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I wanted to talk about the A's infield now that we are less than away from Opening Day and well past the Ides of March (the day in Spring Training where flukiness tends to fade and reality sets in - also known as a larger sample size). Apart from 1st Base. We'll leave that for a different discussion. So we are talking 2nd Base, ShortStop and 3rd Base.


The A's have in camp a notable group of infielders. Not notable because of how great they are, rather, notable for how close to average they might possibly be. But is that such a bad thing? Keep in mind the A's got next to nothing from their 2B and SS last season and 3B was not much to talk about with the exception of Josh Donaldson's return in August.


If the A's can get league average production from 2B and SS in 2013 while maintaining production at other positions - that would be  tremendous. The first part of that sentence is key, 'IF'. We have to assume the rest of the league does what they do, the AL West has a team that is terrible (Mariners), another that implodes (Angles) and still another team that falls apart the last two weeks of the season (Rangers). Oh, and now a team the Mariners can beat up on, too (Astros).


I don't think the A's can rely on that formula to be a playoff team in 2013. So let's set the ground rules for our discussion;


First Round - Let's just talk about the players involved. Let's not work statistics or specific numbers in just yet. Let's not talk age or contract situation. Let's just talk about what we know about having seen the players. We'll dub this, 'THE OLD SCOUT LOOK".


The players we are going to discus:


Josh Donaldson
Grant Green
Jed Lowrie
Hiroyuki Nakajima
Adam Rosales
Scott Sizemore
Jemile Weeks


Since I started this, I'll start this...


JOSH DONALDSON 

Zachary: I like Donaldson. Decent body type with some good power. Decent eye. Seems to be feast or famine with the bat (like another A's 3B). He has made himself a good defender at 3B coming from the catching position. Decent speed for body type but poor baserunner due to poor decision making. Which is Donaldson's undoing. He seems to be a bit of a flake. And not good enough flake as 'Vince' in the Color of Money to get away with it.

Aaron: Let's hope we get the second half of 2012 version and not the first half.

Chris -

Eli: I'll admit it, Donaldson is "my guy", perhaps to an irrational level. He reminds me a great deal of Gary Gaetti in that he's a guy with a "bad" body type who has quicker feet, better lateral movement and runs better than you might think. Also like Gaetti he is a streaky batter who can light things up for 2 weeks and then disappear for another two. He doesn't lack confidence, which is a plus, but that confidence can lead to him not having poor situational awareness at times. More than once he made bad decisions on cut-offs from the OF or forced a throw to 1B he had no business trying to make. All that said, he should be a starter. 

 


GRANT GREEN 

Zachary: I am not sure about Green. His minor league career thus far has been trying to disprove to the A's he can't do something. After being moved from SS to CF and now 2B. His bat has reappeared from his senior year at USC and first two seasons in A ball. Lacks range for SS or CF. Could be a 'typical' 2B/LF utility type that has a career in the National League. I don't want Green to be another failed A's SS a la Omar Quintanilla or Clifton Pennington.

Aaron: Moving a SS to stash him in LF isn't exactly a sign of progress.

Chris -

Eli: Green isn't a bad ballplayer but he doesn't strike me as a starter on a good team. He can play a smattering of 3 INF positions and a little OF as well, but none very well. He lacks the arm for 3B/RF, the footwork for SS or the range for CF...which limits him to LF/2B and maybe 1B. He's a decent contact hitter who lets the ball travel, has quick hands but poor pitch recognition. He also has a "leak" on his front side that robs his power. Green is at best a bench option at this time.

 


JED LOWRIE 

Zachary: Can he stay healthy? That is the only real question mark. Until that is answered the rest is just trivial posturing. He can play all 3 infield positions above league average and is above average with the bat at 2B and SS. Who knows what he can do on the bases with his injury history?

Aaron: Lowrie's definitely an upgrade over Pennington and Nakajima at the plate.  How's he with the leather?  Haven't seen enough of him to opine.

Chris -

Eli : Lowrie can play all over the infield and do it fairly well. His most natural spot seems to be 3B but that A's have no need for him there. Lowrie does have the arm and footwork for SS but his range is a little below average. He'll need to be very smart about positioning to be anything more than average at short. Lowrie has good pop and controls the bat well. He can take pitches the other way and has a good understanding of situational hitting....however his hit tool is only average at best. He will struggle to make contact at times and can get chase happy. Lowrie is the A's best middle INF and health provided (which isn't a given with him) should be the season long starter at short.


