Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up March 26th

Now that the World Baseball Classic has come and gone, I can unequivocally say that I enjoyed the tournament.

Bud Selig wanted the game showcased all over the world. He succeeded. Television ratings were super worldwide, although in the US viewers were limited by ESPN’s spotty cable coverage.

Additionally, in this country fans won’t pass up watching an episode of “American Idol” to see unknown baseball players compete for world supremacy.I would change the format to include the top eight teams and then have them play a round robin tournament over two weeks beginning around March 15th.

Three weeks,16 teams, complicated tie breakers, too much to follow for the average fan.

Anyone who says the US didn’t care about winning is wrong. The problem was the Americans thought they could practice for three days and then compete against players who had been playing competitive baseball all winter.

It didn’t work.

Looks like Frank Thomas will be good to go for the A’s on opening day. Oakland should treat the Big Hurt the way the Mariners handled DH Edgar Martinez at the end of his career.

Martinez had severe hamstring problems. He never exerted himself on the bases. Martinez never worried about going from first the third on a single or scoring from first on a double.

Thomas should take it one base at a time. Ken Macha can pinch run for the big guy if the game is on the line in the late innings. Until then let him swing the bat and hope for the best.

Even though both infielder Freddie Bynum and reliever Juan Cruz have had excellent springs there doesn’t seem to be room on the A’s roster for either. If the A’s move them next week it would be nice to see Oakland get a solid AAA pitching prospect in return.

On the other hand, the former Jairo Garcia (now 25 year old A’s reliever Santiago Casilla is very close to being ready for the big leagues. If Jay Witasick falters, Casilla should get the first call.

Timing in life is everything.

Former Athletic Scott Hatteberg chose the NL over the AL even though the senior circuit doesn’t use the DH. Things worked out for the likeable Hatteberg. The Reds named him their opening day first baseman after they moved Adam Dunn from first back to the outfield as a result of trading extra outfielder Wily Mo Pena to Boston.

Not so lucky.

Juan Gonzalez signs a minor league deal with Boston, the next day the Sox trade for Pena effectively ending Gonzalez’s chance to make the Red Sox opening day roster.

Randy Johnson doesn’t like pitching to Yankee catcher Jorge Posada. Veteran catcher Kelly Stinnett joined the Yankees this winter. Posada broke his nose this week and might not be ready to catch Johnson in the opener in Oakland.

Good timing for Stinnett.

If the Big Unit has a good game opening night with Stinnett behind the dish, then look for him to be Johnson’s personal catcher for the immediate future.

Bad timing for Alfonso Soriano.

When the Washington Nationals player refused to move from second base to left field this week his manager Frank Robinson put his name in the outfield line up anyway.

The tough minded Robinson set up the possibility of suspending his reluctant player for insubordination.

Soriano immediately saw the light, doing the math as they say. Either play left field or forfeit 10 mil in salary plus his free agent season.

The Cardinals or Cubs, two teams that need a second baseman, might make a pitch for Soriano before the end of spring training. In the AL, the Orioles are dying for some hitting, they could look Soriano’s way too.

Both Brad Wilkerson and Johnny Damon changed teams this winter. You wonder about the medical research done in each case. Both outfielders have bad shoulders. The same injuries which first surfaced during the 2005 season. No surprise both are now hurting as spring training comes to an end.

Bad timing for their new teams, the Rangers and theYankees.

Why didn’t Barry Bonds just hire a large spot light and turn it on himself instead of filing a frivolous lawsuit if he wanted to call attention to the new book which hit the stands this week detailing all the old steroid allegations.

Nice timing, I wonder if Bonds is angling for a cut of the profits from the book.


1 Anonymous { 03.26.06 at 10:09 am }

Hi Marty,

I was bacl home in Puerto Rico during rounds 1 and 2 and saw or listened to all of the games where Puerto Rico played, plus the games between Cuba, DR and Venezuela. I saw some of the best games I’ve seen in a long time, and the baseball atmosphere throughout PR was fantastic.

