Monday, October 31, 2005

Interview with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball America

For anyone interested in A's minor league prospects, there is an excellent interview with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball America with Elephants in Oakland.

On the 2005 draft, where the A's surprised many by drafting a number of high schoolers, Mr. Goldstein indicates exactly what most of us A's fans already know : It's just the A's being the A's :
They're not about on-base percentage and they're not about drafting college players, they're about finding market inefficiencies, and that's where they thought it was this year.Both Lansford and Italiano were very good picks. Their long-term strategy is to find what kind of talent is undervalued in each draft - so it's going to change from year to year.

He also mentions that one of the A's weaknesses is a lack of power hitting corner outfielders in the current system and suggests that Matt Watson, Andrew Beattie, Jack Cust, Hiram Bocachica, and Jermaine Clark are all "minor league veteran/major league fill-in guys".

Read the whole thing here, lots of good stuff.

Mychael Urban's mailbag

Lots of good stuff this week.

On Keith Ginter :

I think it's pretty safe to say that we've seen the last of Ginter, but it's not a lock because he does have a guaranteed contract for 2006. It's rather complicated, as evidenced by the fact that I asked several "experts" and stumped them all with this, but as far as I can tell, when you're outrighted, you're put through waivers, and if you clear them, you can either accept a Minor League assignment or opt to become a free agent.

I can't see anyone picking up Ginter's guaranteed deal, so my guess is that he'll clear waivers (if he hasn't done so already). And since he so badly wants a chance to play in the big leagues, he might turn down the Sacramento assignment -- and the guaranteed money -- to explore the open market. It would cost him some dough, but I get the impression that he'd rather play for less in the bigs.

If he accepts the assignment, he'd still get that money no matter where he plays.

As for why they don't see a need for him, it's pretty clear that the A's prefer Marco Scutaro as their backup infielder, and the fact that the A's are so willing to part with Ginter might further suggest that Chavez's shoulder isn't a huge concern. Ginter, despite his awful numbers last season, should draw some interest from teams in need of infield help -- particularly in the National League, where teams tend to use their benches more.

Predicts Juan Cruz will be gone next season :

Cruz's situation is an interesting one because he's eligible for arbitration, which means the club could non-tender him and cut him loose. In doing that, however, they'd be giving up on one of the three players they got in the Tim Hudson trade, and that trade looks one-sided, in Atlanta's favor, thus far.

Cruz obviously won't get a huge raise in arbitration, so there's certainly a chance he'll be brought back and given a chanced to compete for a spot on the roster. Another option would be to sign him back and package him in a trade, because we all know that the A's aren't going to be able to do much in the free agent market.

I don't see him in Oakland next year because I don't think the coaching staff trusts him. So maybe general manager Billy Beane can convince a fellow general manager that Cruz's live arm just needs the old "change of scenery."

And suggests that Mark Ellis, Joe Blanton, and Nick Swisher are possible candidates for contract extensions.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Andre Ethier is on FIRE...and other updates

Let's hope he can keep this up :
Nobody wants to pitch to the Texas League MVP.
Andre Ethier, who led
the Midland RockHounds to the league championship with his .319 batting average
and 104 runs scored, drew nine walks this past week for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
He walked three times in three of his five games to raise his Arizona Fall
League-leading total to 16 and lift his on-base percentage to .507.

Read more about Ethier here.

In other AFL news, Daric Barton has cooled off quite a bit:
Barton started the week on a high note, going 2-for-3 with a double, two
runs, a walk and a stolen base against the Scorpions on Oct. 21. He cooled off
after that, though, going 0-for-11 to lower his season average to .234.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2006 A's Roster : Preview

1-17-06 - A's sign 1 year deals with Adam Melhuse and Juan Cruz

1-11-2006 - A's agree to terms with Bradley and Calero for 2006

1-9-2006 - A's sign Bobby Kielty to 1 year deal

12-19-2005 - A's sign Joe Kennedy to 1 year deal

12-13-2005 - A's trade Andre Ethier to Dodgers for OF Milton Bradley and IF Antonio Perez

12-5-2005 - A's acquire RHP Chad Gaudin from the Blue Jays

11-28-2005 - A's sign SP Esteban Loaiza to 3 year contract

11-2-2005 - A's agree to terms with Jay Witasick through 2007.

