Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Lost in Translation

With all the turmoil at the end of the A’s season the fact that the team had an excellent season was lost.

Instead of celebrating a trip to the ALCS, the focus turned to other matters.

How did the team do in 2006?

Let’s take a look. Click below for more!Position by position:

First base: Nick Swisher established himself as a good fielding first baseman. Swisher is a perfect fit for the bag. He ran into 35 bombs and generally looks like he is going to improve as a hitter again next year. He must learn to hit the off speed stuff, but there are enough mediocre pitchers in the league to ensure he will put up similar if not better numbers in ’07.

Dan Johnson: Seems confused. Is he a pull hitter or a slap it the other way kind of guy? Needs a change of scenery because Swisher should stay at first. Daric Barton might get a chance by mid season to be an ’05 Dan Johnson.

Second base: Mark Ellis finished strong in the second half. Vulnerable as trade bait because he is a quality player and to get quality you have to give up quality. Fielding was sensational. Plate discipline improved once again. If Ellis stays there is no need to invest in a major league back up I’d look for a young infielder to groom. Helps Kendall by working the pitcher so hard pitcher becomes easier pickings for Kendall.

Marco Scutaro: Super sub. Filled in for Crosby so well Crosby wasn’t missed until Scutaro struggled against the Tigers. Great season for the back up SS/2B.

Short stop: Crosby needs to reestablish his credibilty as a dominant young player after two lost seasons. There has to be concerns about his back, an injury that saps one of power and flexibilty. Jury is out on Crosby.

Third base: Chavez has turned into one of the finest third baseman in league history. Still hasn’t found his true spot as a hitter. Were his injuries that bad? Sure struggled at the plate when it counted most. Was it all physical? His decline at the plate a main reason this team struggled finding a legit power hitter behind Frank Thomas.

Outfield: Jay Payton is a very good major league player. Hit well in the clutch he has some speed something this team lacked in ’06. Took the ball the other way. His awful starts are now a regular part of his game. Can play anywhere in the outfield. His frankness turns some people off, but I think he comes to play every day with an edge. I’d keep him.

Milton Bradley: Must be watched carefully. Better righthanded hitter with power. Needs a tremendous amount of support in the clubhouse. Clearly a five tool player who can hit third. Had a breakthrough playoff which might give him the confidence to be a complete player for 162 games. I’d be very careful before signing him to a long term deal, still extremely volatile and moody. Should use his speed more on the bases.

Mark Kotsay: Excellent centerfielder but no longer can be counted on to hit lefties very well or play more than 130 games or so. Back injury crops up every season and takes so much away from his game. I’d keep a fourth outfielder in reserve at all times.

Bobby Kielty: A definite force from the right side. If he platooned exclusively with Kotsay the numbers would be there. I see 25 homers in his future as a righthanded hitter.

Catcher: Terrific season for Kendall. Made great comeback defensively. Should not be counted on to be a top flight lead off hitter in ’07. If don’t ask him to do too much could have another productive season. I wouldn’t sign him long term just be glad he had a very good season in ’06. Don’t go overboard just let him play a secondary role.

DH: Frank Thomas was fabulous. Made the ’06 season as far as I’m concerned. One of the top power hitters in the league. Deserves a two year deal. A’s need him to duplicate’06 season, probably asking for a lot to hope for 39 and 120, but why not he is a hall off famer. Would really benefit from a Chavez comeback or a new outfielder hitting behind him.

Starters: Dan Haren still learning. His late season fall off hurt, wonder what happened? Should be entering three big years in row. I could see him winning 18 in ’07.

Rich Harden: Injuries have to be a concern. Lost season for 24 year old. Last start against Detroit somewhat encouraging but still isn’t throwing his entire arsenal. His physical well being will be key to staff in ’07 and I’m not sure what that is.

Joe Blanton: Just win baby and he does. Can dominate at times. Still on the upward learning curve but needs to get body langauge on the mound under better control. Still 29 other teams would love to have this guy. Could be in better shape, but that is said every year about him and he still goes out and wins 15.

Esteban Loaiza: Clearly knows how to pitch. Was awful then terrific then so so down the stretch. Who knows what to expect, but he is a veteran major leaguer who will take the ball. Gave up a lot of hits when he threw too many over the plate. Needs to be on his game to win and was most of the time after coming off the DL. 12 – 15 wins not unreasonable expectation if healthy.

Barry Zito was the ace. Had a good game 80% of the time. Quite a deep thinker and over analyzes once he gets hit during the game. I’ll be fascinated to see where he ends up this winter and what the rest of his career looks like. He will miss pitching against the AL West and the A’s will miss him dearly in ’07. Key to A’s success versus the West.

Rest of staff. Excellent work from Joe Kennedy, really stepped up in lefty relief role. Brad Halsey good secondary pitcher got into a lot of trouble like a Kirk Saarloos but got out of trouble most of the time. They both make me very nervous. Chad Gaudin broke through. Has a great arm and if he cuts down on walks could be an eighth inning guy.
Huston Street had a nice season but wonder what happened to him last year, just didn’t appear comfortable during the season. Should be an excellent closer in ’07, I wouldn’t worry about him. He has ice water in his veins and knows how to be a pro in the clubhouse even though he is very young. Justin Duchscherer was a potential MVP on this team in ’06. If healthy and that is becoming a big if more than one would like to see, he is one of the top eighth inning guys in the league. Should be signed to a two year deal this winter.

Overall bull pen was a team strength and handled extremely well. They don’t win 32 one run games or finish in first place without the work from these guys. Somehow they get overlooked but they just didn’t give up big hits which turned the game around. If team succeeds in ’07 the pen must duplicate what they did in ’06. Could use another hard thrower but that’s the wish every year.

Bench: Melhuse clearly became a distraction because he didn’t get playing time at catcher. Post season comments very unnecessary and blown way out of proportion considering his status on the team. No where near Kendall’s equal defensively and that’s why he didn’t catch more often. Can hit at times. Perez: he can’t be that bad but he was awful at the plate.

Manager did his best job bringing this team home in first place and sweeping Minnesota in the ALDS. Curt Young and Gerald Perry have to be happy the way their pupils performed from June first to the end of the season. Ron Washington had another fine defensive infield in fact the team’s success was based on how well they played the game of baseball and I’ve said it many times the staff sets the tone and after watching it unfold for eight straight years the guys who run the ball club know what they are doing.

’06 was an excellent entertaining year, the most satisfying since the 20 game win streak season in ’02.

Next year will be a huge challenge because everyone in the AL West will improve greatly. A’s were in the right place at the right time in ’06.



1 ProfessorOakland { 10.27.06 at 4:02 pm }

Professor agrees with your thoughts on the hot corner man, Eric Chavez. Incredible third baseman, but hasn’t improved as a slugger in a few years. In the playoffs, he hacked on enough slop to give Professor multiple ulcers.


Needs to have a better idea of the strike zone, and should have gleaned more insight from Jason Giambi when he was donning the green, gold, and white.

2 southbay_d { 10.29.06 at 8:03 pm }

Marty, 1st off, thnx for another fine year. My guess is Payton’s gone, not enough walks. How about sending Kotsay & Melhuse in pkg to Jays for Vernon Wells (they get 2 yrs of CF, even w/ back issues, & a decent catcher they can platoon w/ Jason Phillips, & not spend on Molina & Zaun). Then we sign Dellucci & Mulder. Looking fwd to your next shows. It’s a long winter, even in Calif, w/o baseball.

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