OK-- let's get a few things out of the way quickly.
Macha may confound us with his lineup choices, but that's not the big problem. Failure to produce by a majority of the ten guys who are expected to drive this offense is. One can speculate that Macha's inconsistency might affect the players-- but the fact is that these are veterans-- used to hitting in different spots-- and that seems like a dodge.
But let's also state for the record that most baseball aberrations have a way of regressing to the mean. And that should be good news for most of the following players.
But I'll try to put what our Top Ten have done-- or not done-- so far into the context of their careers and recent performance levels.
Let me do it by position, starting behind the plate.
2006 OPS To date: 652
Career OPS: 787 (note: all career marks are up to date as of yesterday's games. This will tend to reduce the differences a bit, particularly for the younger players, from a straight comparison of 2006 vs. career marks pre-2006)
Difference: Minus 135
2005 OPS: 666
Difference: Minus 14
Last 4 years: 706-815-789-666
I think we've all accepted that Kendall will never be what he was in Pittsburgh in 2003-04. The question is can he get back over 700 and have some greater impact on the team's offense? So far the answer seems to be no. He does have a decent OBP-- it's 359 at present-- leading some (including Ken Macha twice this weekend) to think the leadoff spot isn;t a bad place for himl. But remember: the leadoff hitter over a 162 game schedule comes to the plate 145 times more than the 9 hitter-- that's a problem the A's cannot afford.
OUTLOOK: Not much change, unfortunately. He did gain 36 points in OPS this last week, so maybe he's on a bit of a roll.
2006 OPS To Date: 563
Career OPS: 761 (but 806 just last season)
Difference: Minus 198
The most striking fact about Johnson is that his OPS last year from September 1 on was 547, virtually a carbon copy of the first month plus in 2006. Simply put, he hasn't adjusted to the adjustment of the pitchers yet. If Bradley was healthy or Thomas was producing, DJ's travails wouldn't be so problemmatic. or if Barton was killing AAA pitching, as he was for a while but hasn't lately.
GLASS HALF-FULL: He's hitting over .300 the past two weeks, though he tailed off over the weekend.
OUTLOOK: I no longer believe-- as some have projected-- that DJ will better his 2005 performance. Could he match it?? Doubtful, but still possible. Presumably he's too good of a hitter to keep down forever, and things will get better over the course of the season. How patient can we be with him??
2006 OPS To Date: 690
Career OPS: 749
Difference: Minus 59
2005 OPS: 861
Difference: Minus 171
Last 4 Years: 753-684- (Inj)-- 861
All macha had to do was mention that he might alternate Ellis and Scutaro and a 4-4 day broke out. Very few progosticators felt Ellis would match 2005, but most, myself included, felt that was a truer representation of his ability than either of his first two years. So far he's proved us wrong, but I believe-- like last year-- he will get better as the season and the weather heats up.
OUTLOOK: Look for a solid 800+ OPS performance from Ellis from here on out. He should bat leadoff and stay there vs. left hand pitching.
2006 OPS To Date: 618
Career OPS: 746
Difference: Minus 128
2005 OPS: 802
Difference: Minus 184
What more can you say about him than has already been said? Maybe he is the key guy on this team, and maybe that's not a good thing. He sure as heck shouldn't be batting above 6th in the lineup, though. I'm just wondering-- if all he is is a 750-775 OPS performer, then, even with the Gold Gloves and a breakout season this year (we hope) was Chavez really the right guy to keep on the left side of this infield?? Could we have found a hitter to play 3rd that-- paired with Tejada-- would have outstripped this current combo enough to make up for the defense?
OUTLOOK: I give up. He'll get better, obviously. But I wonder how much.
2006 OPS To Date: 1008
Career OPS: 852
Difference: Plus 156
2005 OPS: 795
Difference: Plus 213
Last 4 Seasons: 861-864-898-795
Last year was the aberration in one direction; maybe this year will be the reverse. Just had the first "bad" week of the season, culminating with an 0-5 today. But history says he's a 2nd half performer, so we have some reasonable expectation of a career year.
OUTLOOK: I think he's going over 900 in OPS this year-- maybe even over 925.
OK-- half of the ten done; another half to go in a while.