Last night's loss was tough, but I've gotten used to it with this outfit. I don't want to really re-hash any of the "lack of passion/lack of intensity/lack of focus" debates that we've had here on this site several times already this season, but I need to vent on a few topics regarding this team and hope to just get some constructive conservation going:
1. The Coaching/Manager Issue: I know everybody has different opinions regarding the importance of a baseball manager and the major league coaching staff. I get that and we're all aware of where I stand on the issue. I can respect the opinions of others who think that Geren and the rest of the coaching staff bear little or no responsibility for the horrible play of the A's this season. I can even respect the opinions of A's management if they decide to keep Geren and others in charge of this outfit...but I'd at least like to see the organization show that they are "investigating" whether the coaching is part of the problem, part of the solution or just irrelevant, rather than just showing blind faith in a group of coaches that haven't really shown the ability to maximize the talents of the players under their charge (excepting maybe Curt Young and Ron Romanick). I really enjoyed reading this statement from Nationals president Stan Kasten when asked about the possibility that the team would fire manager Manny Acta:
...I can confess to you how perplexed I am by this season, this team, and the things that are going on. Our record is a real trouble to me, every single day. I'm troubled by everything, and we continue to look for solutions. Have I thought about every possibility? Of course I have, as has Mike, as have our owners. We're certainly not satisfied with our record, far from it. We're distraught over it, and we're going to consider anything we need to do to make it better.
If I read a similar statement from Beane and Company, I confess that I would feel a little better about things. Without really deciding anything, it would at least indicate that the team was looking for solutions in every possible avenue, rather than just repeating the refrain, "Injuries have hurt us" and "The offense needs to come around." Since player input hastened Ken Macha's departure after 2006, perhaps players should be solicited with their opinions of whether Geren should remain manager in 2009?
2. The Holliday Situation: Buster Olney and others are trying to make the case that the "A's need to trade Holliday before the deadline or else risk losing out on draft pick compensation because he's surely going to accept arbitration and cost the team $15/16 million". I find that line of thinking somewhat of a stretch. Sure, Holliday isn't tearing up the American League and is not in the position to demand a $100 million free agent contract after the season, but even with his major struggles to begin the year, the guy is still on pace to hit nearly 25 homers, steal 13-15 bases, drive-in nearly 100 and hit .280/.290. He's still in his prime and has a phenomenal track record. Besides that, three of the biggest markets in the game will be looking for corner outfield help at the end of the season (Angels, Red Sox, Yankees) and at least one of those, but more likely all three, will surely offer Matt a multi-year contract offer that will far exceed the $15 or $16 million he may get by accepting arbitration with the A's. Besides, is having a highly-motivated Matt Holliday on a 1-year deal during a year when the A's have a ton of payroll flexibility (2010) that bad of a Plan B or C for this team? I don't think so. Bottom line: Beane's in the driver's seat with Holliday and I expect him to deal him only if he get can a pretty valuable package of prospects.
3. The Chavez Situation: Chavvy's recent decision to undergo another back surgery got me hoping and praying that this was the background conversation that led to the decision:
Beane: "Chavvy...you're surely not coming back at all this season and, as things stand, you're costing us $12 million for next year as well. There's really only one chance to get you back on the field, and that's to get another surgery now. If we do it now, there's a chance you could be ready for Spring Training in 2010, but there's also a chance your career will be over before then. If you get the surgery now, and you don't feel better by Spring Training, will you agree to retire and save us some money?"
Chavvy: "Umm...well...I feel great right now, but sure, let me call Kotsay and talk with my family and then I'll let you know."
(Ten Minutes Later)
Chavvy: "Yeah, let's do it. I'll get the surgery done in a few days and go from there."
Beane: (jumping up and down) "Awesome, thanks...any chance we can that agreement in writing?"
Seriously...if this latest surgery leaves Chavvy's back "too unstable" to play baseball, he NEEDS to retire. The current status quo of "I'm going to try my darndest to get back on the field while I'm under contract" is just untenable for the franchise. His vascillations between complete resignation to retirement to unbridgled optimism are sapping a lot of energy from the fan base and the organization.
4. Is Bonds a Possibility?: Every year this topic gets broached here on AN, and I aim to make sure it's on the backburner this year too. If Beane doesn't find a deal for Holliday that is to his liking, this team as currently constituted will likely remain intact for the duration of the season, for better or worse, due to the untradable nature of Giambi, Cabrera and Nomar. If that turns out to be the case, shouldn't the team at least investigate possibile ways to improve the team for the stretch run? Bonds, currently unemployed, could potentially add some much-much needed pop and OBP to the team for some of July and September. He'd likely sign for cheap and would motivated to reach some milestones (he needs 65 more hits for 3,000, 38 homers for 800, and needs to score 69 more runs to move past Rickey as the all-time leader in runs scored). It's highly doubtful that he could achieve any of those milestones in a month or two of action, but Bonds is enough of an egomaniac to at least try. Given that he'd only cost money (and only a small amount at that - less than $1 million) and would drum up at least a little bit of interest in the A's and would buttres the young pitchers a bit, does anybody think it's even a possibility? I say it's possible...DH Bonds, platoon Nomar and Giambi at 1st and play Cust in right full-time. Terrible defense, but a lineup full of formerly big-names might be fun to watch for a month or two...I'm not saying it's a great idea, or even a good one, but this team is pretty desperate for offense...