About Russ Springer

| January 25, 2009

Now that everyone seems to be sure the A’s are signing Russ Springer, let’s take a look at whether it’s a good move.

First, Springer’s numbers last year in St. Louis were pretty good: 2.5 K/BB ratio, .216 opponents BA, 1.13 WHIP.

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The great Matt Holliday Experiment

| January 25, 2009

I had this theory about Coors Field. Everyone knows the players who play there don’t do as well on the road as at home, but it’s not just because of what happens in Colorado after you hit the ball. It’s also because of what happens after the pitcher throws the ball. Curve balls and sliders don’t break as much.

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The extended report for today’s events

| January 22, 2009

Bob Geren talked for a while about the state of the team heading into spring training, then Matt Holliday, Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Cliff Pennington, Dana Eveland and Ryan Sweeney were available.

The most interesting thing out of all this, to me anyway, was what Geren said about the starting rotation. As of now, he views Justin Duchscherer, Sean Gallagher, Dana Eveland and Dallas Braden as the pitchers who have spots to lose, with Josh Outman and Gio Gonzalez as the guys competing for the No. 5 spot. Braden made only 10 starts at the end of the season, posting a 3.97 ERA in those games. Apparently that was enough to convince Geren.

“I think he proved he deserves a spot there,” Geren said.

What about Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro? According to assistant GM David Forst, all three go into camp at about the same level, needing some Triple A seasoning.

Other tidbits…

  • Forst issued as non-commital a statement as could be when asked if Matt Holliday would be with the team all year: “We’ll see how the season plays out. We made the trade for Matt regardless of how long he’s here. He’ll help us on Opening Day. Whether he’s here in July or at the end of the season or for seasons to come, he’s here to help us right now.”

    Holliday, who later admitted he’ll be renting, not buying, in the Bay Area, said he understands he could be gone in 2010, but he isn’t thinking about going any sooner: “I figure we’ll be playing pretty good. I don’t think they’d want to get rid of me if we’re right in the middle of it.”

    Speaking of Holliday, Geren said he hasn’t decided if he’ll hit third or fourth, because he hasn’t decided who will hit second or third. Seems like it would be obvious that it would be better to have Holliday hitting fourth, to break up the lefties (Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, Jack Cust).

  • Geren was equally non-commital when it came to his closer situation. It could be Brad Ziegler. Could be Joey Devine. Could be both. Geren also said those are the only two secure bullpen jobs. The other five spots are wide open.

    Despite the uncertainty: “We’ll have a good bullpen, I guarantee that.”

    There ya go, a guarantee.

  • On the health front, Chavez is taking ground balls, throwing, running and hitting. Yes, that’s everything. Geren said he expects him to be 100 percent when spring begins. Mark Ellis just this week started throwing. He’s going to be behind when camp opens, but is still expected to be ready by opening day. Same goes for Daric Barton, who had hip surgery. Duchscherer is not expected to be limited at all when camp opens.
  • Discussing the A’s potential defensive issues with Giambi or Cust in the field, Geren was predictably optimistic. He said Giambi is “average” and Cust is “a lot better outfielder than a lot of people think.” Geren also revealed that Cust didn’t make an error last season after getting a new glove. Whew!

Hey Billy, my boy Randy Wolf is still available

| January 20, 2009

Randy Wolf reportedly turned down an offer from the Diamondbacks. The offer was probably in the neighborhood of $4-5 million, according to the story. So I guess that’s the bottom of the Wolf Market.

Wolf would be a nice pickup to be the A’s No. 3 or No. 4 starter, I think. His 4.30 ERA with the Padres and Astros last year is nothing to write home about, but he did finish strong (6-2, 3.57 in his last 12 starts after the Astros got him). He had 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings and he gave up less than one homer per nine innings. His walks were a tad high, at 3.6, though. He also threw 190 innings.

(UPDATE: According to this, Billy Beane has no interest in Randy Wolf or any other free agent pitcher. Seems to think that maybe Josh Outman, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden may be the next Hudson, Mulder and Zito. OK, maybe that’s me putting words in his mouth. Seems to me that the young guys they have aren’t quite as good as that previous generation, and there’s no harm in having one veteran arm around for a short-term deal to provide a buffer. But what do I know?)

Choice for Sanchez

| January 19, 2009

Jonathan Sanchez has been selected to the provisional roster for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.pIt will be interesting to see if Sanchez opts to go. If I were him, I wouldn’t want to do anything that affected my preparation for what figures to be the most important season of his career. This is the year when we’ll see if he’s a solid consistent starter, or just a swingman.

Bengie Molina is also on the Puerto Rico roster and Pablo Sandoval is on Venezuela’s. The A’s Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine are on the roster for Team USA.

Check out MLB.com for full details.

(Posted from my iPhone. I love that!)/p

Remember this A’s fans?

| January 19, 2009

You will be amused to read what’s going on with Rich Harden and the Cubs right now. It’s also interesting to read a Cubs blog and see how their fans are frustrated with his injuries. They’re complaining about dealing with this for three months? You dealt with it for five years.

All this, to me, is further proof that Billy Beane did the right thing trading Harden when he did. At the time they dealt him in July, he was healthy and pitching well. His value was at its absolute highest. If you ignore Matt Murton and Eric Patterson — complementary players — they still got a pitcher who has top-of-the-rotation stuff (Sean Gallagher) and a minor-league catcher who has been highly touted (Josh Donaldson).

If the A’s had kept Harden, they still would not have made the playoffs, and now they’d be either trying to trade him (with much less value, since he’s hurt) or staring at the possibility of going into the season with him as a rotation question mark and then either trading him in July (with less value because he’d be a two-month rental) or losing him at the end of ’09 as a free agent.

I, too, have a dream…

| January 19, 2009

… that the Giants will acquire a player with more in front of him than behind him.

… that the A’s will admit: “OK, OK, we should have kept Tejada instead of Chavez.”

… that the phrase “industry source” will be replaced by “a scout or executive from a team that has nothing whatsoever to do with this transaction.”

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