Check this post often for updates. I will put it in the main links section for easy access.

Under Contract

C - Jason Kendall (through 2007)
3B - Eric Chavez (through 2010)
CF - Mark Kotsay (through 2008)
SP - Barry Zito (through 2006 (club option))
OF - Jay Payton (through 2006 (club option))
SP - Rich Harden (through 2008)
SS - Bobby Crosby (through 2009)
SP - Danny Haren (through 2009)
SP - Esteban Loaiza (through 2008)
RP - Jay Witasick (through 2007)
OF - Milton Bradley (through 2006)
RP - Joe Kennedy (through 2006)
OF - Bobby Kielty (through 2006)
RP - Kiko Calero (through 2006)
RP - Juan Cruz (through 2006)
C - Adam Melhuse

Arbitration Eligible
2B - Mark Ellis

Under Club Control
RP - Justin Duchscherer
IF - Marco Scutaro
IF - Antonio Perez
OF - Charles Thomas
SP - Joe Blanton
OF - Nick Swisher
RP - Huston Street
RP - Kirk Saarloos
RP - Ron Flores
RP - Britt Reames
OF - Jermaine Clark
1B - Dan Johnson
IF - Freddie Bynum
RP - Jairo Garcia
IF - Hiram Bocachica
OF - Matt Watson
RP - Chad Gaudin

The above list is by no means complete or even 100% correct. A big hat tip to Cot's Baseball Contracts and MLB4U , whose sites I used to get most of the contract info found above.

Please feel free to advise any corrections and/or additions so I can keep this list as correct and up-to-date as possible. Also, I invite anyone and everyone to advise how many years are left in both the Arbitration Eligible and Under Club Control lists. My goal is to make this list the most detailed and up-to-date potential 2006 A's roster one can find.

Andre Ethier tearing up AZ

Full article here.

Andre Ethier, the MVP of the Texas League in 2005, batted .391 during the
Arizona Fall League's first week and carried his hot streak through Week No. 2.
The former second-round draft pick went 5-for-14 (.357) with three walks to
lower his season batting average to .378. He scored four times and picked up
three RBIs. In 10 games, he has struck out just twice.
Ethier has also
played errorless ball, splitting time in left and right field.

I think our outfield is pretty much set for 2006 (Payton, Kotsay, Swisher, Kielty, Watson?) but if Ethier continues his hot hitting and good defense he could be a call up sometime next year.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Delayed News - Sorry - The great Bill King has passed away

Everyone else already knows and has already commented, I am behind the curve.

From Athletics Nation.
Bill King was Oakland A's baseball. King is a legend and will always
be remembered as such. His trademarked "Holy Toledo!" and Hawaiian shirts
were as much a part of him as his willingness to speak his mind. Anyone
who listened to King knew that he was never shy about sharing his thoughts on
such abominations as interleague play or a trip to Texas in August in September.
As a matter of fact, he avoided those things altogether in his later
tenure with the A's. If an A's team wasn't performing on the field, King
never hesitated to make a joke or call them on it.

From the Oakland A's Official Website.
"We are deeply saddened by Bill's passing," said A's president Michael
Crowley. "He was arguably the most recognizable voice in the history of Bay Area
broadcasting." will post a "Fans' Tribute to Bill King"
next week. If you'd like to submit your favorite King memory for submission, click here.
Also the play-by-play
announcer for the San Francisco/Golden State Warriors from 1962-83, and for the
Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1966-92, King was a rarity among announcers who
balanced play-by-play duties with three major sports franchises simultaneously.
In all, he spent five decades thrilling fans with his vivid descriptions of some
of the most historic moments the Bay Area's pro sports.
"One would be
hard-pressed to find an announcer who served as the lead play-by-play voice for
three major sports franchises for as long as Bill," Crowley said.

