|57||Michah Bowie||LHP||27||6'4"||210 lbs||Webster, TX|
|52||Chad Bradford||RHP||27||6'5"||203 lbs||Jackson, MS|
|49||Mike Fyhrie||RHP||32||6'2"||205 lbs||Long Beach, CA|
|56||Aaron Harang||RHP||24||6'7"||240 lbs||San Diego, CA|
|15||Tim Hudson||RHP||27||6'3"||215 lbs||Columbus, GA|
|44||Billy Koch||RHP||27||6'3"||215 lbs||Rockville Center, NY|
|21||Corey Lidle||RHP||30||5'11"||192 lbs||Hollywood, CA|
|31||Ted Lilly||LHP||26||6'0"||185 lbs||Lameta, CA|
|45||Jim Mecir||RHP||32||6'1"||230 lbs||Queens, NY|
|20||Mark Mulder||LHP||25||6'6"||215 lbs||South Holland, IL|
|73||Ricardo Rincon||LHP||32||5'9"||187 lbs||Veracruz, Mexico|
|29||Jeff Tam||RHP||32||6'1"||219 lbs||Fullerton, CA|
|33||Mike Venafro||LHP||29||5'10"||180 lbs||Takoma Park, MD|
|75||Barry Zito||LHP||24||6'4"||215 lbs||Las Vegas, NV|
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.
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.
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.