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Joe Maddon’s Ejection Shows Why MLB Needs Expanded Replay

Major League Baseball continues to live on the edge of insanity by only having a limited numbers of plays that can be reviewed. The instances where a play can be looked at is on a home run call, and that’s either did the ball go over the yellow line? Did a fan interfere and reach in to grab the ball? Finally, was the ball fair or foul? 

That’s it! Which, is tough to believe because there are so many close plays at any of the bases and with check swings. The two main arguments on why replay has not been expanded is because baseball is already a game that can go for three hours or more and stopping the game to review a play would add onto the time of the game, and the second argument is that baseball has had the human element involved. 

In the game of the Texas Rangers taking on the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon was ejected on a blown check swing call. It was obvious that Michael Young who was up with two men on wasn’t able to check his swing, and if the correct call had been made the Rays would have gotten out of the inning only trailing 2-0, instead Young was given a fresh life and on the next pitch from Chad Qualls, Young homered staking the Rangers out to an insurmountable 5-0 lead. 

Check swings should be part of the instant replay expansion. Why? Because the check swings happen so quickly that it’s nearly impossible for the umpire looking at the play to make the correct call, although there are times when it’s clear that a hitter went through the zone, but what happens when a player moves a lot of their body and not the bat, and the hitter is called for the swing even though he never went around? 

In the case of Maddon and the Rays, the argument was that a strikeout with two runners on and Qualls being able to keep the score close could have been a momentum changer for the Rays. Instead it was the Rangers who were the beneficiary of the blown call by Jerry Meals. 

If the call had been in the regular season, it may not have been as big of a deal, but in this case the call has helped the Rangers take control of the series with a 2-0 lead on the Rays. Also, this is the playoffs; this is where only the best umpires should be calling the game, and that big of a blown call reflects on the ignorance of Bud Selig. 

Replay should have been expanded, but again Selig refused. 

Check swings aren’t the only plays that should be eligible to be reviewed. Plays at any base should be reviewed especially the close plays making sure that the runner either beat the throw, the tag was missed, or didn’t leave the base too early when tagging up. Also, if a ball is hit down the right or left field line whether the ball was fair or foul. 

Those would be the most common plays, but others would be making sure a fielder has caught the ball, so if the ball was trapped, if the outfielder goes for a catch but the ball hits the wall before being caught, or if there are runners on base the outfielder makes the catch but on transfer drops the ball, that could be reviewed, in terms of on the bases the play that needs to be reviewed are attempted double plays did the fielder actually have their foot on the bag when the ball was caught or was it in the vicinity of the bag?

Balls and strikes are the only plays that should not be reviewed, but hit by pitches should be. 

Don’t know how many times there’d be a replay in the process of a double play and the second basemen or short stop were nowhere near having the foot on the bag, yet the runner sliding into second is called out because the fielder was close to the bag. 

One of the more interesting plays that happened this year that could have been reviewed was a double play turned by the Oakland Athletics against the Minnesota Twins in Minnesota. Jim Thome was at the plate, and Delmon Young was on first base. 

Thome hit a flyball into left center where Rajai Davis camped underneath the ball, Young went half way and watched Davis because if he dropped the ball he’d easily get to second and if he caught the ball he’d go back to first. 

Davis did catch the ball but in the process of transferring the ball out of his glove, the ball fell. Young went to second without tagging up and was tagged out because he had not tagged up from first base as the ball was caught. 

Confusing play for Young right? From his vantage point he believed that Davis had dropped the ball and therefore did not have to tag up. The replay showed that Davis did in fact catch the ball, but in the process of throwing the ball back is when Davis dropped the ball. 

Even worse was the original ruling on the field that the ball was dropped, so Young was safe at second and Thome as well at first. Of course if that call stood it would have meant an entirely different scenario for the A’s. 

Instead of being two outs with no one on base it would have been no outs and runners on first and second. Bob Geren immediately ran out of the dugout to plead his case with the umpires and after a few minutes checking in with each umpire, the play was finally ruled correct a catch by Davis making Thome out and with Young not tagging up and being tagged out, he was out as well. 

Double play for the A’s. An irate Ron Gardenhire went out to argue his case, but it was too no avail, and eventually he was thrown out of the game. 

Now, if there was replay in baseball all Geren would have had to do is asked the umpire to review the play. Now after watching the replay the umpires could go over to both managers explain what happened and that’s the end of that; Gardenhire would have had the same explanation, and the umpire would have had visual proof that Davis caught the ball. 

The Florida Marlins had a game taken away from them because Bob Davidson made the wrong call. Even worse is the fact that even after watching the replay after the game, Davidson still believed he made the right call. Instead of a game-ending double, the Marlins went into extra innings and lost. 

Derek Jeter showed his true colors a few weeks ago when he pretended like he was hit by a pitch, when the reality was that the ball hit off the handle of the bat. So, instead of a foul ball, he was allowed first base. A few days later Jorge Posada tried doing the same thing, but the umpire wasn’t fooled.

Quite possibly the best example of why baseball needs replay was the perfect game that was lost by Armando Galarraga. Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled that John McDonald was safe on a play where Galarraga had to race over and take the throw for the out. 