From Elephants in Oakland.
Just a reminder that Baseball Prospectus has scheduled a pizza feed Gary
Huckabay on November 2nd in Walnut Creek. The cost is $50 and the proceeds go
towards the Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust. Huckabay will be presenting a paper,
"Player Performance and Contract Valuation". Those who attend will also receive
a copy of the paper. Worth more than the $50. You must RSVP.All other Elephants
in Oakland projects are on hold for the remainder of the week. But I will pop in
with some information if occurs and try to keep the links for Bill King tributes
up to date.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sporting News names Huston Street as AL Rookie of the Year

The article can be found here.
Street, 22, converted all 18 of his save opportunities after the All-Star
break and was an instrumental part of Oakland's climb from 15 games under .500
into playoff contention. In voting among 227 American League players, Street
beat out teammates Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson and Joe Blanton, as well as
Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox and Robinson Cano of the Yankees.
out of the University of Texas in June 2004, Street worked his way through the
A's organization last summer and turned heads with a spectacular showing in the
Arizona Fall League. He made the big-league club this spring only because of an
injury to Chad Bradford, but he performed well enough in various relief roles to
earn a promotion when closer Octavio Dotel decided to have season-ending elbow
surgery in May.
No longer will Billy Beane have to shop around for a closer every single off-season. Street is more than capable and should be around for years to come.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A's pick up Payton's option, Yabu is gone

The Oakland A's today announced that they have picked up Jay Payton's option for 2006 while declining Yabu's :
Payton was acquired by the A's from Boston at the All-Star Break for Chad
Bradford and ended up hitting .269 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI in 69 games with
Oakland after batting .263 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 55 games with the
Red Sox. His 13 home runs tied for second most ever in one season by an
Athletics player with 70 games or less and the RBI were fifth most. The 32-year
old Payton combined with the A's and Red Sox to hit .267 with 18 home runs and
63 RBI in 124 games. The home runs and RBI were the second best totals of his

Yabu was 4-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 40 relief appearances in his
first season in the Major Leagues. He previously pitched 11 seasons in the
Japanese Leagues with Hanshin. The 37-year old Yabu allowed a .287 opponents
batting average and tied an Oakland reliever record with eight hit batters.

Picking up Payton's option was a good low risk decision. He can play any outfield position and seems to be a pretty good defender. He was a huge help when Kotsay was having back problems and I have a feeling we'll be seeing more back problems from Kotsay in 2006 as well.

As for Yabu, well, you all know how I felt about him, another Billy Beane gamble down the drain who really struggled during his most important outings.

Am working on a post to discuss the tentative 2006 roster, be patient.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

AFL Update : Quick stats on A's prospects in the AFL

You can read the article from the A's website here. The quick stats are below :

1B Daric Barton -- Barton went 6-for-20 (.300) with a double, a homer, five
RBIs and eight runs scored. The former first-round draft pick also showed
impressive plate discipline, drawing a team-high six walks.

OF Andre Ethier -- Ethier continued to mash the ball after winning MVP
honors in the Texas League. The former second-round draft pick went 9-for-23
(.391) with three doubles, a triple, a homer, six RBIs and a .739 slugging

RHP Shawn Kohn -- The 25-year-old right-hander compiled a 12.00 ERA in
three innings of relief, surrendering four runs on six hits while walking one
and striking out three.

LHP Matt Lynch -- Lynch went 1-0 with an 8.31 ERA in 4 1/3 innings out of
the bullpen. The 24-year-old Florida native allowed five runs -- four earned --
on seven hits and three walks while striking out three.

C Kurt Suzuki -- Suzuki hit .333 (3-for-9) with a double, five RBIs, three
walks and a .462 on-base percentage. The highlight of his week was a four-RBI
effort on Oct. 11 against the Peoria Saguaros.

Daric Barton is just Mr. Consistent, continuing to hit the ball well and drawing walks. Kurt Suzuki seems to be doing great and I think he could easily leapfrog over Jeremy Brown in the minor league depth chart. Expect to see him in an A's uniform within the next 1-2 seasons. I really like Andre Ethier, let's hope he continues his hot hitting into next year, if he keeps up this pace he could find himself on a major league roster soon.

