an Oakland Athletics Blog:
Pitching, Defense and the Three Run Jimmy-Jack

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Monday, May 08, 2006



So, the wheels are turning and suddenly everyone in a A's replica jersey wants to know; "why aren't the A's scoring any runs?"

I can run through a litany of issues and throw a lot of talk back in the face of the foaming at the mouth A's fans.

But I won't. Even if they know who they are and they want to stay in denial, great.

I'll side step those issues and move onto to some of the more pressing issues.

The A's offense sucks.

Part of it has to do with Ken Macha's inability to stick with a lineup. While platooning guys and giving certain players a day off here and there is not difficult, Macha is making it seem like particle physics.

Athletes, particularly baseball players, like routine. Take Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi. Neither wanted to be a DH, they wanted to play 1st base. In some cases, their offensive production slipped when DH'ing. Either because of a lack of focus or they were just pouting. Doesn't matter. The fact is it effected their play.

Yesterday Mark Ellis went 4-for-4. A day after Ken Macha waxed philosophical about getting Marco Scutaro more time at 2nd base. Didn't help matters than Ellis was slated to be the leadoff hitter for the A's and there he was yesterday, despite owning Mark Hendrickson, hitting 9th in the batting order.

Mark Ellis622500.333.3331.3331.667

Macha has consistently stated that the players write the lineup. Which seems more and more true, since 'veteran' players and those with clout are usually at the top of the lineup when they clearly should not be.

Frank Thomas has become a one-dimensional player. Yes, about once every 5 games he will hit a homerun. And if we go ahead and do the math, sure, Thomas might hit 30-35 homeruns. And he might walk 60-70 times. But he is not Frank Thomas of even 3 years ago. He doesn't go to right field and he still has, as he has throughout his career, had a difficult time turning on pitches on the inside part of the plate. Thomas prefers pitches out over the plate. And he's not getting them. Pitchers know how to pitch to him and they know, as does Thomas, that he is a liability on the base paths.

After pointing all of that out, Thomas should not be the every day DH and he should be hitting in the 7th or 8th spot in the lineup.

As for the rest of the A's, they have gone to desperation. Bobby Crosby is trying to get on board with bunt singles. Nick Swisher is walking a ton, and getting lucky. I don't think I have seen as many groundball doubles in a week by one player since pony league. Mark Kotsay's only reprise is that Jay Payton swings at more pitches. Jay Payton very well might make an out while still in the on deck circle.

It's not pretty out there and the sooner you admit that, the sooner you can wrap your head around some possible solutions.

  • Patience is a virtue

  • For a team that preaches getting on base, working pitches for walks and exploiting team's bullpens, the A's are not accomplishing that task. The approach to the plate needs to improve and the advance scouting needs to be asserted with more certainty.

  • Speaking of patience

  • Ken Macha needs to pick a line-up and stick with it. To a point. Of course, rotate guys out for days off, but don't make players come to the park every day wondering if they have to reinvent themselves. Like it or not, and this corresponds to point one, players change their approach sometimes to fit their spot in the batting order. Macha needs to stick it into the mind of each hitter that their job is to get on base - everything else is relative. Batting average with runners in scoring position doesn't mean a damn thing; on base percentage with runners in scoring position does matter.

  • Quit monkeying with the bullpen

  • Kiko Calero was lost last year for a few weeks because of elbow issues. Mostly from overuse. Macha seems to think that having pitchers warming up the bullpen gives starters an extra 15 pitches to tack on to their count. Having pitchers repeatedly warm up two and three times doesn't do a lot of good. Macha needs to quit thinking his starters are his only hope of winning games. Further, with an anemic offense, he leaves pitchers in too long hoping the offense can get a few runs and get the starter the win. Again, it's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. Go to the bullpen early, utilize the long relievers as they were positioned to do so when they made the 25 Man Roster.

