QUICK OBSERVATIONS FROM THE ROAD…
After a week of road games
against first-place teams, it’s clear that our pitchers can hang with
anybody. Cahill was nothing less than brilliant in Texas
and the past two days in Chicago,
Braden and Gonzalez
reeled off the A’s first back-to-back complete games in seven years (Zito and Mulder were the last in 2003). But this week also offered some harsh
realities for the boys in Green & Gold.
When you look at the power and production–and swagger–of the Rangers’ and White Sox 3-4-5 hitters, it kind of
clear we can’t come close to their firepower.
I mean, Guerrero-Hamilton-Cruz or Rios-Konerko-Quintin, we are not. Don’t get me wrong, the scrappiness of our
lineup does have an endearing quality. What’s
not to like about a Rajai Davis steal or Kurt Suzuki clutch two-out RBI hit? But to join the big boys, well…you need some big boys. As I mentioned in my last blog, Travis Buck and Conor Jackson
are on the mend and rehabbing for re-entry.
In fact, Buck uncorked a home run yesterday for Sacramento, which was a positive sign. And, of course, fellow RiverCatters Chris Carter and Michael Taylor,
and recently-signed first-round draft pick Michael Choice, are in the pipeline as projected middle-of-the-order
hitters. A’s fans, we appreciate your
patience. I know we’re trying that
patience in Year 4 of our rebuilding process.
I think we’ve made important strides in many areas of our game–pitching,
defense and speed, to name three–and hopefully we’ll add some fence-clearing
power to the mix soon….
addition this year who may not get enough kudos is Kevin Kouzmanoff. Yes, I know,
Kouz is a streaky hitter. It seems he’s
always in either a 12-for-26 or 0-for-12 run of some sort. But the guy has been solid as a rock; plays
almost every day, makes all the plays at third base at a position that is
extremely hard to fill for many GMs, and he’s a team player all the way. Plus, we like saying his name. Koooooouz….
It was great to see Ying and
Yang back in the clubhouse together with the return of Brett Anderson from the
DL. He rejoins Trevor Cahill as the
franchise’s two most prized young starting pitchers, really two of the more coveted
neophytes in all of baseball. Anderson got derailed
with his unexpected elbow problems, but he should be fine again once the rust
is shaken. And what about the baby-faced
Cahill? Did you notice this rather
eye-popping stat? Trevor has limited
opposing hitters to a below-the-Mendoza-line .196 batting average this
season. That figure leads all American League pitchers (okay, let’s collectively pinch
ourselves…this kid is only 22 years old!).
What’s this All-Star going to do for an encore? Too bad he’s a ground ball pitcher instead of
a strikeout artist, because I already had a great new name for him: K-Hill….
On a side note, I loved
listening to A’s play-by-play voice Ken Korach reminisce about his early broadcasting days in big
league baseball. He joined me and our
beat writers in the press lounge at U. S. Cellular Field yesterday, and told us
how he started out as a part-time announcer for the White Sox. He used to fill in for former White Sox
play-by-play man John Rooney, who also had national
radio obligations on weekends. Korach
would fly in from Las Vegas,
check into a hotel and then make like Adam Rosales
as a utility man in the broadcast booth.
“Man, I was coming from the lowly minor leagues, so even eating this
fabulous brunch in the press lounge was exciting. I knew I was finally in the big leagues“….
Korach, clearly a good story
teller both on and off the air, also shared this one with me while we were both
wilting at a Rangers’ games in Arlington
this week. “My former partner, Mr. King,
had it in his contract in the later years that he didn’t have to make the A’s
trips to Texas
in the summer. He just couldn’t stand
the weather.” And beyond the oppressive
heat and humidity, the visiting broadcast booths are situated high atop Rangers
Ballpark in a perfect location to catch the constant winds that blow, sometimes
at quite high velocity, over the Texas
plains. Apparently Bill King just loved it when his game notes and stat sheets
used to take flight off the broadcast counter.
First, he would try his best to track the materials down, then after a
second or third attempt one time, it became legend that the Great One once just
picked up the papers, hurled them out the window of the broadcast wind tunnel
and just, mid-game, exited the booth…..
And with that, I choose to
exit this blog, until the next time. Kansas City and Texas
visit the Coliseum this week. Come out
and give our A’s some love.