He's baaaack : Macha comes crawling back to Beane - get ready for another 3 years

I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. After interviewing for the Pittsburgh Pirates manager job and watching it go to Tracy, Macha suddenly realized that maybe he wasn't as hot a commodity as he thought he was and came crawling back to Billy Beane. I would say more except Athletics Nation has already said it :

They were discussing it on KNBR and many think that it was Billy Beane who
relented and realized he made a mistake letting Macha go. I personally
think that Macha suddenly realized that his only option was the A's or
unemployment. So, I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Macha: "Hi Betty, is Billy in?"
Betty: "Who is this?"
Macha: "It's Ken. Ken Macha."
Betty: "Geren, stop
playing around."
Macha: "No, really, it's Ken. Can I just talk
to him please?"
Betty: "OK, please hold."
Hold music plays New
Edition's Home Again.Billy picks up.
Beane: "Is this really
Macha?"Macha: "Yeah, Billy it's me."
Beane: "Ken, I've got
interviews with DeFrancesco and Hershiser coming up. I don't really have
time to chat."
Macha: "Billy, you remember the time when I brought
Rincon in to face Todd Walker in the Boston series the second time and he hit
another home run?"
Beane: "Ken, the whole world remembers that."
Macha: "Well, I think I made a big mistake again. I really never
wanted to leave Oakland, except that Pittsburgh job was so appealing. I
interviewed and they realized they wanted Jim Tracy instead."
"Hoofah, how bad is it when Pittsburgh doesn't want you? What's your
point, Ken?"
Macha: "I want a chance to finish what I started and I'll
accept your original offer."
Beane: "Ken, this is going to look bad
for everyone involved. We publicly claimed it was over. We're going
to start to look like Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee."
Macha: "I'm OK with
that. I just want my job back."
Beane: "All right, I guess.
Man, Washington and Geren are going to be pissed."
Macha: "Don't
worry, my calm demeanor will help rub off on them."
Beane: "That's
what I'm afraid of."

I feel bad for Geren and Washington, both who supposedly interviewed for the A's managing job on Wednesday. The A's easily could have promoted from within, having lots of solid choices in Washington, Geren, or even Lachemann.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't have any ill feelings toward Macha, I don't think he is a great manager but I certainly don't think he is a bad manager. Overall he does a decent job although I question some of his bullpen moves. But I think everyone, myself included, had resigned themselves to the fact that Macha had moved on and we were getting a fresh new manager. All I can say for Macha is that he is lucky he came back because he most likely would have been without a job otherwise.

Hope you are ready for another 3 years of Macha.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A look at players who might not be back next season

While we are waiting to see who will be the next A's manager, let's take a look at the current roster and see if we can't guess who won't be back next season.

Octavio Dotel:

I really like Dotel, I think he is a fun player to watch who exhibits a lot of enthusiasm for the game. I also think he is not only a superb set up man, but an above average closer who would do well on any team's roster.

That being said, Dotel pretty much sealed his fate with the A's when he decided to go ahead with surgery early in the season despite several trips to several doctors, all who said he didn't need surgery. His decision to go ahead with the surgery despite contrary advice rankled Macha and possibly others in the A's front office.

But Dotel's early departure from the team opened a huge door of opportunity for the A's rookie closer Huston Street who quickly cemented himself into the closer role for the A's, surpassing everyone's expectations and becoming one of the elite pitchers in the American League and to think he was only drafted a year ago.

Huston Street's immense success as the A's closer made Dotel's decision to go ahead with surgery, thereby missing the rest of the season, completely irrelevant. With Street pitching so well as the A's new closer, there really is no need to bring back Dotel at all, especially at the lofty price he will bring. Plus, having been out a whole season, no one is really sure how Dotel will pitch coming back into 2006.

Ricardo Rincon:

In 2003 and 2004 it was "“Fear Mecir"” as everytime Mecir took the mound A's fans took to biting fingernails and holding their chair arms in white knuckle grips. You never knew what was going to happen when Mecir took the mound.

Ricardo Rincon, basically relegated to a one out lefty specialist, was the new Mecir for 2005. Everytime he took the mound it was like Mecir all over again. You just didn't know if he was going to blow the game wide open, fail to get his 1 batter out, or end up pitching 2/3 of a shutout inning. For the most part, Rincon had decent numbers, but I just have never felt comfortable seeing him walk to the pitchers mound.

