Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Hitting Will Come Around, But Better Watch The 'Pen

Batter Up April 15th, 2007

The toughest thing for any baseball fan during the first month of the baseball season is to keep one’s composure especially if your favorite team is off to a slow start.
There is nothing more disheartening in baseball then following a team that is mired in a batting slump.
Don’t worry! Baseball has been played for many years, the hitting numbers will be there by the end of the season. They always are.
Even under the best of conditions neither the Angels nor the A’s are offensive juggernauts.

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The fallout from playing close games on both these teams is the strain placed on the bullpen.
You might win five tight games in a week requiring the use of the same three relievers each night.
It won’t work all season.
The A’s need to get Chad Gaudin back into his seventh inning role as soon as possible. Either Jay Witasick can pitch in crucial situations or he can’t. If he is not trusted with the game on the line, the A’s must find a reliever who is.
The Angels are in the same predicament. Justin Speier, Scott Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez are called upon when the Angels are winning late in the game. Watch for more late disappointments in Anaheim unless the front office picks up two more reliable options for manager Mike Scioscia.
The past two years the Giants traded away hard throwers Jeremy Accardo and David Aardsma. The two relievers are now integral parts of the Blue Jays and White Sox ‘pens. Young power arms are not easy to find, someone missed the boat on these two in SF.
One of the best stories of the early season is the success of Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton. The former first pick in the draft whose career was almost destroyed by drug addiction has legit power and a good eye at the plate. He resembles Boston’s JD Drew as a hitter.
Along the same lines, Kansas City’s Zack Greinke, who missed significant time last season with psychological issues, was lights out in his first two starts for KC.
Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler is off to a great start. The second year player is manager Ron Washington’s latest successful pupil.
Expect the Sammy Sosa experiment to end in Texas sooner rather than later. Not only is Sosa having trouble catching up with good fastballs, but the opposition is not giving clean up hitter Mark Teixeira anything to hit with Slammin’ Sammy on deck.
Why I don’t recommend throwing mega millions at free agent pitchers: Gil Meche and Jason Schmidt are already nursing hamstring injuries.
Orioles righthander Steve Trachsel, who signed for peanuts has thrown two solid games for Baltimore. Adam Lowen, Erik Bedard, and Daniel Cabrera round out a promising Orioles rotation.
If Seattle can come up with a legit number two starter they can win any three game series that includes Felix Hernandez. 21year old King Felix is so good that major league hitters look like overmatched little leaguers trying to figure him out.
Growing up in Brooklyn in the ‘50’s Jackie Robinson was my favorite Dodger player. What I remember most about Jackie is the time the Dodgers unbelievably traded Jackie to the hated Giants after the 1956 World Series. Jackie said he was a Dodger for life and refused to go, choosing retirement and a VP position with the Chock Full o’Nuts coffee company.
As a 10 year old I learned my first lesson about the importance of loyalty from Jackie.
After all these years my fondest baseball possession is a replica 1955 Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson #42 jersey.
Jackie was that special.


1 Anonymous { 04.16.07 at 12:15 am }


While I agree that the A’s miss Gaudin in the 7th, I think he has shown so far that he is too valuable as a starter to put back in the bullpen. Why not leave him in the rotation so that he can pitch more innings? The A’s strength in the minors is relievers and I expect them to utilize that asset if Gaudin continues to dazzle and Witasick doesn’t improve. In reality we’re talking about a need for a bullpen guy that is fourth or fifth on the depth chart, it just seems that the need is so great since the A’s play so many close games. Mike Mitchell was impressive in the spring and would probably be the first to see action. Another candidate is former outfielder Marcus McBeth. He could come into the game in the 7th and then switch to CF as a defensive replacement!

-John in SoCal

P.S. Happy Jackie day. I drive by Jackie Robinson Field at UCLA several times a week and whenever I do I always smile. What a great human being.

2 Anonymous { 04.16.07 at 8:31 am }

Street, Duke, Calero, Embree, Marshall, Witasick, Dinardo. That is the current bullpen depth chart, and we’re looking for someone to slide in either ahead or behind Marshall–the fifth or sixth guy. Another possibility is that Kennedy could fill that role once Loaiza comes back.

3 marty { 04.16.07 at 9:08 am }

My issue is Calero and Duchscherer have shown in the past that a heavy workload eventually puts them on the DL. Gaudin can pitch three or four times per week and take the tough innings from the others. I agree Gaudin has been terrific so far, but Calero and Duchscherer will suffer unless they get some righthanded help in the seventh and eighth innings. Without a strong pen the A’s will suffer because of all the tight games they play.

4 Anonymous { 04.17.07 at 6:12 pm }

When Loaiza gets back, we can do as you suggest and put Gaudin back in the pen.  Or we will at least have the option to do that if the A’s Brass agree with you.

5 Randy_Bell { 04.19.07 at 4:56 pm }

Putting Kennedy back in the pen won’t solve the problem Marty discussed, which is the need for right-handed help for Duke and Calero to keep them from becoming over-worked.  I agree with Marty that we don’t want to see those two on the DL due to overuse.  Same could apply to Street, don’t want to overwork him in late innings.

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