If Billy Beane Won't Hold a Fire Sale, Then I'll Just Have To Do It Myself
by Ken Arneson
Another reason for the A's not holding a fire sale, besides the ones I listed last time, is that the A's are not really all that far from contending again. While the A's are currently seven games under .500, they have actually outscored their opponents on the season. And if you go even further, and adjust their runs scored/runs allowed by strength of schedule, things look even better. According to BP's Adjusted Standings, the A's ought to have the best record in the AL West, and should be just one game behind Detroit for third-best in the entire American League.
When a team's actual record falls far below its projected one, it's usually a sign of two things: 1) a bad bullpen, and 2) a bounceback to come. This is essentially what happened to Cleveland in 2006--they outscored their opponents by 88 runs, but finished 6 games below .500, thanks to an atrocious bullpen. They stabilized their pen in the offseason, and in 2007, they are contending again.
There was a period in July, while Huston Street, Justin Duchscherer and Kiko Calero were all on the DL, when there was not a single member of the A's bullpen who was on the division winning team of a year before. The A's won the division thanks to their pen--their M.O. in 2006 was to play solid, mistake-free defense, keep the game close into the late innings, and then outlast the other team's bullpen with depth. There were many narrow, late-inning victories on the way to the division crown. This year, the A's haven't been able to win those types of games very often.
If Street, Duchscherer and Calero return to health in 2008, and are joined by an effective Alan Embree and Santiago Casilla, the A's could return to their favorite game plan again. The major tinkering that needs to be done is to purge the team of the sub-.300 OBPs that are killing the offense. Jason Kendall is gone, so that's one-third the battle. And hopefully, the A's can find some sucker to take Mark Kotsay off their hands, and hope that Chris Denorfia can take over the job and put up a far more respectable OBP than Kotsay's. The final and most difficult problem is to find an ABC (Anybody But Crosby). I've been watching Donnie Murphy pretty closely this week, and I don't see any reason to think he's Anybody.
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Meanwhile, I'm facing a bit of a roster crunch at home. With three kids now, there's just not enough space around here to keep all the stuff we've accumulated over the years. It's time for a fire sale! I'm doing a major purge of my house this weekend, getting rid of anything I don't need--clothes, trinkets, toys, games, books, etc. This includes dozens of baseball books. Everything must go! If any of you are in the Bay Area, and might want to take any of this stuff off my hands, email me at catfish AT zombia.com. Anything I have left by Sunday will be headed to Goodwill or CARH.