Rincon is a free agent in 2006. Being a lefty specialist with mediocre numbers he probably wouldn't cost too much to retain, but do we really want to blow our money on a lefty specialist who sometimes has trouble getting left handed batters out ? It's all about value, my friends, how much do you want to pay Rincon per out ? Do the math, it just isn't worth it.

As for left handed pitchers in the bullpen, we already have Joe Kennedy, if he does not become the A's new fifth starter. We also have Ron Flores who was called up more than once during the season and pitched better than Rincon when he was here.

Scott Hatteberg:

Scott Hatteberg is a player I genuinely like. Last season I was singing his praises until age and fatigue finally wore him down to worthlessness the last month of the season. This year he started off fairly well only to breakdown earlier than expected and slog his way through the remainder of the season with rather lackluster numbers as a DH.

While his BA and OBP weren't too far off his career numbers, his power completely disappeared and with youngsters like Dan Johnson and Nick Swisher on the team, unfortunately there really is no place for him. Hatteberg is a team player and seems to be well respected among his teammates and is a favorite of Billy Beane's. But if you can't perform on the field or in the batter's box, then unfortunately you have no business playing.

Hopefully Hatteberg will retire or take a coaching job with the A's or another team instead of trying to squeeze another major league season out of his tired body. The A's would be unwise to hang onto Hatteberg as a player, but Beane has shown to be stubborn when it comes to certain players, so who knows what he will do. But we have a number of solid options both at 1B and DH.

Erubiel Durazo:

Erubiel Durazo had a breakout season in 2004 with career highs in BA, HR, and RBI. It seemed that Durazo had finally lived up to his potential as Billy Beane's "Holy Grail"”.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Durazo got off to a lackluster start, although not nearly as bad as Chavez or Kendall, and then he got injured -– throwing a baseball.

Durazo was placed on the DL and eventually everyone stopped asking Macha when Durazo would be back as it became apparent the $4.7 million dollar man was gone for the season.

There are 2 big questions being asked this off-season : (1) If Durazo comes back, will we get Durazo version 2004 or Durazo version 2003 ? (2) How much will the A's have to pay Durazo to stay for 2006 ?

Durazo is basically a DH as his 1B skills are average at best and after getting injured preparing for his turn at 1B, one has to wonder if he should ever handle the glove again. With that being said, the A's have several options at DH. They could come to agreements with Durazo for 2006 and then trade him mid-season once Daric Barton is ready for the big leagues. Or they could simply let him go outright, bringing up Daric Barton for the beginning of 2006 or rotating DH between Matt Watson, Kendall, Melhuse, and Payton (if they hang on to him).

Keichi Yabu:

Oh man, do I really have to explain ? Billy Beane needs to stop these $1 million dollar experiments. They just don't work. Last year it was Karros, this year it was Yabu, a Japanese import making his first U.S. major league appearance.

Originally brought on as a possible 4th or 5th starter, Yabu ended up in the bullpen where he started fairly strong but was relegated to mop up work. Then for a long while he just seemed to disappear as Macha appeared to stop using him altogether, only to bring him out again near the end of the season in several crucial games where Yabu made a good case for assigning himself strictly to mop up duty.

1 year contract, $1 million dollars gone, no need to continue any further. He will be gone.

Keith Ginter:

Ginter is a complete mystery. Like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, it is impossible to distinguish which is the real man - AAA raker and right-handed major league pop ? or lackluster defensive infielder who couldn't hit a ball past the infield or hell, just hit the ball period ?

Ginter was brought in as insurance in case Ellis was not up to par after recovering from his season ending injury of 2004. He was also brought in as a power right handed batter to complement the lefty heavy A's, having raked 19 HR in just 386 AB with Milwaukee in 2004.

Luckily, Ellis exceeded everyone's expectations putting up stellar defense and having a career year at the plate. Not so luckily, Ginter struggled early in the season, putting up abysmal numbers for a major league batter and quickly got sent down to AAA Sacramento - where he proceeded to destroy AAA pitching. Which then earned him another call up to the big club -
where he proceeded to put up even worse numbers than in the beginning of the season, thereby earning him a well deserved place on the bench for the remainder of the season.