Galarraga beat McDonald to first base, caught the ball, and stepped on first for the final out of the ninth inning, but Joyce ruled McDonald safe instead. Jim Leyland came out immediately from the dugout and argued. Joyce patiently let Leyland blow off his steam and didn’t eject him even though there are managers and players that have done far less to be ejected. 

After Joyce saw the replay, he knew that he had missed the call and in one of the best displays of sportsmanship, Galarraga forgave him for his mistake. If replay was available, all Leyland would have had to ask for is the replay, and the call would have been overturned, and Galarraga gets his perfect game. 

Yet, the biggest question that is going to need to be addressed for baseball is how to implement replay without slowing down the game even more? Should time even be a concern since baseball isn’t a game that is played with a time limit so how does a few minutes that fans are waiting for the ruling truly effect the time of the game? Would it be better to have the call made correct and have the game go 10 minutes longer than have a game that lasts for 10 minutes shorter, but the call clearly changes the outcome or momentum of the game? 

What baseball needs to do is grant managers the ability to look at the replay of a close play. There should be no limit of how many replays are used because a manager should not be punished for wanting the correct call to be made, so it’s not like football where if a challenge is lost there’s no more that can be used. 

The only question would be is where to keep the replay personnel unlike football there’s no headsets to radio down the call. Another question that should be asked is should an umpire on the field be the one looking at the replay or should there be a separate umpire in the dugout of the home team who’s role is to be ruling on the replay?

If a call isn’t even that close the umpire has the right to decline looking at the replay, so managers don’t take advantage of the little break to either have a pitcher get loose in the bullpen or to calm the pitcher on the mound down. 

Finally, obvious calls that need to be reviewed should be looked at before a manager even asks, such as on a ball that is down the line or is close at any of the bases. 

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Vin Mazzaro Floundering, A’s Make Right Move in Sending Him to Sacramento

For a young pitcher starting out in the Major Leagues, success can come and it go as quickly as it came. A perfect example of this is the case of Vin Mazzaro, who from June eight to July 18 saw tremendous success and looked like a mainstay in the rotation for the A’s. 

During that period of time Mazzaro went 4-2 with 31 strikeouts to 16 walks, had an ERA of 2.82, and held batters to a .235 average. The one knock on Mazzaro during this time was that he did have the tendency to hang his slider and when that happened it was hit a long way. 

Yet, as quickly as that success came it vanished and he’s now found himself back at Triple A Sacramento trying to fix what went wrong. In his last eight starts which he had six decisions in those starts, Mazzaro has gone 0-6 with a 5.60 ERA, has struck out 29 while walking 20, and batters are hitting .284 against him. 

The icing on the cake though was the last two starts for Mazzaro one against the New York Yankees and the other against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In those starts he went a total of eight innings, giving up 13 hits, 14 runs, 12 earned, walked six, struck out three, gave up five home runs, and had an ERA of 13.50.

Fircoal Urban wrote an article on the subject of Mazzaro‘s demotion in the article it self Urban expresses dismay that Mazzaro was sent down and in his mind it was a total surprise to see Mazzaro sent down. He states in the final paragraph of his article “The only reason I can think that this move was done was for Mazzaro to try to aid their AAA team with the day off, but it’s still confusing.”

Let’s start off with the first quote about Mazzaro aiding Sacramento. Yes, that is one part of the equation that Mazzaro builds his confidence backup and also helps Sacramento during their playoffs. Also, what Urban is referring to is that the A’s have an off-day on Thursday, so a fifth starter is not needed until sometime next week. 

That means that the A’s have to make a decision on who to start. He gives his case why Boof Bonser shouldn’t get the start by saying “Boof Bonser looks like the only option in the majors and his 5.17 ERA in zero starts doesn’t really excite me (Though it has been very solid since coming to Oakland).”

If Bonser is the option to take over as the fifth starter then fine, since coming to Oakland in his relief appearances which have been as a long reliever Bonser has compiled an ERA of 3.29. What was even more impressive though is after Mazzaro‘s horrendous outing against the Yankees, Bonser came in and pitched 4.1 innings striking out five walking one and giving up two hits. 

With Bonser he could definitely be looked at to make the start the next time the A’s need a fifth starter.

Other candidates are down in Sacramento include Mazzaro being brought back up, Clayton Mortenson who’s 13-6 with a 4.25 ERA with 112 strikeouts to 53 walks and he has made one start for the A’s this year going six innings, giving up four runs, three earned, six hits, two walks, struck out seven, and got a no decision. Tyson Ross could get the call up as he has gone back to where he should have been as a starter. 

The thing is that Mazzaro is just 23, but next season, he will have to earn a starting spot in the rotation. Starting pitching is one of the A’s strengths and in next years rotation, it will be the top three right now of Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden. 

As for the other two spots those will be up for grabs. One of those though will more than likely go to a free agent pitcher with experience and even if the A’s don’t go after a veteran starting pitcher to be the fourth starter. 

Mazzaro will have to beat out Mortenson, Ross, Bonser (could make a run for a starting spot has experience as a starter), and Josh Outman are all going to be after the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation. 

If a veteran pitcher is signed as a free agent that means four pitchers going after one spot.

The A’s are in a great position to be in with the starting pitching, but with Mazzaro being send down it was never about two bad starts. He had been struggling for awhile and with the disastrous outings against the Yankees and Angels it was just a matter of time before Mazzaro was sent down to Sacramento. 

