Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching . . .

Rick Kaplan
Staff Writer
OAKLAND (April 20) – Could ARod knock in 200 runs in 2007?
He’s well on his way. After 3 homers and 8 ribbies in the Yankees’ recent three game sweep of the Indians (by scores of 10-3, 9-2, and 8-6), he’s already at 10 round trippers and 26 RBIs in only the first 14 games of the season. In the history of Major League Baseball, no hitter has ever collected more than 190 RBIs in a single season (The Cubs’ Hack Wilson reached that number in the offensive free-for-all of 1930.).
In spite of how dazzling Rodriguez’ hitting display has been thus far, why does a voice inside me keep saying, "So what?"

The A’s don’t seem overly impressed either. Oakland, unlike offensively-inclined Cleveland and ARod’s Bronx Bombers, doesn’t scare anyone with their lumber. But they can pitch and catch the ball, and they took two of three one-run games from the Yankees in the series preceding the New York’s blow-out of the Indians.
Significantly, ARod had "only" one homer and two runs batted in the three game set with the A’s.
Two very different series. Only a total of six games. But it could say a lot about the whole season.
Especially with four starting pitchers already on the DL for the Yankees: Wang, Mussina, the mythical Carl Pavano, and Jeff Karstens. The Yankees are already looking to Double A to fill out their rotation.

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries . . .the Demise of the Ace

Does anyone have a vaccine?
There are currently an astounding 35-40 starting pitchers throughout MLB on the disabled list. Pitching coaches and trainers are walking around in a daze.
With no World Baseball Classic to whine about this year, and many–if not most–of pitching’s biggest names developing Prior-Wood Syndrome, there is an epidemic of theories about what is to blame.
Is it too much throwing? Or too little, as the old-timers who threw 300 innings–with nary a sore arm–would tell us? Is it substance abuse, or abuse by the hitters?
Whatever it is, one thing is clear. Injuries are reshaping the game. If organizations want to win, scouts who previously lugged their radar guns to the far reaches of the planet will need to be packing MRI machines and Yoga-For-Pitchers manuals too.
We have all been drooling over the Rich Hardens, Francisco Lirianos, and the Felix Hernandezes, fantasizing abut what an uninterrupted season of excellence from these young talents might look like (especially after Hernandez’ historic 17 inning, no runs, three hit debut in his first two starts of 2007).
Sadly, while we don’t know exactly why, the reality is that we are never going to see the kind of year in, year out production and consistency we have become accustomed to from "aces" throughout baseball history. The every-fourth-days of Koufax and Ryan and Gibson and Palmer are over, much less the 30 win campaigns of Mathewson and McClain.
Pre-emptive Tommy John surgery–much like preventative maintenance on your car–is just around the corner. Maybe somebody should clone Johann Santana, before durable and dominant starters become completely extinct?
Regardless, the days of a stable, dependable rotation taking a team through the summer and on to post-season success have virtually ended. The teams that adjust to that reality are going to be the teams that win.

Angels Ain’t Dead Yet

I had to laugh when Oakland manager Bob Geren compared Milton Bradley to Vladimir Guerrero.
During the recent two game series with the A’s, Vlad was missing from his customary third spot in the line-up after having been hit on the hand by a pitch in an earlier game. According to the A’s new skipper, this was the equivalent of the A’s also being without their third place hitter, Milton Bradley, who was unable to play due to a strained rib cage. "To me, it’s the same as us missing Milton," chirped Geren.
As the unchallenged biggest Milton Bradley fan in the world (see my previous columns), let me say this: THERE IS NO EQUIVALENCY between Vlad and Milton. Honestly, do MLB pitchers and managers tremble when MB grabs his bat? Not yet. Before he gets to completely dominating major league pitching for over ten seasons, as Guerrero has, he has to first play one full year at Guerrero’s level.
Face it. The Angels just played a series with the A’s without five players who arguably may each be more of a force individually than anyone on the Athletics: Vladdie, Bartolo Colon, Chone Figgins, Juan Rivera, and even Howie Kendrick. Let’s not forget what the Angels did to the A’s last September, and hope that Oakland is better prepared this time (Which, in fact, because of the improvement in starting pitching now that Zito is gone, they are. If the Angels get healthy, it should be a great race)
One more thing. The ordinarily gracious A’s radio man Ray Fosse’s inappropriate snickering about Kendrick "faking" being hit by a pitch–accompanied as usual by the loyal Glen Kuiper–at the sound of a fastball breaking two of Howie Kendricks fingers should have been corrected by an apology or explanation of some kind. It is possible that Kendrick’s hand was gripping the bat (and in fact might have been called a strike if I understand the rules). A’s fans will remember the exact same sound when Eric Chavez hand was broken in 2004 by Chisox lefty Damaso Marte, and the hushed reverence in the A’s radio booth that followed the incident.


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