I don't think anyone could have foreseen this kind of performance from Ginter when the A's signed him. The guy has a career 0.751 OPS compared to a 0.497 OPS for 2005.I am sure Ginter is just as confused as the rest of us.

I think Ginter is better than what he gave the A's in 2005 and is ready for a rebound. The question is how big will that rebound be and do we want to take a chance on him again for 2006 when we now know that we have a healthy and incredibly successful Mark Ellis at 2B and Marco Scutaro as a very competent infield back up. We just don't need 2 back ups at 2B and I think hanging on to Ginter as an emergency back up for Chavez is not worth it, it is money better spent elsewhere.

Charles Thomas:

Why we bothered with Charles Thomas in the first place is a mystery to me. This is a guy who never excelled in the minor leagues except for 2003 and the first part of 2004 where his numbers were so far off his minor league norms one has to wonder if his flashes of brilliance were just that. Thomas then got called up to Atlanta where he played pretty well in 2004, which earned him a spot with the A's in the Tim Hudson trade.

Beane understandably likes cheap, young players, especially players that are undervalued or haven't reached their peak yet, but this was a gamble that Beane was to lose. Charles Thomas got off to a horrible start that quickly turned into a horrible year. Despite Macha regular trotting Thomas out in the lineup, Thomas continued to make his case as bench warmer. In June, Charles Thomas was sent down to AAA Sacramento where a hot start quickly turned into lukewarm waters. His final stats at AAA - 0.227 BA, 0.319 OBP, 0.361 SLG. With numbers like these, he doesn't even belong in AAA, much less the major leagues.

This was another Beane gamble that didn't pan out. Charles Thomas is long past the age of being considered a prospect and has few choices left in his baseball career. The A's would be wise to let him go or tender him a minor league contract with the hopes that he breaks out one day.

One noticeable name absent from this list is Juan Cruz. As painful as it was to sometimes watch him come into a game, I feel his numbers for 2005 are an aberration, not the standard. This guy was lights out for Atlanta and had he stayed in Atlanta he would have been a starter. When the A's sent him down to AAA, he posted outstanding numbers and mowed down batters. It is very possible that due to his lackluster performance in 2005 the A's may send him packing, but I am going to bet on him staying in the organization, either as a starter or back in the bullpen. If he still underperforms in 2006, then the A's will be forced to trade him, but I am hoping for a big comeback.

That's it for today, the next post will focus on a list of players that I believe the A's should hang on to for 2006.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

City of Fremont discussing possible proposal for Oakland A's

There is going to be a city council meeting tonight in Fremont to discuss the possibility to introduce a proposal to the Oakland A’s to bring the team to Fremont. Read it over at Athletics Nation.

Old news : Dave Hudgens gets canned

Old news, but I am still catching up. Last week Billy Beane fired A’s hitting coach Dave Hudgens. I say fired because that is exactly what it was, even though the article takes pains to point out that Hudgens will be given a chance to stay with the organization. Yeah, right, not after being fired by Beane :

"It'd be really hard to go back," Hudgens told by phone Monday night while driving from Oakland to Southern California. "This isn't sitting too well with me right now."

Hudgens said he met Monday morning with general manager Billy Beane, who informed him of the decision.

"Billy had his perception of the job I did, and I disagreed with his perception," Hudgens said. "It wasn't a very happy meeting. Obviously."

Beane didn't speak with any of the players about the move, either.

"I think that's probably what bothers me the most," Hudgens said. "I asked him if he'd talked to [Eric] Chavez or [Mark] Ellis or [Nick] Swisher, or [Jason] Kendall or [Mark] Kotsay] or any of the guys. He said he didn't need to talk to them."

Ouch. Can’t blame Hudgens for not wanting to come back, hope he can find a job elsewhere. Still, while I don’t blame Hudgens completely, he should shoulder some of the blame for the hot and cold offense this year as well as some of the worst situational hitting in the league :

Home Runs – 155 – 9th in the league

BA – 0.262 – 12th in the league

OPS – 0.737 – 10th in the league

BARISP – 0.273 – 5th if the league

BA with Bases Loaded - 0.211

Monday, October 10, 2005

Who will be the A's next manager ?

