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Sub-.200 Eric Chavez Speaks ...

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Sub-.200 Eric Chavez Speaks ...

Postby d18Mike » Sun May 08, 2005 9:54 pm

No real news here or indications why he is slumping -- but some interesting insight.


BY NEIL HAYES

Knight Ridder Newspapers

OAKLAND, Calif. - (KRT) - Eric Chavez was playing a video game in the A's clubhouse this week while answering questions about his early season slump.

"It's frustrating because I don't think there's a reason for it," the A's third baseman said while manipulating the controls, his eyes never leaving the flashing kick-boxer on the screen. "There's no excuse for it, either."

It's impossible to criticize someone so willing to criticize himself. Chavez is notoriously hard on himself. He is a budding star but still struggles with his confidence. It's just who he is.

When the conversation shifts to expectations, he refuses to beat himself up. He ignores the flashing screen and looks his questioner right in the eye.

"I'm sick of people saying what I should be doing," he said. "I'm sick of it. I'm not capable of hitting 40 home runs until I do it."

You hear projections from baseball people, from media people, all the time. Scouts begin assigning numbers to prospects from the first moment they see them. "This guy could hit 40 homers with 130 RBI," a television analyst might say. "He has that kind of potential. This could be his breakthrough year."

Nobody hears it more than Chavez. He is quietly building a resume that could one day be worthy of Hall of Fame consideration but there's a belief that he should be doing more, hitting more home runs and driving in more runs.

He agrees to an extent. He wants to be more consistent and less prone to the slumps that have dogged him throughout his six-year career, especially now that the A's are relying on him more than ever before. He wants to keep improving and justify the six-year, $66 million contract he signed last spring.

But he wonders if it's realistic for people to expect him to put up monster numbers often projected on him without help_the kind of help that BALCO founder Victor Conte was allegedly peddling.

"Unfortunately, illegal substances have come into the game and tainted the numbers and the levels of expectations have jumped," he said. "For those of us who participate cleanly, it's unrealistic. It's unfair."

He makes an excellent point. A player just now stepping into his prime can expect to be measured against steroid-inflated statistics.

Chavez is a prime example. Sometimes he feels as if he almost has to apologize for averaging 30 homers and 97 RBI during the past five seasons, even if those stats put him in elite company among third basemen.

He is one of four third baseman in AL history to win four Gold Gloves. He, Mark McGwire, Reggie Jackson and Jose Canseco are the only players in Oakland history to hit 25 or more home runs for five straight seasons.

Isn't that enough? If he never hits 40 homers will he have failed somehow?

"If he does what he has always done we'll be very happy," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "That's breakthrough enough. If he does that for the length of his contract you're talking about a Hall of Fame-caliber player."

It's these types of expectations that can make a player feel as if he has no choice but to take steroids. Chavez never made a conscious decision not to use performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, it never even crossed his mind.

He admits he was naive, not even considering that friend and mentor Jason Giambi might have been using when he was in Oakland.

"Certain standards have been set that are unrealistic," he said. "It's not worth it to me to take it to the next level."

Chavez acknowledges there's plenty of room for him to improve. He has been the other guy, he has been one of the guys, but he has never been the guy until now.

It could be argued that he filled that role last year when he hit 29 home runs and led the league in walks despite missing six weeks because of a broken bone in his right hand, but at least there was the threat of Jermaine Dye.

This year the offense is more reliant on him than ever and he has struggled mightily, especially with runners in scoring position.

Is it any wonder the A's are having so much trouble scoring runs?

"When you have that franchise player tag and the organization decides that you're the guy who gets the contract it doesn't help you relax," A's manager Ken Macha said. "He's trying to do too much. I just want Eric to be Eric."

If the past five seasons are any indication, being Eric means 30 homers, 100 RBI and Gold Glove caliber defense. Chances are, he'll finish close to those numbers again this year. They may not be good enough for some people, but they'll be good enough for Chavez and the A's.

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Postby TheYanks04 » Sun May 08, 2005 10:12 pm

Yeah well I suspect many have benched Eric Chavez in their fantasy leagues as I have. And if he does not break out of it by June, you will start seeing him hit the WW wire in a lot of leagues I should think.

At least guys like Konerko are producing RBIs and Hrs...Chavez is producing NOTHING. And the A' s lineup has to be one of the saddest I have seen in years with only the Tigers of a couple of years ago maybe being worse. Which does not bode well for Chavez seeing anything to hit.
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Postby KolbSaves » Sun May 08, 2005 10:21 pm

Maybe he was playing Super Street Fighter II? Can't think of many kickboxing related video games (that are actually popular).

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Postby beltrans_boy » Sun May 08, 2005 10:22 pm

Um..hello?

It's Eric Chavez. He'll be fine.
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Postby bobby » Sun May 08, 2005 10:35 pm

I'm just glad to hear that he's not slumping because of some nagging injury. He'll break out soon! I hope... :-°
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Postby Slump Busters » Sun May 08, 2005 11:16 pm

He'll break out soon! I hope...

He is riding the pine until he does decide to break out. I have had some major slumps to start the year but they are slowly fading. Last week A. Jones finally broke his funk, this weekend B. Giles broke his so perhaps if I am lucky then Chavez will break out this upcoming weekend.
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Postby d18Mike » Sun May 08, 2005 11:24 pm

He will probably rebound.

Probably.

Look, for every Brian Roberts there is a guy who will have a clunker of a year. It happens. I'm not prepared to rule Chavez out as that guy. The "he'll bounce back" line is fine. But if if he doesn't bounce within a reasonable period you've essentially drafted David Bell. There is only so much ground he can reasonably make up.

I think he is so far in the hole that I'm not sure sugar coating the situation with hope is a good strategy.
Last edited by d18Mike on Mon May 09, 2005 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby RJCarrot » Sun May 08, 2005 11:31 pm

I finally dumped him to FA for a closer.

Hes a waste of a roster spot atm. And no one in my league wants to touch him either, so he can chill in FA land.
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Postby Cooner » Mon May 09, 2005 12:24 am

RJCarrot wrote:I finally dumped him to FA for a closer.

Hes a waste of a roster spot atm. And no one in my league wants to touch him either, so he can chill in FA land.


Ahhh if only I was in your league...
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Postby beltrans_boy » Mon May 09, 2005 1:10 am

Maybe it's cause I'm in a H2H league, but there's no WAY I'm dropping Chavez...
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