Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up August 28th

Like clockwork every season, the pretenders drop from the pennant races as the calendar turns from August to September.

Some teams gave their fans thrills over the summer, while others never got out of the gate.

If you are playing .500 heading in to September, you still are a contender in my book. Under .500 and in the American league and you are the subject of today’s column.Seattle:

What went wrong? The team got old by April 15th. Panic set in as soon as the pitching fell apart. Freddy Garcia is gone, John Olerud and Rich Aurilia were released. Edgar Martinez has announced he will retire at the season’s end.

What went right? Not much, other than Ichiro proving that he is one of the greatest lead off men ever to grace the batters box, garnering his fourth straight 200 hit season. Manager Bob Melvin showed he could go 162 games without smiling. Such intensity is worth something.

What’s up? Much of the same for next season. Slugger Bucky Jacobsen will see nothing but curve balls the rest of his big league career. Lefty Bobby Madritsch can pitch. Jamie Moyer, Ryan Franklin, and Gil Meche will be throwing for different teams in 2005. Not a rosy picture unless Seattle throws some dough at free agents.


What went wrong? It took manager Eric Wedge 100 games to get his bullpen in order. The Indians closed to one game of the Twins two weekends ago, then decided to lose 9 straight falling from the race.

What went right? Great offensive team developed. Catcher Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Matt Lawton, Casey Blake, and Ben Broussard all had breakthrough seasons. Jake Westbrook showed his sinker is big league. Lefty Cliff Lee looks like a winner too.

What’s up? Next year if the bullpen adds some legit arms, not projects, the Tribe will win the Central.

Chicago: What went wrong? Injuries to soon to be departing Magglio Ordonez, and the Big Hurt killed the Chicago offense. Jon Garland didn’t develop on the hill. The Sox ended up with a group of the worst fifth starters in the league. Adding Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar in July, ended their chance for success.

What went right? Outfielder Aaron Rowand looks like a big leaguer. Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, and Mark Buehrle give Ozzie Guillen a staff to build around. Shingo Takatsu, Mr Zero, will be the closer from day one next season.

What’s up? GM Kenny Williams is always tinkering. If the infield gets stabilized, you can say good bye to shortstop Jose Valentin, the Sox will be contenders next year.


What went wrong? Not much. The Tigers played inspired ball and probably will set the record for the biggest turnaround in major league history. Allan Trammell deserves serious consideration for AL manager of the year.

What went right? Mike Maroth can pitch, so can Jeremy Bonderman. Pudge Rodriguez cemented his Hall of Fame credentials. Carlos Guillen came over from Seattle and had an all star season.

What’s up? Tigers are in the Central race next season.

Kansas City?

What went wrong? Free agent Carlos Beltran became a distraction early in the season. Pitching completely disappeared from top to bottom. Injury plagued Juan Gonzalez showed why he is one of worst players in the game today. Last years Rookie of the Year, Angel Berroa, ended up in AA.

What went right? Zack Greinke showed he is the best 20 year old pitcher in the game. Best hitter Mike Sweeney is still in KC.

What’s up? Manager Tony Pena won’t be happy in 2005 either. The Royals don’t have enough power, plus they have a questionable bullpen, and still need healthy starting pitchers.

Tampa Bay:

What went wrong? Starting pitching never really clicked in. Hitting never came around like manager Lou Piniella expected. Aubrey Huff took two months to get loose, Tino Martinez and Jose Cruz were good additions, but they are not first line players anymore. Rocco Baldelli got hurt after finally bringing his game around.

What went right? 20 year old shortstop BJ Upton will be a major player in the league once he learns how to play big league defense. Carl Crawford can fly. Danys Baez and Jesus Colome can close out a game. Julio Lugo found a career in Tampa.

What’s up? Enough bright spots giving hope for next season. Now if they could find another division to play in, things will be peachy.


What went wrong? No pitching all season. Rafael Palmiero needs “hit-agra” because his bat has slowed to an alarming level. Manager Lee Mazzilli is overmatched in the dugout and most likely won’t be back next season.

What went right? Miguel Tejada was everything the Orioles expected and more. Melvin Mora can hit, but needs a position to play. Reliever BJ Ryan is one of the best in the league getting lefties out.

What’s up? The Orioles are two years away because it will take that long for pitching coach Ray Miller to develop the inexperienced starting pitchers. With the prospect of the Expos becoming neighbors next year, more pressure on the O’s to sign free agents in hopes of finding lightning in a bottle. Not a pleasant picture.


What went wrong? Lineup resembled their AAA roster for much of the season. Carlos Delgado’s final season was a disaster. Injuries ruined Vernon Wells year. Cy Young winner Roy Halladay gone since June.

What went right? Jason Frasor became a capable closer. Pitching rotation showed significant promise. Ted Lilly became an all star. Frank Menechino saved his career with excellent utility work.

What’s up? If starting pitching continues to get better, and the Blue Jays figure out how to score some runs, then next year could be a .500 season.

By the way, The A’s should do whatever it takes to add former Giant and Houston second baseman Jeff Kent, deferred money and all, to the roster by August 31st. The A’s need one more big right handed bat for the stretch run.


1 Anonymous { 08.28.04 at 10:58 am }

Kent’s defense stinks too much. Scuataro is much better defensively and gives good at bats. I don’t care about his OBP or that he doesn’t take any pitches. That’s doesn’t work in the playoffs.