HIROYKI NAKAJIMA 

Zachary: No Japanese middle infielder has made the transition to MLB. I don't think Nakajima is an exception to the rule.

Aaron: Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2.0?

Chris -

Eli: Poor scouting reports + poor spring results = a worried A's fan here. I don't think he'll stick as anything other than a bench INF. He doesn't have the range, the arm or the feet for SS. His best fit is likely at 2B or LF. In that he's much like Green but with less batting skills. I do think the A's will give him 150 ABs to prove or disprove his ability to make the transition to MLB. I think in a year we'll see the signing as a sunk cost.

 


ADAM ROSALES 

Zachary: He sprints when he hit a HR. He only hits HR off left-handers. Because he can't hit right-handers. Poor defender at any position. Not terrible but bad enough you don't want him having to make anything other than routine plays when it doesn't count. Decent base runner. Has played all infield positions and 1st base. But, so could a sack of wet mice.

Aaron: It's cute that he runs around the bases after a HR.  That's the best I can say.

Chris -

Eli: A couple good months back in 2010 has some fans convinced this guy should have a large role on this team. That part of the fan-base would be wrong. Rosales is a poor INF at all positions, struggles vs RHP and will only walk to first if he's hit by the pitch. He's hustle is admirable, his skill set is not. If he plays a major role in the 2013 A's we'll be looking at an 82 win team at best.

 


SCOTT SIZEMORE 

Zachary: I'll type it; "he's not a 2B and after a sever knee injury and surgery he really is not a 2B". I don't understand this move at all. The Tigers, a team long known for an adverse disdain of decent defenders moved him from 2B to 3B. Why the A's think they can get him to move back to a position that he never mastered is beyond me. Decent bat with some pop. But not enough to rely on it. Not sure how he will be on the bases until he actually gets on 1st Base and then advances to 3rd Base.

Aaron - ...like him at 2B.

Chris -

Eli: I'm not sure where he fits in...and frankly I won't be until he's farther away from his surgery. His bat seems to have woken up here late in spring, which is a good sign, but his lateral movement does look diminished form 2011. He may yet regain his ability to play a solid 2B, I don't think he's there yet. That said, I do think he can be a platoon player at 2B/3B vs LHP even with his lack of range. He has decent pop, will take a walk but he can get pull happy at times. He has quick enough hands to allow the ball to travel but he too often jumps out at fastballs and gets eaten up by breaking stuff, especially vs RHP. I think he can provide bench value as a platoon/spot guy and perhaps more, depending on his continued recovery from knee surgery.

 

 

ERIC SOGARD

Zachary: I like Sogard a lot. He's a dirtbag who can play all over the infield and play it well. He's got a solid approach at the plate and doesn't do more than he's capable of doing. He's been unlucky so far in his career in being stuck behind (in my mind's eye) lesser players and the batted ball has found gloves more than grass.

Aaron - Once Sogard gets a steady diet of big-league pitching, he'll struggle, start to press and will be hitting .220 by summer.

Chris -

Eli: Sogard is a hard player to get a read on. When looking at his from a scouting perspective he has all the tools you'd like to see in a SS/2B type player. His defense is well above average at 2B and he can play an acceptable SS/3B. He has a nice arm, reads the ball well off  the bat and makes the turn well from both sides of the bag. He has good bat speed, good eye, a little pop, can move runners along and rarely gets fooled at the plate. That said he can also slump for extended periods of time and he does seem to "wilt" a little in big moments. The A's would be best served by giving him the 2B gig and giving him two months to run with it or fail.

 


JEMILE WEEKS 

Zachary: I am not a fan. Poor defender. Poor attitude. Can't play any other position. Uncoachable. No power. No patience. Wants to steal bases for the sake of stealing bases. Wants to bat leadoff but does not understand batting leadoff means you have to get on base.

Aaron: Jemile Weeks will get another shot with the big club this year.  To stick he needs to come up when hot, stay hot and make it impossible to send him back down.  AAA was the right move.

