Tag: Justin Duchscherer

Cliff Lee: 10 Ways the Yankees and Rangers Can Rebound From Losing Out on Ace

The reports are starting to come in that star-pitcher, Cliff Lee, has decided to take fewer years and less money, to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. In doing so, Lee has turned down the opportunity to rejoin the Texas Rangers, where he won the American League Pennant, as well as turning down the chance to join the New York Yankees. 

For both the Rangers and the Yankees, Cliff Lee was the number one priority of the offseason; so now what do these two teams do? 

Here’s a look at 10 moves, both before and during the season, these teams could make to strengthen their pitching. 

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New York Yankees: 10 Players the Bronx Bombers Should Aim for This Winter

The big story of this Yankee season has been the starting pitching, so it is no coincidence that this list has only four batters included.

The Yankees have had disastrous seasons for how much they are paying both AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez.

So it is without question that the Yankees need to address the top five arms on the squad and shore up their rotation when it comes time to make their offers to free agents this winter.

Without further ado, here are the 10 players that New York should take a run at this winter.

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Oakland A’s Pitching Gives Reason To Be Optimistic About Future

Expectations can be tricky things.

Often times, teams with high expectations fail to measure up, while squads without expectations do better than anticipated.  For the 2010 Athletics, the latter is true.

Without any considerable power threat on the roster (Jack Cust started the season at Triple-A), it was hard to imagine the non-explosive A’s coming close to .500 record.  With two games the left, Oakland is two wins away from finishing 81-81.  

No matter what happens the next two nights in Seattle, the Athletics’ brass must be pleased with the way the summer played out.

Oakland scored the fourth-fewest runs in the American League, was second-worst in total bases, and hit the second-fewest home runs.  

But the team was able to hover around the .500 mark for most of the season because of its pitching staff.  As one of the youngest staffs in all of baseball, the A’s have the lowest team ERA in the AL (3.57).  They did it largely without two of their top starters heading into the season, Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer.

No one had questioned whether or not the team had built a foundation for a strong staff, but not many outside the organization believed its young arms would be this good this quickly.

Trevor Cahill pitched his way into the role of the team’s ace with his outstanding season in 2010.  The sinkerballer showed flashes during last year’s rookie campaign but was unable to consistently locate his pitches.  In 2009 Cahill gave up 27 home runs while compiling a 4.63 ERA. 

This season the 22-year-old right-hander only let 19 balls leave the yard, strung together a 2.97 ERA, and won 18 games. 

Brett Anderson managed only 18 starts, but still pitched well and lowered his 2010 ERA (2.91) by more than a run from his 2009 mark (4.06).  When healthy, he could have the best stuff of any left-handed starter in baseball.  But he’ll have to prove that he can stay healthy over the course of an entire season. 

Like Cahill, Anderson is 22 years old.

The advantage the starting staff is the different look each pitcher provides.  Cahill can dominate with his sinker, Anderson’s a true power arm with four plus pitches, Gio Gonzalez was praised by Torri Hunter as having the best left-handed curve in baseball, and Dallas Braden’s bulldog mentality allows him to be successful with less than dominating stuff.

Those four starters are good enough to win a pennant if healthy.  If Vin Mazzaro can make the jump next season like his counterparts did in 2010, the A’s should have far and away the best pitching staff in baseball.

Owner Lew Wolff and GM Billy Beane have both pledged to make the offense better in 2011.  Whether it comes from inside the organization, through free-agency or trades, the team could very well find itself back as a contender for an AL West crown this time next year.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Athletics Back in Town: Hope Change of Scenery Equals Change in Fortunes

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Baseball Gods lack a sense of humor; it’s simply not true. The collective funny bone is intact—the problem is that comedy doesn’t tickle it.

Instead, it’s cruelty that gives the diamond deities a case of the giggles.

Over the course of any team’s 162-game season, a fan will see ample proof of this perversity. At the moment, aficionados of the Oakland Athletics are getting their eyeful.

Just as the 2010 Athletic campaign was taking on a very rosy glint, the Oaktown nine hit a pothole and began throwing rods. Those of you familiar with my dastardly deeds probably won’t find it a coincidence that the going got rough almost immediately after yours truly sang the franchise’s praises (and again here ).

You name it and it’s been going wrong since the club left town for a six-game road trip through Tampa Bay and Toronto —the 1-5 record doesn’t even tell the short of it.

In fact, some of the oil started leaking before the green and gold even made it out of the Bay Area.

