Baseball Toaster Catfish Stew
STOP CASTING POROSITY! An Oakland Athletics blog.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Catfish Stew

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  01 

12  09  08  01 

12  11  10  09  08 
Email Us

Ken: catfish AT zombia d.o.t. com
Ryan: rarmbrust AT gmail d.o.t. com
Philip: kingchimp AT alamedanet d.o.t net

Ken's Greatest Hits
28 Aug 2003
12 Jan 2004
31 May 2005
11 May 2005
29 Jun 2005
8 Jun 2005
19 Jul 2005
11 Aug 2005
7 Sep 2005
20 Sep 2005
22 Sep 2005
26 Sep 2005
28 Sep 2005
29 Sep 2005
18 Oct 2005
9 Nov 2005
15 Nov 2005
20 Nov 2005

13 Dec 2005
19 Jan 2006
28 Jan 2006
21 Feb 2006
10 Apr 2006
16 Apr 2006
22 Apr 2006
7 May 2006
25 May 2006
31 May 2006
18 Jun 2006
22 Jun 2006
6 Jul 2006
17 Jul 2006
13 Aug 2006
15 Aug 2006
16 Aug 2006
20 Aug 2006
11 Oct 2006
31 Oct 2006
29 Dec 2006
4 Jan 2006
12 Jan 2006
27 Jan 2007
17 Feb 2007
30 Apr 2007
27 Aug 2007
5 Sep 2007
19 Oct 2007
23 Nov 2007
5 Jan 2008
16 Jan 2008
4 Feb 2008
7 May 2008
20 Jun 2008
4 Feb 2008
The Big News from Thursday's Game
2008-04-25 00:07
by Ken Arneson

The A's 11-2 drubbing of Minnesota wasn't filled with much drama, but it was a Big News kind of day nonetheless. The game was not televised, and many people missed the excitement because of work obligations, but do not fear. Catfish Stew has the goods on What It Was Like To Be There. Here's the Big News you want to hear about:

Francisco Liriano Was Godawful Terrible.

Remember when the Twins had two Johan Santanas, Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano? Well, now they have zero Johan Santanas. Johan Santana was traded to the Mets, and Francisco Liriano is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The guy who pitched for the Twins on Thursday bore a slight resemblence to Francisco Liriano--he was left-handed and threw 97mph fastballs--but this guy had absolutely no command whatsoever.

The old Francisco Liriano was electrifying, in a Rich Harden sort of way, but the electricity was injured yesterday, in a Rich Harden sort of way. Liriano couldn't get out of the first inning. He only recorded two outs, and one of them was on a baserunning mistake. Knowing the wide gap between What Could Be and What Actually Is made Liriano's outing rather sad and painful to watch, in a Rich Harden sort of way.

They say that with Tommy John surgery, the arm strength returns before the command does. You gotta think after this performance that the Twins will have to send Liriano down to the minors for awhile, until he can find that command again. A lot of fantasy owners will probably hate to hear that.


Whaddaya mean, that's not the Big News you want to hear about? Ok, how's this:

Mike Sweeney Is Not So Good At Fielding.

The A's threw out an all-righthanded lineup against Liriano, which put Mike Sweeney at first base. I don't think Sweeney will take the All-Time A's Player Most Obviously Too Old To Chase Down Coliseum Foul Popups Anymore trophy away from Eric Karros, but he definitely did not look comfortable out there. You know you're a bad fielder when you get replaced for defense by Daric Barton, who isn't exactly known as a slick fielder himself. In the first at-bat of the game, Sweeney missed this popup off the bat of Carlos Gomez:

It was a long run, so Sweeney didn't get an error, but a better first baseman would have caught it. It cost the A's a run, as two pitches later, Gomez got a fat off-speed pitch over the middle of the plate, and took Greg Smith deep:

What? That wasn't what you wanted to know about, either? Hmmm, well, there was this:

Greg Smith Has a Secret Magic Pitch or Something.

Greg Smith is supposed to be a fringe major leaguer, a guy with middling stuff who is a fifth starter at best. He's supposed to be lucky if he can hang around for a few years in the major leagues before his crappy stuff catches up to him.

Oh, yeah, supposed-to-tellers? Well, look at this: after four games, Greg Smith has a 2.88 ERA. How do you explain that?

