The A's just got their butts handed to them by Seth Etherton and the Kansas City Royals.
And *sigh* again.
I have griped about Frank Thomas and Jason Kendall round these parts this year, but of late, they haven't been problems. When Thomas returned to the familiar confines of US Cellular Field last week, he rediscovered his batting eye; he's not swinging at balls any more, he's swinging at good pitches to hit, and hitting them hard. He looks much more like the Frank Thomas of years past than the Frank Thomas of April. As for Jason Kendall, he has stopped grounding out to third so much, and as a result, is performing about as well as you'd expect.
The problem is this: yes, Jason Kendall is performing to expectations, but Jason Kendall was expected to be the worst hitter in the A's lineup. Instead, Jason Kendall's .675 OPS was the median OPS in tonight's A's lineup. And with the exception of Jay Payton replacing the injured Milton Bradley, it was pretty much the lineup Billy Beane expected to be fielding.
The A's lineup tonight breaks into three distinct groups:
Performing well above expectations
Nick Swisher: 1.037 OPS. PECOTA 90% percentile projection: .912 OPS.
Eric Chavez: .917 OPS. PECOTA 90%: .929 OPS.
Performing around expectations
Frank Thomas: .821 OPS. PECOTA 50%: .800 OPS.
Mark Kotsay: .748 OPS. PECOTA 50%: .745 OPS.
Jason Kendall: .675 OPS. PECOTA 50%: .671 OPS.
Performing way, way, way below expectations
Bobby Crosby: .642 OPS. PECOTA 10%: .671 OPS.
Mark Ellis: .629 OPS. PECOTA 10%: .655 OPS.
Jay Payton: .606 OPS. PECOTA 10%: .594 OPS.
Dan Johnson: .545 OPS. PECOTA 10%: .686 OPS.
The pitching struggles have been well documented, but if Crosby, Ellis, Payton, and Johnson had been performing anywhere even near shouting distance of their expectations, the pitching injuries would have only been a small blip on the season.
I'll give Ken Macha some credit here: he actually had the A's five best performing batters clustered 1-5 in the A's lineup tonight. But it's hard to win when nearly half your lineup is clunking along at their 10% PECOTA projections.
The season is almost two months old now. The time for excuses is over. These four players need to step up and step up now. Because if the A's get swept by the Royals, the A's 2006 season might die right here and now, of embarrassment.