First A's post of the season

By Jason Wojciechowski on April 16, 2009 at 7:43 PM

The A's have finished three series, MLB.tv has ironed out its archiving and blackout issues, and I haven't posted a single thing here yet. What was the point of getting MLB.tv if I wasn't going to blog about the games?

I didn't get to see a bunch of the games because of the aforementioned MLB.tv issues. One game I could have watched but didn't was the Adenhart matchup. It simply would've been too creepy and too sad; way too much regular human emotion to overcome a nice A's win. But I did watch the last two games, the 12th inning win over the Red Sox and then the Wakefield near-no-hitter.

On the former, easily the best part of that game was the five-run first inning the A's put up on Matsuzaka. Yeah, it turns out he was injured, as he went on the DL the next day with dead-arm or something, but the point is that the A's took advantage of his lack of stuff and command to put themselves in a position to win the game right from the start, even after their own pitcher had his own struggles in his half of the first.

In the latter, Brett Anderson was very impressive. He reminds me a lot of Mark Mulder in size, pitching motion, stuff, command, and the way he works quickly. Between the A's swinging early at Wakefield and not getting any hits and Anderson working quickly, the game was halfway over after about an hour. That's vintage Mark Mulder. A's fans would, of course, be elated if Anderson could come close to replicating the Mark Mulder Experience, though we should all hope that he turns out to have a better overall career than Mulder has had, having sadly fallen to the Shoulder Injury Menace.

In non-watching observations, the new offense is coming together ok. They've had three drought games, two shutouts and a two-runner, and one big game, the eight-run performance against the Red Sox on Monday, and five games in the 4-6 range. Overall, they're averaging a little over four runs a game, while they were a little under four a game last year. So they're up a smidge, but they haven't shown themselves to be the offensive powerhouse some analysts expected.

One problem is Ryan Sweeney's .295 OBP as the leadoff man. Another is that when Eric Chavez has played, he's only three for twenty. His replacement, Nomar, is hitting .217. His replacement, the erstwhile shortstop, Bobby Crosby, is at a neat .100. Of course, none of these guys has more than 23 at-bats, but aggregated, we're talking about the three guys who play third base (each of whom should be considered injury-prone, so each of whom could get any number of at-bats) hitting .170 with three walks and two extra-base hits.

Jack Cust has basically been carrying the team, as well as rewarding my fantasy faith, hitting 333/487/567. Obviously, those numbers will fall, especially the average, as he's struck out ten times in thirty at-bats so far, which means that his BABIP is unsustainably high for a guy who doesn't really hit a ton of line drives. The quick and dirty (+.120) method of figuring out what someone's BABIP should be based on their line-drive percentage says that Cust's BABIP should be around .320 right now. It's actually .444. (Cust's career BABIP of .339 is wonderfully in line with his career line-drive percentage of 22.4%.) So he's had some hits fall in that we might expect won't continue to fall.

The A's are off tonight. They'll pick up with a six-game east-coast swing tomorrow, starting in Toronto over the weekend and then heading to New Yankee Stadium to face their old friend Nick Swisher. With any luck, the A's will put him in a position to pitch again. Outman, Cahill, and Braden are scheduled to go against the Blue Jays, who will be forced to turn to the immortal Brian Tallet in game two of the series after losing Jesse Litsch to injury. The Toronto offense has been active early, putting up games of 12, 13, 8, and 12 runs and only scoring fewer than four once.

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