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There’s No Light at the End of the Tunnel for the Oakland A’s

When Billy Beane made no moves at the All-Star break to improve the Oakland A’s lineup, it was only a matter of time before the overachieving A’s squad started to crumble, and now that time has come. 

Over the last 10 games the A’s have gone 4-6 and went from second place in the American League West division, to third place, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now one and a half games ahead of the A’s. 

In that span, the A’s offense has averaged 2.5 runs per game. Looking further at just how miserable the offense has been, the A’s have been shutout twice and have scored two or less runs three times. 

Meaning that in five of the 10 games, the A’s have either been shutout or scored two or less runs. Luckily for the A’s, and why the record in the last 10 games isn’t even worse, is because of the A’s pitching. 

When looking over the 10 game span, the A’s pitchers have allowed 28 runs. It’s not hard to see why the A’s have the best ERA in the American League, but it’s also easy to see why the A’s have struggled so much. 

Today the A’s nearly got no hit by the Minnesota Twins and yet when the dust settled and the game was over, all the A’s could manage was two hits and two runs, which nearly was enough to win, but a three-run home run by Jim Thome made it virtually impossible for the A’s to comeback from a 4-0 deficit. 

Yet, the score could have been different in the game. In fact, the A’s could have come out with a 2-1 victory over the Twins, but another fine example of the fine managing of Bob Geren came into play. 

Jerry Blevins relieved Vin Mazzaro in the bottom of the seventh inning after Chris Carter misplayed a flyball off the bat of Orlando Hudson. Blevins came in to face Joe Mauer who he proceeded to walk. Jason Kubel struck out on a nasty off-speed pitch from Blevins. 

Michael Cuddyer then was robbed of extra bases on a tremendous diving stop by Daric Barton at first base, a play that saved the A’s at least two runs at the time. So, it looked like the A’s were out of the woods right? 

As Thome strolled to the plate, Brad Ziegler began to get himself ready in the bullpen. The first three pitches from Blevins were not even close to the strike zone and with two outs there was no reason to give in to Thome with a base open and Danny Valencia coming to the plate. 

Instead of doing what most managers would have done in the situation and that is put Thome on base, the A’s chose to go after Thome. That was a bad move on the A’s part as Thome took Blevins’ next pitch out of the ballpark. 

At the time of the home run, the A’s were trailing 1-0, that home run brought the score to 4-0. That at-bat by Thome is just another example of why the A’s need to fire Geren. 

Another reason is what happened in the top of the ninth inning. With Kevin Kouzmanoff opening the inning off with a single, he wasn’t pinch run for. In that situation, with the way the A’s offense has been going, Kouzmanoff should have been ran for. 

A reason for that is to keep the A’s from hitting into a double play, which is exactly what happened. Rajai Davis ended the game by grounding out to shortstop. 

Further proof of just how bad the A’s offense has been can be seen by each hitter that’s been in the lineup.

1. Coco Crisp: .394 average, three doubles, 15 hits, a homer, and five RBI

2. Daric Barton: .267 average, two triples, a double, eight hits, no homers, and one RBI

3. Kurt Suzuki: .162 average, two doubles, six hits, no homers, and three RBI

4. Jack Cust: .178  average, a double, five hits, no homers, and one RBI

5. Kevin Kouzmanoff: .114 average, two doubles, four hits, no homers, and three RBI

6. Mark Ellis: .294 average, four doubles, 10 hits, no homers, and four RBI

7. Rajai Davis: .243 average, three doubles, nine hits, no homers, and two RBI

8. Chris Carter: .000 average, zero doubles, zero hits, zero homers, and zero RBI

9. Cliff Pennington: .333 average, two doubles, a triple, zero homers, and zero RBI

Totals: 18 doubles, three triples, one home run, and 19 RBI

That’s the lineup the A’s have put out a majority of the time in the last 10 games. The question is, will the A’s snap out of the offensive funk the team is in? Not very likely because of the upcoming games the A’s have. 

The next few series the A’s play are against the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians (only winnable series for the A’s), Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees. 

With the way the A’s offense has been playing it wouldn’t be a surprise to find the team hovering around 10 games under .500 rather than at or above .500, the reason being is there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the A’s offense. 

Conor Jackson is scheduled to come off the disabled list. It may mean that Chris Carter gets sent down or one of the relievers. Even with Jackson’s bat in the lineup, it still doesn’t give the A’s much more offensively. 

What is the light at the end of the tunnel for the A’s? The answer is when September begins and the rosters expand, the A’s have a few call ups to make. 

First will be Michael Taylor since Carter is already up. Since Taylor started the season so slowly he’s done a much better job. He’s now hitting a respectable .264 after being in the .220s at the beginning of the year. 

Jeff Larish who’s already up will get a look he can play first, third, or be the designated hitter. 

Dallas McPherson is another option as he can play third base, first base, or be the designated hitter as well.

Corey Brown, an outfielder, could be called up, he’s got excellent speed and a good eye at the plate. 

Displaying these hitters will show what the A’s can look forward to the 2011 season. The pitching staff has been great all year. If the A’s are to make a run at the playoffs, the A’s need hitters. 

Regardless of where the players are in their development either at Sacramento or Midland, something needs to be done to ignite the A’s offense and give A’s fans some hope for the 2011 season.

