Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up by Marty Lurie

The A’s and Giants both face significant off season challenges this year.

Neither should try to put together a club with question marks at key positions.

Here’s why:

The competition is only going to get better.

Anaheim will spend and then spend some more to bring in top of the line players. The Angels knew what they were doing when they tried to pry Randy Johnson away from Arizona. The lack of a top of the rotation starter was missing from the mix in 2004. It’s clear that Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar are not number one starters. Expect to see one of the premier free agent pitchers in Anaheim next year. Pedro Martinez is a likely choice, if the Angels can’t get Johnson.

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Shortstop David Eckstein will be replaced. Leading candidates are Nomar Garciaparra, Omar Vizquel, or Edgar Renteria.

If I were running the Angels, I wouldn’t let Troy Percival leave just yet. Frankie Rodriguez is a great set up man who will have trouble adjusting to life in the ninth inning when given that job. He overthrows his breaking stuff in key situations and doesn’t have the temperment to save 45 games over the year.

Seattle will certainly add two more offensive threats. Count on at least one from this group being on the Mariners next year: Troy Glaus, Carlos Delgado, Mike Lowell, Adrain Beltre, Magglio Ordonez or Richie Sexson.

Plus Seattle will welcome back relievers Rafael Soriano and Eddie Guardado, two keys in their pen.

Texas has the premier infield in baseball even though second baseman Rafael Soriano will move on. The good news for the Rangers is Soriano’s bat won’t be missed and he will fetch a legit pitcher in return. Also, look for the Rangers to add another starting pitcher such as Eric Milton to the mix in 2005. The bull pen is back in toto and that’s OK.

This means the A’s cannot afford to get off to a slow start next year or build a club with spare parts from other organizations.

After watching the four finalists in this year’s playoffs struggle once they pass their top two starters, it is imperative that the A’s bring back their entire starting staff. This means Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Rich Harden, and yes, even Mark Redman.

Pitching is still the key to success in baseball.

The A’s should open their pocket book and sign a front line closer like Armando Benitez, then make Octavio Dotel the set up man.

Once Jermaine Dye is gone (it’s inevitable folks), they should then look towards signing a top of the line right handed hitter to bat third or fourth. If they have to trade for such a player, I’d consider moving untested rookies Joe Blanton, Dan Johnson, and Jairo Garcia or some combination thereof, in a deal to get that hitter.

The window of opportunity closes quickly in baseball, and the A’s have their chance to win right now, but every team in the West is geared up for a big 2005 and the A’s have to step up to the plate and add some players of note to win this division.

After watching the Houston and St. Louis series, no surprise the more effective pen will determine the winner.

If Houston manager Phil Garner starts another pitcher on three days rest, he won’t have a pen left if the series goes more than 5 games.

The Yanks have a distinct advantage with four games at home in the ALCS. As Mel Brooks said in his spoof “The History of the World, “It’s good to be king and win your division.”

Hideki Matsui is the toughest out in the Yankee lineup when the game is on the line.

Now, in the Giants case, the formula is also very similar.

Neither the Dodgers nor the Padres will sit still over the winter.

The Giants need a closer to go along with a very capable starting staff. Percival or Benitez fit nicely.

Whatever happened to phenom closer David Aardsma?

Now the fun begins. Who will they get to help out the best hitter in the game who won’t go on forever? Sexson always hit well in SF. If he’s healthy, I’d grab him.

Vizquel would be tremendous addition at short.

Is the money there for both clubs to be real players this winter?

The two clubs are each worth hundreds of millions of dollars right now.

Why not look at these expeditures as investments in the future, sort of like adding a room or two onto your existing home and seeing the real estate value skyrocket afterwards.

It’s good business.

You have a better idea?


1 marty { 10.17.04 at 11:56 am }

Received this excellent comment from Pat, an astute baseball observer, think you’ll enjoy it.