Unless you were born and raised in a dark cave, you obviously know that Macha is out. For some of you, knowing that Macha is gone brings a deep feeling of relief. Others felt Macha was a good manager who handled the young staff well. Even a choice few others - from the general public - don't know how the A's will survive next year without Macha. No really, stop laughing, I am serious. I was in the store just yesterday and a woman saw my A's shirt and said "I love the A's but I don't know how they are going to make it without Macha."

I fall somewhere in the middle. While I sometimes questioned Macha's use of the bullpen, for the most part I felt he was a decent manager who worked hard to develop the younger players and keep the team on a generally even, if not always successful, keel. I also felt that the occasional burst of anger and rage towards a bogus call would have, at the worst, bolstered your players' morale and boosted their energy, but I can't recall too many instances when Macha ever ventured on the field to argue a call, and when he did it appeared he was discussing the weather with his next door neighbor much less arguing with the ump. Still, overall he did a fair, if unspectacular, job. I feel no regrets having had Macha as a coach and wish him luck in the future.

That being said, I was not surprised to hear of Macha leaving the A's. Just a few years ago we watched Art Howe go to the Mets where he lasted all of 1 season - after many pundits argued that losing Howe was a blow to the A's. Where is Art Howe now ? Oh yeah, vanished into irrelevance. Macha quickly stepped up to the manager's position where he filled in just fine.

So now with Macha gone, what to do ? Promote from within. The A's organization, above all else and unlike most other teams, is exactly that : an ORGANIZATION. The A's ownership under the general managership of Billy Beane has spent years developing a detailed organization from the bottom up that focuses on choosing quality personnel, whether players or management or front office personnel, and then trains and molds them to fit into the A's unique philosophy of how to run a baseball business. Billy Beane and the A's organization see themselves as a baseball business and they run themselves accordingly.

In the big corporate world, highly successful corporations promote from within. They find employees with the personality and skills that they, as an organization, value most and actively work to develop such employees into valuable human assets. When it comes time to choose a new manager, then the corporation has a variety of choices from within the organization to promote to that position, without having to worry about hiring a potential stranger whom they then have to waste valuable time and money training and teaching to fit into your organization's structure.

With that in mind, the A's currently have 2 candidates from within the organization that they are going to interview for the manager's job - bullpen coach Bob Geren and my personal favorite infield coach Ron Washington.

While I think Ron Washington is an outstanding individual and most deserving of a manager position, I think the job will go to Bob Geren, who is known to be a close friend of Billy Beane's. With Bob Geren, there will most likely be little friction between the manager and the front office of Billy Beane, as has long been rumored with both Macha and Howe. About Bob Geren, I simply don't know enough to have an opinion on whether he would be a good manager or not, but one can simply hope that his knowledge of the A's bullpen will put him in a better position to manage it during tough games next season.

As for Ron Washington, he is the most valuable coach the A's have. Players from all levels of the organization value Washington's expertise as an infield coach and credit him with their fielding success. To lose Ron Washington would be horrible blow to the Oakland A's, but for his own career I wish him the best and I hope that if he does not get the job with the A's that he will go on to manage another major league team. As much as I hate to lose him, he deserves better than spending his career as an infield/3B coach.

Anyways, that's all I have for now, we will keep a close watch on the manager talks and will update you once we have more info.

Back in Green and Gold!

I am sure everyone has given up on me since my last post was what.......more than 9 months ago ?? What is the statute of limitations for forgiveness for not posting in almost a year ?

Well, it's been a busy year, I was out of the country for a short period of time, my wife is pregnant with our first child (whoo hoo!), work is nuts, and when baseball season is in session I just naturally spend more time watching it then writing about it, not to mention keeping up with life.

Well I'm back and I promise to be more active in posting, I tend to be more active in the offseason anyways, I find it almost as exciting as the regular baseball season as the annual trade of players, firings and hirings, and contract negotiations shape the season yet to come.

With that, let me end by saying I am sorry, forgive me, and on to the next post !