Chris -

Eli:  He needs to be reminded he isn't Rickie. Weeks has the tools to be a well above average 2B but he mixes them with a 10 cent head. He makes poor decisions, goes for the flashy play over the smart play and seems to be more impressed with himself than anyone else is. At the plate he gets pull happy, can't bunt (which is a sin for a man with his speed) and has awful situational hitting skills. He looks like a bust to me.

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THE PITCHING STAFF - EiO

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#NAMETHROWSAGEHTWTBORN
57Michah BowieLHP276'4"210 lbsWebster, TX
52Chad BradfordRHP276'5"203 lbsJackson, MS
49Mike FyhrieRHP326'2"205 lbsLong Beach, CA
56Aaron HarangRHP246'7"240 lbsSan Diego, CA
15Tim HudsonRHP276'3"215 lbsColumbus, GA
44Billy KochRHP276'3"215 lbsRockville Center, NY
21Corey LidleRHP305'11"192 lbsHollywood, CA
31Ted LillyLHP266'0"185 lbsLameta, CA
45Jim MecirRHP326'1"230 lbsQueens, NY
20Mark MulderLHP256'6"215 lbsSouth Holland, IL
73Ricardo RinconLHP325'9"187 lbsVeracruz, Mexico
29Jeff TamRHP326'1"219 lbsFullerton, CA
33Mike VenafroLHP295'10"180 lbsTakoma Park, MD
75Barry ZitoLHP246'4"215 lbsLas Vegas, NV


THE ROTATION


Mulder 
Zito 
Hudson 
Lidle 
Lilly/Harang 

The Oakland A's have a long history of great pitching, lean years and awful pitching. The current era of Oakland pitching finds the A's on an upswing. The A's farm system has provided them with three Aces and Billy Bean's trades have provided several wild cards.

The 2002 A's are from all over. They've got a Texan, some So Cal boys and some good ol' boys and some New Yorkers. One has pitches that come from due south and one pitcher comes from south of the border. There's one form the Great Lakes and one from the desert, they've got a port-sider with a slider and closer who brings fire.

Among this group there are bare fingers where there should be rings and a few mantles that should have Cy Young trophies on them. This staff feeds on itself and relies on its youth...because that?s all it has. The oldest age is 32 and the average age is 28.

COACHING/PHILOSOPHY

Pitching Coach Rick Peterson might be getting $100,000 a pop on the lecture circuit if he were not in baseball. Rick has a degree in psychology and utilizes his experience of study in the field. Rick stresses preparation, getting ahead in the count and maximizing strength and power. Very Zen, very cerebral, very core.

Rick is that rarest of breed, a coach who can teach at the major league level. As player's salaries have increased in MLB so has the rush to get pitchers in the minor leagues and fast track them to get with the big league club. Most of the true teachers and coaches in the game are in the minor league level, not on the chartered planes. Though, I'm sure you can throw a rock and hit a bad minor league coach, too.

The A's pitchers are given selection a colored cards based on a team's lineup. Each card can be memorized in about 30 seconds. Each card's color identifies the type of hitter and how to attack the hitter. The catchers also have the stack of cards to memorize.

The A's have a set plan for getting out hitters the first time around, the second time around and how to finish the game.

The problem with the Oakland A's pitchers is with two strikes. They screw around too much when getting two strikes. A constant cry in the EOSHQ is, "Stop Screwing Around!...Stop SCREWING around and go after the hitter!... Stop screwing around, you screw around too much!". We sound like the woodshop teacher from South Park, Mr Adler. One of our more enlightened staff members mentioned that if we could pick this out then so could any advance scout worth their salt. It could be that the A's pitching staff is setting up New York, Anaheim and Minnesota. When the Division Series starts, we'll see if the A's pitchers stop dancing around the plate and go right after hitters or try to paint the black when ahead in the count. 
Bullpen Management

Art Howe has been given limited resources to work with over the years. However, his current crop of pitchers in the rotation and in the bullpen are a eclectic group that can me matched with any team in the league. They lack a power set-up man, but, if the starters go 7 innings as expected, there is not a need for a power set-up man, anyway.

Jim Mecir has maintained the title of setup man until nagging injuries have caught up with him this year. Jim was born with club feet and has had numerous surgeries on his knees. He does not have an ACL in his right knee. Jim features a good mid 90's fastball, the relievers friend a slider and mixes in a splitter. Mecir works a screwball out of his bag of tricks and is devastating against left handers and right handers when healthy. Jim has had trouble pitching consecutive innings and it is as much a problem with his knee braces, fatigue and Art Howe's riding a horse 'til it drops. Mecir is most effective when not starting an inning.