The pitching is already there but the hitting is nowhere close. 

Besides the offense the question becomes when does it stop being the players fault and instead becomes the coaches fault? If a managers not able to get the best effort out of his players game in and game out doesn’t that mean it’s time for a change as well? 

If a manager refuses to go 100 percent into a different offensive philosophy based on the team’s roster? Is it fair to say that the manager should be gone? 

The answer is yes and until the A’s replace Geren, bring up some bats either from the minor leagues or trades in the offseason, and buy 100 percent into the offensive philosophy the A’s are going to continue to struggle. 

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Losing Patience With Geren and Skaalen, A’s Continue Lackluster Offense

The Oakland A’s came off home series against Texas where the A’s with runners in scoring position managed to go for 0-30, but somehow were still able to take win two games of the three game series. 

At that point it looked like it was a turning point of the season for the A’s because they gained ground on the Texas Rangers in the American League West division race and had a chance with the Rangers having an off-day to even gain further ground. 

That didn’t happen for the A’s instead the A’s lost two games to the Seattle Mariners the worst team in the division and one of the worst teams in baseball. It was understandable the A’s wouldn’t sweep considering the team was facing Felix Hernandez in the second game of the series. 

Even then though the A’s had a chance to do some damage against Hernandez. In the first inning the A’s had runners on first and second with nobody out. Kurt Suzuki came up and got the A’s first hit with runners in scoring position. 

Only problem was Suzuki’s ball was hit so hard that Coco Crisp could not score from second base. Of course Hernandez then settled down retiring the next three hitters rather easily.

Regardless of that series there’s no better example of just how pathetic the A’s offense is then the first game of the series against the Minnesota Twins. The A’s had plenty of opportunities to score and yet only managed to score four runs. 

In fact the game started off well for the A’s with Crisp leading the game off with a single then stealing second on the first pitch to Daric Barton. Suzuki who’s been struggling mightily at the plate came up.

His main purpose at the plate should have been getting the runners over to second and third so the A’s would have two chances to get the run home. That means either hitting the ball to the right side or a sacrifice bunt. Suzuki has not been producing at the plate. 

Instead Suzuki wound up striking out, Jack Cust grounded out to first allowing the runners to get to second and third with two outs. Kevin Kouzmanoff grounded out to Alexei Casilla who made a nice play and threw in time to get Kouzmanoff. 

Two of the runs came in the top of the third inning when Cliff Pennington doubled, Crisp struckout but when Barton came up he stole third because Carl Pavano was not paying attention to him. Barton then lined a triple into the right field gap to score Pennington. 

Suzuki again came up with a chance to bring a runner home but wasn’t able to bring in Pennington and Cust  came through with an opposite field double bringing in Barton to tie the game up at 2-2. 

For the rest of the game the A’s had plenty of runners on base but were not able to cash in. The top of the seventh and eighth innings were the best chances for the A’s to do some damage.

In the seventh inning Crisp singled, Barton lined out to center, Suzuki singled to left field and was able to get to second while Crisp to third because Delmon Young was not able to catch the ball on a dive. 

Ron Mahay came in and relieved Pavano. Cust was pressing a little bit because he got the count to 3-1 and swung at ball four and ended up watching strike three. Kouzmanoff was robbed of a two run single by Casilla on a nice diving catch at shortstop. 

During the top of the eighth Mark Ellis hit an infield single, Rajai Davis hit a single, Chris Carter bounced into a fielders choice leaving runners on first and third with Davis being forced out at second. Cliff Pennington worked a walk. 

This meant that Crisp was up with the bases loaded and the infield playing back. The Twins in the game had already used the benefit of a suicide squeeze don’t understand why the A’s were going to utilize Crisp’s speed. 

Instead of at least getting a run in that situation, Crisp hits into the inning ending double play. 

In the top of the ninth inning the A’s managed to score a fluke run. Barton lined a ball to Denard Span for the first out of the inning, Kurt Suzuki doubled, Cust popped out to shortstop, Kouzmanoff hit a sharp grounder to Casilla who tried to make a backhanded play, but wasn’t able to do it which was scored an error and Suzuki also scored. 

Ellis hit a single leaving runners on first and second. Davis was up again and instead of taking any pitches he went after the first pitch and hit a flyball to left center to end the game. 

In all the A’s had 14 hits to the Twins five, but in the scoring department the Twins etched out four runs on those five hits and the A’s only managed three runs on those 14 hits.

Just further proof that in the offseason the A’s need drastic changes at the coaching level starting with Jim Skaalen and moving to Geren. It comes to a point in time when the players aren’t producing that a change must be made. 

It’s also not like the A’s don’t have any options to replace Geren, Don Wakamatsu a former A’s bench coach could be in line to replace Geren along with Tony Defrancesco the manager of the Sacramento Rivercats. 

For hitting coach Carney Lansford would make an excellent addition to the staff. He played over 1200 games for the A’s and knows how to hit in the coliseum and he can pass on that knowledge to the hitters. 

The other problem with Geren and Skaalen that the team went that preached patience at the plate to more of a small ball approach. Meaning manufacturing runs anyway possible whether it’s going from first to third on a single, stealing bases, and sacrificing. 

Obviously Geren and Skaalen have not bought into that system. There’s been other times where the situation dictated that the A’s should have been bunting and moving runners into scoring position instead Geren elected to have his hitters swing away. 

