Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Yep, that's right.

Nathan: John J. Perricone of Only Baseball Matters is expanding his site, and for some reason he's decided to bring us two clowns on board.

Charlie: Near as we can figure, in between the thoughtful and considered pieces from one of the more insightful writers in baseball blogdom, we're a sort of comic relief.

Nathan: It seems to me like he's putting Itchy and Scratchy cartoons in between Nightline stories, but we're hardly in a position to argue. Today's game recaps will be a bit delayed as we learn the MT ropes and try not to be the frat-boys in the society gathering. I'll provide a hint of what's to come when I say: Ha. Ha. Ha. This page'll stay up for a bit, but look for all further posts at OBM.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Winds of Change

Nathan: Well, while the comment folders aren't exactly getting massively overloaded, I know at least one person's been reading, and a suggestion he made is going to bring a pretty big change to Giants vs A's. Yes, I am being intentionally mysterious.

Charlie: Speaking of fantasies, here's the current status of the Giants vs A's fantasy "league". No, we aren't actually going to be updating this every day. Maybe every week. Probably less. But just this once at least.

N: If the A's had won yesterday and the Giants had lost today, you wouldn't have heard a word of this from him.

C: Don't be bitter. Even though you have cause. First, Charlie's Browns.

N: I should have held you to that bet on the last preseason game and made you change your team's name.

C: I should have held you to the bet on the first two and made you change your cat's. The Browns: .259 AVG, 2 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 SB, 2.25 ERA, 0.875 WHIP, 1 W, 1 SV, 9 K. The Hotdogs: .214 AVG, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 5.14 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, 0 W, 0 SV, 3 K. For a current score of 8-0.

N: Do I need to spend another hour teaching you the concept of small sample size?

C: Hey, I'm going by the largest sample I've got. And in that sample, the A's are 0-1 and the Giants are 1-0.

Game Summary 4/05

Charlie: I'm magnanimous enough in victory to admit this wasn't the prettiest of wins. I may be the glass is half-empty portion of this blog (in contrast to my partner's glass is half-full, 52.354% full if you count walks) but it seems like we had a lot of things go our way. First, Barry or no Barry, Schmidt vs Lowe is a Sean May vs. anyone on Illinois' entire squad kind of mismatch. And we still needed poor Dodger defense and sterling Giant defense to tip the scales. I don't like that we were only able to draw two walks from Derek Lowe, who had 71 walks last year in only 182 innings. I don't like that grizzled veterans Omar Vizquel and Ray Durham botched a hit-and-run.

That said, it's clear that the offense is not helpless without Barry, the infield defense is a strong suit of this club, and the bullpen feels a lot better with Benitez. These are the kind of wins we need to get to keep us in the hunt until Barry is back. 1 down, 161 to go.

Nathan: On a non game-related note, I caught a bit of chat on the Giants' 50,000-watt booster channel between Gary Radnich, Rick Barry and Peter Magowan. Magowan had an interesting tidbit that went something like "There are three ways to win in this league. There's the way the Yankees do it, by outspending everyone. There's the way the A's do it, by drafting well. Then there's the way we do it, which is probably the hardest way. The problem with the A's way is that it entails some last-place finishes." Was that a prediction? I also didn't note his explanation of just what the way "we do it" is. It apparently involves signing the best player in the game and then surrounding him with a lot of spare parts. That's been the strategy as near as I can tell over the past few years.

Rick Barry asked Magowan "If you had the money the Yankees do, would you spend so much?" and Magown gave this half-assed non-answer, something like "Well the Yankees do what they do, but we can't do that." To his credit, Barry actually pressed Magowan, getting him to say "Well we wouldn't spend quite as much." whatever that means.

C: It means we'd cap the payroll at $199M.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Game summary 4/04

Charlie: In the interest of keeping game recaps consistent with the theme of the blog.

Nathan: Specifically, blunt mockery.

C: We've figured out how to do them in a way that will continue to bring the funny.

N: Or at least as much of the funny as we've been bringing so far.

C: Game recaps for Giants games will be done by me when the Giants win, and by Nathan when the Giants lose. Vice-versa for the A's. That's how we'll do things for as long as circumstances dictate.

N: "Circumstances" being "As long as we feel like it".

C: Today's game between the Orioles and the Athletics will be remembered as the debut of Sammy Sosa as an Oriole (two base hits in four at-bats). It will not be remembered as another step in Zito's steady slide into abject mediocrity. Zito gave up six hits and three walks in six innings against Baltimore. It wasn't truly a terrible performance, and Baltimore's lineup is one of the better one-to-nines in the American League, but it was definitely more Bad Barry than Cy Young Barry. The home run by Luis Matos, who had 6 HR and a .333 SLG last year, is kind of a dead giveaway.

The on-base percentage Nathan swears by has yet to arrive, and power hasn't exactly shown itself either. After one game, the Daze have the impressive line of .222/.243/.250. In short, the A's wish they could hit as well as Mike Matheny. Crosby was taken out in the 4th with "back pain". He still had enough time to record his first strikeout of the year.

Per agreed upon rules, Nathan is not allowed to comment on or argue with any of my unfair assertions or other cruel statements. Any passing readers however are invited to.

N: Hint hint.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

First steroid suspension

Nathan: Alex Sanchez? .364 slugging percentage Alex Sanchez? Alex "I had a .064 isolated power last year" Sanchez? Isn't Alex Sanchez taking steroids the very definition of a victimless crime?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

At least I'm not the only one who doesn't know what to write about

Nathan: Bob Padecky of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat gives us a good idea why he's stuck in Sonoma county with this column.

