Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A's, Angels, and Giants Will Celebrate Soon

Notwithstanding the bumps in the road, the A’s and Angels will settle the West today.

Anaheim plays in Texas beginning at 12 Noon Pacific. The A’s will face Joel Pineiro at 3:35 PM Pacific. By the time the A’s get underway, either the Mariners will be eliminated, if Anaheim beats Texas, or the A’s will be Western Division Champions, if Texas knocks off the Angels again.

The Giants have the day off and can watch the scoreboard tonight when Arizona plays Colorado in Phoenix. Randy Johnson goes to the mound to try to get his team closer to the division title.

The Dodgers staved off certain elimination by rallying for two ninth inning runs against Jose Jimenez and the Rockies last night. San Diego takes on LA with Brett Tomko facing LA’s only legitimate starter, Hideo Nomo.

If your favorite team is struggling right now heading into the playoffs is it anything to worry about?

For some yes, for others, no.

Click “Read More” and I’ll explain.

Arizona has to be concerned because they are losing in ways that can carry over to next week. In other words, it’s not just a slump while waiting to clinch and move on to the postseason.

Curt Schilling lost yesterday in a way that I have cautioned Arizona fans to be wary of. Schilling gave up a couple of well placed three run homers to the best overall hitting team in the NL playoffs, the Cardinals, a team they will likely meet next week, and lost the game.

The problem is, if Johnson or Schilling aren’t perfect, the Arizona offense isn’t deep enough to dig them out of a three or four run deficit.

With Luis Gonzalez out for the year, Erubiel Durazo is forced to play right field (not a good defensive move for Bob Brenly), and Mark Grace, who can’t hit a lick, is back at first base, this team is in trouble.

The only saving grace for Arizona is the dynamic duo of Schilling and Johnson, who can get their team into the second round if they pitch the way they did last October, but this time it will be an uphill battle.

So, Arizona’s late season flaws are ones to be concerned about.

Minnesota has set their rotation for the A’s. It will be Brad Radke, Joe Mays, Rick Reed, and Eric Milton. The A’s have slammed righties all year long. Radke is one of the best and will be a threat to win the opener in Oakland. The other three pitchers should be a piece of cake for the Athletics left handed hitters.

Minnesota hasn’t played particularly well as of late, but I don’t see any major problems. The starting pitchers are only going five or six innings, their relievers are not being over worked, and they clinched the division in July, so they are cruising into October.

Leaving their only lefty for the fourth game might backfire on the Twins, since there might not be a fourth game if things don’t go well with Radke in the opener. Oakland caught a break not seeing Milton early in the series.

How are the A’s?

They lost Tuesday’s game when their center fielder misplayed a routine chance (for a major league center fielder) in the 8th inning with the game on the line. Wednesday night, they didn’t hit in the clutch, and their righthanded relief specialist gave up the winning run on a homer in the 8th inning.

The losses reflect more of a concern because they have appeared at various times over the course of the season. Next year, the A’s need a competent centerfielder, this year they don’t even have a late inning replacement for Terrence Long. The A’s must hope that Long doesn’t lose a ball in the sun next week or otherwise hurt the pitchers when the playoffs begin.

Jim Mecir is their righthanded hope in the 8th to set up Billy Koch. Mecir has battled a knee injury all season. He is usually capable and can get an out or two if needed. He is not a top of the line eighth inning set up man. The A’s need to give him some help, unfortunately, Chad Bradford has been in a deep funk for over one month and doesn’t have the confidence of the brain trust to spell Mecir, if necessary.

Mecir will not be able to carry the load throughout the playoffs. Bradford will have to get a chance to be the 8th inning guy from time to time. Righthanded relief is a problem that may only be remedied by letting the starters go deeper into the game, then turn the ball over to Billy Koch for the save.

Next year, the A’s will have to get some help for Mecir, if it isn’t Bradford, then they will need a hard throwing young righthander to become part of the bull pen.

As the A’s get ready for Minnesota are the flaws pointed out above fatal to their chances?


The team is still built on pitching. Cory Lidle will be asked to help in the bull pen, that is a plus. Ted Lilly will be there also. Zito, Hudson, and Mulder will be asked to go as far as they can go, there is no resting for a next start that may or may not come.

The pitching should be fine, even if Mecir and Bradford are the primary eighth inning men. The defense will be all right as long as the A’s hit enough to give the team some cushion.

Tejada, Chavez, Dye, and Durham need big games to ensure success. Chavez especially cannot disappear since he protects Tejada in the line up.

All the ingredients are there for a deep run in the playoffs.

I wouldn’t worry about the last two games at all.

Atlanta is fine tuning their team for the start of the playoff. The Braves have won 11 NL East titles in a row, so Bobby Cox knows what he is doing with his lineup, bullpen, and starters.

The Angels have lost 7 of 9. No problem. The offense has let down after losing three of four to the A’s. They can hit and will be back. Their bullpen hasn’t changed, and the starting pitching is still the same.

Once, they are officially the Wild Card, they will settle down and get ready for the Yankees.

The Angels aren’t showing any new signs of trouble, just having the last week blues as they are resigned to their fate of going to New York next week.

The playoffs will be the best in years.

All of a sudden a Bay Area World Series is not out of the question.

More on that later, let’s enjoy the last weekend of the season.

Unless you live in Phoenix, I think all is well.


1 Anonymous { 09.26.02 at 2:31 pm }

well thought out analysis. how much of a role does momentum play? tough question to answer

but good pitching will stop good hitting and if the

a’s and d’backs staffs are at the top of their game

they will prevail. the braves have good pitching but a history of not being quite good enough to

win the whole enchilada. but remember, that’s

why they play the games and that’s why baseball

is so marvelous.

2 Anonymous { 09.26.02 at 3:40 pm }

Great piece, Marty. Two quick questions: Do you think they would be better off turning Lidle into their eighth-inning righty, or is it simply too risky turning a starter into a high-leverage reliever in the post-season? Second, do you see any hope on the horizon for center field? To my knowledge, we don’t have much in the minors, at least not judging by the September call-ups. Steve Finley will be a free agent, but will likely be expensive. Otherwise, there would seem to be little available. Given that Terence Long has not been hot with the bat this year, I think I’d even settle for an all-defense, no-offense player in his place.

Thanks, Marty. I look forward to your columns through what should be an exciting post-season.

Steve B.

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

4 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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