Ten Non-Budget Related Reasons Why the A’s are Done
For those of you who don’t know, I am first and foremost an Oakland A’s fan, though just between us friends, let’s use that term loosely. I am a secondary Los Angeles Dodgers fan. Odds are the proclamation of my affinity for the green and gold comes as a surprise, but the same for the boys in blue does not.
So why is that? Why aren’t you reading an A’s blog at least every other week? I am a baseball first writer after all.
Well for one, if I frequently wrote about the A’s, odds are my only readers would be two of my buddies — Root and some dude named Chris Chu (I’ve never actually met him, but play in several fantasy leagues with him, so let’s go ahead and call him a friend.) — who are Oakland fans as well.
But the main reason my A’s posts are few and far between is there really isn’t all that much to write about. They don’t spend much money, so the roster is typically a medley of the really young and the really old, and not much in between.
It’s tough to win division titles without many players in the prime of their careers.
It’s no secret that the power-trip wielding, GM of the A’s, Billy Beane and his I’m better than everyone else attitude, drove me to all but take a sabbatical from the team in 2008. I bought no merchandise, went to zero games and even withheld my usually frequent website hits from them. I know, my stand against mediocrity really made a difference.
I’m back in support mode now, but this blog isn’t about my awkward mixed feelings towards my club of choice, it’s about why the A’s are dead in the water in ’09. Mark this day down in your calendars as the day I officially wrote off their season.
To back up my claim, I’m providing you with ten reasons (in no particular order) why the A’s can’t win this year. All without placing blame on their penny-pinching ways.
1.) The Hole at Third that Once was Eric Chavez
Living proof the A’s occasionally do spend money on players. Also living proof why the A’s generally do not.
It’s no revelation that Chavez hasn’t been able to stay on the field consistently, since he played in 160 games in 2005. At this point fans don’t expect gaudy numbers, and frankly they expect to see more of his replacements than him. It’s ludicrous to suggest what Oakland did briefly in the off-season, which was a permanent move from third to first in order to reduce the stress on the $11-million training room sitter (Think house sitter – Chavy is paid to watch over the room and make sure no one steals anything), in an attempt to keep him on the field.
Here’s the problem, you are talking about a career .268 hitter with moderate power at best. His only real asset to the team is his glove at the hot corner.
Either way, his perennial Oscar worthy performance of a dead beat dad, abandoning his family (third base) for greener pastures (the DL) is killing the team, and will end up once again as a primary reason the club’s contention is cut short.
2.) Matt Holliday Traded! (Your July Headline)
I’ve maintained a theory regarding Holliday’s extremely poor start. If he plays bad enough, long enough, he might just play his way into a long-term deal – with Oakland.
There’s a hole in that theory: there is a better chance Kobe Bryant will admit that whole Eagle, Colorado thing was a fraud because he was spending his weekend engaged in relational activities with Sasha Vujacic, than Holliday playing this poorly for an entire season. In fact his bat is already starting to heat up.
Holliday will be dealt for, well, more youth, creating a hole in the lineup too gaping for the likes of Jack Cust and Jason Giambi to adequately fill.
It’s too bad because as we all know, for Oakland to contend they would need to give their young rotation time to develop. Trading Holliday will be the telling sign of their impatience.
Speaking of which…
3.) Maybe There is Such a Thing as TOO Young
With Justin Duchscherer (31 years old),the elder statesman of the staff with six years separating him from the next oldest starting pitcher, starting the season on the DL, Oakland began the year with a rotation full of 21-25-year-olds. Dana Eveland and Dallas Braden were their most experienced starters.
The expectation was Braden and Eveland would provide the team with a viable amount of quality starts, while giving Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and one of the Josh Outman/Gio Gonzalez/Vin Mazzaro two or three months to develop into starters worthy of helping chase down the Angels for the division.
Long story short, it hasn’t happened that way. Neither Eveland or Braden has been dependable any way you shape it. Eveland was even sent down to Triple-A for a couple of starts.
Cahill has strung together a few decent outings,so perhaps all hope isn’t lost. But without an anchor or two in front of him, it’s not going to matter how quickly the young sinker-baller pieces together the puzzle. The A’s don’t have a rotation solidified enough to remain within striking distance of LA/Anaheim or Texas.
