Peter Gammons on the A's success
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| By chavvy03 on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 02:15 pm:|
I'm not a Gammons fan by any means...but there were a couple of things I liked in this. Its an insider article, so thats why I'm posting it instead of leaving the link.
The Braves have turned a plague of injuries into a rebuilding process that may put them in contention for another six years. On the West Coast, there is Oakland. If the Athletics survive this week's trip to Anaheim and Texas, they may be back in the wild-card race without a year of rebuilding.
When they made the Mark Mulder deal with the Cardinals, the A's were called "the Kansas City Royals West" on SportsCenter. When they were 17-32 in May, all the insecurities unleashed in "Moneyball" spewed out into ridicule -- the critics not bothering to note that Oakland was crippled by injuries at the time, something no small market team can afford.
Harden's ERA (2.11) is the lowest among AL starters.
But Bobby Crosby returned from the disabled list, Rich Harden soon followed, and slowly but surely the full team returned and made a 31-13 run from the end of May to July 18, moving the team within 2½ games of the wild-card lead.
"Now we have the youngest rotation in the league, and if we want, we can bring back the entire team we put in the field and we'll have some financial room to do things in the offseason," says GM Billy Beane. "What we did wasn't revolutionary. We just couldn't wait to retool the club, because if we'd waited and kept Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder -- don't get me wrong, they're great pitchers who gave their hearts and souls for us -- we might have a long rebuilding process after this year."
Beane has tied up Mark Kotsay for three more years and acquired Jay Payton, Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick for depth. Crosby, who is getting close to being an elite player, is in his second year, while Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson have established themselves as everyday rookies, with outfielder Andre Ethier and 1B-OF Daric Barton on the 2006 horizon. This team is different than the high on-base and slugging team Beane turned into a winner in 1999. Because the price of on-base and slugging players has skyrocketed in the last three or four years, Beane has tried to tap the undervalued market -- building the defense, looking for players who don't strike out (as a team, they have the fewest in the majors) and hoping they develop patience and power. The A's have moved up to fourth in on-base percentage at .335, behind Boston, New York and Toronto.
But the A's most important ingredient in the wild-card race is pitching. In Harden, they have a clear, dominant No. 1 starter who, at 23, could well be what Johan Santana was to the race in 2004. An 80-pitch complete game with eight strikeouts? A combined total of 83 hits and walks in 85 1/3 innings? "He doesn't have to strike people out like most power pitchers," said one scout. "He overpowers hitters when they make contact; his ball is so powerful and alive."
Barry Zito's velocity and confidence is back to the same level as his Cy Young season, and Danny Haren has been a right-handed Mulder. The A's success during 1999-2004 (when the team averaged more than 90 wins a season) came down to developing Hudson, Mulder and Zito. That was a great big three. Check their raw numbers last year, and the big three for 2005:
ERA 4.16 3.46
H/9 IP 8.93 7.42
K/9 IP 5.78 6.80
And that's with their best pitcher's missing six weeks. Now, they have rookie Huston Street established as perhaps the best young closer in the game, with his 1.55 ERA; Joe Blanton and Kirk Saarloos are under 4.50 in the 4-5 holes. Out of the Braves deal, in five starts Juan Cruz has allowed 18 hits, walked nine and struck out 45 in 29 innings, and Dan Meyer, who suffered shoulder problems in spring training because he overdid one workout drill, is now back in the low 90s and headed toward a rotation spot next year.
Beane told anyone who would listen for two months that he wouldn't deal Zito, and with the A's back in postseason contention this year and next, may pick up Zito's $7 million option for 2006 and try to see how far they can go.
"The best part," says Beane, "is that this is the most fun I've had in years."
| By chavvy03 on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 02:22 pm:|
"all the insecurities unleashed in "Moneyball" spewed out into ridicule -- the critics not bothering to note that Oakland was crippled by injuries at the time, something no small market team can afford."
Yeah, and Gammons was one of them...idiot.
"Beane has tried to tap the undervalued market -- building the defense, looking for players who don't strike out (as a team, they have the fewest in the majors)"
How cool is that....fewest strike outs in the MLB! I'm sure that has a little bit to do with our recent success.
"Now we have the youngest rotation in the league, and if we want, we can bring back the entire team we put in the field and we'll have some financial room to do things in the offseason," says GM Billy Beane.
Bring back the same team AND have $$$ to do things in the offseason? That is a joyous thing to read!
| By kevink on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 03:11 pm:|
Beane proves so many people wrong all the time, including Gammons....and Sactodavey!
The key to this season is what Beane said: "We just couldn't wait to retool the club, because if we'd waited and kept Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder -- don't get me wrong, they're great pitchers who gave their hearts and souls for us -- we might have a long rebuilding process after this year."
Beane got RAKED for making these trades but I thought he did the right thing for the team, just like the Byrnes deal.
damn straight he took some flak for that, as a fan it is my right to rake the GM when he makes a trade that includes either a) my favorite player(s) or b) seems to take us out of contention.
beane is a baseball genius who knows a lot of things about players and how they will pan out and what direction the team will go in - he knows a GREAT DEAL more about this than myself or the other fans on this board.
so quite often he makes a trade that looks bad to me (and fools most baseball writers too) and then we come to see the magic of his ways.
then again there are those of us who blindly follow whatever beane does and worship the ground that he walks on! they are just as bad!!!
| By sactodavey on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 03:26 pm:|
Did i hear my name again?
| By drummer510 on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 12:27 am:|
You can guys can rip on Gammons, but he's the best ESPN baseball tonight analyst . John Kruk is the biggest joke of an analyst and all Reynolds does is states the obvious. At least Gammons sometimes has interesting stuff to say.
drummer, well said. I'd have to agree. Kruk is annoying. At least when they had Bobby Valentine I could have a laugh. Harold Reynolds is VERY vanilla. He does teach you a bit about the game but yeah for the most part states the obvious. Still, it could be worse: we could have Joe "Red Lobster" Morgan in the studio!
| By sactodavey on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 09:50 am:|
one thing about Gammons if anyone notices is he is fixated on the A's , i think the A's are his 2nd fave american league team he writes about them all the time more then any other team besides of course Boston Yankees, i think it is great he likes the A's and writes about them.
| By kevink on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 09:57 am:|
Gammons likes Beaneball which is why he was salivating at the idea of Beane to Boston.
| By pachyderm on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 10:43 am:|
Did anybody hear Shooty Babbitt with Marty Lurie talk about Gammons's article, which Shooty said, "Peter Gammons is a genius but nobody tells me why?"
| By chavvy03 on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 02:01 pm:|
Sorry, just not a Gammons fan...or a fan of anyone on BBTN. I'm sure Gammons has his good points though. Hope that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.
| By jeffreyb on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 10:25 pm:|
whether i'm a fan of his or not...and i go back and forth...he sure does give the A's a lot of ink. For that i'm grateful.