End results have been rally killing double play. Until the A’s get a manager and a hitting coach to buy into the small ball philosophy the A’s will continue to struggle offensively. 

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Gio Gonzalez Must Work on His Poise During the MLB Offseason

For the Oakland A’s the team has a ton of talented starting pitchers and one of those pitchers is Gio Gonzalez. The word to describe his season so far has been inconsistent at one point he looked like the ace for the A’s and other times he’s struggled mightily. 

Looking at his numbers before tonights game he’s got a record of 10-7, with a 3.51 ERA, has started 23 games, has one complete game, and has struck out 114 while walking 62 hitters. 

One of his biggest problems has been walking batters. What’s really been noticeable though is the walks tend to come after a hitter gets on either by a hit or an error. While watching Gonzalez it’s almost as if he expects to get every hitter out and when things don’t go his way like he expected he loses concentration for that inning. 

Looking at his splits it’s understandable on why he struggles at times with runners on base. 

With runners in scoring position batters are hitting .257 against Gonzalez, but looking further it’s even more telling. With no runners on he’s very effective holding batters to a .202 average. 

Yet, when runners get on base that’s when things get out of control for Gonzalez. With a runner on first opponents are hitting .333, with just a runner on second batters are hitting .308, and when there’s only a runner at third teams are hitting .375 

When there’s runners on first with less than two outs he’s held hitters to a .231 average, with runners at third with less than two outs he’s held hitters to a remarkable .056 average, but more concerning is what happens with two outs and a runner at third Gonzalez is hit at a .296 clip.  

Clearly shows that if a hitter gets on base his concentration is off! What about with multiple runners on base? 

With runners on first and second Gonzalez is just a bit better than when there’s just a runner on base with hitters batting .289. When there’s runners on first and third Gonzalez buckles down and pitches extremely well holding batters to a minuscule .077 average. 

Gonzalez even does decent with runners on second and third holding batters to a .250 average. Bases loaded against Gonzalez hitter are only hitting .200 against him. 

In general though when there’s no outs in an inning Gonzalez is holding batters to a .189 average, when there’s one out he’s still at a respectable .231, but when there’s two outs Gonzalez struggles with hitters having a .285 average. 

Batting in the clutch against Gonzalez such as with two outs and a runner in scoring position hitters are hitting him at a .323 clip. In the later innings with the game close though Gonzalez does much better holding hitters to a .222 average. 

As for when teams are trying to comeback when they are within one run hitters are batting .215, when trailing by two runs a .247 average, within three runs a .234 average, within four runs .241, and trailing by four runs or more a .125 average. 

Problem innings for Gonzalez have been the second inning where hitters are batting .289 and the fifth inning opponents are hitting .295 against him.

Strong innings for him have been the third inning teams are hitting just .175 and the sixth inning teams have just a .193 average.

Counts are an interesting as well:

First Pitch: .268

1-0 count: .378

2-0 count: .368

3-0 count: N/A has walked all 14 batters

0-1 count: .238

0-2 count: .109

1-2 count: .113

2-2 count: .085

1-1 count: .327

2-1 count: .324

3-1 count: .424

Regardless of the count with a three ball count opponents are hitting .365, with two strikes hitters are batting .155, when the count is even .203, and when a batter is behind .143

Just looking at numbers though is hard to put into context on how Gonzalez struggles with runners on base. The best example of this came in a recent start against the Chicago White Sox.

Gonzalez was pitching extremely well in fact he was perfect up until that point and what’s more disconcerting is the fact that he struck out 11 White Sox in that start as well.

The trouble inning was the bottom of the fifth inning and even then the inning started off well. Gonzalez struck out Paul Konerko on three pitches, but after that is when he got in trouble. 

Carlos Quentin hit a single, Ramon Castro hit an infield single, he gets the second out of the inning by getting Dayan Viciedo to fly out, Gonzalez then hits Andrew Jones with a pitch. 

The next batter up Brent Lillibridge who Gonzalez shouldn’t have had any problems with, but instead he gave Lillibridge way too good of a pitch to hit a fastball that Lillibridge took to right field for a three run triple. 

Matt Carson made an attempt to catch the ball but came up just short of making the spectacular catch when in reality regardless of the situation the ball was going to drop and score at least two runs even if Carson didn’t dive.

Juan Pierre bunted and scored Lillibridge bringing the score to 4-0 White Sox and Gonzalez finally ended the inning by striking out Alexei Ramirez. 

Besides the White Sox game what really stand out is what happens when Gonzales falls behind in the count. He becomes very hittable in those situations and one of the biggest thing during the offseason is how Gonzalez makes an adjustment. 

Gonzalez has been quoted as saying this about Dallas Braden “because of Dallas, I have great composure, and I have grown up big-time throughout my big-league experience.”

Yes, the overall numbers for Gonzalez are impressive with a 3.51 ERA and he has grown as a pitcher. As the season winds down it will be interesting to see how he progresses and what will be interesting to see is Gonzalez being able to work back from falling behind in the count.

If Gonzalez can keep up his work while being ahead of hitters and improves on when runners on base, he could become a top of the rotation starter for the A’s.