Chad Bradford inherited the title of setup man while Mecir was on the mend, but has not been effective in his last few appearances. Earlier this year Chad was spectacular in getting 1 pitch double plays and ground balls early in the count. Bradford is a submariner by trade and features a standard moving fastball, slider and a slow breaking Frisbee.

Jeff Tam did a stretch of time in Sacramento for his crimes in the early season. Tam has effective movement of his pitches with a low 90's sinker that induces ground balls. Tam is essentially a two pitch pitcher and has been trying to master a changeup and utilize a splitter from time to time. Tam doesn't have the confidence to throw the splitter with runners on base. Tam has tatoos on his arm that spell out his daughter's name in Japanese letters.

Ricardo Rincon is essentially the A's left handed specialist, in reality he's the only reliever Art trusts, for whatever reason. Rincon should bypass the bullpen phone and give Art his cell phone number. Rincon, too has been ineffective in working too much. Rincon is a slider guy with a sinking low 90's fastball. Unlike the A's previous left handed specialist, Mike Magnante (herky-jerk movement and an almost sidearm delivery), Rincon's delivery is smooth and can get his fastball to rise when needed. 

Mike Venafro is a side-arm/submariner who uses his breaking pitches, a curveball (he unveiled his overhand curve this weekend) and a slider. One of the three Mikes the A's tried this Spring, Venafro has been largely unsuccessful this year. Venafro is a funny guy and was part of the Roommate Exchange Program in Sacramento.

Micha Bowie, despite popular belief, is not an A's product. He's appeared with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. Bowie is a typical reliever with a good fastball, changeup and slider. Bowie is a lefthander and if the A's can get hm to feature his changeup more, they might have pulled a gem from the pit.

Billy Koch is what most people typify of a closer. Excellent fastball, slider and mental make up of a professional hitman, part time mortician with a quota to fill. Koch has been working with rick Peterson to improve his clunky mechanics and is prone to fits of wildness. If Koch gets ahead of the first hitter he faces he usually can get the inning turned over in 1-2-3 fashion. If he gets behind, be sure you have a seatbelt and various cushioning devices. Koch need to develop a changeup or a slow breaking pitch to keep hitters form being able to sit on the fastball. Koch threw an off speed curve yesterday, but, it has not been worked into his regular repertoire.

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YEESH - EiO

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BOX SCORE

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Mariners        1  0  2   0  0  3   0  0  0    6 10  0
Athletics       2  0  0   0  1  0   0  0  0    3  6  1

Apart from Ted Lilly starting the game and the A's looking like blind squirrels in search of a nut, Sunday was a whiplash effect from earlier in the year.

The A's franchise has a long-standing tradition of philosophies regarding series in league play; 

  • Work the count and knock out the opposing starting pitcher as early as possible to get to the bullpen.

  • Work the opposing bullpen as much as possible so that the opposition is forced to abandon pitching match-ups with batters and rely on available arms.

  • Win the series.

Art Howe has long been prone to allowing his team to lose focus and play too loose. The A's, for the most part, are young in age but long on experience. At this stage in GM Billy Beane's N Year Plan it is detrimental to allow a team to drift.

A reoccurring theme with the A's is getting an early lead and coasting. This is true with most any sport. Get up a lot early and you kind of tiptoe around. Remember win 20 of the Streak? 11-0 against the Royals in the 3rd and they blew the lead. Let's not wake up the other team, let's just see if we can get this game over as soon as possible.

The problem is that the leads haven't been as substantial lately. Saturday the got an unearned run and Huddy made it stick.

"We achieved what we had to do at this point in the year to get where we want to go. We'd like to win this series, that's a given. But a split at this point would be fine because it keeps us in position to win the division." - Art Howe

Wow. Put the kids to bed and katy bar the door. That's playoff baseball, boy howdy.

It sounds like Art might start knitting and chewing on some puffed wheat wafers and drinking his Metamucil before writing out the lineup card.

Someone update Art's Day Runner because this is September, not April.

While you're at the stationary store, drop by Barnes & Noble and pick up Lao Tzu's the Art of War. Better get it on tape or CD.

