I won't rehash the old Moneyball discussion again, but the truth is that the very essence of that book is finding flawed players or qualities that for whatever reason, they are undervalued.
So, how does this team shape up?
- Go ahead, get defensive. Billy Beane believes that defense is undervalued right now. The A's are second in fielding percentage in the AL right now and tonight the team showed off that patented leather. Swisher's lurching catch, Kendall's snowcone performance, DJ nearly going into the opposition bullpen to pull in another one. Kotsay doesn't even get a mention because he's automatic. Of course, Chavez misplaying the shot in the first could've changed the game around, but the defense makes the quality of the pitching staff that much better. Marco Scutaro has been a perfect example of someone who has contributed offensively, but the A's don't fall off a cliff defensively when Scoot winds up playing, either at short or at second.
- Bring out the gimp. The A's did so with signing Frank Thomas and his bat has been a revelation, even if he has to use a scooter to get to first base. His average is still dragging, but his OPS in June is 1.133. I used to think that Bradford, Hatteberg or Mecir were the ultimate examples of it, but Thomas tops them all with his $500,000 salary.
- What a relief. The A's have been able to survive potentially catastrophic injuries to their bullpen by acquiring pitchers who haven't been able to stick as starters in the majors. Two pitchers in tonight's game are perfect examples...Gaudin and Halsey. Both haven't been able to stick consistently at the ML level as starters, but they've become effective relievers so far this year. Kennedy, Saarloos and Duchscherer were other examples, but Kennedy and Duke are still hurt while Los Kirk provides Harden relief.
- The Kids are All Right. This isn't anything new for the A's, but they've gone ahead and made a living out of giving kids opportunities and they've largely been rewarded for it. Swisher has to be the most underpaid player in the majors. According to PROTRADE's system of ranking player's value to their salary, he's behind Travis Hafner as the second most underpaid athlete. Street is becoming dominant once again, Haren is pitching extremely well this year and DJ is waking up out of his scary slumber. Blanton is still not where he needs to be, but that's going to happen when you put kids in those situations. They aren't all going to be perfect because they haven't come close to perfecting their game yet.
Don't ask me to explain Esteban Loaiza who looked for a while as though he was heading down the same path as Russ Ortiz. But it would be nice to see the A's sweep this series before they head into their little NL flirtations and it sends our Big Hurt back into hiding.