But if he continues to struggle while falling behind then he’s most likely going to find himself out of a job of back in Sacramento…



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Oakland A’s Shoddy Effort Proves Why Bob Geren Will Be Gone

The Oakland A’s played the biggest game of the season tonight against the Seattle Mariners. Now, some would say it’s way too soon to talk about big game especially since it’s only August 9, but with a young team like the A’s, any time the team has a chance to make ground on the division-leading Texas Rangers, it’s a big game. 

What were A’s fans treated to tonight? An absolute disgraceful performance offensively. Pitching-wise, Vin Mazzaro pitched extremely well after a shaky first inning. He ended the night going seven innings, giving up three runs, two earned, while striking out five and walking two. 

Not a bad start for Mazzaro, although the one complaint could be after getting Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman is, what was he doing pitching around Russell Branyan in the first inning? 

As a result, it led to two runs because the next batter, Jose Lopez, followed with a RBI single scoring Ichiro, who opened the game up with a single. Franklin Guttierez was able to take a hanging slider to right field for a RBI single scoring Branyan. 

It looked bad when Mazzaro got behind in the count to Ryan Langerhans, but Mazzaro was able to get out of further trouble by striking Langerhans out on a 3-2 pitch. 

Overall, the A’s had excellent opportunities to score runs. The biggest moment of the game was in the top of the fourth inning and further proves why Bob Geren is not the manager that will lead the A’s to the playoffs. 

Jack Cust opened the inning up with a single and Kevin Kouzmanoff walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs. The A’s hadn’t been hitting well with runners in scoring  position; in fact, when Kurt Suzuki came up in the top of the third, the A’s had been 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position. 

What the issue is that Geren decided to push the envelope instead of playing it safe. Mark Ellis had been the A’s best hitter with runners in scoring position, but knowing that the A’s had been struggling to get runs in with runners on base it would have been a much better decision to bunt. 

Instead Geren chooses to let Ellis swing away. What does Ellis do? He grounds into the inning-ending triple play! Let me restate that: He grounds into the inning-ending triple play! 

Now, in reality, the call was missed. Ellis definitely beat the throw from Chone Figgins to first, but either way two runners were out and the A’s were now 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position. 

The A’s only scoring came on a double by Rajai Davis. Coco Crisp opened up the sixth inning with a leadoff single. Davis then pulled the ball down the left field line, scoring Crisp from first. 

Suzuki again came up with a runner in scoring position and he grounded out to second base moving Davis to third with one out. Make it 0-for-32 for the A’s with runners in scoring position. 

Next up for the A’s was Cust, who had two hits previously, but he ended up striking out making it 0-for-33 for the A’s with runners in scoring position. Kevin Kouzmanoff couldn’t come up with a big two out hit making the string with runners in scoring position. Oh-for-34. 

There’s not much to say about the rest of the game for the A’s offensively since that point in the game as they went 0-for-12, not even making a dent off struggling closer David Aardsma. 

What a disgraceful way to start a series for the A’s. The Mariners are one of the worst teams in baseball and the A’s can’t even gain ground on the Rangers, who were idle today, and in fact lost positioning in the standings because of tonight’s game. 

Even worse, though, for the A’s is that Felix Hernandez is starting tomorrow night’s game. So, instead of sweeping a team that came into tonight with only 42 wins, the A’s could be the team that gets swept—not a good sign when the A’s had a chance of gaining ground on the Rangers. 

The reason why the A’s had an excellent chance to make up some some substantial ground on the Rangers is because the Rangers are facing the New York Yankees the next two games.

Tonight, though, is just another example of the long list of reasons why Geren should be fired at the end of season regardless of where the A’s finish. The only way he saves his job is if the A’s make the playoffs, and under his direction that doesn’t seem very likely.  

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One Step Closer To Nolan Ryan: A Look at Trevor Cahill’s Last 19 Starts

Trevor Cahill has become the ace of the Oakland A’s staff. Brett Anderson had the role at the beginning of the year, but because of injuries, Anderson has conceded the role. 

Today, Cahill improved his record to 12-4 today, his ERA is now at 2.56, WHIP .98, and has struck out 76 while walking 41. At 22 years of age, Cahill has blossomed. 

When the season started, it didn’t look like Cahill was going to have a shot in the rotation. He started the year off rough against Toronto, but has been tremendous since. So much so Cahill is about to tie Nolan Ryan for most starts going five plus innings with giving up six or less hits. 

Ryan did it 20 consecutive starts and Cahill, after today, is at 19. 

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A’s Throw The White Flag, Get Humiliated by The Rangers

The perfect game is long gone for Dallas Braden. He finally got his first win since he pitched that masterpiece, but after tonight it looks like he’s going back to his losing ways. 

Tonight was an absolutely disgraceful performance by Braden against the Texas Rangers. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if Braden had been roughed up by certain hitters in the Rangers lineup such as Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Cantu, or even David Murphy, but that didn’t happen.  

It was the ninth place hitter in the Rangers lineup; a hitter so bad that he wasn’t even hitting .100 for the season! The batter was Taylor Teagarden, who rarely gets playing time because he simply can’t hit.

For some reason against the A’s he does. Well it was understandable that he did get his first homerun of the season off Vin Mazzaro who should have never gone out to pitch that inning to begin with.

Yet, with Braden on the mound it’s a different story. He came in the bottom of the third and Braden fell behind. Teagarden eventually got a 3-2 changeup that he deposited into left field for an easy double. 