Check out the grip he has in the above picture. I don't know what the heck that is. But given the fact that we are lacking in explanations for Smith's amazing success so far, I have chosen to believe that Greg Smith is in possession of a Secret Magic Pitch. How's that for news?

Oh, but you say it doesn't explain anything about the A's new power hitter? Well, ok:

Donnie Murphy Has Some Pop.

Thursday's game was the first time since the season opener in Tokyo that the A's hit more than one home run in a game. Both homers yesterday were struck by Donnie Murphy, who is platooning, it appears, with Jack Hannahan at third base. The two homers ties Murphy for the team lead. Probably the most unusual thing about Murphy's homers is that they had very little effect on the outcome. Murphy's single in the first inning contributed more to the A's Probability of winning (+.079) than his two later homers did combined (+.053 and .011).

What? Oh, you wanted to hear about the Big Debut? Sure.

Rajai Davis can fly.

Thursday was our first look at Rajai Davis in an Oakland uniform. All I can say is, hmm, well, this is different. He's so, um...what's the word I'm looking for...not "unathletic"...let's just say he's "un-A's-like". The first pitch he saw, he tried to bunt for a hit. Later he hit a triple, and flew around the bases faster than, well, I dunno, who was the last A's player who could run that fast? I think he's faster than Rickey was. Herb Washington, maybe? It was quite a revelation. I had almost completely forgotten how entertaining speed is.

What now? Did you say Hurt?


Emil Brown, hit by pitch.

Oh, Big Hurt! Well, why didn't you say so to begin with?

Frank Thomas Returns.

The crowd gave Thomas a nice semi-standing ovation before his first at-bat. Thomas didn't really acknowledge the applause. There weren't that many people there, so maybe it wasn't loud enough for him to notice. Thomas seemed very focused and pensive.

Thomas didn't make any sort highlight-reel impact with his bat. But he drew a couple of walks, so he certainly contributed. Jayson Stark reported on ESPN that many scouts thought that Thomas' bat had slowed down considerably since last year. The Twins certainly seemed to think so, as they repeatedly pounded him with fastballs inside. Thomas never got in front of any of those pitches, and got jammed more than once.

Perhaps that's why the A's are still keeping Mike Sweeney around. Thomas has gotten off to slow starts each of the preceding two seasons, and eventually turned it around. Can he turn it around again, or will this be the end? That's a news story for another day...

2008-04-25 05:38:15
1.   BALCO Lab Rats
The pitch: a knuckle-curve, maybe?
2008-04-25 07:13:18
2.   dianagramr
Perhaps Donnie Murphy is really 1980s Dwayne Murphy.
2008-04-25 07:24:05
3.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Yup. It's become a pretty common curve grip. I know on the Yanks both Mike Mussina and Phil Hughes throw knuckle-curves.
2008-04-25 07:24:58
4.   MrIncognito
I don't get to see many A's games on TV here in Chicago, so I go with the radio and gameday, which has pitch f/x data. Gameday classifies every fastball Smith throws as a slider. They aren't moving very fast, but they have a ton of movement on them, and he avoids the middle of the plate pretty well. I don't think he's going to keep up the 2.80 ERA for much longer, but he looks like a passable option at 4th starter to me.
2008-04-25 07:35:42
5.   doppelganger
An outfield of Emil Brown, Rajai Davis, Travis Buck/Denorfia would actually be very good defensively. Add Ellis, a rejuvenated Bobby Crosby, Daric Barton, Frank Thomas (I'm really happy to see him back with the A's), Mike Sweeney, and a surprisingly good pitching staff, and I'm starting to become optimistic about this year's team.
2008-04-25 08:05:03
6.   LoveDemAs
Yeah, but how about an offense where we shift Barton over to 3B, put M Sweeney at 1B, Big Frank at DH, and Jack Cust in LF. It would have to be the worst defense seen in Oakland (if not the Majors) in quite some time, but it could rock your world in the run scoring department (especially if you put Cust at the front of the line where pitchers would have to throw him more fastballs).
2008-04-25 08:05:17
7.   Jason Wojciechowski
Great pictures, Ken! I particularly like the one of Em(a)il Brown. The cringe from the Tigers' catcher is awesome.
2008-04-25 11:36:54
8.   Orly Yarly NoWai
It's a knucklecurve. The knuckle sticking out and the fingertip pointing into the core of the ball give it away.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.