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Fishday Friwrap

First of all, I really need to stop taking my cues from TV ads. See, I was really inspired by that RJ Reynolds ad that so considerately reminds us of all the different ways we can quit smoking, so I tried out the same philosophy in finally summoning the courage to ask this cute girl out. “Would you like to go out on a date sometime?” I asked. “Oh, and here’s a pamphlet of 12 easy ways to break up with me.” (I’m not sure what it means that she said no to the date, but took the pamphlet.) Anyhoo, where was I? Oh right, baseball…

So in reading through Blez’ excellent (IMO) interview yesterday, and your comments, a few thoughts came to mind. Here they are, in no particular odor:

  • Many scoffed at Beane’s notion that if healthy the team, as is, can hope to compete in 2008 without making major moves. I think what he meant—and I agree with him—is that a rotation of Haren, Harden, Blanton, and Gaudin is going to keep you in so many games that the current mediocre offense (which isn’t that awful if you assume a healthy Buck and Chavez) could get it done more often than not. The notion that Harden will be healthy may be scoffworthy, but if Harden were somehow to stay healthy in 2008 the current A’s wouldn’t be far from contention. Harden is that big a piece of the puzzle—as well as that bad of a place to rest your hopes.

  • From the “devil is in the details” dept.: I just thought it was interesting how Billy kept mentioning how good Haren, Harden, Blanton, and Gaudin are, and how well DiNardo has pitched this year. There’s a difference between being a good pitcher and pitching well. It’s a Kirk Saarloos kind of difference. Maybe I’m reading too far between the lines, but I wonder if Billy appreciates how well DiNardo has done—and isn’t expecting it to continue.

  • Put me in the camp who did notice a difference between Billy’s AN Day comments about the “health” staff and his comments in Blez’ interview. The underlying theme on AN Day was generally to excuse the health staff with the refrain, “Hey, these guys have been doing it a long time,” which overlooks the fact that tenure does not necessarily translate to competence. Yes, on AN Day Beane acknowledged that “we always need to take a look at…” but never did he acknowledge that changes were needed—and were being implemented (to the extent the A’s can control the process, which is another very real issue). If I were Clarence Cockrell, I would have walked away from AN Day feeling cocky and job secure—and if I were reading Blez’ interview, I’d be bookmarking Craigslist just in case. Perhaps (and maybe I’m being overly optimistic) certain acts have actually become tired.

  • Overall, I do think the A’s hope to return to the pennant chase in 2008 and I think that once again they will be relying on “better health,” with some of the key characters being the same (e.g., Harden, Chavez) and some different (e.g., Buck instead of Bradley). I don’t think the A’s will massively increase payroll simply because I think they believe that their chances of competing are about the same whether they spend 50, 60, or 70 million dollars. Some key guys get/stay healthy or they don’t. Plus ça change…

A’s-Rangers at 5:05pm PDT. See you then.