When, How Much To Shuffle Rotations?

Pitchers like to stay on routine and managers don't like to overemphasize July series, so you can understand that teams would be reluctant to manipulate their rotations for a pre All-Star Break series. That being said, only the A's stand between the Angels and a sure division crown, and from Oakland's point of view, the best chance to tighten a fairly-tight-but-not-neck-and-neck race comes head to head.

The A's and Angels face off in three-game series June 30th-July 2nd and July 11th-July 13th and here's how it shapes up at the front of each rotation (sorry Joe Blanton, you don't get included here as your ERA is not 2.15 or 1.99). Rich Harden figures to pitch in both series, while Justin Duchscherer will miss the first series but pitch in the second one. Meanwhile, John Lackey is on turn to miss both series.

Would it be worth it to the Angels to fiddle with their rotation just enough to prevent the A's from throwing Harden and Ducscherer three games out of six against six pitchers not named Lackey? For what it's worth, Lackey is pitching Sunday and if he were held back to Monday he would face the A's in one series and if he were held back to Tuesday he would be on turn to start in both series. The move would also be a concession to the A's being a threat, more the kind of fiddling you do when you're 4.5 games out, not 4.5 games up - not to mention in September, not July. Which means the Angels are probably doing the right thing not to disrupt their natural rotation, and also means that I am definitely not complaining.

In other news...How pathetic is the fan who caught Carlos Gonzalez' first major league homerun, was offered three bats and an autographed ball in exchange, and refused, "holding out for more"?

Just curious - what would you do in that situation? I'll tell you what I would do. I would tell the A's they didn't need to give me any bats or balls, but that I just wanted the opportunity to hand the ball over to Carlos Gonzalez myself, to shake his hand and say, "Congratulations, Carlos." That would be a far more meaningful memory than a ball that sits on a shelf or the few dollars it might yield on eBay. Greed is a deadly sin and karma's a bitch, fellow. Enjoy your ball, because it sounds like you don't have any others.

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