I don’t like the idea of trading Blanton, Johnson, Garcia. But let’s shoot for the moon (knowing that this is very likely impossible to accomplish). How about Zito, Byrnes and Durazo to Texas for Texeira? Texeira gives the A’s the monster bat in the clean-up spot and he and Swisher can replace Byrnes and Dye in the outfield with Hatteberg and Johnson covering DH/1B. Although Texas loses the monster bat, they strengthen their pitching, get themselves a good, everyday centerfielder (I sure hate to lose Byrnes but I think it’s worth it to grab a talent like Texeira) and a DH who can help compensate for the loss of Texeira (and who could also play first in a pinch). Plus it makes room for Adrian Gonzales. In such a deal the A’s probably should also get a prospect or two, maybe Ramon Nivar. And how about a bigger blockbuster: Chavez and Rhodes to Baltimore for Tejada and Julio and maybe DuBose? The A’s might have to include a prospect like Garcia in that one maybe two (Quintanilla?) or possibly Redman. The A’s would then move Crosby to third. The Orioles could move Mora to the outfield (he’s no Chavez defensively at third) and Roberts to short with Hairston at second. It gives the Orioles a power hitting lefty to stick between Mora and Lopez. The A’s get a power right hand bat and bring back their heart and soul (I can’t help but believe that Tejada’s fire and drive would have been worth at least 2 games in the standings). Chavez is not the type of leader who will carry a team when it is struggling–Tejada is. Chavez has the physical talent, but I don’t think he has the emotional make-up. And Chavez’s contract is not that much lower on an annual basis than Tejada’s. Assuming Miller is re-signed (unless we could figure out a way to get Hernandez back instead), think of this nice line-up:

CF Kotsay
3B Crosby
SS Tejada
RF Texeira
DH Hatteberg
LF Swisher
1B Johnson
C Miller
2B Ellis

With Melhuse, Scutaro and Kielty (I still think he’s going to be very good, despite the poor season), there’s the beginnings of a decent bench (also Nivar if they can get him and then find a productive pinch hitter). Those guys provide a lot of flexibility off the bench with Melhuse a decent lefty bat and Kielty a decent righty bat, not to mention good defense and some speed. The rotation would be Hudson, Mulder, Harden, Blanton and Duchscherer (admittedly a little risky, but stay ready for Jason Windsor; I think he will burst onto the scene in a big way in a couple of years, maybe three). If they didn’t include Redman in the Orioles trade, he would be in the rotation with Duchscherer moving back to the pen. Dotel would close with Julio the righty set up reliever and Rincon the lefty. The rest of the bullpen could be set up with Bradford, Lehr (unless Street or Garcia (if they could hold on to him) broke through or Duchscherer wasn’t needed in the rotation) and DuBose (who might be given a shot at the rotation) or Rheinecker (another possible starter). The run production should be significantly improved with Tejada and Texeira, especially if Swisher and Johnson live up to their potential and Crosby continues to improve. I know this is far-fetched but, hey, isn’t dreaming what the hot stove league is all about? Pat

2 Anonymous { 10.17.04 at 1:24 pm }

What a great dream with only one change by me. We must keep Byrnes. We know what losing the heart of a team can mean, and with Tejeda and Byrnes together along with spokesman Kotsay, it would be specail.

Never thought about giving up Chavez for Tejeda. It is a wonderful idea. We know that Crosby can be a 3rd baseman–and I would bet a gold glover down the line, too. After the dismal finish this year, we all remembered Miggy jumping up and down in the dugout and telling everyone they could still do it. And they did so many times. The A’s needed that so much this year.

Bring back Miquel.

3 Anonymous { 10.18.04 at 8:58 am }

I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks the A’s committed a major error by not signing Tejada. Between him and Chavez it was clear even before this year who had the leadership skills and spirit that a team needs. Both are of course talented, and Chavez is younger. However, Tejada is not that old, very durable, and Crosby could certainly have been trained at third base as well as at shortstop.

I don’t believe Baltimore would be interested in a Chavez for Tejada trade (regardless of the extra names involved on either or both sides), and doubt that the A’s would pursue such a deal. A real shame…

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