I am none too sure about this, but I've got to be believe that the A's are nearing some sort of all-time major league record for the number of left-handed starters used during a single-season. The club will try a new one today (lucky number 7 by my reckoning) in the form of Josh Outman. Josh, as you may recall, was brought to Oakland courtesy of the Joe Blanton trade earlier this season. At the time, he was considered one of the top-10 talents in the Phillies' farm system - although that owed more to the overall weakness of the Phillies' system rather than any particular strengths of Outman's game. We've already seen Josh come out of the bullpen a few times for the Green and Gold this month, and is usually the case with small sample sizes, the results have been mixed.
On one hand, he breezed through his major league debut in Kansas City showing fairly good command of an impressive mid-to-high 90s fastball. On the other, he got rocked by the Tigers to the tune of 3 runs on 4 hits (one homer) in a 2-inning relief outing last week. What's encouraging about Josh this early into his major league career is that he has yet to walk a batter (3 K's, 0 BB's) - for Josh, like every other lefty in the A's organization save Brett Anderson and Carlos Hernandez, control has been an issue for him in the minors. He walked 45 in 98 innings this season and 77 in 159 innings last season. While his strikeout numbers have been correspondingly high, we have all witnessed this season that young guys simply can't walk batters with the strategy of "well, I'll just strikeout the next 3 and limit the damage." In the big leagues, it doesn't work that way. So we'll see if Josh can continue to run his consecutive innings without a walk streak this afternoon. It will also be interesting to see if Josh's fastball velocity stays in that mid-to-high 90s range he has flashed out of the bullpen, or if he is forced to pace himself and take it down a notch in a starting role. If he has to operate in the 90-92 range as a starter, I'd be inclined to say that his ultimate destination should be the bullpen, where his high 90's heat and deceptive delivery could be utilized as a lefty-situational specialist - the lefty-killing "OUT-MAN!" if you will.
In other news, today is Breast Cancer Awareness day at the Coliseum. The ballclub will look to eclipse the $1 million mark in total-revenue raised this afternoon after having secured $850,000 in previous efforts. Usually, this game is a fun one to watch regardless of the outcome, as us fans get the unusual treat of seeing our big, tough heroes of the diamond trot up to the batter's box with a pink bat, wrist band or (in Cargon's case) pink eye-black. But on this special day, the A's (and Comcast - even after running commercials about this game for the last month) are pulling more "trick" than "treat" on us fans, as the game is blacked-out and even the Ranger's feed is unavailable on MLB extra innings. So for me, and any other fan that doesn't live in the Bay Area and can't actually go the game, we'll just have to imagine how funny it looks to see Cust whiff with a pink bat, or Swooney track down a sinking liner with a pink glove. Vince Catraneo, be my guide!
Regardless of the craptastic TV situation, today is a good reminder that no matter how poor of a product the A's have put on the field the past season or two, the organization continues to commit itself to noble causes off the field. I was doubly reminded of that last night, when Mark Ellis received the Dave Stewart Community Service Award on behalf of his efforts to educate children about diabetes. So while it may be difficult to spend money on the charity-case that is A's baseball, we should all take the opportunity sometime to donate to the worthy causes A's baseball is associated with:
or, if you're like me and you're especially concerned about the devastation of Hurricane Ike:
09/13/08 1:05 PM PDT
|Texas Rangers||Oakland Athletics|
|Gerald Laird - C||Rajai Davis - CF|
|Michael Young - SS||Cliff Pennington - 2B|
|Josh Hamilton - CF||Ryan Sweeney - RF|
|Milton Bradley - DH||Jack Cust - DH|
|Marlon Byrd - LF||Aaron Cunningham - LF|
|Hank Blalock - 1B||Daric Barton - 1B|
|Nelson Cruz - RF||Bobby Crosby - SS|
|Chris Davis - 3B||Jack Hannahan - 3B|
|German Duran - 2B||Rob Bowen - C|