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Cubs Pitching Shuts Down A’s Sluggers

March 24, 2011

Gio Gonzalez making his second to last start of the spring had a decent appearance, though it fell far short of his electric outings of the Cactus League thus far as he struggled with his control a bit early. The A’s managed just four hits with Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney (chicks dig the singles!) and Cliff Pennington getting singles and Josh Willingham adding a double.

Ryan Sweeney has put together a solid under the radar spring, leading the club with a .440 batting average and third in on base percentage behind Jemile Weeks and Jai Miller at .481. The issue with Sweeney has always been the lack of bash in his bat, and that remains as his spring ISO is .160 though that is a marked improvement from where he normally is (of course the sample size is a mere 27 plate appearances so we can’t put too much faith in these numbers one way or the other).

In other news from around camp, over in the minor league camp at Papago Park Joey Devine threw for the A’s today reported Joe Stiglich, saying:

Joey Devine (right biceps) allowed three runs in one inning against minor league hitters”

There is just no way Devine makes this club, or maybe there is a way he does make this club, but there is no way he should make this club. I am sort of wondering what Bob Geren is thinking because the pitchers who can compete for that final bullpen spot left in camp seem to be just Bobby Cramer, Tyson Ross and Jerry Blevins. Blevins made 63 appearances last year for Oakland and though his split was 127 plate appearances versus vs. RHB and only 97 vs. LHB he really needs to be more of a LOOGY as his splits are terrible. Take a look:

2010 BA OBP SLG K/9 BB/9
vs. RHB .311 .392 .500 6.84 5.04
vs. LHB .231 .268 .330 10.27 1.52

With that said, and I have posed this question numerous times, we already have a LOOGY in Brian Fuentes, and another lefty in the pen in Craig Breslow (although with far less dramatic splits) why do we look like we are about to add Jerry Blevins to this mix? It doesn’t seem particularly appropriate. That being said, if the loser of the fifth starter race (and I think we can already anoint both Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer as losers in that race) is being moved to the pen as a swingman, I think this spot should go to Bobby Cramer, we need to keep Tyson Ross stretched out. Also in an article earlier this week in the San Jose Mercury News Joe Stiglich heard this from Ross,

“I just kind of like the routine of starting. Last year was my first experience really out of the ‘pen ever. I had to learn fast.”

It is clear Tyson feels more comfortable starting and the results sort of showed that last season sabermetrically (the baseball card stats were skewed in the opposite direction and I think a lot of that was a result of a .375 BABIP as a starter compared to a .292 BABIP mark as a reliever):

2010 K/9 BB/9 WHIP FIP xFIP
As Starter 8.2 1.2 1.43 3.34 3.25
As Reliever 7.1 5.4 1.52 4.53 4.33

I still don’t get why Geren gave up so quickly on Fernando Cabrera. For all his talk of roster status not meaning anything, the best player will win, he certainly seems to just follow who is on the 40-man.

In other Bob Geren is confusing me news, he still insists that the A’s rotation order and specifically opening day starter is a state secret on par with that of the padlock to Fort Knox. In the article quoted here from Joe Stiglich regarding Devine, he also reports on a change in the pitching schedule that now has Trevor Cahill again in the mix to start opening day, he writes:

“Cahill had his next start pushed back two days from Thursday to Saturday, which could put him in line to start the April 1 opener against Seattle on five days’ rest.

Write that in pencil and keep an eraser handy. Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden also were viewed as possible candidates in recent days based on how the rotation was unfolding, only to have the order switched around to keep the guessing game going.

Manager Bob Geren stayed mum on the subject, and he was annoyed that a schedule listing Cahill as Saturday’s starter was even posted for the media to see.

‘I don’t know what schedule you saw,” Geren said. “I’ll let you know at the end of the week who’s pitching.'”

To me as I have said before this is much ado about nothing, and Susan Slusser was honest in her assessment of the situation writing in the A’s Drumbeat,

“[Extra workouts meaning off days aren’t true off days,] makes it tough for the beat writers to count out every five days and work out an Opening Night starter, but then again, it’s given me a lot to write about – every time the schedule changes, it’s a new story. Not necessarily an accurate one, but as you all know, I’ve always been clear that this is speculation only, based on the schedule as we know it.”

Also yesterday Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported,

“The Padres and A’s are among the teams looking for backup infielders who can play shortstop. The Orioles’ Robert Andino and Mets’ Luis Hernandez, both of whom are out of options, are among the players who likely could be had.”

I broke them both down ten days ago, saying about Andino that “he has little plate discipline, little power and little over any of the infield possibilities the A’s can chuck out there” and about Hernandez that he “has spent his time shuttling from one organization to another, in his case from the Braves to the Orioles, to the Royals then to the Mets. The reason? He too is not particularly good…Any of our middle infield options are better than this guy.” So I don’t see these transactions happening. The one guy – though I presume he will make the club – I’d be interested in is bringing back Adam Kennedy currently with the Mariners. He is intriguing to me as he tends to be a plus defender and is a decent ballplayer.

That gets us all up-to-date on what is happening in camp. One week tomorrow until these games mean something, who else is as excited as I am?

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