State of the Union: May 8, 14-17, 3rd in AL West


I don't post very much-only when I'm in desperate need of catharsis-but reading some of the posts has convinced me that the rest of the Nation could use some as well.

Passion is our greatest strength as a community of fans and it is also our greatest weakness. The daily grind of the major league season spurs us to ecstacy and despair on countless occasions, perhaps more than any other major sport could. This process is to a large extent driven by the might of the mainstream media, who have a gigantic fiscal interest in creating controversy (rather than in providing sound, statistically-based analysis) in any way possible. Any time a team loses, AP, Reuturs and ESPN question the team's abilities and look for any way to explain  the current outcome with relation to the 'greater scheme of things'(most typically by looking at which free agents the team has chosen to sign during the previous offseason). IF a team is on a hot streak then the media fluffs their organization relentlessly: and so goes the process of simplifying every trend into an easily explainable pattern. Analysis is allowed only so far as it can aid in simplification, because in America, simplicity sells: This is why ESPN, the most powerful sports media outlet in existence, recently decided to focus itself on entertainment and shift away from analysis.  

The greatest benefit of the sabremetric revolution is that we, as independant-minded, die-hard baseball fans, can begin to reject the mainstream establishment and its values and beliefs. No longer do any of us have to take Joe Morgan seriously as anything other than a Hall of Fame second baseman. We don't  have to trust SportsCenter's trimmed-down, entertaining, 1 and a half minute  version of a 3 hour ballgame. Sabremetrics are tools that we can use to forecast performance accuratley-soemthing that the establishment could not be less interested in-in other words, we have a great advantage over the large media outlets because they are completely focused on the past, while we use the past primarily to predict the future.

But, as I read down the list of 'Recent Diaries', I see evidence that this progress is wasted on some. Looking down the Column, I see diaries titled; "Is it time to question the man?", "Billy, please dismantle this lineup", "Mr. Wolff. Your team stinks, the top!" and "Schott destroyed this franchise". I am not saying that having a pessimistic opinion about the A's is somehow wrong- if I was I would be guilty of the same  kind of mindless ignorance as those that i critique. BUT these posts are truly irrellevant or misinformed: of course we should question the man (Billy Beane in this case, i believe), we should always question him. But to do so because we are 14-17! That is ludicrous. Dismantle the Lineup?!?  

Maybe we should send Chavez down to AAA for some  batting practice, right? Honestly, how many times  do we have to watch Chavvy struggle early in the season to grasp that he is a slow starter? Yes he is doing worse than usual, worse than anyone could have predicted: but does anyone really believe that Chavvy will end the season with a sub .300 OBP? With a sub .330 OBP? With a sub .430 SLG percentage?

Obviously, as Blez pointed out, our slugging percentage is as much a part of the problem as our OBP: but can we really expect the 2005 A's to slug with Crosby and Swisher injured?-they're integral tot he lower half of our lineup because they drive  in players with higher OBP's at the top of the lineup. With our best overall player in the worst slump of his recent career- with Jason Kendall batting around .230?

And what is this garbage about Calero being a dissapoinment because of his ERA- aside from two disastrous outings (which didn't affect the outcome of either contest) he has been outstanding. And yes it is worrying that his elbow isn't a 100 percent, but if any team has proven its ability to improve pitchers' health it is ours.

I don't believe we know anything about Juan Cruz yet- I remember when everyon jumped on Dotel early last year, before his luck turned and he settled down. In terms of our starters, I think we have a lot to be happy about-Count your blessings-the A's are 14-17, the Angels are an underwhelming team built on an aging cast of Guerrerro, Finley, Figgins, Colon, Washburn and Escobar, and I don't think anyone is truly frightened of Texas or Seattle.

The bottom line is this: in 2000 and 2001 our record was not much different than it is now (I believe it was actually worse in 2000) and we had Mulder, Hudson and Cy Zito.

I see enormous potential in this squad that will begin to become an acutality in the next year and a half. We have to look long-term. While Mulder and Hudson are succeeding in the NL, some of the critical pieces we received in return aren't attracing notice yet because they are still being polished in the minors. I think Meyer has looked great in the last few weeks, at least in terms of control, if not velocity, and Barton according to John Sickels is a pure hitter, plain and simple. Sickels is the same Bill James neophyte who ESPN recently partted ways with in their war on statistical analysis. Hold your breath, our team in 06 will make the Cards and Braves seem like 2 totterring houses of cards.


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