I think you are expressing your concern about Dye. Well, the A’s should rest him then. Give him two weeks off before the A’s play the other AL West teams.
-Mike E.

2 marty { 08.28.04 at 11:49 am }

Mike Most connected with the A’s feel they need one more tough righthanded batter. Second base is the only flexible spot especially with the condition of McLemore’s knee. Scutaro has been terrific but the playoffs require a different level of play,

3 Anonymous { 08.28.04 at 12:11 pm }

This year’s team is much better offensively than years past. I think their chances at advancing in the playoffs is better. Bringing in Kent is too much of a gamble. 1.) You don’t know how he will do. 2.) You don’t know how that will affect the team. 3.) His defense is a downgrade from Scutaro’s. The playoffs are going to be close games regardless and the A’s will need their outstanding defense to survive. An infield of Crosby, Kent and Hatteberg is not stable. Crosby is prone to errors in high pressure games (Fenway), Hatteberg boots routine plays as much as he makes great ones and his arm is terrible (watch the Twins and Yanks run on him), and Kent has no range. The A’s shouldn’t mess with a good thing. Thanks for your thoughts, Marty. We will see what happens.
-Mike E.

4 Anonymous { 08.28.04 at 4:18 pm }

I’d love to see Jeff Kent added. That bat would be huge. Just having him in the lineup affects the opposition’s plans. I’d trade a little downgrade in defense for a tremendous bat a this point. Think back over the past four years of A’s playoffs. How major would that have been for them? Think about all those close losses. One more run in a number of those playoff games literally could have made the difference.
That being said, its not realistically going to happen in the next three days. But it sure would be nice for the playoffs…not to mention helping them get there.

5 Anonymous { 08.29.04 at 1:49 am }


I agree the A’s could use another RH power bat and 2b is the logical spot. Instead of Kent though, why not Bret Boone?

Boone’s contract is similar to Kent’s, his defense is superior, power is equivalent, and Boone is more familiar with AL pitching and consequently is perhaps in a better position to contribute immediately.

Only caviat might be that Boone has had an injury plagued season and seems to still be rounding into form. I think a change of scenery and a pennant race may accelerate his recovery to effectiveness.

Reno Bill

6 Anonymous { 08.29.04 at 1:59 am }

I, for one, like that idea, Reno. Boone is much better than Kent defensively and his hitting has improved this 2nd half.

7 marty { 08.29.04 at 9:44 am }

Boone would cost 9 million next season and that is one large problem. Otherwise, I agree there is less risk with Boone. I’m told there is a very good chance Mark Ellis will be activated by Sept. 15th. Now what kind of playing shape he ‘ll be in is another story, but it could be a huge addition if he can hit a little because his defense will be there. Throwing strength a question too.

8 marty { 08.30.04 at 1:21 pm }

I asked my friend Lorraine, a great baseball fan, what she thought of the teams fighting down the stretch, here’s what she said:

“You asked me what I thought about what’s going to happen down the
This year, baseball has been a real enigma. The Dodgers are in first
place and continue to will despite not trading away their best middle
reliever, trading away the “soul” of the team, overusing their
closer, and having a team comprised of base hitters rather than power
hitters. Who would have ever thought that someone like Adrian
Beltre, who has wallowed in mediocrity for years, would have a career
year and carry the team. And look at the Padres….who ever thought
they would be contending. If you asked me to name their starting
pitchers I could only come up with one name. If you asked me about
players I could come up with three names….but there they are. Some
times, to win your division, a championship, or be the wild card, you
have to have LUCK! It’s the unknown factor. People have to have
career years, and some unknown player shows up and has a terrific
year. That’s exactly what happened to the Angels when they won the
World Series….career years and the unknowns stepping up.

Speaking of the Angels…..I’m cheering them on for the wild card.
What other team in baseball has had so many major injuries to their
starting players. If I remember correctly, at one point earlier in
the season, they had 6 or 7 members of their starting lineup out with
injuries. They’ve hung in there, kept playing good baseball, and now
they have a chance to get back to the playoffs. And announcers and
writers can bash the pitching of the Rangers all they want. That
broken down pack of weak arms has gotten their team into September
still in contention. They’ve held up better than anyone thought they

The A’s are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The clutch
hitting has been phenomenal. Hudson’s injury could have been a
blessing in disguise. He’s strong and pitching outstanding. Harden
is consistently giving them 5-6 strong innings. Mulder is tired but
hanging tough. Zito is the unknown factor. He’s all over the place.
Let’s not forget that even though he’s had a good second half it’s
because his team has made some major comebacks in some games where
he’s giving up early leads. Durazo is hitting well, Chavez is in a
power hot streak, Byrnes is carrying his weight, McLemore and Scutaro
are both hitting and playing well, and Hatteberg is always consistent.
The head to head play coming up between the A’s, Rangers, and Anaheim
should be some of the most exciting and tense baseball in recent
years. Everything will be on the line.

So I guess the unknown factor down the stretch will be injuries to
key players and pitchers, and who gets the good bounces.

In the National League I’ll go with St. Louis, Atlanta, Los Angeles,
and the Cubs; NL Champion: St. Louis
In the American League I’ll go with New York, Minnesota, Oakland, and
Anaheim; AL Champion: New York
World Series winner: St. Louis
Sleeper team to watch: Minnesota”


9 Anonymous { 04.28.06 at 7:06 am }
10 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

11 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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