As many of you know, I interviewed Billy Beane back on August 14th, 2004. I broke it down into three parts, but something interesting is in the third part of the interview. I brought up something which no one could've imagined and which caught Billy by surprise.
Blez: ...I was looking before I came here today at some stats and I noticed that Mulder, Hudson and Zito, well Hudson has just come back from his injury, they all have ERA's over 5 since the All Star break.
BB: Do they really? Oh, don't scare me like that.
Blez: That's probably an anomaly since it's such a small sample size and that's probably the least of our worries.
BB: But it's there.
Blez: And Harden's been the best pitcher by far, which the A's seem to get year in and year out, with Lilly, Lidle and now Rich.
BB: Mark has probably been the most consistent guy, but there were a couple of starts or wins where he's come in the clubhouse and said, "I was brutal today." If you look at his games, like the game against Kansas City on Friday night when he was throwing a shutout with two outs and then, the grand slam. He had a similar situation with Texas as you remember when they came in where we were winning with two outs, Brian Jordan singles to right field and Mench later hits a three-homer and he gets the "L" there. So Mark I'm not worried about. We've been really pleased with Huddy since he's come back. I was very concerned. Because despite his stature, he is a very powerful pitcher. He's very strong. When he hasn't pitched in a while, his stuff can be all over the place. Dynamic, but trying to find his zone. I've been really pleased. I thought he threw really well in Minnesota for the five and two-thirds. Detroit had a great approach against him even though I thought he threw very well so there isn't much of a concern there. With Barry, it's been a battle for him all season long. Mark is the last guy I'm worried about.
Well, the A's vaunted pitching staff, the one that was supposed to be the strength of this team, has not gotten much better since I talked to Billy.
And in one case, it has gotten progressively worse. Ironically, it's the one Billy was the least worried about.
Tim Hudson has a 4.44 ERA since the All Star break. Barry Zito actually improved since Billy and I talked, but his ERA is 4.45 since the break. Mulder? Yeah, we all know he's struggled, but he has a 5.87 ERA since the break.
It's like opposing batters have taken up alchemy. Regularly turning our pitcher's lead into gold. Whereas once there was starvation, there is now a glorious feast.
It's turning into the most baffling occurence since David Hasselhoff became famous.
A pitching staff that was heading toward immortality is suddenly becoming mortal. Zeus, Jupiter and Odin are now Average Joes. MLB has discovered kryptonite and is putting it in the rosin bag.
Each night I expect the turnaround and yet it remains as elusive.
Maybe it's Curt Young (which I'm believing more and more every day). Maybe it's Ken Macha. Maybe it's Damian Miller or Adam Melhuse. Maybe it's injuries to all three.
But whatever it is, it ranks up there with some of the greatest mysteries since the rise of the pyramids.
There is time to turn it around, but the days are ticking by faster than you can say, "ASMI."
These pitchers are supposed to be better than this.