Monday, July 28, 2008

A's Playoff Odds (July 28)

Last week, the A's became even less likely to make the postseason, down 12% to only 9%. That is not good, folks. On the bright side, I decided that Carlos Gonzalez is my new favorite A's player. It seems like every time I watch him at bat, he gets a double. I've decided that I'm sticking with him, and I'm going to start watching him at bat more often. I must be some kind of good luck charm if he's getting all these doubles.

In fact, I'm going to Saturday's game against the Red Sox at Fenway, and I think our seats are near the A's dugout. I'll be sure to let Carlos know that I'm pulling for him.

Because the A's are pretty much officially out of the playoff hunt, I've decided to start taking a weekly look at our best performers. The average OPS in the AL is about .750, so I'll tip my hat this week to the five A's exceeding that threshold this past week (along with their OBP/SLG)::

(1) Jack Hannahan (.474/.778)
(2) Kurt Suzuki (.480/.652)
(3) Carlos Gonzalez (.480/.500)
(4) Jack Cust (.381/.438)
(5) Emil Brown (.235/.533)

Data via Baseball Musings.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yahoo Features Piedmont A-11 Offense on Homepage

So back in November, I posted about the Piedmont A-11 Offense and this evening, Yahoo featured it on their homepage under the headline, "The Offense of the Future?"

That's some great promotion, and it's having an indirect impact on this website. As of this writing, 18 of the last 20 visits to have come from a search involving the A-11 offense. Very interesting. For those of you who haven't gotten the memo yet, the Yahoo homepage can drive some serious traffic.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A's Playoff Odds (July 21)

Well, that was a short and brutal week. After a long and entertaining All Star break, the A's were swept by the Yankees and the Angels swept the Red Sox. The end result was not pretty. Through Sunday, the A's had only a 21% chance of making the postseason (details here), down 19% in the last week. The Angels, of course, are now 19% more likely to make the postseason -- they're at 84%.

Ugh. I had been hoping that the A's could somehow stay in the hunt long enough to make it interesting and that the team could continue over-achieving while the Angels squandered their talent advantage. But that's looking more and more unlikely each week. After this last week's action, I think we can safely commit to this being just a rebuilding year and nothing else. That's what we should have been expecting all along, but it's disappointing all the same.

Of course, the punchless A's lost again tonight 4-0 to Scott Kazmir and the TB Rays. In their four games since the All-Star break, the A's have now scored a grand total of five runs. That's a recipe for losses - and the A's have certainly delivered. Fortunately, I suppose, I'm heading back to the east coast this weekend, where televised A's games a rarity. It's much easier to endure a rebuilding year when you don't have to suffer through the games live.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blanton to Phildelphia

Comment #11 on Catfish Stew's post, Blanton Traded to Phillies for 3 Prospects:

"I, for one, welcome our new prospects and wish them good luck until they are inevitably flipped for more prospects."

That pretty much hits the nail on the head. It's tough to root for this team sometimes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

First A's Game of the Year

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hadn't even seen the A's play a single game this year. Well, that's no more. I joined a crew of people from AthleticsNation for a tailgate and this past Saturday's A's-Angels game. Good company and good weather were not enough, however, as the A's fell 4-1. I guess what I took away from the game was a sense that I don't know these A's at all. They're a whole lot of AAAA players right now, and no one in the lineup inspires a whole lot of confidence or optimism. When the team falls behind early, as they did in Saturday's game, it's tough to feel like they're going to come back. They just don't have the power.

Makes one pine for the heady days of 2000, when the A's slugged .458 as a team, higher than Jack Cust's team-leading .442 SLG so far this year.

Selling Harden

Some coverage from my reading list:

BaseballMusings' Harden a Cub: Confused, but thinks "It looks like a great move for both clubs."

BaseballMusings' The Oakland View: "I don't think this trade takes the A's out of the race, but it doesn't make them a better contender, either."

BaseballCrank's Rich Harden to the Cubs: "I guess [the Cubs] were feeling nostalgic for the Mark Prior Era."

