Alan Embree has a team option for $3 million next season, which the team can decline to exercise at no additional cost (there's no buyout attached to it).
At this point, he's making the team's decision pretty damn easy.
In his Red Sox debut, Jason Bay crushed a triple off the Green Monster in the 12th inning off Embree and eventually came around to score two batters later as the Red Sox beat the A's 2-1.
The A's squandered 6 innings of one-run ball from Duchscherer on a night when he didn't have his best stuff. Nico, whose in-game observations on such things are always spot-on and much appreciated, noted decreased movement on Duke's fastball for the second straight start tonight, but nonetheless Duke managed to escape mostly unscathed.
Perhaps the real gem though was the work of the bullpen before the 12th inning. Five scoreless innings from Casilla, Ziegler, Street, and Blevins in succession to get the team through the 11th inning. What more could you ask for?
(As an aside, you have to love how the team's 'pen is shaping up for next season, sans DiNardo, Foulke and Embree. Look at these seven guys: Meyer or Braden, depending on which one isn't the fifth starter; a healthy Andrew Brown, Casilla, Ziegler, Blevins, Devine, and Street. That's a terrifically low-cost bullpen with the potential to be the best in baseball).
Back to the game, Wakefield's knuckler was dancing better than usual, and he scattered four hits while pitching into the seventh inning.
The offensive highlight had to be Jack Cust hitting a home run off the lefty Okajima in the eighth inning to tie the game at 1.
In their respective returns from the disabled list, Frank Thomas went 0-3 with a walk, and Daric Barton was, shockingly, 0-5.
At this point I doubt Barton will be optioned down to AAA though. A key factor here is that he hasn't been optioned down all year, so he's yet to use an option in '08. It's too late in the year; there's some disincentive to waste an option on him now just for the month of August. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he starts '09 in AAA though, especially if Chavy is healthy enough to be our starting first baseman in spring training (that might be a pipe dream, I don't know). In case you missed it earlier this week Chavy has all but admitted his third base career is over due to a frayed labrum.
I keep trying to remind myself that Barton and Hannahan are two of the best defenders in the game at their respective positions this season, (edit) according to The Hardball Times' defensive statistics. Here is Barton and here is Hannahan. Note: These are not the only defensive metrics out there, nor the "final word" on defense. But THT's defensive stats are free to the public and don't require a subscription service and are also very easy to read and navigate, so they are almost always my source, although THT admittedly isn't perfect. Their current writing talent, however - AN's salb, Mike Fast, John Walsh, Steve Treder to name a few - is outstanding, and all great people.
Things will get better - Go A's! Game two of the series tomorrow.