Many of the major leaguers playing in PR did not play in winter ball, yet they played their guts out on the field. Javy Vazquez pitched like I’d never seen him. I think the difference was pride in playing for their country, and playing in front of their countrymen. They themselves said as much in interviews, and that was the consensus among the local sports analysts.

Many of the US team players may not have taken this series seriously enough. But their fellow major leaguers in other teams were also in the same physical condition. The difference, I think, was mental and emotional.

Oakland Si

2 Anonymous { 03.26.06 at 11:02 am }

I like that you put Payton over Swisher in your lineup the other day. Payton should get the nod. His bat is more reliable (he has had a very good spring) and his defense is far better. In fact, I don’t like Swisher being out there at all. I wonder how some players can make it to the bigs with so little defensive skills. Favoritism? And the A’s should find a way to keep Bynum. They should show some loyalty to a player that obviously has worked hard and wants to play. Like you said, it’s good to know that if Witasick stumbles, A’s have other righthanded power options. Also, Detroit Tigers just released Carlos Pena. Worth picking up?
-Mike E.

3 marty { 03.26.06 at 11:10 am }

Carlos Pena wore out his welcome in Oakland by the end of his first spring training. He has power but doesn’t make contact often enough for a team like the A’s. He will go to a bottom feeder at a bargain price (KC, Tampa Bay?) and hope he gets a chance.

I appreciate the comment about the US team but I saw the first US-Mexico game and the US was pumped, the lack of offense made them look lackadaisical as it always does, but these guys did try, probably poor managing and team selection hurt too.


4 Anonymous { 03.26.06 at 12:59 pm }


I’ll defer to your comments on the US team since I didn’t see any of those games. My point was only that I didn’t think not playing winter ball was the biggeest issue, since many of the players I saw in PR had not played winter ball either — yet you’d never know it from the quality of the games.

Oakland Si

5 Anonymous { 03.26.06 at 11:51 pm }

1. The Japanese and Korean players were technically superb, fundamentally sound
2. Asian pitchers were great to watch, the control and change of locations and speeds impressive.
3. Cuban hitters are top notch, they obviously missed their top pitcher Betancourt ( injured), and unlike all the other teams, played without their MLB emigrants –I really hope this competition makes it possible for Cuba to be a regular participant in the Caribbean WS and in all future international competitions –and just imagine Contreras on the mound for them in the final game — maybe that first inning would have been much different.
4. Venezuela and Mexico have very strong programs, and the DR and PR are incredible.
5. Ichiro is probably the best baseball player alive today

all in all, the WBC was a great success, and lets hope this builds a major foundation for future tournaments.

6 Anonymous { 03.26.06 at 11:56 pm }


The lawsuit is specific —

1. why are sealed grand jury documents being used as the basis for the research supporting this book

2. how did these journalists obtain documents which are the possession of the Court and the Grand jury?

this is basic law school stuff –sealed testimony is off limits, the Grand Jury process is the District Attorney’s investigative means, no adversary party has the right to use anything in those documents until they are unsealed by a Judge.

7 Anonymous { 03.27.06 at 12:29 am }

I actually think the A’s will keep Bynum and I see him playing over 100 games this year…as the DH.

Think I’m crazy?

I didn’t say he’d start 100 games.

He’ll be the most used pinch runner in the game. If Frank Thomas gets on base in his last at-bat of every game, you’ll see Bynum. Thats the one reason alone, that he’ll be on the team. And if you don’t think he’s hugely important for that reason…you may want to think again. The less physical exertion Frank Thomas has to endure…trust me…the better.

A lot of guys have personal trainers…Frank Thomas has a personal runner.


8 Anonymous { 03.27.06 at 12:53 am }

Ned, good thoughts.
why on earth would the A’s trade Juan Cruz for that weak lefty? could have certainly gotten someone more decent. what happened to that rule 5 lefthander that the A’s had last season during spring training? he had great stuff, but wasn’t ready for the bigs yet. i think it was last season anyways. time flies.
-Mike E.

9 riponmike { 03.27.06 at 1:57 pm }

i believe you’re refering to tyler johnson. he is still the cardinals organization.

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