Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up April 24th

After watching the AL West play head to head during the first month of the season, it is clear to me that no team is going to run away and dominate this division.

The key to being successful in the long season is preserving your pitching staff. Overworking ones bull pen in April does not bode well for a stretch run in September.

Click below for more!The A’s bull pen might ultimately be in the best shape of all the teams in the West if manager Ken Macha spreads the workload among the entire pen.

With consistent outings from Justin Duchscherer, Huston Street, and Keichi Yabu now a regular occurrence, once Kiko Calero and Juan Cruz come back, Macha will have a legit six man set up crew he can use with confidence before even thinking about bringing in closer Octavio Dotel.

On the other hand, Scott Shields and Frankie Rodriguez are the only trusted members of the Angels pen. It wouldn’t surprise me to see these two maximum effort pitchers lose their effectiveness late in the season because of overwork.

The Rangers are hanging close to the lead in West because of its starting pitching. Going into the season Texas could only count on Kenny Rogers and Ryan Drese as frontline starters. Now with effective starts from Pedro Astacio and Chris Young, Texas has become much more dangerous.

Don’t be deceived by teams that hit .240 in April. In the American League, when it is all said and done, the good hitters will hit and the AL will live up to its reputation of a sluggers paradise.

The Red Sox and Yankees hold the key to the wild card race. If these two teams win 95 games or more, the only way for any other club to make the post season will be to win its division.

No surprise that Sandy Alderson opted to leave the commissioner’s office to become CEO of the Padres. Alderson was never going to be considered as a successor to Bud Selig because the owners will never allow an independent person to be the commish. MLB is big business and if you are going to qualify as a future commissioner you’ll need to own a ball club. The owners won’t trust anyone else.

It bugs me when a pitcher says he didn’t pitch that badly after he gives up a four or five spot in the first, then proceeds to hold the opposition down for the next few innings. The whole dynamic of the game changes once a team has to dig its way out from a crooked number in the initial frame.

Can you imagine Bob Gibson saying he pitched all right after having his team go down 4 or 5-0 in the first?

I’m not writing the Cubs off just yet even though Nomar Garciaparra is probably finished for the season with a torn groin muscle. If the trio of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano have successful seasons on the hill, then Dusty Baker’s team will stay in the race.

The A’s young starting staff better keep up the good work over the next two months. In case you haven’t noticed, Oakland faces the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Giants 21 times in May.

In June the A’s face the powerful NL East in interleague play plus see the Giants for three more games. If Oakland is still close to the pack after that schedule, then it will be some race over the summer.

Without Barry Bonds in the lineup opposing pitchers are finding life much easier with runners on base knowing Pedro Feliz and Moises Alou are waiting to hit instead of Bonds. The injured slugger changed a pitcher’s whole approach to the inning even if he was two or three batters away.

It’s sad to see Sammy Sosa do his little home run hop out of the batters box every time he hits a line drive. Sosa thinks the ball is leaving the park on every solid hit, while in reality he now has warning track power.

I’ve watched new Atlanta closer Danny Kolb pitch this season and he looks completely lost. If he doesn’t pull it together next month don’t be surprised to see John Smoltz go back to the pen.

The Marlins still look like the team to beat in NL East and that’s without Carlos Delgado doing much at the plate. Florida’s Josh Beckett is the best starting pitcher in the league right now.

If LA pitcher Brad Penny is indeed healthy again, then I’ll take the Dodgers seriously. Jeff Kent can’t carry the inconsistent Dodger offense all season, no matter how good his start may be.


1 Anonymous { 04.24.05 at 1:39 pm }

Hi Marty,

Oakland Si here. I’ve been saying since Spring Training that I expect the AL west teams to post very close w/l records throughout the season. For a variety of reasons (injuries, bench strength, defensive or offensive issues, and pitching) I think all four clubs will have their good and bad outings; in addition I think they will spend the whole season beating up on each other. Whoever wins the division will likely do so with a relatively low number of wins. That also means that the AL wild card is not likely to come from the AL west.

2 Anonymous { 04.24.05 at 3:15 pm }

The AL west will indeed be a dogfight to the end.The A’s need
better hitting and are missing the big right hand bat.Kotsay
continues to impress. Durazo and Chavez disappoint.The
outfield with Byrnes,Thomas and Kielty are not doing it at the moment.Bullpen is excellent.Young starters have impressed but school is still out on Haren and Blanton.
If they can stay close they may have a chance.
Jerry F

3 Anonymous { 04.25.05 at 5:17 pm }

I’m really not happy with the way Macha and Beane are handling the outfield situation.

The A’s basically have 5 starting outfielders right now. And none of them are hitting at all, except for Kotsay of coarse. The other four are producing nothing. Why? Because its really, really hard to find your swing when you only play 3 times a week or less. And right now the other 4 guys out there are not being allowed to find a groove.
The A’s need to establish three starting outfielders and two back ups. They need to let those starters hit against lefties and righties.
Letting your guys find their swing is much more important than match ups. Setting up the best match ups obviously isn’t working right? So try another tactic.
Those starters need to be Byrnes in left and Swisher in right (no he’s not ready to be a stud at this level yet, but he will be if given consistent PT.)
Thomas and Kielty are back up outfielders…and thats it.
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind Thomas being starter instead of Byrnes. He’s much better than he’s shown…on D and O. He’s another guy who needs to play through his struggles to work them out. Kielty, too would be much more productive if allowed to play more.

Also, I don’t care if you pay a guy 66 mil. If he’s not helping the team at all hitting third, you drop him down. This isn’t the “lets preserve Eric Chavez’ ego time”. Its the “lets win games time”. He’s doing nothing at all and it literally is hurting the team. Drop him down, let him get it together, and then move him back to the three spot and lets win some games. Anyway, he told Macha he wouldn’t mind the move. So what the hell is Macha thinking trying not to hurt his star’s feelings or show confidence. JUST DO WHAT WINS GAMES. Thats the only important issue. Forget all the emtional preservation crap!

Blanton and Haren (last start excluded) are really exciting me…not to mention Harden. Sadly, I don’t see Zito getting out of his head and getting right. I think he’s done with the A’s. Look for him to be traded to the NL (Beane can’t bare to see his boys play against him) by the deadline.

If we start to hit, I see this team only heading upward. No big names are set to leave soon and BB will make the right moves. This is as bad as the A’s will be for the next four years…and it ain’t that bad.

4 Anonymous { 04.26.05 at 4:22 pm }

won’t win a game if the team doesn’t hit and score.

Zito has pitched well in most of his starts. He has only pitched poorly in one game (and the first inning of the Seattle game, which the A’s recovered from). But no pitcher should be expected to be perfect. and Macha should know by now that Zito should be pulled in the seventh if he’s over 100 pitches and runners get on base.

Billy likes to sell high. Anyone whose value is perceived to be declining won’t likely fetch much and so won’t be traded, at least not til they are perceived to be doing well.

5 Anonymous { 04.28.05 at 4:43 pm }

zito has pitched well?! what a joke. yea, for a 4th or 5th starter he has pitched well. Beane traded the wrong starting pitcher. Zito has been on the decline for the last couple of years now. His new “slurve” is a joke. He is just trying to make excuses for losing his curve ball. He is now a .500 pitcher at best.
-Mike E.

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