Athletics Nation readers asked and The Big Grabowski abided.
On Saturday, the A's open camp. Jason Grabowski will soon start his third Athletics spring training effort to make the team. But despite his busy preparation for the upcoming camp, he took some time to answer questions submitted by you.
He will likely be reading any comments you make below, so feel free to tell him a big "thank you" for taking so much of his personal offseason time to write these answers.
Without further ado, here are Jason Grabowski's answers to your questions:
1. I was wondering if the so-called "Moneyball" strategy (placing emphasis on patience at the plate) is also prevalent in Sacto? Since you started out in other organizations, is there a discernible difference between the A's system and the others (from both performance, teaching and health perspectives)?
I think the strategy of having patience at the plate is something that cannot be taught, at least for me anyway. Growing up, I remember taking pitches in batting practice that were close, but not strikes. It drove everyone crazy. But, I was taught by my father to only swing at strikes. As I grew up, it worked out that I developed a knowledge for the strike zone, and wasn't upset by taking a walk. The old saying "a walk is as good as a hit" was instilled in me. I would rather have hit, of course, but to be on base was the most important thing. As far as the guys in Sac, I think that Oakland goes after players that know the strike zone. They sign free agents that know the game. Nobody tries to teach us how to walk. We play against other teams and I'm often asked if Oakland teaches us how to walk, but that is not possible. Yes, I have been with Texas and Seattle. Texas liked a high on base percentage, while I didn't spend enough time with Seattle to know what they were looking for.
2. What do the players in the A's organization think about Billy Beane's approach to scouting/performance analysis? Knowing that the A's organization puts a premium on patience and certain stats (OBP/OPS/etc), do the players alter their natural tendencies? Do you think about it at as you're playing?
I can't speak for other players, but I think that Billy's philosophy has definitely worked well for the organization. They draft and sign guys that are patient when they need to be, and aggressive when they need to be. I think Oakland's success proves that he is doing something right! I haven't noticed any guys change the way they play to please him or anyone. Other than the normal coaching a guy gets and the changes he makes during the year. I also believe that if I or anyone tried to think about it as we are playing, we wouldn't have a job right now! We have enough things to think about as it is. It's almost like trying to hit a homerun. How many times has the average player tried to hit a homerun and hit one? Almost never. Trying to go up there and walk would be just as hard.
3. Do you think Paul DePodesta leaving to go to the Dodgers will have a big impact on the A's immediately?
I haven't heard that Paul has left. If he has, that is a great opportunity for him and he definitely deserves it. I think it will have an impact but not as far as on the field production. If anything it gives Billy another team to trade with! Paul did a lot of things for the organization that nobody will ever know about, so to lose him is like losing Billy. They are both great guys and I will miss Paul. I wish him the best.
4. What do you think of the A's signing Eric Karros? Do you feel it impacts your ability to make the A's roster this season?
I think the signing of Eric only helps us. He is a great player and has been known to hit lefties really well, so it gives Macha another bat to use. If Hatteberg or Durazo need a day off against a lefty, then he will be the guy. Or late in the game to have him on the bench will make the opposing manager maybe think twice. I don't think it will affect my chance of making the team. We are totally different players with the only real similarity being that we both can play first base.
5. What's your favorite aspect of the game?
This is a very hard question. There are so many things that I enjoy and appreciate about the game. I think when I make solid contact when hitting is my favorite aspect. Whether it is a line drive, hard ground ball, hit, out, homerun, whatever. Knowing that I hit the ball as hard as I could is the best. It is often said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports, so when that happens, it is a great feeling.
6. What do you do to train in the offseason and also to reduce your chances of injury?
We have a certain program sent to us during the offseason by our strength coach. It basically is a lifting and running program. To reduce my chances of injury, I try to avoid getting hit by cars, I look both ways before I cross. Little things to make sure I don't get hurt. No really, just taking care of my body. I am trying to eat better and I do more stretching exercises.