People wonder why the A's are prone to fits of losing in the first half of the season and pick it up late in the year. Maybe it's because their manager doesn't have his chi in sequence.

Whatever happened to trying to win every damn game? They're still keeping score, why not try to hang a dozen runs on the other team before they can get somebody up in the bullpen? How about trying to put your players in a position to be successful as opposed to maintaining some marginal Managerial status quo?

Art's a good people person and a decent guy. He's a solid manager. He's not a very good manager and far from great. If he was, the A's would have a hundred wins and his four starting pitchers would have each won twenty games. That's not a fan, knee jerk reaction, either. Look at Tim Hudson. He's got a 3.01 ERA, 224 innings pitched and only 14 wins to show for it, yet, he averages 7 innings per start. You show me an AL pitcher with those stats and I show you a Cy Young candidate. 
In Mark Mulder's last three starts he has one win. However, he left all three with the lead. Okay, technically a complete game shut out doesn't count as leaving the game. You get the point. Mulder could very well be at 20-5 right now with 4 less starts than Barry Zito who is 21-5. Cory Lidle had an amazing streak of consecutive innings pitched without being scored on, yet, his ERA is at 3.96. Art Howe has taken him out of games when throwing fewer than 100 pitches and allowing fewer than four runs.

Part of being a manager is good game management which Art has not mastered.

Art does plan well. Last week in Anaheim the A's didn't have their rotation in order for the important series. This week at home the A's throw Lidle, Mulder, Zito and Hudson at the Angels who counter with Calloway, the Rally Monkey, Washburn and Appier.

With the end of the season series in Texas, the A's finish with Mulder and Zito taking the hill. Game 1 of the Division Series is scheduled for Tuesday night. There has been a lot of talk about switching the order of who appears when to get Zito to start game one. This is stupid because Mark Mulder is the team's Ace, an Ace of Aces, if you will.

But, the whole problem could have been averted instead of jerking Aaron Harang's chain around and making I-80 between Sacramento and the Bay Area look like Harang's driveway. The A's used two of Aaron Harang's options this year when they really didn't have to. Harang spent less than 24 hours in Sacramento the first time and didn't even get a chance to get a locker.

Eeyore (as Harang is referred to by EiOS) made his first appearance as a reliever yesterday and didn't stink up the joint. But, if Art hadn't changed the rotation earlier this month there wouldn't have been a debate about catching Anaheim, playing the Yankees or Twins in the Division Series or why Rick Peterson wears a jacket when its 110 degrees outside.

The Ted Lilly Experience should have moved its venue to the bullpen before headlining. Placing a starter with a sub-70 pitch count out on the mound is basically putting your team on panic alert. You know the bullpen will be used and you know that you expect the hitters to get a sizeable lead. It doesn't help a lot with the flow of things in the clubhouse to let everyone now, "Hey, we all think Ted Lilly is a good pitcher and that he is better than Aaron, even with the recent DL stint". Lilly is a good pitcher a solid number four starter, but not a front line guy. Aaron Harang's future might actually be in the bullpen, as a closer. He's 6'7" with a mid to upper 90's fastball who doesn't give up a lot of homeruns. But, taking Lilly and placing him in a showcase situation to determining his playoff roster possibilities is/was a distraction.

This is a team that rolled off 20 in a row and made huge strides when ownership and management made big roster changes earlier in the year.

THE LINEUP

You would think we would stop at Art's pitching staff difficulties, but, we'll continue. We'll also add that this is a team that has won a lot of games. This is a team that should have won a lot more.

We have remarked that David Justice looked very good running the bases earlier in the month. That was after a few weeks of being in and out of the lineup. Mark Ellis has gotten the last three days off. Olmedo Saenz finger is bothering him so much that he may not be available for the post-season roster. Terrence Long has been a Freak Show in center and Eric Byrnes and John Mabry are the Yeomen of the Guard. Jermaine Dye looked very good for a few days, but has slumped recently, though it must be said that with any serious leg injury it takes a good 18 months to heal and be comfortable. Scott Hatteberg has been better than expected at first while Ramon can hit sub-.200 as long as he keeps the pitching under control form behind the plate. Exactly at what point does inconsistency become consistent? Eric Chavez has been labeled for years as a streaky player. So, after a lot of time has elapsed, is he still streaky? Isn't he just Eric Chavez? Miguel Tejada had a bad weekend and it will be great to see how he responds against Seattle.

