 per nine it would be the lowest of his career, making last year's slight increase look like a fluke in a career that's been in steady decline since he won 2002 Cy Young Award at age 24.

Back in the pen, the A's have three men with ERAs below 2.00, closer Octavio Dotel, who seems to have righted what wronged him last year, Japanese import Keiichi Yabu, and Justin Duchscherer, who combines with rookie Huston Street (3.00 ERA, 10.80 K/9) to form a devastating one-two punch of righty set-up men.

So why are the A's struggling so much this season? Hitting. They're not. Mark Kotsay leads the team with a .416 slugging percentage, .771 OPS, and .264 GPA, and his .355 on-base percentage is second to that of Marco Scutaro (filling in for Bobby Crosby who was removed mid-game on opening day with back pain and hasn't played since). What about Eric Chavez? He's the worst offender with a .202/.285/303 (.204) line. Jason Kendall? .240/.321/.280 (.214). The only teams that have scored fewer runs than the A's thus far this season are the Royals, Pirates, and similarly scuffling Indians (100 to the A's 102 in one less game). It will be interesting to see of Yankee pitching is the cure for what ails them.

Special Bonus Breakdown: Because I can't keep them straight, here's a tale of the tape for Oakland starters Rich Harden and Dan Haren:


James Richard HardenDaniel John Haren
Goes ByMiddle NameFirst Name
Age2324
NativeCanadianCalifornian
Height6'1"6'5"
Weight180220
ThrowsRightRight
BatsLeftRight
SchoolCentral Arizona Junior CollegePepperdine
DraftedSea: 38th '99; Oak: 17th '00StL: 2nd Round '01
Salary$750,000$323,500
Debut7/21/03 - A's6/3/03 - Cards
Career (ERA/K9/BB9)44 GS, 46G, 4.12/7.97/4.1219 GS, 28 G, 4.85/5.69/2.96
20055 GS, 1.82/8.31/2.606 GS, 5.51/8.65/4.72
Uniform Number4024
Facial Hairnonegoatee

Finally, don't forget to check out the Toaster's own Catfish Stew to see how the other half lives this weekend.

Comments
2005-05-06 14:35:04
1.   Ken Arneson
Correction: Dan Haren wears #24. Blanton wears #55.
2005-05-06 15:15:20
2.   BFenwick
I tried to name five pitchers I'd rather have on my team than Rich Harden. I didn't come close.
2005-05-06 17:11:41
3.   murphy
being a "non-cable-haver", this is the first game of the year i have had the opportunity to watch. after FinaLLY convincing my girlfriend to put the game on, what is the first pitch i see? the kielty HR. god, is this happening again?
2005-05-06 17:19:05
4.   Marcus
The cure for the common slump: Yankees' pitching.

Can they stop giving up homers to the bottom half of their opponent's lineup pleeease?!? Bobby Kielty and Eric Byrnes join a long line of Eduardo Perez, Alex Sanchez, Eric Hinske, etc...

2005-05-06 18:40:28
5.   Marcus
And here I was, thinking Alex would have a chance to be "clutch" and instead Jorge gets the third out at third base...
2005-05-06 18:42:05
6.   redshift
What happened there? Was he caught stealing? Gameday just says "out at third base".
2005-05-06 19:01:25
7.   photogirl
Bobby Crosby's ribs are broken.

Interesting game so far...

Kerry Haas :-)

2005-05-06 19:17:14
8.   JeremyM
Just when you can't think it can get worse, it does. My God.

After that double steal, I was thinking "here we go." And there it went.

2005-05-06 19:30:16
9.   redshift
Oh man, that was terrible. Two errors on one play by Tino? That's so uncharacteristic I really don't know what to think.

Let's get this Kentucky Derby done so George can get down to business.

2005-05-06 19:36:08
10.   singledd
has 1 win ever seemed so allusive?
2005-05-06 19:51:15
11.   Clay Caviness
I, uh ... wow. What a terrible half-inning.
2005-05-06 19:51:20
12.   Simone
Despite the last inning disaster, Pavano seems to be back on track. Mussina needs to have a good outing tomorrow as well.
2005-05-06 19:56:39
13.   weeping for brunnhilde
Redshift, Jorge tried to advance to third on a ball that got away from the catcher.

Singledd, I can come up with two times that one win seemed so elusive: 1) the last three weeks or so of the 2000 season and 2) the last four games of the ALCS.

This is just madness. We're finding ever more creative ways to lose, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory like the '62 Mets. Tonight had a nice twist though: I was actually suckered into thinking we might win. I was all set for Rodriguez to get that big hit I need to see him get. Nothing flashy, just a clean basehit to score Jorge from second. I could taste it. But we managed to bungle away the opportunity to win (in all fairness to Jorge, Rodriguez probably wouldn't have gotten it done anyway) before giftwrapping a victory for Oakland. And maddeningly, Jorge and Mo and Tino were central players and not Giambi and Rodriguez and Brown. It's so sad. We're a bloody mess on wheels.

Something's not right.

2005-05-06 19:58:43
14.   tocho
At least we have our health...
2005-05-06 20:01:35
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
Plus, the double steal. I thought it was the gutsiest thing I'd ever heard of. When Sterling said there go the runners I gasped incredulously, awaiting the inevitable and clumsy result. But they were safe! Kick ass, Joe! Our luck has turned, our spirit rekindled, I thought. Little did I know...
2005-05-06 20:04:12
16.   NetShrine
This Yankee fan: "The only way things could be worse would be if giant spaceships appeared in the sky and started taking down all our buildings with phaser beams."
2005-05-06 20:07:30
17.   brockdc
Was that for real? I'm sorry but this was just a total f-ing meltdown, pure and simple. It wasn't a case of the Yanks not being good enough this time - they just choked. I've been pretty critical of Torre lately, but he had nothing to do with this up-chuck. These guys are scared to death.
2005-05-06 20:18:07
18.   brockdc
Man, that was angry. I know I'm being hard on these guys; but they're a team of professionals. This isn't K.C. or Pitt where the mean age is 25. These guys know how to win and shouldn't be cowed by a May 6th extra-inning affair against the A's.
2005-05-06 20:29:32
19.   Simone
I actually think that Steve Philips (who I think is a tool) had something when he said on ESPN that the Yankees are playing tight when commenting on that last innings. The players were probably overanxious once Mo got men on base. The motivational guy that Cashman hired needs to have a serious talk with these guys.
2005-05-06 20:36:11
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
Just to keep our spirits up, let's all take a moment to revisit the exuberance we all felt when Jorge's flair fell in in front of Damon in Game 7. Maybe our pinstripers' current woes provide the necessary darkness against which to see what now seems the divine spark of all our recent success. When we do start winning again (whensoever that may be) just think of how sweet it will be.

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