Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter UP August 7th

Talk about making an error in a crucial situation, the Arizona Diamondbacks were left holding onto Randy Johnson and his 23 million dollar contract as the trading deadline expired on July 31st.

Arizona sent its scouts all over the landscape looking at minor league prospects. Arizona’s demands for Johnson were so far beyond what the market would bear for the soon to be 41 year old pitcher, they couldn’t make a deal and now are stuck with Johnson, barring some waiver miracle, until next winter.

You tell me why the worst team in baseball still has the burden of paying this aging pitcher when his hefty contract could have been unloaded to New York, Anaheim, or Los Angeles for live bodies?

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After watching the Yankees starting pitching, not getting Johnson will ruin George Steinbrenner’s season in October.

The Mets won’t make a trade for a pitcher without without the approval of pitching coach Rick Peterson. The former A’s coach put his OK on the deals for Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson, recommending the Mets give up on one of their prize kids, lefty pitcher Scott Kazmir in the Zambrano deal.

One of the best lines in the book “Moneyball”, written by author Michael Lewis, is penned at the end of the chapter eight, which focuses on relatively unknown and lightly regarded, A’s first baseman Scott Hatteberg.

Hatteberg’s dogged batting style and patient approach at the plate led the A’s brain trust and Lewis to the conclusion that the best offense in baseball would consist of nine Hattebergs, a lineup that could generate 950 runs in a season, a sure division winning total.

Check out the top eight hitters in Oakland’s line up using batting average, on base percentage, home runs, and RBI’s as of August 6th as the basis for comparison: Names omitted and you tell me which line belongs to Hatteberg?

.317 .376 9 45
.307 .377 15 54
.292 .354 8 43
.293 .375 13 61
.285 .350 17 55
.275 .339 18 60
.275 .406 20 48
.270 .341 15 46

Oakland’s offense sparked the team in July, while the starting pitching has been less than stellar. The entire lineup has numbers almost identical to Scott Hatteberg’s. “Moneyball” called it correctly. The lineup has morphed into nine Scott Hatteberg’s and is carrying the team to the division lead.

This A’s offense is the most dangerous the team has put on the field in recent years because of its balance and commitment to the front office’s “work the count” philosophy”. Unless they face elite pitchers who throw consistent strikes in the playoffs, this lineup will score runs in October.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, Hatteberg is fourth on the above list. He currently leads the team in RBI’s.

Silver lining in the dark Seattle cloud. Unheralded lefthander Bobby Madritsch looks like the best of all the young pitchers the Mariners brought up after their starters melted down.

Everyone is trashing the Dodgers deals, but I like them. LA wasn’t going anywhere without a legit number one starter at the top of the rotation. After whiffing on the curves thrown by Arizona for Johnson, LA settled for Florida’s Brad Penny to lead the staff. Good move.

If set up men Darren Dreifort and Duaner Sanchez handle the eighth inning, LA won’t miss reliever Gullermo Mota.

In addition, outfielder Steve Finley still has some punch. Hee Seop Choi will attract fans in LA as well as giving Shawn Green a needed day off at first.

With all the talk about the leadership qualities of Paul Lo Duca in the Dodger clubhouse, how come the team was always in a state of a near mutiny while Lo Duca was there?

The one thing I don’t understand is why Paul DePodesta did not have an agreement with Rockies catcher Charles Johnson nailed down before the deal with Florida was finalized?

Having Johnson refuse to join the Dodgers after the deal was made left the Dodger GM embarrassed.

Mariner catcher Dan Wilson would look better catching the LA staff than Brent Mayne or Gary Ross. Maybe the Mariners can sneak Wilson through waivers this month?

The Giants didn’t count on starting pitcher Jerome Williams needing surgery and possibly being lost for the rest of the season. Rookie Merkin Valdez is overmatched in the majors. Nice fastball, but right now he lacks the confidence and command to throw strikes in the majors.

Baseball insiders say the Giants were offering last year’s number one pick reliever David Aardsma in July deals? The pen is one area SF desperately needs help. Why try to move Aardsma, their future closer?

If the A’s young phenom reliever Jairo Garcia continues mowing the hitters down in AAA, I expect to see him in the big leagues before August 31st. If Garcia’s 97 mph fastball is the real deal, he’ll need to be on the A’s roster before the end of the month in order to be eligible for the postseason. If they wait beyond the 31st, then Oakland may need to pull some September roster magic to add Garcia for the playoffs.

With Nomar at short, the Cubs now are the team to beat for the NL wild card. The Cubs pitching is so strong they can get away with either Kerry Wood or Mark Prior returning to last year’s form. They won’t need both.

The over/under out of Las Vegas is Phillies manager Larry Bowa will be gone by August 15th. A more relaxed even keeled skipper will be able to salvage the Philadelphia season if GM Ed Wade acts quickly.

Is Gary Sheffield a Hall of Famer? His baseball legacy will be determined by his success in New York over the next three years. MVP this year? Could be. I’m not convinced he has a spot in Cooperstown just yet.


1 Anonymous { 08.07.04 at 7:28 pm }

Marty; My recent comments about the inadequacy of the Giants farm system and the need for an overhaul were supported by Jenkins column this morning. He pointed out that a national sports publication rated the A’s system the best in the majors and the Giants 30th, as in dead last. The Cardinals, who weren’t in great need of him, traded for Larry Walker, giving up relatively little in exchange. The Giants, who have been looking for a productive right fielder for years, didn’t appear to make a move for Walker. They apparently couldn’t find a few young players on the farm who were trade attractive enough. Or perhaps they tried and Colorado simply didn’t want to strengthen a team in the same division. I still think the team is going nowhere this year, including the wild card. Ed

2 marty { 08.07.04 at 11:00 pm }

Ed I think Walker had some say on where he ultimately was traded. I don’t think he saw San Francisco as a team on the rise and a spot where he wanted to play his last two years. St. Louis has that appeal and they are a guarantee for this years playoffs. I think the Cubs can feel it right now and barring a collapse their pitching should carry them into October. The Cub offense is overlooked too with Garciaparra they can whack the ball. Also, the Braves are playing excellent baseball. It’s interesting to see which teams are really playoff bound and which are still looking for the light switch in the dark. I expect Bonds to speak out very soon on the failure of the Giants to make any significant mid season moves.

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