I'm going to say that if you aren't excited about 2008 after tonight, you don't have a pulse. I know, I'm probably jumping overboard, but a few seasons ago, I interviewed both Kurt Suzuki and Daric Barton on the same day at Stockton. I remember thinking at one point, I bet one of them goes onto a successful big league career, but probably not both of them. The odds are usually against that kind of thing.
But I couldn't help and smile tonight when Daric Barton had two walks, two hits (including a double) and took every single at-bat he had to at least five pitches. Barton is amazingly discerning in what he wants to hit and will spit on anything that he feels like he can't do something with. For his age, he has one of the best eyes I've ever seen. Kind of funny that he'd choose Scott Hatteberg's old number because the two definitely share that trait in common and they're also former catchers converted to first basemen.
Anyway, Suzuki only had one hit, but it was a huge one because it gave the A's four runs and it was Barton's walk that allowed it to happen. Dan Johnson, perhaps feeling a little Barton heat, smacked another grand slam late to make it a much more definite conclusion.
I know things have been tough around AN lately with the A's falling into a last place tie with the Rangers, but with a healthy Buck, Barton with a little seasoning and some luck in getting a healthy Harden (a lot of ifs), you can't help but be excited about what's ahead for this team. I just hope that Beane and company really do address the injury problem and make whatever changes necessary because I would really like to see what a healthy team can do.
By the way, in case you missed it, the A's could possibly wind up opening next season in Japan against the Red Sox, who have not one, but two huge Japanese stars. OK, not to be picky or anything, but I really hope that these don't count as "home games" for the A's. I mean, the crowd will clearly be Red Sox partisan. Not only that, but the fatigue that the players will feel from a trip like that could have a lasting effect and I don't really want a team that has a tendency to get injured fatigued. Why don't they send the Yankees or Mariners where the crowd could see Dice-K facing down Matsui or Ichiro? Any way, I just don't like the idea.
Oh and Barton's start tonight means that he is the 53rd player the A's have used this season. I'd say they could possibly reach the all-time franchise record of 56 players but I don't think there's anyone left in the system who hasn't seen the field this year (I'm just kidding - but not really).