Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Rick Kaplan's Five Biggest Misplays of 2006

OAKLAND (August 28) – I hope you don’t read my column before you head for the sports book at Vegas. It could be confusing.

My brother told me: “You change your mind every three weeks about who the best players and teams are.”

He was wrong. It’s more like every three days. Or, when I was spending some ill-advised time and money at Tahoe and breathlessly watching the ticker, every three innings.

My brother happened to be specifically referring to my opinion of Eric Chavez at the time he made that comment. It was during the winter a few years ago, and I was starving for a baseball argument.

So, I started up with him. “I don’t understand Chavez getting the Gold Glove again. He’s not that good.”

Click below for more!That was Rick Kaplan’s first error of 2006. Yeah, I know, it happened before 2006, but it’s only been this summer that I have been educated about how good Chavy really is. So I’m counting it as 2006.

And there’s more to it. I was on the “put Chavez on the DL” bandwagon earlier this season, when Eric was suffering through his injuries and couldn’t get drive anything at the plate. Now I can see that Macha knew what he was doing, keeping him in the line-up despite his lack of punch.

Maybe that should be two errors on the same play?

The next misplay, error #2, was one that quite a few Bay Area commentators shared in, despite their silence.

Esteban Loaiza.

Who is basically the hottest pitcher on the Athletics, on a staff which currently happens to have a lot of guys throwing really well? Even when Loaiza won 21 games for the White Sox, I don’t recall him overpowering good hitters the way he has in his last four starts. At this rate, the A’s are going to have some tough decisions about their first three starters in the post-season.

Even though I formally apologized to Esteban in my column previously for doubting his value, I have to admit that I secretly never believed he could throw this way.

If he can keep it up the A’s starters can match up with any club in baseball.

I like Bobby Crosby (even though I wasn’t ready to name him the pre-season favorite AL MVP, as were a number of local and national scribes). And I was really concerned about what his loss to the team would mean when his injuries started taking their toll.

Error #3 was not realizing that Marco Scutaro is doing more for the club than Crosby can at this point in his career. I think this feeling is now shared by a lot of A’s fans.

I think we were disappointed when Scutaro had to sit down the last time when Crosby came off the DL, and are looking forward to the day that Bobby gets that Eric Byrnes-like loop out of his swing and starts to consistently terrorize AL hurlers.

Error #4 is not recognizing that the Giants’ Matt Cain is on the verge of greatness. I dismissed his one-hitter against the A’s as a fluke.

This kid has got it all, the stuff, the velocity, the heart, and the smarts. I just hope he doesn’t start emulating Rich Harden, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and all the other young phenoms who seem to be spending their careers on the DL.

Now, if he could just be in the AL, where he could really shine with more demanding competition.

Error #5 was assuming that Milton Bradley (Big Game) would self-destruct at some point in the pennant race. Rather, he seems to be showing more and more poise and leadership as the season wears on, despite a lack of the kind of production that he is capable of.

If there is such a thing as a born leader, he looks like one. This really softens the loss of Andre Ethier, and that deal makes sense if Bradley can continue in this mode.

I feel that he is the A’s most important player.

Well, there is my confession. Live and learn, especially with the up-and-down, twisting, turning roller coaster of a major league baseball season.

However, there is one thing I think I will prove to be correct on.

And that is that the A’s will demonstrate this fall the best balance of pitching, fielding, and hitting in MLB.


Nothing illustrates the pitiful state of the NL more than the current relative success of the Cincinnati club.

Adam Harang, Eddie Guardado, Joe Mays, Ryan Franklin – this AL castoff pitching staff has all the cache of a used car lot. Bronson Arroyo had a 4+ ERA with the Red Sox, but has been among the NL ERA leaders all year. Eric Milton, who beat the “contending” Giants Wednesday night at AT&T, has a new life with the Reds, based on his 8-15, 6.47 ERA in 2005 for Cincinnati. And their new fourth starter, Kyle Lohse, acquired from the Twins a couple of weeks ago, couldn’t get anyone out at Minnesota, where he had a 7.0+ ERA.

Add a .308-hitting Scott Hatteberg, who couldn’t hit .260 in 2005 or field his position for the A’s, and a Rich Aurilia at .288, who hit .241 in 2004 as a free agent for the Mariners in half a season before crawling back to the NL, to solid second sacker Brandon Phillips, sparkplug Ryan Freel, and legit sluggers Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, and you have a media darling and NL Wild Card favorite.

The problem is that they would probably be behind the Royals in the standings if they played in the AL Central.


Can someone let MLB players know that when they go out onto the center of the diamond following a victory and line up ridiculously opposite their own teammates that they are making a mockery of themselves and of a formerly dignified ritual?

This tradition started among soccer players around the world, who took meeting for a handshake at the middle of the field as a public opportunity to affirm good sportsmanship and a comradely feeling amongst competitors and fans.

I thought that having seen the international players at the World Baseball Classic routinely engage in the proper form of this honorable and very uplifting moment, the MLB participants may have gotten the idea.

I guess it’s going to take some reminding and prompting from the fans and the media to restore the proper meaning to what the MLB players have turned into a tedious and ugly stupidity.


1 Anonymous { 08.29.06 at 11:25 am }

Rick: It has taken Cain the better part of this year to reach his present level. You can be forgiven for your earlier comments regarding his victory over the A’s in view of your re-evaluation today. The Giants made your Cincinnati remarks look good. I have tired of browbeating Sabean respecting Nathan and Liriano. You, and Marty, should be aware that picking on the old league is fraught with peril. Circumstances change; the Giants, Dodgers and Cards soon will have money to spend. Money is what makes the world go round–and enables teams to field better clubs. Ed

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