I'm going to try to get this link post out the door in advance of a trip out to Adelanto / Victorville to see the High Desert Mavericks take on the Lancaster Jethawks in Cal League action. George Springer is the only real top-notch prospect on either roster, unfortunately, but it doesn't matter: first minor-league game of the season! (And likely my last until June, sadly.)
Here's Susan Slusser's recap of Game Three. Bob Melvin called the game "disappointing" and Brandon McCarthy said his command was as bad as it's ever been. At least in the time I've been watching him, I might agree with that.
I forgot to mention yesterday the curious quote from Josh Reddick that he was happier hitting third than fourth because he feels that hitting fourth means pressure to hit homers. I get that these mental pressures exist and that they probably do affect performance, but I wish we weren't so fatalistic about it -- I'd like to think that a team would hire a manager and hitting coach with precisely the characteristics that they can help players understand that their batting spot shouldn't change what they do at the plate, that they're being put in that spot because of what they already do.
Of course, maybe that's why Bob Melvin is here. It's certainly not for tactics. Maybe the reason he's known as such a friendly manager is because of a way he has of reducing pressure on his players. Who knows. The A's probably don't have enough good players for this to really matter anyway.
The latest Jeremy Barfield blog post is up and it's chock full of goodies: flatulence, Snuggies, hecklers, and a weird note about how the ball doesn't carry in the Texas League. I'd always thought the opposite, given that the league is known for offense, but maybe it's different characteristics that make it so?
The Athletics Nation Game Three write-up is here, though I don't understand baseballgirl's contention that Jordan Norberto made mental mistakes on plays at first base. Both mistakes were Kila Ka'aihue's, to my eyes, when Kila fielded a ball he should have left for Jemile Weeks and then, on the bunt, didn't throw to Weeks at first (though, as I noted in my recap, the out may not have been available either way on that play).
Nico thinks the team looked too eager, too amped, and that's hard to disagree with, given the two dropped transfers from glove to hand in the outfield, Ka'aihue going out of his depth for ground balls two different times, and Josh Reddick's air-mailed throw to first. I'm not sure I agree with Nico that Kurt Suzuki's play at home when Yoenis Cespedes attempted to throw out Brendan Ryan scoring on a sacrifice fly was poorly done. He wasn't as far behind the plate as Nico makes it sound, and he had to be in a position to make a play on the hop that Cespedes gave him -- trying to catch a ball on the short-hop with a catcher's glove is a recipe for dropping the ball and not having a tag altogether. He forced Ryan into a difficult slide, one that could very easily have missed the plate entirely, and he did what he could with the throw he had, in my opinion.
I will fault Suzuki for this: I thought he went "elevated" on 0-2 and 1-2 from Brandon McCarthy too often. Or maybe I should be faulting McCarthy for making that part of his game-plan. I'm not sure. But whether it was the way Suzuki set up, the type of pitches McCarthy throws, or whatever, it didn't seem to have any effect on the Mariner hitters aside from providing them an extra ball.
Yoenis Cespedes hit that ball so hard that when it bounced off the outfield
concrete, the concrete block's twin concrete block brother shivered in pain,
and a visually unappealing office tower collapsed in downtown.