AthleticsNation's Nico's Official Spin On The Trade: "I do think the trade will wind up as a good one for Oakland"

CatfishStew's Harden and Gaudin Traded to Cubs: "They traded two flawed players, and got back four flawed players, none of whom are very easy to muster up any child-like giddiness about. Emotionally, this one really hurts."

CatfishStew's That's a Load of Beane: "[T]he A's are saving quite a bit of money in this trade over the next year and a half... if you think of the deal as including Inoa plus an extra year or two of Mark Ellis, the trade looks a lot better, doesn't it?"

Overall, some mixed feelings in there. Some folks are absorbing the reality of a rebuilding year, while others already miss the "child-like giddiness" Harden inspired when he was on. But I don't see much gnashing of teeth or rending of garments. A's fans and baseball fans seem to be giving Beane the benefit of the doubt here, while admitting that there is quite a bit of doubt. I guess we'll just have to stay tuned...

Is this latest haul of new players more like Barton/Haren/Calero or Danny Meyer, Juan Cruz and Charles Thomas? And is Harden going to end up more like Mulder or Hudson in his post-Oakland career? I guess that's what makes this deal so typical of Billy Beane lately - he's taking a risk to improve the future while making sacrifices in the here and now. It's tough to be a fan of a team that is pushing back the window of opportunity. It's much easier for fans to get excited about someone going all-in, pushing their chips into the center of the table and seeing what happens immediately. When will Beane make that move? Or will he never make a move that bold because failure (should it come) will be so apparent and so quick that he could be out of a job?

A's Playoff Odds (July 14)

In the last week, the A's chances of reaching the postseason dropped another 4% to 40%, according to BaseballProspectus. The A's won their four-game series with the Mariners 3-1 before losing their Angels series 2-1. While the A's were going 4-3, the Angels went 4-3 and increased their postseason odds to 65%. Just think, if Huston Street could have closed out the Sunday game, the tables would have been turned, and the A's would probably have closed the "odds" gap on the Angels.

All season long, the Angels have been recognized as the better team, but it's only been in the last four weeks or so that they've started showing it. The beginnings of that separation might have helped Billy Beane make the decision to sell...

So, selling. Let's cover that in another post.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tidbits from Baseball Musings

I use Bloglines to read everything David Pinto writes over at Baseball Musings. Two of his posts on the A's last week caught my eye.

(1) Wolff on the Angels -- I disagree with Lew Wolff. I dislike everything about the Angels, starting with local color man Rex Hudler.

(2) Organizations Matter -- Nice to see the A's more involved in the international scouting market. And even better to see them recruiting effectively. Losing the bidding battle yet winning the war seems like a nice "moneyball" approach.

A's Playoff Odds (July 7)

So, last Monday the A's had a 50% chance of making the playoffs and had big series coming up against division leaders Angels and White Sox. How'd the A's do?

W 6-1 @ LAA
L 3-5 @ LAA
L 4-7 @ LAA
W 3-2 @ CWS
W 7-1 @ CWS
L 1-6 @ CWS
L 3-4 @ CWS

Going 3-4 against division leaders isn't horrible, but it's not going to help you make up any ground, especially while the Angels are going 4-2. In fact, Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds say the A's are 6% less likely to make the postseason now (44%) than they were a week ago (50%). The entire difference there is essentially transferred to the Angels, who are now a 57% bet to make the playoffs. It's a bit early to say that things are slipping away from the A's, but BP is liking their chances less and less each week.

The A's need to start turning this around. The Angels have four games at Texas before coming to Oakland this weekend for a three-game set. Hopefully Josh Hamliton and the Texas heat can wear down the Angel pitchers before they head north for the last pre-All Star series. Meanwhile, the A's have four games at home against the Mariners. These *should* be winnable games, and with some luck, this is the week the A's take a step in the right direction.

(Of course as I'm writing this, Richie Sexson hits a three-run HR off Eveland in the top of the first inning of tonight's game. Ugh.)

Asking for Input?

Paul DePodesta's asking Padres fans what they would do as GM: Buy, Sell or Stand Pat. The majority of the comments are saying: "sell."

Will DePodesta and the front office listen? Were they planning on selling anyway?

Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds think the Padres should sell too. They're giving the Padres only an 0.36% chance of making the playoffs. It's probably time for the Padres to sell.