As for the A's lineup and batting order, we would like to see this:


DH Ray Durham 
1B Scott Hatteberg/John Mabry 
SS Miggi 
3B Chavez 
RF Dye 
LF Piatt/Justice 
CF Byrnes 
2B Mark Ellis 
C Hernandez 

Or even this: 

CF Durham 
2B Ellis 
SS Miggi 
3B Chavez 
RF Dye 
DH Justice/Mabry 
1B Hatteberg/Mabry 
LF Piatt/Byrnes 
C Hernandez 

But, in all likelyhood: 

DH Durham 
1B Hatteberg 
SS Miggi 
3B Chavez 
RF Dye 
LF Justice 
CF Long 
2B Ellis 
C Hernandez 

Long is missing from our lineups for good reason. We'll say this, we think that Terrence needs to mature. Ramon can get away with a very low numbers because his presence behind the plate nealry overwhelms any statistical relationship. The better the A's pitch, the less he has to hit, in our books.

Long, however, does not have that luxury, creditability or stature. His poor defense does not hide his poor production.

A sub-.700 OPS is utility-infielder bad. Long is at .698. At this point the A's could use a replacement player at league averages and fare better. Long is dead last in fielding percentage among regular centerfielders, leads all of MLB centerfielders with 8 errors, is next to last in zone rating and 14th in range factor.

In other words, if this was spring training, T Long may not even be on the 25 man roster.

Arizona might be a very cold place for the Alabama boy come spring.

While at the game on Saturday we noticed that Adam Piatt has regained a lot of weight and looks healthy and comfortable. Piatt missed most of 2001 with viral menengitis and lost a lot of weight and confidence. If Piatt can add a few more pounds he might be the A's long term answer at 1st base. Adam came through the system as a 3rd baseman and went to the outfield when the A's had a need. Another A's player did that, too. Jason Giambi.
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BAD DAZE - EiO

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Steve Blass - Pittsburgh - 1971 Road

Steve Blass - Pittsburgh - 1971 Road (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)


-- Steve Blass lacked control as a Pirates pitcher, and he lacks control as a Pirates broadcaster. When a foul ball dropped in his booth in Cincinnati, Blass leaned over and dropped it toward a kid. But the ball hit the kid on the head in the second deck and bounced to the lower deck and hit another kid on the head. One of the kids joined Blass as a guest in the booth, where it was safer.

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TRIVIAL - EiO

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We could have just posted a link to Ted Burgon's obituary, but that wouldn't have done him justice.

Since 1990 Ted was in a few dozen different countries, was in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, in Moscow when the Kremlin was under attack during a coup attempt and living and working in a Muslim country following September 11th despite all of the warnings against it.

Ted was a very special human being who did not give into hatred or fears based on religious, cultural or societal stature.

Hollywood couldn't make his story, the public would sneer that it was all made up, nobody could have seen, done or even thought about all of those things.

He did.

If you want any information or pick something off any of the news wires, let me know. This is one of those events that will not be readily forgotten and people will point to it a few years from now and say, "why didn't we see the warning signs even after September 11th, Israel and everywhere else?"

TED BURGON


SUNRIVER, Ore. A celebration of life for former Shasta County resident Ted Burgon, 71, of Sunriver, Ore., will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at River Bend Golf & Country Club in Redding.

Mr. Burgon died Saturday, Aug. 31, 2002, in Indonesia.

Born July 16, 1931, in Pocatello, Idaho, he was a Shasta County resident in the 1960s and the 1970s and then moved to Sunriver in 1991. He was a co-operator of a family optical business in Pocatello, a graduate of Idaho State University, a former smoke jumper, an educator and principal for schools in Igo/Ono, French Gulch, and Redding, a crew member on the world champion Graybeard yacht in the Sydney-to-Hobart, Australia race, and a writer/photographer for the Idaho State Journal covering events in Russia. He was also a former tank officer and captain in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War, an Idaho National Guardsman, in charge of security for the Saudi Arabia International School in Riyadh during the Gulf War, a member of Lions International, International American Chamber of Commerce, Deschutes County Traffic Safety Committee, and the Bend, Ore., Christmas Parade Committee, Chairman of Adopt a Highway, and he worked at schools in Germany, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, South Africa, and Peru.