He scored on a double by Elvis Andrus, but that’s the first time that Teagarden gave Braden problems in the game. Coming in to the game Teagarden was hitting .059 on the season. Yes, .059! 

With that double it meant it was Teagarden’s third hit of the season and brought up his average to .086. Teagarden wasn’t done, he had an encore for Braden. 

Braden allowed a sharp single to Christian Guzman who hit a rocket to shortstop Cliff Penningtin. This brought up Teagarden again. Braden then gave up Teagarden’s second homerun of the season.

This is an example that shows how far Braden has fallen since the perfect game he threw in May. 

The game itself showed nothing too exciting for the A’s offense, they just laid down for Cliff Lee. There was no effort except for in the first inning when Daric Barton hit a one out triple and Kurt Suzuki followed up with an RBI double.

There was one last chance for the A’s to come back that was in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs Daric Barton hit a single which was the third hit of the night for him, and Kurt Suzuki followed with a single.

So the A’s had first and second with two outs. In stepped Kevin Kouzmanoff with an opportunity to get the A’s in striking distance against Lee. Well, to call the at-bat disappointing is an understatement. 

Much like Kouzmanoff has done all year, he swung at the first pitch and popped it up, but luckily for him it went out of play instead of being caught. The second pitch from Lee was a fastball on the inside corner and if he had been looking for it he could have it, the third pitch from Lee wasn’t even in the strike zone and Kouzmanoff flailed helplessly at the pitch.

If tonight was a big game for the A’s, that means tomorrow afternoon is even bigger because if they don’t take this weekend series from the Rangers the season is all but over. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon brings out a much better effort. 

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Billy Beane Says ‘Screw You’ to A’s Fans at Deadine By Staying Put

The Oakland A’s did nothing at the trade deadline and by doing this general manager pretty much said “screw you” to Oakland A’s fans. This year will be another wasted season for the A’s. 

What’s sad is if Beane had gotten some deals together the A’s could have made a run at the Texas Rangers even if the Rangers went out and got Cliff Lee, Bengie Molina, Cristian Guzman, and Jorge Cantu. 

At the deadline the A’s could have made some noise. Ryan Ludwick was traded to the San Diego Padres for practically nothing, Miguel Tejada was also acquired for practically nothing from the Baltimore Orioles, and the same can be said about Lance Berkman heading to the New York Yankees from Houston. 

Houston itself agreed to pay 11 million of Berkman’s salary for the Yankees. 

Even some lesser trades could have helped such as how the Braves traded for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. 

There were ways that Beane could have improved the team, but instead A’s fans are stuck watching another year of anemic offense and what’s even worse is the fact that the A’s have the second best ERA in the American League. 

If the A’s had any offense they’d be much closer to the Texas Rangers then the eight games they are out right now. This is counting both games tonight in which the Rangers and A’s both suffered losses. 

If you look at the schedule for the A’s they could make some significant ground on the Rangers, but they cannot give away easy wins like the team did tonight losing 3-2 to the Kansas City Royals. 

Let’s say the Rangers beat the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday with the A’s winning on Wednesday as well and Thursday is an offday for the A’s. 

That means the A’s would be eight and a half games back of the Rangers. How do the A’s inch closer to the Rangers? Well in the next two series it will be huge because it’s two division teams. 

One is the division leader the Rangers and the other is the last place Seattle Mariners. The Rangers next six games include the final two games of the series against the Mariners, two games against the new York Yankees, and two of the three games against the Boston Red Sox. 

Like I said before the Rangers most likely will win the next two games of the series leaving the A’s eight and a half games back. If the A’s take two of the three games at home against the Rangers they’ll be six and a half back and the A’s should no doubt sweep the Mariners. 

Meaning that if the Rangers lose the two game series to the Yankees and the first two games of the Red Sox series the A’s would be three and a half games back of the Rangers and there would be a division race. 

This of course is wishful thinking for any A’s fan. The reality is it could have happened if the A’s brought in a couple of bats and traded away some prospects. 

The sad part is Beane has never been the one to shy away from deals. It’s not like him to just stand pat. Regardless of his intentions for the offseason, the truth is the A’s did have a shot at the division, but that door was slammed shut when the A’s didn’t do anything to improve the offense. 

When Matt Holliday was acquired before the start of the 2009 season it was the belief he was going to anchor the middle of the A’s lineup instead he was a constant disappointment with very little effort until he knew he was going to be traded. 

Yet, for Beane it was the worst trade he’s made as general manager. Trading away Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. No one is going to debate that Smith was a huge loss, but Street and Gonzalez were. 

Street found his way back for the Rockies after struggling the year before with the A’s and Gonzalez is hitting third in the Rockies lineup and it looks like he’s got that pretty much locked up for a while. 

For the A’s now by the time Chris Carter and Michael Taylor could be possibly brought up it will be far too late for the A’s and another season that has passed with the A’s showing nothing for the outstanding pitching and again it’s another year of wait till next season. 



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Looking Ahead To The Offseason: Who Stays and Who Goes For The A’s?

It’s a little too soon to think about the offseason, but with the injuries mounting for the Oakland A’s it’s only a matter of time before the rosters expand. Then the A’s will be  looking at what the roster maybe like for the 2011 season. 

