Too early to worry about A’s offense

| April 22, 2011

The A’s wasted great pitching again on Thursday night, and it sounded like even the always-optimistic Bob Geren was getting a little frustrated. I am going to do something almost unthinkable: I’m going to try to convince Geren that it’s not that bad.

The A’s right now are hitting .237 and averaging 3.47 runs per game. Their OBP is .302. No sugar-coating it — that’s awful.

However, it’s only been 19 games, which is nothing. Just to prove my point, I looked up last year’s highest scoring team in the AL, the Yankees, and I found that they had a 16-game stretch in which they hit .236 with a .291 OBP, averaging 3.8 runs per game. I am sure that I could find a similarly bad stretch for just every team, no matter how good they ended up being.

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Cain vs. Cahill

| April 18, 2011

My pal Grant Cohn (of CSN Bay Area and the Cohn Zohn) asked me via twitter yesterday:

Who’s going to be the better pitcher in three years: Trevor Cahill or Matt Cain?

It’s an interesting question, and I don’t think a no-brainer either way, but I went with Cain.

If we look simply at last year, Cain had a 3.14 ERA over 223 innings, with a 1.084 WHIP, and he was 25 years old. Cahill had a 2.97 ERA over 192 2/3 innings, with a 1.108 WHIP, and he was only 22. Right there, you can make an argument that Cahill will be better in three years, because he’s three years younger and he was slightly better in 2010.

However, I’m not ready to go that far.

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Tim Hudson and the Hall of Fame

| April 11, 2011

One of my loyal readers — I have perhaps as many as seven — emailed the other day to ask an interesting question:

Just throwing this out there: Tim Hudson could be quietly producing a Hall of Fame career. Career: 167-87 ERA: 3.41 WHIP: 1.24.

If he gets 200 wins, would you vote for him?

-Dale (athleticsafterdark.com)

I have to admit I had never really thought of Hudson as a Hall of Famer, but as I think about it and do a little research, he’s actually sniffing around the periphery.

Through his age 34 season, Hudson has some pretty good pitchers as comps. You see John Smoltz, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, etc. Of all of these, the only one who I think is a HOFer is Smoltz. He gets extra points, to me, because he was not only a dominant starter, but a dominant closer. I think Brown should have gotten a lot more than the 12 votes he got when he first showed up on the ballot this year. Not even enough to stick around on the ballot. I don’t think Pettitte is a HOFer either. He was a good pitcher who happened to be on a team that gave him a lot of opportunities to pitch in the postseason, but he was rarely the No. 1 pitcher on those teams.

So, if Hudson’s career ended today, I don’t think he is a HOFer. But his career isn’t over.

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Why the A’s haven’t won on the road

| April 5, 2011

Both Susan Slusser and Joe Stiglich wrote stories today on why the A’s haven’t been able to win on the road over the past couple years.

The reason is really pretty obvious. It’s because the A’s haven’t had any power.

The Coliseum is a lousy home run ballpark for everyone, so it minimizes the A’s disadvantage of not having any power hitters. However, when they go to more netural parks on the road, suddenly their opponents can hit homers, and the A’s still can’t.

Here are the numbers, for 2009 and 2010, combined:

  HRs HRs allowed Ratio
Home 117 131 .89
Road 127 178 .71

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Wasn’t the A’s bullpen supposed to be good?

| April 2, 2011

Two games into the season and the A’s bullpen has not quite lived up to its billing. Yes, two entire games, and I’m ready to chuck the whole bunch of them and determine that all we thought over the winter about them being so much improved was just a bunch of a hooey.

I mean, tonight the relievers gave up four runs in three innings in a 5-2 loss to the Mariners! You’ve got to make some pretty bad pitches to give up four runs to the Mariners.

Brian Fuentes (video below) started the ninth and gave up three. He wasn’t sharp at all. That’s just a fluke thing. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. However, some of the other stuff that’s gone on is a legitimate reason for concern for the first few weeks of the season.

It’s all because of Andrew Bailey.

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The offensive projections in one handy place

| April 1, 2011

Here are my highly scientific OPS projections for the A’s and Giants everyday players. I used these numbers in coming up with my forecasts for the teams (Giants here, A’s here). I figured it would be nice to have them all in one handy place, so at the end of the season we can go back and see how smart/stupid I am.

How did I come up with these? Well, there’s no formula. It’s just common sense, based on two main concepts:

  1. Players who have more than a few years in the big leagues will tend to drift more toward their career averages.
  2. Older players will tend to get worse.

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A detailed look at the A’s

| April 1, 2011

OK, finally at the last piece of my season preview stuff. You’ve seen my predictions for the standings and the awards, as well as my close look at the Giants. Now, the A’s. I’m going to try not to make this a total copy of the way I analyzed the A’s, but it’ll be similar. The bottom line is how many runs do we think the A’s will score, and how many will they allow?

By now you probably know that I think the A’s are going to better this year, good enough to win the division even. But let’s see.

Start with the pitching. The A’s pitching was very good last year, as we all know. They gave up 626 runs, the fewest in the league. Can they do that again?

Trevor Cahill had a 2.97 ERA, with a .237 BABIP. That’s a lot of balls finding gloves instead of holes. I’m not too big on using BABIP to evaluate what a guy did, but it is useful for evaluating what he may do in the future. So I don’t think Cahill will be quite as effective. Gio Gonzalez saw his ERA go down from 5.75 to 3.23. Again, he’s young, so maybe he got that much better, but that’s an awfully big improvement. I don’t think he can repeat that either. Dallas Braden’s numbers have gotten a little better in each of his seasons, so I think he’s legit. He’s perhaps a little iffy because he relies so much on a feel pitch and his defense. He may be the same or a little worse. Probably not much better.

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