  • Impart

  • If the lads in green, gold and white don't understand how to do that, teach them. Oddly, many fans do not realize that there is a dearth of "teaching" at the major league level. There's just an expectation that players 'know'. Well, they don't. And I need to give you an example without everyone getting all pissy. When a player is on 3rd base with less than two outs and is instructed to 'GO' on contact - then the player should be able to score on a bouncing ball up the 1st base line (COUGH!) Nick Swisher. Swisher hesitated, then made matters worse by chugging down and slid feet first in slow motion. He was blocked at the plate by Toby Hall, despite having 4-5 inches of the plate available if he went to the outside. But, Nick Swisher doesn't know how to slide feet first, which is why he's always sliding head first, even when Ron Washington is holding his hands up that he doesn't need to slide.

  • Small ball this

  • It's not against the rules to start runners, take pitches and even to steal a base once or twice a month just to keep other teams honest. Macha can and needs to start instructing hitters like Mark Kotsay and Jay Payton to stop swinging at the first pitch. Lay off the first pitch/take a strike. Whatever. Just quit trying to tear the cover off the ball on a pitcher's pitch in the first offering. The A's have 4 stolen bases, one of those a walking theft by Jay Payton on a misplay by the Devil Rays. Delayed steals are good. So are double steals. Art Howe every so often would employ them just to shake things up. When you get a dozen men on base and just two score, by way of solo homeruns, what difference does it make if a player gets thrown out on the base paths once a week? Note, about once a week, 'A', singular.

Of course the bitching begins, and the excuses build up; "we are doing those things", "the injuries", "don't have the right personnel". If you were doing those things, you'd be winning games, every team deals with injuries and the A's don't necessarily deal very well with them, if you don't have the right personnel to make minor adjustments and win games - pack it in and call yourselves the Kansas City Royals.

Right now the A's in Oakland are a disgrace to the best team ever, the 1974 Oakland A's.

No, I will never tire of showing this clip.


OK, so we know the guys in the front seat are Gene Tenace and Sal Bando, but who are the three guys in the back?

I'm guessing Joe Rudi, Blue Moon Odom, and Dick Green.


good job Zach.

but do the A's have the guts to bat Thomas lower than 5th?


I've got to agree with you on Thomas and small ball.

Bat Thomas 8th and be thankful for the occasional home run.

I'd like to see the occasional small ball for two reasons: 1. Keep the opposition honest, and 2. On occasion it could actually result in scoring.

Kendall is a total offensive liability. "He does wonders with the pitching staff" (nice try, Ray Fosse) is pure bologna. Melhuse should be playing more, at least he has shown he can deliver the occasional extra base hit and his last HR wasn't in 2004.

Stick with it for a week:
Kotsay (take a few more pitches, dude)

And one more thing... It may be time to resurrect the Bobby Crosby Strikeout Watch. Unfortunately, he's just about right on the 1 in 4 AB pace of 2004.


Ken - I don't care, as long as none of them are Fosse.


pretty right on for the most part, although somehow I just KNEW you'd find a way to take a jab at swisher. While he may have caught a break or two so far, he is NOT part of the problem; he's consistently giving the a's good at bats, getting on base, driving in runs and playing decent defense. Unfortunately, the "problem" is the rest of the lineup.


Congrats Zach,
This post has been linked over at BP. Pretty cool on a couple of fronts.


Zach you're a CUNT.

As someone else said i knew you'd have to find some way to have a pop at Swisher.

Becuase you hate him.

Becuase you hate everyone on the A's who doesn't do exactly what you want.

Becuase you're a frustrated little Napoleon who screams and screams on this blog because you can't be what you want to be. You're not a fan, you are a cynical know it all, before the internet age you'd have spent your life in bars spilling your bile on everyone in sight until at the end of the evening and the bar had emptied and you'd wander home on your own.

Becuase you're a fucking lunatic.

You need serious help. Please go and get it.


This post has been removed by a blog administrator.


Hey Swisher hater!

SWISHER 2 Jays 1.

Choke on that you bitter cynical negative little CUNT.

Kill yourself you pathetic piece of shit.


Anonymous needs to chill out.


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