Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A's Are There In Oakland

Batter Up June 10th, 2007
The debate has raged for decades, “Is there a there in Oakland”? I won’t attempt to argue that point, but I will tell you there is a darn good baseball team playing there.
The questioned was posed on the radio this week, how come the A’s can win with starting pitching, but the Giants, even with a terrific rotation, can’t?

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The A’s play championship defense. They run the bases properly. They have the uncanny ability to take what the opposition gives them.
The Giants are built around one player, Barry Bonds. If Bonds slumps, so does SF. The Giants have little identity as a ball club outside of waiting for their aging slugger to get hot.
The A’s hitters have a plan when they go to the plate. Simple: don’t chase a bad pitch. Tell me, what’s the Giants hitting philosophy?
The only pitchers who give the A’s trouble are the good ones who throw strikes consistently. The A’s excel in interleague play because NL starting pitchers are not used to working against a team that drives pitch counts to dizzying heights (See Tim Lince*****).
In interleague the A’s will face the Astros, Cards and Reds, three of the stingiest teams in the NL when it comes to surrendering walks. I’ll bet that changes after they face the A’s.
The biggest issue facing Oakland is the improved play of the Angels. All the questions facing Los Angeles in the preseason have come up roses. First baseman Casey Kotchman can hit. Pitcher Jered Weaver is healthy. Gary Matthews Jr. has shored up the outfield defense. Reggie Willits adds spark at the top of the order. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is the most underrated shortstop in the AL. Vladimir Guerrero is having another MVP season.
If the A’s can’t catch the Angels are they in the Wild Card picture?
As it stands now, the Yankees will have to play .650 baseball over the next four months to have a shot at 94 victories. The runner up in the Central should have 93 wins or more. The problem for the A’s is this: the Tigers and Indians are off to good starts. Those two teams only need to play at a .580 pace over the rest of the season to reach 93 wins.
The A’s are facing their usual challenge. They will have to play at least .600 ball over the last 100 games to have a shot at 94 wins and the wild card.
It’s hard to understand why the Giants picked two high school pitchers at the top of their draft. With a host of aging veterans on the big club, you would think the team would have gone for college players who might have some value within twelve months instead of selecting players who might not contribute until 2011.
It’s time for everyone to realize that there are no “true” baseball reporters at ESPN. Whenever a controversial issue affecting the game arises, the ESPN crew sidesteps all the tough questions. John Kruk is the exception: he speaks his mind without looking over his shoulder at MLB.
My top teams this week: Boston: the deepest team in baseball. Mets: Former A’s pitching coach Rick Peterson sends his staff against Oakland June 22nd. Los Angeles Angels: They have much more than Bad Vlad. San Diego: Adrian Gonzalez is MVP material. Detroit: Gary Sheffield is now letting his bat do the talking. Cleveland: Ryan Garko has arrived. A’s: the rotation better not go on summer vacation. Seattle: Hard to ignore the fact Mariners are winning at a .600 clip over last 43games. Arizona: Eric Byrnes is having a break through season. Yankees: The Bombers are showing signs of life.


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