Survivors include wife Nancy; sons Mark of Redding and Dirk of Chico; brother Gary of Port MalQuarie, NSW, Australia; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. 

MATCH GAME - EiO

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                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Mariners        0  0  0   0  0  0   0  0  0    0  4  2
Athletics       0  1  0   0  0  0   0  0  X    1  3  0


So, we were sitting in the sun watching the fog turn the cool morning into overcast to sunny afternoon. This guy comes out and a lot of onlookers stood and began clapping. I mean, it's a guy, not working, but a guy getting ready to go to work. Anyway, he goes about his business and then disappears for a few minutes.

About 45 minutes after making his first appearance this guy wanders over to the mound and drops a bucket equal parts grit and determination. He seemingly works some laundry to do list in his head for a few minutes and gets to it.

Two and a half hours and a shade above pink, but pre-red, later we had watched a great performance by two guys. Both had the same occupation but worked with dissimilar, if different tools.

The end result never seemed in much doubt. One worked repetitively and worked well with the cast of characters behind them. The other, had his crew let him down, but only himself to blame for the outcome.

SLOW RIDER



Jamie Moyer has a fastball clocked around 88, what Curt Schilling uses as an off-speed pitch. His curveball clocks in around 67-69 and his change-up in the low 80's. For most of the day Moyer was in no danger of having the California Highway patrol pull any of his pitches over for speeding. In fact, Moyer never touched 89, the ticket speed in California (well known fact; you really need to go out of your way to get a ticket on California freeways, however when you do get pulled over: cover your head and assume a fetal position repeating, "thank you sir, may I have another").

Anyway.

Hudson was brilliant, and I mean that in reference to Tim Hudson. We'll save the total breakdown for the Pitching Staff Report due Monday prior to the Anaheim series.

In reality, once the A's loaded the bases in the first, it really seemed like the A's were playing possum. Waiting for the Mariners to crest one last time and sink out of sight for good. Indeed, when Manager Lou Pinella dragged his sorry, unshaven-saggy ass off the field in the 4th after arguing the tail end of a 4-6-3 double play, it seemed Seattle was just a city in the Northwest and not a MLB power.

The rest of the way Hudson retired 17 straight. The oddity being that Huddy got 4-6-3 DP's in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings. Ray Durham looked smooth at second and very polished after several weeks of just DH'ing. Of course, with Durham at second base, it gave David 'the Butcher' Justice an opportunity to give his stones, er, hands, a break from not fielding, er fielding, balls.

A near riot erupted in the bottom of the second when Ramon Hernandez struck out bunting foul with runners on 1st and 2nd courtesy of consecutive errors by John Olerud and Carlos Guillen. The Elephants in Oakland Staff nearly charged the dugout. We didn't pay $7 to watch a .230 hitter try to lay down a bunt. We came to watch a .230 hitter try to breakout and not give outs away. If Ramon is hurting so bad he can't take normal swings, just have him take every damn pitch. If Ramon is hurting that bad he shouldn't be on the field.

Now, if Art Howe gave the sign to bunt he should be flogged. If Ramon did it on his own, it's time to get Cody McKay acquainted with Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Corey Lidle. Go with split catcher duty down the stretch if need be. Otherwise we suspect there's a problem with Greg Myers we don't know about.


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PERFECTLY CORRECT - EiO

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A shutout is perfect in our minds.

We just returned from the memorial service and are on our way to watch Tim Hudson pitch today. You'll get a full report when we get back.

Prediction: Hudson goes 7 innings, 7 hits, two runs. A's win 5-3.

MUST NOT LOSE GAME - EiO

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                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Athletics       1  0  0   4  0  0   0  0  1    6  8  0
Angels          3  0  0   0  1  0   1  1  1    7  9  3

"These are some big games. We had no emotion whatsoever, no love for the game. They wanted it. It was easy to see. They kicked our butts this series. They really did.'"
-Eric Chavez (Post game interview)

MUST NOT LOSE GAME - EiO

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                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Athletics       1  0  0   4  0  0   0  0  1    6  8  0
Angels          3  0  0   0  1  0   1  1  1    7  9  3

"These are some big games. We had no emotion whatsoever, no love for the game. They wanted it. It was easy to see. They kicked our butts this series. They really did.'"
-Eric Chavez (Post game interview)

WHAT'S UP TIGER LILLY? - EiO

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Ted Lilly didn't pitch poorly. He didn't pitch well. He pitched, well, about as expected. Which isn't to say is exactly what you don't not want during a stretch run.

