The season is seven games old and we've already learned a few things about the Oakland A's. I know, I know one of the mantras of AN is small sample size, but we can make a few observations, can't we?
- First and foremost, being the "ace" of the staff isn't always necessarily a good thing. In Danny Haren's case, it means an 0-2 record despite a 0.69 ERA and pitching just as well as either of the two aces that he's pitched against so far. It means matching up against guys like Lackey and Hernandez on a regular basis, at least for the first few weeks.
- I never would've guessed, even this early in the year, that Joe Blanton would have double the strikeouts of Haren. Blanton hasn't been a strikeout pitcher in his career and I assume this is one of those stats that will quickly rectify itself.
- Judging by the early season, it looks like Alan Embree is going to be someone that Bob Geren relies heavily on this year. Embree has already been in the game several times during some of the most crucial early season moments. And Embree has rewarded Geren for this trust so far. I don't think that Embree is going to be used as a LOOGY either, which gives the A's a more versatile pen.
- The A's are still going to be injury-riddled. It just seems to be the collection of players that they've assembled and their tendencies. Bradley has had a "side problem" which made me cringe when I heard it. Hopefully that doesn't continue and we see Todd Walker at first and Swisher in center too often.
- Speaking of Swisher, his approach at the plate has been great, which could explain why he's come out so fast. I've also liked Crosby's approach. He hasn't had as much early season success, but if he continues to be willing to go the other way, he's going to be fine in the batter's box. Remember there's a couple of things about Crosby this year we have to acknowledge. First, this is basically his third season even though he made appearances all the way back in 2003 because of his injury issues. He is also essentially going through his spring training now given how limited his appearances were in Phoenix. We'll see if his new approach continues though or if he goes back to trying to screw himself into the ground.
- And what can you say about Mike Piazza? The guy has taken to DHing like a fish to water so far. And the pitchers have tried to get him out every which way, whether it's been the fastball or offspeed stuff. It hasn't mattered as Piazza has come out of the gates raking.
As for what we already knew...
- The A's just seem to struggle with RISP no matter what. Perhaps this will change, but I'm not expecting it to.
- The A's have no true leadoff hitter. Kendall hasn't hit coming out of the gate and Shannon Stewart hasn't been that much better. This could be the weakest part of the A's lineup unless they want to basically switch Ellis and Kendall. I know Kendall will come around, but if he's not getting on base, he's a useless offensive player.
- If the A's are going to win a lot of games this year, it's going to be in the later innings. Their offense just isn't that potent and they're going to have to depend on quality starting pitching and a bullpen that will hopefully be able to outclass most others in baseball. Expect a lot of 2-1, 3-2, 4-2 games this year and not too many of the 9-0 snow jobs you saw in Seattle.
There isn't that much to get from seven games, but these are the things that jump out at me so far. How about you?