John Gizze wrote:"A" is for crummy Nearly a month in, and it's apparent the A's offense is what it has been the last two years: mediocre. Frankly, it hasn't been that good. Sleeping players like Eric Chavez, Erubiel Durazo, and Eric Byrnes figure to get better. So does Jason Kendall, but his improvements will be marginal, since he has no power whatsoever. But the struggles of Nick Swisher, Charles Thomas, and Keith Ginter -- three A's counted on not to be stars but to be solid complementary players -- are of more concern. We'll discuss Swisher, Chavez, the LF situation, Joe Blanton, and more in this update. E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Archive: jmgizzibaseballblog.blogspot.com.
Power and . . . impatience? Swisher's reputation is built on his presumed ability to hit for power and to draw walks. His BA was supposed to be his weak link, one that would be ameliorated by free passes to first. So far that has not been the case: Swisher has just three walks in his first 17 games. This does not go well with a .219 BA, the number most fantasy owners are concerned with. Billy Beane has been known to shake things up, but what he can do in this case is not clear, since the goons backing Swisher up -- Thomas and Bobby Kielty -- have been terrible. My guess? He will get demoted soon if he doesn't turn it around, stiffish back-ups or not. I remain convinced that Swisher will finish with a .260ish BA and 18 home runs, but a trip to AAA may help.
Your 2005 LVP: Eric Chavez So that's glib. Chavez hit .222/.350/.419, with five home runs, last April. Slow starts are nothing new. Surprisingly, the number of "Should I trade Chavez?" e-mails have not come this year, a sign that the fantasy world understands that this is how Chavez has operated recently (though in April 2002, he hit nine home runs and drove in 21 runs, along with a .713 slugging percentage). His swing looks fine, he's healthy, and he's seeing over four pitches per plate appearance. It will happen. But until Chavez realizes that the 2005 season started in April, not May or June, that AL MVP that we've been predicting -- OK, that I've been predicting -- will have to wait for another year. Again.
What does LF stand for? UGLY Pretend you're Ken Macha. Choose your LF from these numbers: .182/.250/.364; .111/.226/.222; .000/.179/.000. This is about as close as you can get to the perfect definition of "dilemma." Eric Byrnes is Macha's "best" option up there; he's "slugging" at a .364 clip. Kielty actually hit a home run against a right-handed pitcher, which is about as shocking an event one can find in the post-modern-impossible-to-be-shocked era. When Thomas gets a hit, we'll discuss his fantasy value. I thought he'd have a little value in deep AL-only leagues. So far, I've been wrong. As it stands now, Byrnes remains the player with the most fantasy upside, because he's the only Athletic who can steal a base. He must play to do that, of course.
Smokin' Joe Blanton! If you were to take one thing from me this week, please have it be my student loans. After that, take this advice: trade Joe Blanton now. Not only is he not this good, but he's also compiling these over-achieving statistics at unsustainable levels, in particular that 1:1 K/BB ratio. Very few pitchers in the history of baseball have been able to pitch well striking out 2.5 batters per nine, and Blanton is not going to be one of them. There are worse pitchers to have around on your AL-only staff, but if you can leverage him for a quality bat or even a mid-level closer, do it. He's going to come crashing to earth sooner rather than later.
Kiko Calero update The A's best reliever so far, Calero on Monday saw team doctors regarding his sore elbow. He was scheduled to test the elbow Tuesday, and if he can't throw then, he's headed to the DL. This is not particularly surprising, considering at various points in the last two seasons he was shut down because of injuries to his throwing arm. The A's are notoriously tight-lipped about their injured players; when you hear it, I hear it, so stay tuned. Huston Street's value keeps going up, as he now perhaps inherits that nebulous but wondrous fantasy title of "Top Set-Up Guy." Hold on to Calero in the meantime, because if he's healthy, he's worth owning in all leagues.
Alphabet Soup Bobby Crosby has yet to resume any baseball-related activities, so his return is still a few weeks off. Marco Scutaro will continue to play in Crosby's absence, and would make a decent pick-up in AL-only leagues and very, very deep mixed leagues . . .Though I remain bullish on Danny Haren, he's got to improve his control. Thirteen walks in his first 23 innings does not bode well for long-term success . . . It would appear that Juan Cruz, like Swisher, would benefit from a trip to the minors. He's struggling -- to say the least! -- with an 11.57 E.R.A. and 2.71 WHIP. Wait, is that correct? A 2.71 WHIP??!?!?! Punt in mixed leagues, because Cruz's value is nil. -- JG out
I love reading your posts on this forum. Keep it up.
Any inside knowledge or scouting reports on Keiichi Yabu? He has only gotten hit hard once in relief so far and has an impressive 3-1 K/BB ratio to go with a fine .871ERA and 1.258 WHIP. Impressive numbers but I havent seen him pitch and have no idea if his stuff is really that good.
I'm big on Calero and hope he doesnt have to endure a lengthy DL stint. His durabilty is way too questionable to consider useing him for anything other than middle relief, but he is a huge asset to the team. He pitched last night 4/30/05, so hopefully his elbow injury wont linger.