Confused? So are we.

How confident are the A's? They are so confident they can bring a kid off the DL who hasn't pitched in six weeks and throw him to the team with one of the best records in MLB. They're so confident they can move Terrence Long up to the 2nd hole and let him play centerfield. They're so confident they can not bother to drive runs in during a close game. They're so confident they can leave David Justice in the game instead of utilizing two younger and better fastball hitters on their bench.

That's confidence.

Terrence Long has hit two homeruns in two games. He now has 15 on the year. He also leads MLB with 8 errors. He is 7th worst in MLB among centerfielders in range factor and next to last in zone rating. When a team comes down the stretch, it's vital that you don't throw runs away, that you make defensive adjustments when needed.

Last night the A's were building up to another one of their comebacks down 3-2. The Angels had been showing signs of wobbling, wavering and wallowing. However the 8th inning began evening things out. With runners on first and second and one out, the A's failed to budge the runners, let alone score.

David Justice's at bat was key as he swung on a 3-1 pitch from Troy Percival to bring a full count. Percival is characteristically obtuse until he gets a few pitches unraveled out on the mound. Then his strike zone awareness kicks in and his command is corrected. Imagine driving a muscle car for the first time. Floor it. You're going to need a few seconds to adjust and over-correct a few times when you're moving that fast.

In the bottom of the 8th Miguel Tejada missed a bare handed play to get Adam Kennedy on an infield single. Sure, Kennedy probably makes it, but, it was a precursor of things to come. After David Eckstein moved Kennedy over to second Art Howe brought in Ricardo Rincon, the left hander, to face Darren Erstad, the left hander. Rincon is about even on his groundball to flyball ratio and was 1 for 4 against Rincon in his career with 2 RBI. Erstad swung and missed on a 2-2 pitch.

Scott Spiezio was 0 for 3 against Rincon in his career and 3 of his last 25 entering the game. But, Spiezio was 1 for 3 in the game with a walk and a two run homer. Spiezio was hitting .349 against left-handers.

Garret Anderson was on deck and has eaten A's pitching alive this season. Can you afford to intentionally walk Spiezio and let Anderson hit with two runners on? Can you afford to bring in Jeff Tam to face Spiezio and lose a Rincon-Anderson matchup in favor of a Micah Bowie-Anderson matchup?

Well, Art Howe had several options and decided against all of them.

We have stated many times before; Art Howe too often manages yesterday's game.

Art left Rincon in, because Rincon was great Monday night in 2/3 of an inning.

Art could have pitched around Spiezio and allow him to get himself out.

Art could have sent Rick Peterson out to talk to Rincon and figure out what the wanted to do, even if it meant just getting some more time to make up his mind.

Art could have brought Tam in, who was warm in the bullpen.

Art could have put Eric Byrnes in center or left for defensive purposes or Mabry in left and Hatteberg at first or brought in Adam Piatt to play left field.

Hatteberg was standing in the on deck circle when Justice flied out against Percival ready to hit for Mark Ellis.

Instead, Art did none of the above and left Rincon out on the bump.

Spiezio belted a line drive to the left of center on a 3-2 pitch. Magellan started in on the ball, paused and then raced to left center, dove, missed the ball completely and David Justice showed up a few days later and got the ball in to the infield. Justice, who earlier booted a Shawn Wooten ball down the line in the 3rd.

The A's went quietly in the top of the 9th.

What can we expect for Wednesday? Hopefully, some production from the 3-8 hitters who went 0 for 19, though they walked five times. Some progress in the Jarrod Washburn debate and surrounding allegations of sexual assault on a minor. Of course, we can also expect Art Howe to micro-manage the hell out the game since he didn't on Tuesday.

Adam Piatt or even Eric Byrnes should start. Piatt went 1 for 3 with a walk against John Lackey on April 29th (when he was with Anaheim's AAA PCL team, Salt Lake). They have at least seen Lackey before. Plus, right handers are hitting .309 against him while left handers are hitting .199. Seeing Olmedo Saenz at first or third wouldn't hurt.
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