Last season, about this time, the A's went into New York and got swept in a three-game, heartwrenching series against the Yankees. The losses came in large part because of a nuclear bullpen. Seriously, I almost expected to see the three-eyed fish from The Simpsons sitting behind homeplate whenever the A's bullpen door swung open.
But it happened repeatedly until finally, Billy Beane had all he could stand and he can'ts stands no more. He popped some spinach, got on the phone with Baird and Hunsicker and worked out a deal for Don't Ask, Do-tel. Not all the A's problems were solved obviously because the A's still missed the playoffs, but the team suddenly became a contender again.
Ironically, Cleveland was having the same problem with their pen. Again, it's 2004 all over again, but this time it's the miserable offense that appears to be the weak link. Cleveland is having the same problem with their offense as well. I'm thinking Shapiro and Beane need to stop spending the offseason passing around Greg Brady's tiki idol.
Any way, theories abound about the A's nuclear offense (this time the three-eyed fish is in the A's on-deck circle). Mr. Hitting.com should be fired. Macha should be fired. The A's need new bats. The A's need a whole bunch of players to go with those bats. Thomas needs to go to Sacramento. Chavez should be caned, tarred, feathered and then given a wedgie. I want to know what you think the solution to the hitting woes are. What is going to awaken these bats from their seemingly eternal slumber?
Just remember, most of last season, AN was calling for Curt Young's head on a stick. And Beane and company were patient with the A's much-maligned hitting coach, which seems like the right move now with most of the kids pitching very well right now.
But many hitting and pitching coaches get too much credit when things are going well and blame when things are going bad. Although a shakeup in the coaching ranks can sometimes spark a team.
I'm not sure what the answer is. I honestly think this team is severely lacking from a slugging percentage deficiency as I wrote yesterday. Take for example that inning today against the Yankees when the A's loaded the bases with no one out. Had any one of those hits been an extra-base hit, they would've scored at least one, possibly several runs. But instead, you have hit, walk, hit and because of one of the base runners being cautious, it didn't score a run. If that third hit is a double in the gap, the A's score two. Course if the first hit was a double, they still might not have scored. But that to me is the biggest problem with this lineup right now. Even when people like Chavez actually get a hit, it's a single. So, my personal opinion is this team needs to add some slugging percentage.
Here's another person the A's should pursue, if they can:
Mike Sweeney. Yes, he's an injury risk, but the Royals are essentially rebuilding (again) and Sweeney shouldn't need to toil in obscurity for forever. It would mean a salary hit and Lew Wolff would need to approve of something like this. But, get Sweeney to bat in the number three hole in the lineup and then you have this:
Ginter (or Crosby when healthy)
Thomas (or Swisher when healthy)
To me, adding someone with a .628 slugging percentage in 2005 and a .377 OBP for his career is exactly what this offense needs. He's a true number three hitter. Chavez then slides down a spot, and becomes someone who can grip and rip without having to be "The Man."
I don't know what Baird would ask for to complete a deal like this. Maybe a Durazo and/or Dan Johnson with Eric Byrnes or Rheinecker. The Royals have a lot of holes right now and they're looking toward the future. Sweeney is 32 years old, so it goes against the common belief of the A's building towards 2006. But the truth is that this team could possibly compete this year. The AL West is not as strong as it's been in years past.
But that's just one man's opinion. Maybe I'm just speaking from my heart. But this team has won 14 games with little to no offense. You add a stick like Sweeney and you're bringing someone who is a leader and can perform with RISP (his batting average in those situations is .419 and his OPS is 1.154 - he's the bizarro-Athletic with RISP).
I want to know what AN thinks. Click on entry link below to vote.