Anderson was expected to struggle a bit with consistency for the first half of the season. After all, he is a 21-year-old rookie.
Well, the southpaw has been extremely consistent – consistently terrible.
Only two of his six starts could be construed as passable (Only one of them being a quality start.) with the other four see him give up 24 runs (18 earned) in 19.1 innings pitched.
When I add to the equation that he has reportedly been dealing with a blister problem, I reach the conclusion that Anderson may not make his next scheduled start.
Call it a hunch, but with Sean Gallagher back in the rotation and Vin Mazzaro pitching somewhat decent in Sacramento (Triple-A), I can’t help but think it’s extremely possible that’s precisely where Anderson will find himself this time next week. Or the next if the A’s decide to give him another chance.
(For the record I wouldn’t send him down. I’d skip his turn in the rotation once or twice, give him a couple of appearances in relief to get his confidence on the rebound and insert him right back in the rotation.)
5.) Adam Kennedy is Back in the Big Leagues
Two weeks ago Kennedy was playing in Durham, hitting about .280 and looking at potentially being forced to call it a career. Now he’s starting at second base for the A’s.
Now, Kennedy is surely a decent human being, and an alright ballplayer as a stop-gap replacement, which is what he is. So this is less about him and more about Mark Ellis.
Why Ellis decided to take a perfectly decent MLB career and turn it into cow pie, based on modeling his play after that of teammates Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby, the world may never know. Ellis has played in 125 games or more only twice in his entire big league career.
6.) The Angels Have Re-Loaded Their Chips
You know in the last card scene in Rounders when Mike McDermott tells Teddy KGB to feel free to re-load at any time as he’s kicking his tail? Well to the dismay of the A’s, Rangers and Mariners – none of whom were able to pull away while the Halos were down – by adding Ervin Santana and John Lackey to their rotation this week, they just re-loaded their chips and then some.
Contrary to popular preseason belief, the Oakland offense isn’t well-oiled enough to withstand the onslaught of an Angels rotation in full attack mode.
“Dead man walking!!!”
That’s the sound of 8,000 voices echoing off concrete and aluminum at McAfee Coliseum (Assuming they can draw even that many fans of course) as the A’s take the field.
7.) Only One A’s Player Could Crack the Texas Rangers’ Lineup
If you gave the Rangers their pick of the 18 starting position players between their team and the A’s, to field the most potent lineup, only Matt Holliday would start over a Texas player (Daniel Murphy in left field).
With a good argument you might be able to convince me Texas would consider A’s catcher, Kurt Suzuki, over their own Jarrod Saltalamacchia. You might be able to, but if Texas were to make that switch it wouldn’t be a knockout decision.
Think about that for a moment. Do you really think the A’s will be able to outlast a team with better players at all but one or two positions?
The answer would be the same as if you asked me if a middle aged man should have to take the same multi-vitamin as a woman…
I don’t think so.
8.) Jason Giambi Doesn’t Roid Anymore
Any less true? No.
I still think he’ll end up popping out 25-30 dingers, but he’s going to struggle to do so. He’s also going kill them with his average. Not to mention his defense.
9.) Bullpen Chaos
Let the record show that I’m not 100 percent against the closer by committee approach the A’s seem to be employing.
The team has one of the top pens in the game this season, so if anyone can depend on multiple players to take out the trash in the ninth, it should be this one.
So it’s not the theory that is ineffective, it’s the execution. Even with a bullpen-by-committee, players need clearly defined roles. Brad Zeigler, Andrew Bailey, Santiago Casilla, Russ Springer and even the injured Joey Devine for that matter, don’t have a clue when they will be used.
It’s also worth mentioning that the A’s seem desperate to move away from Zeigler in the ninth. Likely due to his unorthodox style, but despite his effectiveness the club has been looking for an excuse since last fall to take away his closing duties.
10.) Role Players Need to Stay Healthy to Play Roles
Good role players need to be healthy enough to play, but need the team to be healthy enough for them not to play for them to help the club best.
Nomar Garciaparra cannot stay on the field. Meanwhile, Bobby Crosby – and now Adam Kennedy – can’t seem to stay off it.
I’ve now given you ten reasons why you won’t find the A’s in the playoffs in 2009. The budget (or lack there of) doesn’t play the biggest role. Heath and total suck-a-tude do.