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It's Not The Heat, It's The Stupidity

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I actually have a lot of patience for mistakes of execution and for good old fashioned slumps. They happen. You can't throw a perfect splitter without risking that you might hang a belt high splitter. Right now, Billy Butler is getting some great pitches to hit and he's fouling them back or popping them up. Such is baseball.

What I have a low tolerance for is when I see dumb decisions that are costly, and I've just seen too many in the first 25 games.

The one we have parsed to death on AN: Yes, it was utterly fluky that Evan Gattis was able to get on top of a pitch that would have been high to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but when your best weapon is a changeup you don't throw 4 high fastballs in a row to David Ortiz anyone. The art of pitching is the art of deception, which means not getting into a pattern, not allowing batters to time your pitches, varying everything from speeds to eyelines to pitch types. There is no one pitch, speed, or location that a major league hitter cannot adjust to if they see it enough.

Just as when you're facing Nelson Cruz with 2 outs and the bases empty in the 10th inning of a tie game and you fall behind 2-0, you don't throw a fastball center cut -- which is exactly where Stephen Vogt was set up. With 2 outs and the bases empty and a power hitter at the plate, you are essentially set up in a "no HRs defense". You want to make the other team get three hits to score if at all possible. Certainly two.

Saturday night, Fernando Abad was facing Shin-Soo Choo with a 7-4 lead and two runners on base in the 7th inning. The rule of thumb in a situation where a HR is the only thing that will cripple you is to stay away. Choo will not HR on a fastball down and away. Did Abad miss his target? Nope. Vogt set up inside, Abad threw inside and the rest, along with the ball, is history. Update: I'm told Vogt did set up low and away, which I did not recall watching it live. If that's the case, I feel far better about this particular issue and withdraw the complaint with apologies to the A's for the libelous accusations.

These are just some basic tenets of pitching and strategy that the A's have violated too many times for a season that is not yet even 4 weeks old. Yes, the bullpen is the key problem overall but when Chris Bassitt can't throw enough strikes, or Dan Otero is too hittable, or Eric O'Flaherty tries to paint the outside corner and the ball drifts back over the plate? I don't like it but I can accept it as problems of imperfection, lack of execution, and limited skills.

Can we just have a little less of the stupid?