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22/27 of Johnny Vander Meer

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As Zito throws 7.1 no-hit innings tonight (yawn, that's getting old), a showdown with the Angels beckons in less than 72 hours. Below, I have listed 5 questions the Angels' blog (Halos Heaven) asked me to answer for their pre-game thread on Monday. My answers appear after each question; I hope they are somewhat reflective of what AN's "general consensus" would be.

On this thread, I invite you to suggest Angels-related questions for Halos Heaven to answer. I will pick 5 of the suggested questions, submit them, and then post the questions and answers on Monday's pre-game thread here.

18 of 22. That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Questions (and my answers) from Halos Heaven:

[editor's note, by Nico] I have updated my answer to question #2 after AN's feedback.

1. Suppose the Angels win the West. The A's are in a one game playoff on October 4 for the Wild Card. Of the current contenders, who do the A's want to face the most, and who would they stack up against the worst?

I think it's safe to say the A's would hope to match up with the White Sox, who have lost 7 of 9 to the A's and 22 games to everyone else combined. And the A's "ownership" of the White Sox dates back well before 2005. Perhaps most importantly, based on recent comments by Buehrle and Guillen (among others), the A's bizarre dominance appears to have gotten in the White Sox' collective heads.

Worst matchup? Probably Boston, where the A's need two third-base coaches, a guide dog, and a compass just to find home plate.

2. There is a sudden unannounced roster draft for all of Major League baseball and the A's have the first pick--they can choose any player from any team to help them win it all this season--but they have to give up the player on their team from that position. Who do you pick/ditch?

Though AN would probably say "dump Macha for ..." and list 29 options, I'd have to go with allowing Miguel Cabrera (or do I dare admit it, Vlad) to scare AL pitchers in lieu of Bobby Kielty's bid to scare children with his hair.

3. 2nd Base - I only follow the A's when they are playing the Angels--can you sort out the whole Mark Ellis, Marco Scutaro thing for us? How deep are you there?

With Ellis and Scooter, I'd say we're deep in a slightly redundant way. Both give major league quality defense, good ABs, and maturity, but neither offers the kind of power or high average the A's have sometimes lacked. Ginter doesn't really add to the depth because his defense isn't strong enough to warrant everyday time and as a reserve he hasn't been able to get anything going offensively.

4. I for one was not happy about Beane trading two aces, as the Angels had started to figure out Hudson and Mulder fairly well. Which of your non-Zito front four do you see adjusting to the league in a manner Angel fans will come to loathe yet respect?

That's a trick question, because Zito is not our #1. That's Harden, who is growing at such leaps and bounds that at 23 he appears already to be among the league's elite starters. Behind Zito in the rotation, I think the answer is Haren. This may surprise Angels' fans, who saw their team enjoy a steal-fest against Haren and were baffled by Blanton, but Haren is the one who will soon be loathed by AL opponents in that "respect him" way.

5. Billy Beane calls you and says he has traded Zito and Huston Street--but before you gnash your teeth, he says no wait, I got us _. Name the players who make you nod that it was a good trade.

That's easy. Beane traded them for each other and they're both still on the A's. Or, he simply upgraded by swapping Zito for Johann Santana and Street for Mariano Rivera and a time machine.