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Friday Fishwrap: Eat At Your Own Risk

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Some stray bullets to ponder as we await the Yankees series, which will begin sometime between 4:05pm today and June 9th, depending on the weather...

~ As faithful readers, and even those who cheat on their wives, know, I was unimpressed enough with the Rangers' acquisitions of Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla to predict (boldly and probably incorrectly because the Mariners just aren't as improved as I thought they might be) that Texas would finish 4th in the AL West. I just didn't think Millwood, pitching half his games in Texas, would be a worthy ace, and I didn't think Padilla was consistent enough to be a legitimate #2--frankly, I thought exchanging Kenny Rogers and Chris Young for Millwood and Padilla might not be an upgrade at all.

To some degree, I have been vindicated by Millwood's 1-3 record, and 6.84 ERA, at home, and by Padilla's 4.57 ERA overall, as well as by the Rangers' recent slide--and it's not even getting hot in Arlington yet. But while I want to say that I stand by my claim that the Rangers are not a legitimate contender, I also want to say: Add Roger Clemens and I'll pick Texas as a good bet as any to win the AL West.

Why? Because along with the fact that the AL West has proven to be far weaker this season, and besides the fact that the Angels and A's look like rock climbers reaching up the side of a greasy cliff, Clemens is that good. He's a legitimate ace; And Millwood is a legitimate #2. And Padilla, Loe, and Koronka in the #3-#5 spots in the rotation would be solid--certainly behind that offense. One guy could make that big a difference. Just interesting to ponder whether a single player, in his mid-40s no less, could turn a 3rd or 4th place team into an instant division favorite. Here's hoping we never find out.

~ Ken Macha simply blew it yesterday. It's hard to manage a team with this many injuries, so Macha gets a mulligan from me on all the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" pitching decisions that get dissected on AN with the hindsight-microscope. In fact, I think he's done a damn good job under absurd circumstances. For a team that appears not to be in great shape, the A's are in great shape in the AL West--and Macha deserves some credit for that too. And injuries often can't be prevented or anticipated, so it's not fair to vilify the manager every time someone plays and then gets an owie.

But Frank Thomas, after an 8th inning at bat, in a 6-run game, simply should not be on the bases. Ever. Thomas gets 20% of the blame for being utterly idiotic and running hard in a relatively meaningless situation. And Macha gets the other 80% for giving Thomas the opportunity to be utterly idiotic. Or were we saving Antonio Perez to pinch-hit? Rhetorical question.

~ It's not just the A's who are seeing an upsurge in key injuries. Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Bartolo Colon, Darin Erstad, Casey Kotchman, Victor Zambrano, Derrick Lee, and on and on. Who knows how much the WBC, the change in steroid/amphetamine policy, increased fanaticism about hitting the weight room, may each play a part. But a lot of very fit and healthy young men are dropping like flies to Eric Byrnes.

~ Finally, talk about negativity on AN: You always hear how Antonio Perez is 0/21 and has struck out 11 times. Just once, I want to hear someone point out that "Antonio Perez is 0/21, but he has made contact nearly half the time!" Feh.