By Jason Wojciechowski on January 10, 2012 at 11:00 PM
There hasn't been any news in the last few days, but for some reason, my A's folder in Google Reader has quite a few items to share.
Perhaps most notably, here are John Sickels's Top 20 A's prospects. It's nothing too controversial, but Jarrod Parker does come in at #1 with a coveted A- grade, while Michael Choice is #2 at a B+. (Contrast Kevin Goldstein's five-star rating and #1 ranking for Choice.) (Do note, though, that Parker is listed as a "borderline B+" and thus could end up at that grade by the time Sickels's book comes out.)
With the possibility that the A's are interested in Ryan Ludwick, Joseph Lopez takes a look and, despite noting that the A's outfield depth is "razor thin," doesn't like what he sees. I'm hard pressed to disagree. Maybe the A's will see something I don't (possible trade value at the deadline?), but I'm just as happy to root for the Taylor-Cowgill-Reddick-Allen?-Mitchell group this year.
David Wishinsky has an interesting look at MLB draft classes en route to saying that the draft is basically a crap-shoot. His post is in response to Jonah Keri's article on Grantland, and he's kind enough to quote my response as well.
Episode Six of Tarp Talk is here, and it's good. They got Sam Miller! (Unfortunately, I had some difficulty with the Miller portion of the recording -- there was some static or something going on, so I didn't make it all the way through.)
Woodman663 of Bluebird Banter has a look at Brandon McCarthy and asks whether he's the new Jose Bautista. Mr. McCarthy will forgive me for this (which will be easy, since he'll never actually see this), but I just can't trust that his injury issues are behind him for good such that he can be counted on for 200 (or even 180) innings every year for the next three or four or five. He's a very good pitcher when he's on the mound and he was on the mound a lot in 2011, and I hope he writes his memoirs after he retires (not just because he's funny and intelligent, but because his story, however it plays out from here, is a compelling one. Not everyone would have kept going -- it would be interesting to get in the head of someone who did, especially when that someone is more capable than many ballplayers of expressing himself.
Charlie Saponara at Fire Brand of the American League (the Red Sox SweetSpot sister site of Beaneball) looks at Rich Harden and advocates for Boston to sign him for a bullpen/spot starter role. Charlie does point out that it's unknown how Harden's body would hold up to the bullpen life, and I'd add another concern -- does Harden have the type of arm that can warm up quickly and be ready to pitch at a moment's notice? I don't know whether some people have a natural propensity to be better at being ready quickly, or whether it's a simple matter of training and conditioning, but to the extent that teams are aware of differences between pitcher abilities to accomplish this basic task of relieving, one does wonder whether it might be a problem for Harden.
Anyway, I wonder just how good Harden is these days. His strikeout rate in 2011 was amazing, but his homer rate was awful and changing parks is only likely to make it worse, if in fact last year's rate represents his true skill in that area. For what it's worth, I don't remember seeing a ton of cheap homers -- I remember a lot of hung changeups that acted more like batting-practice fastballs for hitters to tee off on. That's not analysis, of course, not even for a blogger, but it's a caution that I'd much prefer to see an actual investigation into Harden's homers than a population-based assumption that his homer rate will regress downward next season.
I've been lobbied on Twitter to rename this blog "The Chronicles of Reddick" in honor of the A's acquisition of the ex-Bostonian. I'm not going to do that (we're coming up on nine years!), but I will start a Tumblr.