7. What's the best part of spring training? The weather? Ladies? Getting back in the swing of baseball? Hanging out with the guys? Sixteen-player Halo?
The best part for me is getting back into the swing of things. Just knowing that every day is one day closer to the season starting makes it tolerable. Seeing the guys is also fun too. As far as 16 player Halo, I have only gone 8 deep so I don't have much experience in that area. Listening to Frankie laughing every two seconds after he kills you gets old pretty quick.
8. Other than yourself, who should we look out for in the A's organization that you've seen firsthand (especially in the minors)?
That is hard to say. I have only been with Oakland for the last two years so I really don't know too many guys that all of you don't know. I think that Dan Johnson and Mike Rouse are going to be very good players. I only got to play with them for about two weeks but they were fun to watch. Joe Blanton is another guy although I just remember him throwing in the bullpen. Crosby, Koonce, Duchscherer are all obvious answers.
9. Who is the best pitcher you've faced who is not yet in the majors?
I have faced so many pitchers that it's too hard to name one. The best that I have faced or seen have been to the big leagues. The best pitcher I have faced in the big leagues would have to be Mariano Rivera. It's too hard to pick a young pitcher that I may have only faced one time, or remember his name.
10. When was the last time you attended a major league game as a fan? Can you enjoy a game from the stands or does it drive you crazy (not being out there yourself)?
The last time I went to a game was after my I was in AA which was in 2000. I brought my then girlfriend to Yankee Stadium for her first game. I hate not being on the field. Especially now that I have experienced being on the other side, I don't know if I could even go to a game. At least not while I know I can still play.
11. You just got back from the Mexican League. Do you think it prepares you for the season? How closely does it replicate the majors? What do you work on down there?
I think in a way it helps to prepare for the season but mostly gives me experience. I missed a good part of last year being hurt, and in Oakland for a month when I didn't play. So I needed to go down there and get at bats. I think it is probably closer to AAA but there are a lot of big league pitchers down there. The series are three games and some teams stack up on pitching so it can vary. You might see one bad starter, but the bullpen is unreal. Mexico is an offspeed pitchers league, so you never know what you are going to get. I try to work on everything. I played a lot of first and I know I got better over there. But if I will ever be used there is another question. Just adjusting to the lifestyle is something to work on. I just tried to stay patient, which was difficult, and work on my defense. Mostly in right field, which I played as well. Footwork and reads on balls mostly. They are also big on match ups, so I faced a lot of lefties, which can only help.
12. Good luck this upcoming season, Jason, we M's fans miss you! After coming so close to being called up to the Mariners in 2001 only to be left off the 40-man roster a month later and claimed by the A's, what are your feelings about the Seattle Mariners?*
First thank you for your continued support. I really enjoyed the fans I had the pleasure of meeting while I was in Tacoma. The best way to sum up my short stint with Seattle would be to say that I guess I just wasn't the right fit for them. I feel like I had a great year considering a lot of things. We had a great team that year, so maybe I was overlooked a little. I mean almost that whole team is in the big leagues now somewhere, and doing well. I played in the least hitter friendly park in the league, possibly the world, and changed positions, going from third to the outfield. I thought that I was going to get my chance as I was playing a lot of first as well. Being able to do that, I felt that it only helped my chances. After I didn't get called up, I knew that I was going to be taken off the roster. I am just thankful that Oakland saw my potential and gave me an opportunity to play for them. As for my feelings toward Seattle, they have made some changes and I certainly would not mind going back there. I have no hard feelings toward them. It is a great city with great fans (not as good as Oakland's though! Sorry!) and they have a great team. It would be very easy for me to blame people for me not getting called up, but it is a business and I was just on the wrong side of it.
There you have it. Thank you Jason.
*This question was asked before the official announcement today of DePodesta being hired away.
**This question was obviously submitted by a Mariners' fan who reads this site to get a view into the minds of Athletics fans. You've got to love Grabber's comment about Oakland's fans.