Nico's Impressions From The Ballpark, Mon 3/16

Hey all. Just thought I'd weigh in with some "eyeball analysis" of some of the young players who saw action in today's 10-8 win over the Dodgers.

Trevor Cahill
For Cahill's first 2 innings, I sat right behind the plate in an available seat to get the best view. It seemed to me as if Cahill's mechanics were inconsistent. In the first inning, Cahill dominated with a delivery in which he stepped a little towards third base and threw a bit across his body (something I worry about long-term for injury potential). Then in the second inning, it looked to me as if he started to step more towards third and throw more across his body, and his control slipped considerably as he hit Casey Blake, walked a couple, and was not in charge of his command. When he shortened that stride a bit again, he settled down. If I'm right that he did not repeat his delivery well and that this caused his problems, I would say that Cahill is going to be just fine but that he would benefit from some AAA time to refine that consistency - this is in line with the notion many have had that Cahill needs to bring his BB/9IP ratio back down to pre-AA levels before he's ready for the show. So right now, I'd put Anderson ahead of Cahill because while Cahill has the nastier stuff Anderson has simpler mechanics that he can control more reliably.

Josh Donaldson
In his two at bats, the first two I've seen, Donaldson hit a smash to SS (great short hop pick for a slick 6-3 putout) and doubled down the right field line. I have to tell you, I have had a good feeling about Donaldson from the start and today I was really impressed by his two ABs. He is patient and relaxed, and his swing is quick and forceful. Don't judge the Harden trade until this guy makes it to the big leagues (or doesn't), because he could turn out to be the hidden gem in the deal.

Jared Lansford
I didn't have a great look at Lansford, as by the time he pitched I was back in seats behind the first base dugout. But from what I could tell, Lansford looked outstanding with a lot of life on his pitches and the ability to change speeds effectively. He looked better than I expected. Meanwhile...

Henry Rodriguez and Andrew Carignan
Meh. Hard throwers who have no idea where the ball is going don't do a whole lot for me, and these two guys were as advertised, consistently falling behind in the count and then throwing "challenge fastballs" because they had to. Rodriguez had more success, thanks to a circus catch by Ben Copeland up against the CF wall, but both looked far from ready to face big league hitters in big league situations.

Jack Hannahan, 2Bman
Hannahan looked comfortable and smooth over at 2B, and I would be fine with seeing him there defensively in a big league game. In contrast, Crosby looked very shaky at 3B, letting the only tough ground ball play him for an infield hit that could easily have been ruled an error. I'm actually wondering if the A's best option for two backup infielders would be Garciaparra and Hannahan, not Garciaparra and Crosby. My reasoning:

Defensively, with Cabrera's track record of playing nearly 162 games/year, the need for a backup SS is only an emergency one. The real needs are to backup at 2B and 3B, so Nomar (1B/3B) and Hannahan (2B/3B) really give the A's what they need defensively.

Meanwhile, Hannahan is not a good hitter but IMO he is as good as Crosby. Offensively, Hannahan figures to give you a better OBP and there are actually some pitchers he matches up well against (softer throwers), whereas there really isn't a type of pitcher against whom Crosby matches up especially well. It seems to me as if the A's could get more mileage out of Hannahan than out of Crosby, given that Crosby's only good defensive position is the position of least need for Oakland and given that Crosby can't help you much offensively even as a platoon or part-time player.

Final Random Thoughts
I love Corey Wimberly. And I like it when Travis Buck takes an easy swing, only to deposit the ball over the CF wall. And Rajai Davis should be fined every time he hits the ball in the air. And Jeff Weaver really sucks.

Look for my interview with Dallas Braden, set to run on the front page tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 7:00pm. Hugs from Phoenix. -Nico.

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