The injury bug took a big ol’ bite out of the team, felling several key pieces in Brett Anderson, Kurt Suzuki, and Justin Duchscherer (to name a few). For those unfamiliar with the Elephants, that’s the starting catcher and two of the top three starters.


Not surprisingly, the pitching began belching smoke and not the good kind.

Ben Sheets suffered a regression—performance-wise—in his two turns on a foreign bump as he comes back from elbow surgery. Dallas Braden got knocked around in his first start post-mound-crossing and Trevor Cahill got shelled making his 2010 debut in Anderson’s slot.

Luckily for Oakland , Gio Gonzalez bowed his neck on Saturday and managed to salvage the one game against the Blue Jays. The southpaw whiffed eight in 6 2/3 innings while conceding only two earned runs and five baserunners to Toronto.

On Tuesday, the Athletics will get an idea of exactly how bad the carnage’s gonna get.

Vin Mazzaro will be pressed into duty against the Texas Rangers because of inflammation in Duke’s left hip. Incidentally, that’s NOT his surgically repaired joint nor is it a ding to shoulder, back or psyche—the maladies that limited the Oakland righty in two of the last three years.

Not sure if that’s good or bad news regarding Duchscherer, but it certainly takes on an ominous blush if Mazzaro can’t deliver quickly on a substantial bit of his potential.

And that’s only the arms.

The hitting—never to be confused with the ’61 New York Yankees in the first place—has seen some of the bloom come off Daric Barton’s rose. His hot, multi-hit-per-game bat has cooled down considerably, causing his average to dip below .300.

Additionally, the loss of Suzuki’s been felt as much on offense as it has on defense.

Happily, the state of the lumber is not all gloom and doom.

On the contrary, second baseman Adam Rosales put together a nice run with 10 hits in 21 road at-bats. Ryan Sweeney’s in a nice groove, as is Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Cliff Pennington contributed a four-hit game in Tampa plus a three-hit contest in Toronto.

Furthermore, rookie catcher Josh Donaldson launched his first big fly in Canada and then put on a crazy hitting display in batting practice before Monday’s game against the Rangers. My man isn’t that big, but he was powdering the pill to all fields and displaying the explosive charge off the splinter that gets scouts excited.

Obviously, BP is not the real thing, but the kid stood out nonetheless.

In one final ray of sunshine, the American League West has been cooperating.

None of the residents has been able to grab control of the division. The Rangers, Anaheim Angels (sorry, Anaheim ain’t LA), and the Seattle Mariners are all caught in the one-step-forward-two-steps-back waltz. So, despite the recent struggles, the A’s still find themselves merely a loss off Texas’ first-place pace.

Nevertheless, the Baseball Gods must relent if the Oakland Athletics are to have a chance at realizing their dream season. Sooner or later, somebody in the Junior Circuit’s western group will rattle off a winning streak.

When that happens, the A’s better be ready.

The disabled list must be cleared of critical components and those struggling pieces must cross over to the sunnier side of the street. Otherwise, the fat lady might come and go before August.

Of course, it might also help if I’d stop jinxing them…



Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Athletics: Adam Rosales and Cliff Pennington Getting It Done on Offense

If you were to ask me in mid-March who I thought would be the A’s leader in RBIs through the first month of the season, I probably wouldn’t have said Cliff Pennington. 

Well, Pennington, a former first-round pick, is off to a strong start for the A’s this season. Through 24 games, Pennington has managed to hit .250/.337/.461 and has collected a team-leading 15 RBIs. 

While his batting average is nothing to excited about, his unexpected display of power, however, should make even the most pessimistic A’s fan feel all giddy inside. 

Along with Pennington, second baseman Adam Rosales has emerged as a surprising leader on offense. Rosales, who was not expected to make the team in spring training, has emerged onto the scene now that Mark Ellis is sidelined with an injury. 

The young infielder has collected 10 RBIs of his own, and has gone 18-for-55 (.327) in 19 games this season with the A’s. His line of .327/.367/.491 is impressive, considering he was expected to be a utility player at best this year for the A’s. 

As a team, the A’s are hitting .254 (eighth in AL), are ninth in on-base percentage (.322), and 11th in slugging percentage (.377). Despite scoring 104 runs (fifth in AL), the A’s offense has slowed down considerably since the start of the season. 

The A’s pitching has been solid throughout the first month of the season (14 quality starts), but with recent injuries to Brett Anderson and Justin Duchscherer, the A’s will need more offensive production from other players like Eric Chavez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Rajai Davis. 

Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales have both gotten off to solid starts, but Oakland is going to need more than just three (the third being Daric Barton) hitters in their lineup.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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