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Open Thread: Game 44 - A's @ Braves

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After getting burned by one former Athletic (Mark Kotsay) in last night's 3-2 loss, the Green and Gold will look to prevent another former comrade (Tim Hudson) from pitching the Braves into a series win tonight at Turner Field. Opposing Huddy will be Rich Harden, who will make his second start back from his latest DL-stint and we'd all like to see him improve upon his performance last Sunday in Texas, where he struggled with his control en-route to allowing five runs in only 3 2/3 innings. Ideally, Rich will be more aggressive in the strikezone, pitch-to-contact and last deeper into the game, but of course I've learned long ago never to bank on "ideal" scenarios with regards to Harden, but rather to expect the worst scenario and also just to be content with whatever scenario keeps him off the DL (note to GerFrancesco: DO NOT LET Harden swing the bat and if he gets on base by some miracle, DO NOT send him home on any potentially close plays at the plate.)

As far as the offense goes, is 3 runs over 9 innings asking for too much? Sadly, I guess it is, but the guys are due for one of those slump-busting, blow-out wins and for all of the frustration that last night's loss entailed, it was encouraging to see Cust get ahold of one early in the game that almost left the park, Crosby string together a 3-hit night and Bad Sweeney make solid contact in all of his plate appearances en-route to a 2-hit night. So I'll remain optimistic that the offense will come around sooner or later, and why couldn't that be tonight? Good Sweeney is the only current Athletic to have faced Huddy in multiple games, and he's had some some success against the former (and current?) ace, going 8-for-21, with 3 walks, 1 K, and 4 RBI's. Yet, all of Sweeney's hits against Tim were of the single-base variety, and guess what, he's not even in lineup tonight, so that doesn't even really matter!

It's seems like so long since Huddy wore Green and Gold and since the roster has been turned over so many times since he was traded I guess facing his former team won't be weird for him, as he says, "There aren't many of the guys I played with still over there. But it will still be fun to pitch against my old team."...and yet, the memories are still there for me, especially with regards to Huddy. After reading Mychael Urban's ACES: The Last Season on the Mound with The Big Three, I personally came to really appreciate the things Hudson brought to the organization on and off-the field, unfortunately right at the same time that he was traded to the Braves. Hudson just seemed like an awesome clubhouse presence, a true leader/bulldog/warrior, and a guy's guy that perfectly bridged the gap between Mulder's jockish arrogance and Zito's disconnected eccentricities. While the lefties always seemed more self-interested, Huddy was the consummate team ra-ra guy, always standing at the ledge of the dugout during games and always one of the first ones to congratulate position players on jobs-well-done. That type of attitude is rare in today's pro-sports environment and I think the A's are still kind of searching for his heir in that regard.

With all that being said, and with a dash of nostalgic wishful thinking, what do you guys think are the chances that Hudson might one day wear the Green and Gold once again? Since leaving Oakland, Huddy has re-established his reputation for durability, as he averaged 211 innings pitched from 2005-2007 to go along with a 3.91 ERA. He's signed through next season with a mutual option for 2010 worth $12 million. At that time, Huddy will be 34, but might be worth more than 12-mil on the open market, especially to a team like the A's who might be breaking-in a flurry of rookies to the starting rotation and could use a stabilizing, veteran presence on the mound. Two years, $28 million? Any chance at all of that happening?

In other news:

- Eric Chavez continued his rehab stint in Sacramento last night and went 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI, although he left the game early due to "tired legs". I'm starting to come around in thinking that Chavez + Buck + CarGon might just be the mid-season jolt that the offense needs to keep the team competitive in the dog days of summer.

- Speaking of Tired Legs, Dana Eveland, "walked in the 6th and admitted later that all the baserunning left him fatigued by the bottom of the inning, when the Braves scored twice." I know that Eveland had his first major league hit last night and is not used to running bases, but the guy's 24 years old, is a professional athlete and played in the National League for the last several years. You'd think that he'd be physically and mentally prepared for a few 90-feet jogs every now and then without using them as an excuse for ineffective pitching?


Lineup

Oakland Athletics @ Atlanta Braves

05/17/08 4:10 PM PDT

Oakland Athletics Atlanta Braves
Jack Hannahan - 3B Yunel Escobar - SS
Bobby Crosby - SS Mark Kotsay - CF
Jack Cust - LF Chipper Jones - 3B
Emil Brown - RF Mark Teixeira - 1B
Daric Barton - 1B Brian McCann - C
Kurt Suzuki - C Jeff Francoeur - RF
Ryan Sweeney - CF Kelly Johnson - 2B
Donnie Murphy - 2B Gregor Blanco - LF
Rich Harden - P Tim Hudson - P