Make sure to catch Ray Fosse’s interview of Chad Gaudin, so we can find out precisely how great it feels for Chad to get his first win since July 5th. Granted, I missed the first inning, which by all accounts was a late-afternoonmare, but I thought Gaudin looked outstanding today. No question that Chad has scuffled big time since the All-Star Break, but I want to keep reminding folks that Gaudin is 24, completing his first major league season as a starter, and is on his way to setting a career high for innings pitched at any level. I still believe Gaudin can be a very effective middle-of-the-rotation guy for the 2008-09 A’s.
A few other observations…
Though his age makes this less apparent, I think it’s also worth remembering how little major league experience Jack Cust has. His strikeout totals bother some, his penchant for taking called third strikes bothers most, and his extreme streakiness bothers all when he’s in the middle of the bad kind. But in major league baseball terms, Cust is a young pup and he might be getting better. Recently, I have seen some shorter two-strike swings resulting in solid singles up the middle; to me, that marks some progress in Cust going from a “swinger” to a “hitter”. I’m not quite ready yet to put Cust’s ceiling at “what he’s done this year”. Just a tad more consistency, and a slightly more sophisticated two-strike approach, and Cust could be a truly outstanding hitter.
I’m also highly encouraged by Suzuki’s progress. He looks more relaxed at the plate, the ball jumps off his bat, and you see pitchers shaking him off, or calling him to the mound, less. Suzuki has come a long way in a short amount of time, a good omen for his chances to be a positive contributor both offensively and behind the plate come April, 2008.
Finally, I am really amazed at Carlos Guillen’s lack of range at SS. He leads all SSs in errors, so he’s not so great with the balls he gets to either. Terrific a hitter as Guillen is, he is an awfully big liability at an important defensive position. From their suddenly shaky rotation and pathetic long relief to their impatience at the plate and Guillen’s sub-par defense, the Tigers have some serious holes. I think the last six weeks will be tough for the Tigers and while they have two avenues to the post-season I wouldn’t be surprised to see them edged out of the playoffs.