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Open Thread - Spring Training Game 23

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First of all, I'd like to say how fun I thought it was to read other teams' perspectives on our A's. I think that's why we do visit the other blogs, to reinforce what we believe, and to see different perspectives. I'd like to see more of this, but most of all, I'd like to know who is the coveted player on each team. Is there anyone on the A's that Texas, Anaheim, and Seattle fans want?

If I had to pick someone on Seattle, it would be Ichiro. Although he's a bit--wait for it; the dreaded word--overrated, he's still an amazing player, and would be a nice addition in the beginning of any lineup. But I don't think I've ever wanted a player on my team as much as I've wanted Texas' Mark Teixeira. I've watched him long before he ever cracked the top five fantasy player picks; when people couldn't spell his name. In an interesting twist, previous players that I have wanted have included Pudge Rodriguez and Frank Thomas. I'm awfully glad now that we never were hitched to the I-rod train, and of course, I might have preferred Thomas a few years ago, but I will still happily rejoice over the recent signing.

In all seriousness, there is no one on the Angels I would want on my team. I can hear the gasps from here. "But what about Vlad?" you might be thinking. I can't explain exactly why I would trade for Teixeira in a heartbeat and not Vlad, other than the fact that to me, the Angels are the competition. I haven't quite put Texas in the same category. I don't want to steal our competition's best player to win; I want our full team to beat their full team. I think it would mean more that way. I want the A's to beat the Angels with Colon, K-rod and Vlad at their peak; just so Mike Scoscia can't start out his press conference with, " best player was hurt."

Switching gears, let's talk about Estaban Loaiza.. I don't think he was signed to be an innings-eater, or a fifth starter. I haven't seen him pitch enough to make much more than a gut call on this, but it seems he was signed as a legitimate starting pitcher. Saarloos v. 2005 was an adequate number five starter; maybe even better than average. If all Loaiza is to the A's is pretty much a junk pitcher, an innings-eater; why not save the money, and pitch `loos?

Keep in mind, Blanton (and even Haren to an extent) are wild cards. They both had a solid 2005 year, but they are still very inexperienced. Can they match 2005? Can they better 2005? We'll just have to see. Loaiza may not be a lot of things, but he is a ten year veteran who pitched in 34 games last season. Decent ERA, and a very good K/BB ratio. He's definitely one that we're just going to have to hope for the best, and then wait and see.

I'm excited about our starting rotation, and I guess I'll weigh in on the Zito situation, since it's on the table. I love Barry Zito. Colorful personality, steady pitcher, and when he is on, he is ON. Best game I've ever seen was him vs. Colon last year, when they both pitched a complete game (nine innings; Kielty eventually won it in the 11th for the A's). He's an easy guy to like; he never misses games, he is for the most part, reasonably consistent, has average to good stuff highlighted by a ridiculous curveball.

We all like him. He's been fun in green and gold; he has put his heart and soul into several very prominent games, and unlike the collapse of some other big name pitchers in critical situations (Mulder, I'm looking at you), he's always shown up for the big game.

That being said, a few things work against Zito. Raise your hand if you don't start counting pitches during his starts immediately following the "Play Ball" announcement.

I thought so.

Also, his curve has to be called a strike from the get-go. Otherwise, he's average for the night.

There is no question in my mind that Zito was our starting ace last year, as much as we had one. No run support, but what's new? He could be our ace again; nothing about his makeup suggests that he's over-the-hill in any way. But if you look at the cold, hard facts as they stand right now, he can be replaced. For much less of a contract. Ouch and ouch.

The one thing that we, as fans, and our GM cannot be guilty of is mixing our warm and fuzzy feelings from the past with our needs for the present and future. Let's pretend someone, oh let's say a Yankee, helped his team win several rings. That's great, and he should be loved for that. But giving him a contract for the future when he can't hit or throw anymore based on what he did in the past little crazy, right? When signing a long-term contract, you can really only judge two things; current performance, and future potential. As each player gets older, his past becomes less and less relevant.

No one wants Barry to be an ace this year more than me. And as long as I'm requesting? I want Rich Harden to stay healthy for this season. If our suppositions are correct, he may find himself talked compared with the likes of Johan Santana, who, I'd like to add, is the absolute best pitcher I've ever seen in person. Bar none. So in conclusion, I love Barry Zito and want him to play for free. He can still have the #1 spot.

I'm talky today. Apologies. On to the game! Today's action: the A's AND THE POSSIBLE RETURN OF THE BIG HURT take on COL. Stay here for all the gory details. Eight days and counting!