With that being said what players are likely to stay? What players are likely going to be gone? I’ll start with the infielders and finish with the relief pitchers. 

The catcher position is the most stable position for the A’s with Kurt Suzuki signing a four year contract extension. Landon Powell is a solid backup behind Suzuki, he was behind the plate when Dallas Braden’s threw his perfect game. 

At first base this is where it gets interesting especially if the A’s aren’t in striking distance of the Texas Rangers. It’s almost certain that Chris Carter will be called up when the rosters expand to 40. 

Carter is the future of the A’s and is the power bat the A’s have been desperately seeking since Frank Thomas left as a free agent after the 2006 season. The problem is that the A’s have Daric Barton at first base. 

Which, could mean that Barton’s expendable or that he’s going to be asked to switch positions either to third base which he has some experience playing when he was in the minors or to the outfield. 

Second base Ellis should remain the starter, he doesn’t strike out much, can hit for power and is outstanding on defense. 

For shortstop the job still remains Cliff Pennington as the A’s really don’t have much depth at the position. 

Kevin Kouzmanoff’s at third base is a great defensive third basemen, but isn’t truly a middle of the order hitter which the A’s need. The A’s could certainly send him in a package deal in the offseason. 

A player that will likely remain on the A’s roster for his versatility and his hustle is Adam Rosales who played in the outfield and all four infield spots.

In left field for the A’s Rajai Davis will continue to split time at all three positions, his speed is a definite boost to the club and he’s been rather durable since arriving in Oakland. 

Coco Crisp in center signed only a one year contract with a club option, but the A’s will more than likely buy out his contract and hope to sign him for less or if he decides to go somewhere else Davis could return to his more natural position of center field. 

In right field is Ryan Sweeney who should be recovered from his knee injury could still be out of a job. With Michael Taylor starting to hit in Sacramento, Sweeney could be traded in the offseason depending on his health. 

Backup outfielders include Matt Watson, Matt Carson, Gabe Gross, and Jack Cust. Out of the four only Cust should remain with the A’s especially if Carter and Taylor can show they can hit at the Major League level once they are called up. 

The starting rotation will be interesting thanks to a plethora of young talent for the A’s. 

Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill will be at the top of the rotation, Dallas Braden will be third, Gio Gonzalez fourth, and Vin Mazzaro fifth. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some trades involving the A’s young pitching. 

In my opinion Gonzalez and Mazarro are expendable and either one could be used in a trade involving Barton, Sweeney, or Kouzmanoff. For the A’s in Sacramento there’s Clayton Mortenson and Tyson Ross, but more importantly coming back from injury is Josh Outman. 

What was supposed to be the strength of the A’s in 2010 was the bullpen, but instead it was a weakness. Michael Wuertz struggled and I could see him being traded during the offseason. Jerry Blevins had been struggling but has been better as of late, Brad Ziegler continues to struggle and could be moved as well. 

Relievers like Cedric Bowers, Henry Rodriguez, and Ross Wolf need to start being used a little bit more as the season progresses to build up their confidence and show what they can do at the big league level. 

Bowers is 32 years of age but since he’s left handed he has a fit in the Majors, Rodriguez is the youngest he has a dominating fastball he needs to work on locating his offspeed pitches, and Wolf is 27 with not much experience yet. 

Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow have been the only consistent relievers the A’s have had all year. 

Rodriguez should be a setup man in 2011 if he can find his command, Bowers will more than likely begin the year in Sacramento, same can be said for Wolf. Coming back from injury Joey Devine who will find a spot in the bullpen. 

Looking at the players currently on the disabled list. Eric Chavez should retire, Travis Buck will either be released or find his way back to the minors, Conor Jackson should be with the A’s in 2011 as a fourth outfielder and backup first basemen, John Meloan will begin in Sacramento, Justin Duchscherer will be released, and Ben Sheets will not be resigned either. 

So, the players likely staying for the A’s are Suzuki, Powell, Ellis, Pennington, Rosales, Davis, Jackson, Bowers, Rodriguez, Wolf, Bailey, and Breslow. 

Likely out include: Barton, Crisp, Gonzalez, Mazarro, Wuertz, Ziegler, Buck, Chavez, Duchscherer, and Sheets.

Coming back from injuries: Devine, Outman, and Sweney.

What will be interesting is if the A’s do make any trades during the offseason and what kind of players will they get in return.

Here’s what a possible lineup for the A’s could look like for next year:

1. Davis, CF

2. Jackson, LF

3. Taylor, RF

4. Carter, 1B

5. Suzuki, C

6. Cust, DH

7. Barton, 3B

8. Ellis, 2B

9. Pennington, SS


1. Rosales

2. Powell

3. Corey Wimberly

4. Carson

The Starting rotation would look like this:

1. Anderson

2. Cahill

3. Braden

4. Mortenson

5. Outman/Ross


1. Bowers

2. Blevins

3. Jon Hunton

4. Devine

5. Rodriguez

6. Breslow

7. Bailey 

This lineup doesn’t take into account free agency or who the A’s could possibly get in a trade, so the offseason for the A’s could be big because they have plenty of young pitching talent and a few players that could attract some interest. 

But, the biggest fix of all for A’s fans should be the firing of Bob Geren and hitting coach Jim Skaalen. 

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