I'm in a bad mood. Maybe it's this heartburn that's been bothering me for the last few days, or maybe it's because yesterday was Mother's Day, and my wife hates it when I yell at the TV, so to give her as nice a day as possible, I bottled all my negative emotions during yesterday's game, but now they're ready to burst. In any case, I need to vent, and that's partly the reason why I started this blog. The following is probably not particularly rational:
Memo to Fox Sports Net: I hate smoking as much as anyone, but the next time you show that anti-smoking ad with the chick who keeps saying "I'm not a smoker", I'm going to poke a fork through my eyeball sockets and scoop my brains out onto the floor. Must you show that thing every dang inning?
Really, is it ethical to run ads that prevent lung cancer in some people, if it causes suicide in others?
The table Gammons uses tells it all. Only eight MLB teams have scored such runners less than 50% of the time. Only two have scored less than 40% of the time. The A's have scored less than 30% of the time: a .286 average as of last week (and almost certainly lower now after two straight shutouts).
Gammons quotes Buck Showalter as saying "Too many hitters have no idea about a two-strike approach," which would definitely be part of my rant. But to those players on the A's who do have a two-strike approach, I'll add this: you don't have to wait until there's two friggin' strikes on you to use your two-strike approach. If there's a runner on third with less than two outs, or a runner on second and no outs, use your two-strike approach from the first pitch. Get a pitch to put in play, and put it in play. Don't swing for the fences, and don't hope for a pitch later in the AB that you can hit a home run with. You guys ain't hittin' home runs anyway.
I've had a sneaking suspicion that this has been a fundamental flaw in the type of players Billy Beane likes to acquire. High-walk players just don't put the ball in play enough to drive in runs. Over on Baseball Prospectus, James Click has a study that puts some numbers behind this suspicion. It's subscription only, but I'll include a key quote:
This doesn't mean that walks are a bad thing; it just means that teams with a disproportionate percentage of their baserunners coming on walks will have a higher percentage of their baserunners left on base than teams whose baserunners come from hits.
In Beane's defense, I think he's come to realize this. His acquisitions of Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall the last two offseasons shows that he does appreciate players who put the ball in play. But if the rest of the current A's roster can't do the job, Billy Beane should go and find some players who can. Because that .286 percentage is simply unacceptable. When something doesn't work, you try something else.
Speaking of Jason Kendall, I am not much impressed with his defense. Half his throws to second base don't even get there on the fly. Yesterday, he let two wild pitches go through his legs when he failed to turn his glove over and block the ball. And his hitting hasn't been all that great, either. If Macha is serious about his "players write the lineup" mantra, he's going to give Adam Melhuse some more chances to play.
I've seen enough of Eric Byrnes. His swing is so screwed up now that his biggest strength offensively is the HBP. Give me Charles Thomas, Matt Watson, Andre Ethier...anybody.
The A's will get swept in Boston. The A's won't hit Wakefield or Arroyo at all while the Red Sox pound Haren and Saarloos. On Wednesday, Barry Zito will have more bad luck, as the A's may get some baserunners against Matt Clement, but as usual, they won't get a single clutch hit or productive out to drive in a run. Or as I said to Cliff Corcoran the other day when he predicted that Kevin Brown would give up 20 baserunners in a single inning against the A's, "That may be true, but even if the A's get 20 baserunners against Brown in one inning, they would still fail to score any runs."