Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A's Line Up Set for 2004

It didn’t take long for Ken Macha to declare his opening day lineup for 2004 this week during various media briefings in the Bay Area.

Macha intends to lead off with Mark Kotsay, the second position is in Bobby Kielty’s hands, Eric Chavez will hit third, and then it gets interesting.

Jermaine Dye is slated to hit cleanup. By the way Macha cleared up his reasoning once again for pinch hitting for Dye, the teams highest salaried player, in the most critical at bat of the playoffs in game five against Derek Lowe and the BoSox.

Click below and we’ll put that matter to rest.Macha’s predicament as Dye strode to the plate with the A’s down by a run, runners on second and third, courtesy of Ramon Hernandez’s sacrifice bunt, ninth inning, with 55,000 fans roaring was a classic baseball moment.

At that time, it was not clear whether or not Grady Little would have walked Dye if Dye would have actually stayed in the game to hit. Dye’s run was meaningless with the winning run perched at second base in the 4-3 game.

In Macha’s mind at that time was his number eight hitter was coming up to the plate. He didn’t see the Jermaine Dye of 2001, he saw the injury plagued slugger who came into that at bat hitting about .170 for the season and batting .045 against sinkerball pitchers like Derek Lowe.

In fact, Macha pointed out that Dye didn’t bat against Lowe earlier in the series. So, the A’s skipper did what any A’s manager would do and that is play the numbers.

Remember the A’s pride themsleves on playing the game of baseball through statistics. The numbers said that Adam Melhuse, who had never in his professional life been in a situation that dramatic, had a better chance to get the needed hit or flyball than Dye, a seasoned playoff veteran whose 2003 numbers looked more like a weak AAA rookie.

Therein lies the crux of the dilemma that any baseball person who looks at numbers exclusively falls into. Every at bat is different, every pitcher is different, yet every at bat is chronicled through cold impersonal stats, the stats don’t measure big game heart.

The A’s have been very successful running the baseball operation this way. Who can argue with four straight playoff appearances? Macha should be given the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

Even though I’d rather have seen the Dye hit (he homered off a high curve ball but not a sinkerball in game four) because he had been there before, I can live with Macha’s decision to pull Dye, as it was based on sound statistical reason, so, let’s put it to rest and move on. It didn’t work, but it wasn’t an outlandish move.

OK, so Dye hits fourth and the A’s hope that since Dye is in the last year of his contract and in great physical shape after some vigorous winter workouts that he will revert back to his 35 homer, 100 RBI form. Let’s hope so.

Erubiel Durazo hits fifth and is a major piece of the puzzle. Duarzo must realize he is a power hitter and hit like one. No more 2-0 fastballs taken for strike one, if he sees his pitch he has to mash it.

Six will be Scott Hatteberg/Eric Karros depending upon who is pitching, righty or lefty. Karros will be sort of an Olmedo Saenz type player for the A’s with a better big league history.

Mark Ellis who can handle the bat and is working on hitting to the opposite field ala Ramon Hernandez should hit seventh.

Damian Miller or Adam Melhuse who can swing the bat notwithstanding the Derek Lowe debacle will hit eighth.

Batting in the ninth spot will be Bobby “I’m not Miguel” Crosby who just might surprise people in the often overlooked last spot in the order.

So, that’s the order with the only soft spot possibly second depending on how much playing time Eric Byrnes or Billy McMillon gets and whether Kielty hits adequately as a switch hitter.

I think it is the sign of a good club to have so many spots already slotted in the order before spring training starts.

The A’s sound like they are serious about trying to get something done with Eric Chavez before the season starts. Some people say that Chavez isn’t worth the money, I disagree give me the name of two better third basemen in the game today plus he is only 26 years old and just entering his prime.

Arthur Rhodes will get the ball in every save situation until he proves he cannot handle the job. I’m not saying he won’t last past May in this role, but I’ll have to see it first. I still think Jim Mecir, Chris Hammond, Ricardo Rincon, and Chad Bradford will have a number of saves before this season plays out.

There you have it campers, the 2004 A’s all set and ready to go.

Their biggest obstacle? Keeping this lineup and the starting pitchers healthy all season. Mulder, Kielty, Kotsay, Durazo, and Dye have all missed significant time in their careers, for the A’s to succeed in what could be the toughest division in baseball, this crew better stay on the field all season.

Two weeks until pitchers and catchers report and everything is shipshape according to the manager and why doubt him, his team won the West and 96 games last year?


1 Dave { 02.06.04 at 12:54 pm }

Jim Mecir is like a gazelle without legs, and opposing batters are approaching tigers. I don’t see how he doesn’t get put on the DL just to clear a roster spot. Is it possible that Mecir can recover from his various injuries?
By the way, how many games or at-bats do you think Hatteberg will be playing? Will he have a reduced role?

2 marty { 02.06.04 at 3:20 pm }

The word is that Jim Mecir is healthy and ready to go. You know when he is able to pitch he can get hitters out with his screwball. I agree you would think the batters would bunt on him like crazy, but he is adept at getting off the mound, so they don’t bunt with any regularity. Let’s see how he is in spring training before making any judgments.
I would anticipate that Hatteberg will play the majority of the games at first because there aren’t that many lefties in the AL, especially in the AL West. Remember the steady diet of righties after the all star break fueled Eric Chavez’s bigger second half numbers. Much of the same this year, I’m sure the A’s aren’t sorry to see Andy Pettitte in the NL.

3 Anonymous { 02.06.04 at 6:14 pm }

the a’s still don’t have a big bopper like tejada or giambi. the outfield is still a big question mark and
rhodes is a question as a closer. they may be set
but the questions will have to be answered. the a’s
have tough division and the road to the playoff might be the wild card. they do have good pitching but can they win 2-1, or 3-2 everyday? Well,this is the hot stove season and let’s see what happens. all we can do at this point is speculate.

Jerry F

4 Anonymous { 02.08.04 at 2:49 pm }

Great to have you back, Marty. No Baseball and no dishes by marty made for a very long two weeks.
I loved your Q and A at Fanfest.

5 Anonymous { 02.17.06 at 4:05 am }
6 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

7 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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