Juan Cruz is much better than his numbers indicate. Unless the A's need to clear a roster spot I dont like the idea of sending him down. He should get his stuff together sooner than later.
Saarloos is bound to get pulled from the rotation sooner than later. I would love to see preferably J. Cruz get it together and take his spot or Yabu if Cruz just cant get it together.
"Son we would like to keep you around here but were trying to win a pennant this year."
Oakland Athletics Correspondent - John Gizzi Posted: May 23
Back to life, back to reality
I had started a draft for a different Web site -- yes, they do exist, but are of course inferior (where's my raise, Eric?) -- in which I said, "After putting 13 up in one game against the Red Sox, it'd be a shock if the A's scored 10 runs total against the Giants." I hate being right. Which is good, since technically I wasn't right in that case, nor did I actually finish the piece in question. But I was close enough: the A's scored 11 runs, including three on Saturday and Sunday. Three total. Ugh. This update: Bobby Kielty, Huston Street, Erubiel Durazo, Jason Kendall, Seth Etherton, and more. E-mail: mailto:email@example.com. Apologies if you sent an e-mail recently and didn't get a response. Apparently whatever problems I had been having have been resolved.
This Kielty fellow: Mixed-league worthy?
Nah. Not even close. In the real world, .322/.419/.456 is good. (For Kielty, it's Hall-of-Fame good. Well, at least in the Kielty Hall-of-Fame.) Fantasy-wise, most leagues don't use OBP or slugging percentage but rather those dull counting stats known as "home runs and RBI." In that arena, Kielty is not so good: two home runs and 17 RBI from an outfielder is bad. Very bad. It's really not that great from a second baseman, either. As an every-day player, however, Kielty has some value in AL-only leagues. But the depth of outfielders in mixed leagues means that you should look elsewhere if, for example, you're like me and have to replace Vladimir Guerrero. If you *are* like me, I apologise. It's rough.
All hail the A's new closer!
Well, ok, so he hasn't actually recorded a save yet. In order to do that, he must be presented with a lead, and considering the A's used up a week's worth of runs in their 13-run effort, it may be a while. At any rate, it's going to happen sooner or later. One thing to think about is Street's somewhat suspect control: 13 walks in 24 innings is high for any pitcher, let alone your ace reliever, even if Street has 28 punch-outs in those innings. What I've noticed, though, is that he is not necessarily wild but that he can be leery of challenging hitters. In theory this is ok if you're facing, say, Albert Pujols. But at some point, Street's going to have to go after hitters. Given his stuff, I think he'll be ok. We'll see.
Durazo: time for another binge?
I don't even care anymore, and neither should you unless you're a member of Erubiel's family, in which case you should wake him up again. Durazo's ownership is back below 30 percent, and given that he's driven in two runs in his last 13 games, that's about right. You've got to figure that at some point Durazo is going to settle in around .270, with respectable, but not terrific, power numbers. At the same time, you've got to wonder why you're one of the 29 percent holding Durazo when you could possibly have, among others, Geoff Jenkins (40 percent owned), Michael Cuddyer (starting to hit and at 26 percent), Mark Kotsay (32 percent), or even Eric Byrnes (10 percent and playing better of late).
Why is this man earning $10 million?
The good news: Kendall has two three-hit games in his last four. The bad news: the other 38 games Kendall has played in have been mainly craptastic. In days of yore, Kendall could be counted on to reach base at a .380 or so clip, driven in part by a high BA, which would at least help fantasy owners. And I mean, that's it. He's got no power, he's never had power, and he's not going to return to the days of teenage steal figures. If he's not hitting for average, he's completely useless fantasy-wise. I'd suggest that the 52 percent of you in mixed leagues holding him should strongly consider punting, or at least dangle his name in trade offers, because while he won't hit .234, given his age, the new league, a poor hitting park, and a dreadful supporting cast, it'd be a shock if he hit .280.
Issues related to, and of, the rotation Kirk Saarloos will be skipped in the rotation until Saturday, with Seth Etherton receiving the gift with purchase known as "Pitching Against The Devil Rays With Doug Waechter As Your Opponent." The A's offense stinks, so in your AL-only league, rather than grabbing Etherton because of his decent outing against the Bo Sox, snare Waechter for a spot start. I'm only partially kidding. When 74-year-old Jeff Fassero -- Jeff Fassero! -- holds you to two runs thru six innings . . . well . . . how does one express the inexpressible? Etherton would make a passable risk against Tampa Bay, as long as you can live with the four percent chance the A's will score enough runs to get him a win.
Finally, Justin Duchscherer will be available out of the bullpen on Tuesday, after missing about 10 days because of back problems. The Duke won't get saves or do anything with the flash of someone named "Huston Street," but he's got a cool last name, an effective 12-6 curve ball, the ability to spot his 88-MPH fastball, and he plays in a favourable home ball-park. There's a lot to like, in other words, and if you need middle relief help, you can do worse . . . Just when Ken Macha was showing some faith in him, Keith Ginter drops a pop-up and botches a double-play grounder in a span of three crummy minutes. Ginter is a better hitter than this -- are there many .167 hitters? -- but he's not helping himself. -- JG out