Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Batter Up March 12th

Picture this.

Beautiful sunshine, green grass, A’s playing the Arizona Diamondbacks on a peaceful day in the desert.
Rich Harden on the mound.

Harden winds up and throws effortlessly. The ball is a white a blur coming towards the batter. I look at the radar gun held by the baseball scout sitting next to me. The gun registers 97 MPH.

The ability to pitch a ball at blinding speed always has been one of the most dramatic skills in baseball.Rich Harden has big league stuff. Jason Schmidt has the knock out pitch too.

The heater is a fabulous weapon just picture Sandy Koufax or Vida Blue on the mound, sheer power.

Reliever Huston Street is the talk of the Oakland camp. He throws in the low 90’s with movement. In one three up three down inning, his change up had Arizona’s Troy Glaus, Luis Gonzalez, and Shawn Green swinging like bush leaguers.

Should Street make the club out of spring training?

Probably not. He’s behind Kiko Calero and Juan Cruz in the pen. He’ll be better off closing in Sacramento to start the season no matter how well his spring goes here in Arizona.

The Cubbies need a ninth inning man. Former closer Joe Borowski is looking like his old self so far. Chicago is still tinkering with Ryan Dempster and Chad Fox to close games.

A’s closer Octavio Dotel is at the top of their wish list.

Glaus, Arizona’s third baseman, looks fit and ready to have a big year. He put on the best batting practice display I’ve seen this spring, hitting rocket after rocket over the left field wall at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

The Diamondbacks are a vastly improved team. If starter Russ Ortiz can find the strike zone and righty Javier Vazquez recovers from his season in New York, then Arizona might go from 111 losses to 85 wins or more.

The Cubs Aramis Ramirez might hit 50 homers this year. Every swing he takes excites the crowd. When he connects he can hit the ball out of any park.

18 year old Seattle Mariner farmhand, righty Felix Hernandez has caught the scout’s attention. Hernandez will be in the Seattle rotation by June. He throws in the mid 90’s and has command of an incredible breaking ball.

Minnesota’s young catching phenom Joe Mauer, handicapped for much of the 2004 season with a bad knee still hasn’t caught in a game this spring. A position change is in his future.

A’s second baseman Mark Ellis looks better each day. Ellis turned a tough double play in the field then ripped five hits over two games, hitting every ball on the screws.

The more I see the Red Sox starting pitching, the more I think the Yankees are going to run away from them this season.

Texas has a hot second base prospect, Ian Kinsler, who has impressed manager Buck Showalter this spring. If Texas thinks Kinsler can make the jump from AA, then Alfonso Soriano might be moved before the season for some desperately needed starting pitching.

For whatever it’s worth the Angels from Anaheim or Los Angeles, are the best team I’ve seen in Arizona.

Once again injuries are the only thing that can hold the Halos back.

The A’s need another lefty in the pen.

If a starting pitcher gets knocked out in the early innings by a team with a strong left handed hitting lineup, manager Ken Macha’s hands will be tied. The way the pen is projected, eighth inning specialist Ricardo Rincon would be the only lefty available.

If you are coming to Phoenix for spring training don’t miss eating at old favorites Don and Charlies or the Pink Pony, but the hottest new baseball hangout in Scottsdale is The Italian Grotto.

Bulletin from the White Sox camp: Clubhouse distraction Frank Thomas says he’s ready to report to camp and his surgically repaired ankle is ahead of schedule. Now tell me the good news.

.If the Giants are smart they will bring rehabbing pitcher Jesse Foppert back slowly. Foppert has thrown well in the spring, but there’s no rush to have Foppert do anything more than spot work once the season starts, especially if Noah Lowry continues to fool the hitters with his change up.

Commisioner Bud Selig’s unfortunate legacy: presiding over the steroid era of baseball and not even knowing it was taking place.

Baseabll 2005 under Selig, hot dogs, apple pie, and refusing to come clean before congress.

All this stonewalling appears to be an effort to protect the Mark McGwire – Sammy Sosa home run race.



1 Anonymous { 03.14.05 at 12:10 pm }

I know I am a jaded A’s fan who feels like Mark Mcgwire turned his back on the organization as soon as he left (he wants to go into the hall as a cardinal?) but am I the only person in America who never bought his lies? To me it is beyond obvious that he was on steroids. I know Canseco had some colorful quotes in his book, but why was and is McGwire held in such a high regard? During his St. Louis years he wasnt even a good ball player, he either struck out or hit a home run? What is the fascination with him?
On to happier topics, I really think the A’s have a chance this year. I think that the Angles starting rotation is still suspect. Paul Byrd has time with Leo Mazzone and he still couldnt find the success that he had when he was young and in KC. I really think people are underestimating the loss of K-Rod in the setup role. I think he can more than handle the clsoer spot but there is now a void in that bullpen. As long as the A’s can get a good 5 or 6 innings from the 4 and 5 spot in the rotation the bullpen should be able to take it home, A question for you though, isnt the Rule 5 pick Tyler Johnson a viable second left handed arm? I have heard ZIto and Macha rave about him. THanks, and keep up the great work!


2 Anonymous { 03.14.05 at 2:51 pm }

Hi Marty,
I’d rather see Huston learning how to get major league hitters out in the supposed lower pressue situations of 5th & 6th innings in games whose box scores show up in the SF Chronicle, rather continuing to dominate AAA and AAAA players in games that show up in Baseball America’s “Best Organization” calculations.


3 Anonymous { 03.15.05 at 3:03 am }

Tyler Johnson has good stuff but can he command it in the big leagues? He might get that chance we’ll see.
Huston Street might be Bradford’s replacement if he continues to excell this spring. Is he ready for the big time or does he need to be brought along more slowly? My guess is that he starts in AAA if they want to keep another lefty and Dan Meyer is in the rotation too.

4 Anonymous { 03.15.05 at 12:26 pm }

The rotation in Macha’s “plan A” looks like this Zito,Harden,Haren, Blanton, and Meyer. It’s up to Blanton and Meyer to do pitch well or they may lost to their jobs to Etherton or somebody else.
Pachyderm aka Edgar Martinez

5 sarabaseball { 03.19.05 at 2:09 pm }

I dont’ think anyone is holding Mark McGwire up to anything after Thursdays hearings. He embarrassed himself and seemed small, petty and selfish.

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