Some highlights:

"In Greek mythology Sisyphus is the sinner condemned to an eternity of rolling a boulder uphill, only to have the boulder roll back down every time he reaches the top.

Funny, but I don't see Lewis Wolff, the front man for the new Oakland A's ownership group, lasting that long with his boulder.

His boulder was Charlie Finley's, and Walter Haas', and Steve Schott's and Ken Hofmann's. His boulder, in general, is selling baseball in a non-baseball town, elevating it to an essential item of existence even though no one has done that. In the specific, it's believing a brand-new $300 million stadium is all that the Oakland Athletics need to get off food stamps and live in the high-rise like so many others, even though no one has placed their money alongside that vision.

Is Wolff willing to gamble he's the guy who can make all that happen? Well, Wolff didn't get to be a mega real estate magnate by gambling. He doesn't make it up as he goes along. He doesn't get trapped the way his old fraternity brother, Bud Selig, did a couple of years ago when the teams ran out of players at the All-Star Game and he threw up his hands, confused at what to do next.

Wolff knows, right now, exactly what he wants to do with the Oakland A's. It's to move the team to Las Vegas unless the Bay Area trips over itself to keep the team. It's not to play the fool. It's not to be Schott and Hofmann, whining they are tired of squeezing water out of a rock. Whatever joy the A's achieved by making the playoffs was crushed by Schott and Hofmann claiming they couldn't keep this up much longer.

It's not to be the Haas family, saying they poured millions into the franchise only for good money to turn into a bad investment."

I see three out-and-out erroneous assumptions in that excerpt. The first and most obvious is that the A's are unprofitable. Not even worth discussing, so let's move on. The second is that this columnist is a clever writer. Also not worth discussing. The final is that Las Vegas is an attractive place to move a baseball team.

Las Vegas is not going to have a major-league baseball team in the near future. Very few teams are so bad off that a move there would improve their situation.

The only benefits to Vegas are relatively low land costs, available money and low taxes. While businesses would certainly like that, it comes with heavy prices.

First and foremost, gambling. Baseball is currently trying to get the stigma of the drug vice off of itself. You think it wants to dive back into Pete Roseville? Vegas' climate would essentially require a domed stadium. The area money that would be available to finance a major-league dome would almost certainly come from gaming interests. You think MLB wants a team playing in Harrah's Park with folks beyond the bleachers shoving nickels into slots?

Besides the gambling issue, the Las Vegas area is relatively small, with about 1.5 million people in it's metropolitan area. The smallest market in baseball currently has a quarter million more (Milwaukee). To an extent, all teams pull in fans from outside just their metro area. The Bay Area metro area, consisting of the nine counties around the bay, is just shy of 7 million, but that ignores Santa Cruz county, the Sacramento area and the Central Valley. There's almost no population in the extended area around Las Vegas. The nearest reasonably large city is Bakersfield.

Vegas boosters point to a very fast growth rate, noting that the metropolitan population almost doubled from 1990 to 2000, without realizing that's not an unqualified benefit. Arrivals from other areas often have loyalty to teams from where they moved, and many will not switch loyalties just because a new team has moved into town.
Also, the median income of the Las Vegas area is rather low. Certainly not in the league of the Bay Area. Gaming is profitable, but that profit goes to a very few individuals and corporations.

Las Vegas might be a good destination for the Devil Rays, a team so deep in the recesses of it's own mismanagement that hitting on 16 seems like a good play, but not for the A's.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Beane signed through 2012.

Nathan: Assuming that the LA Times isn't attempting to pull an April Fool's joke, (and I assume not. This would be a really dull joke, and papers that indulge in that sort of humor tend not to aim the jokes at people who live five hundred miles outside their usual paper routes,) Billy Beane has had his contract extended, and is going to be given a share of ownership as well.

Charlie: Billy Beane: The first GM in baseball to be paid in stock options.

N: There are three things that A's fans really wanted out of the team's new ownership.

C: Free beer, Al Davis' head on a pike and their own 50,000-watt radio station.

N: No. Keep the team in Oakland, or at least the Bay Area. Increase the payroll. Lock up Billy Beane for as long as possible. So far Wolff & co have said all the right things with regard to #1, but it's all just hot air until a lease is signed. The team's current lease extends through 2007 with one-year options through 2010, and I'm not counting any chickens on that front. I don't really expect a move, as Las Vegas has a lot of shortcomings as a destination, and no one else has come to the fore, but Raider fans know you never assume.

An increase of the payroll would be nice, but I'm not really expecting it. I never expected Schott & Hoffman to become an honorary Haas, and I'm not expecting Wolff & co to either. Oakland is a profitable franchise, and there's little reason to expect the new owners to want to change that. If revenue goes up, payroll will go up. Meanwhile, barring Wolff becoming the gringo Arte Moreno, he's done the next best thing to insure that this team is going to put a quality product out on the field. Arguably, retaining Beane is the best thing for that, since there are plenty of recent examples of high-priced teams that don't even sniff the postseason.

And from a business standpoint, giving your genius GM the best possible incentive to insure both the team's success and the team's profitability via a stake in the team just makes good sense.

C: Sorta like how it would make good sense for Domino's to give you a share of ownership.

N: I hate you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Worst of the Best

Nathan: I've entered my team in BPro's HACKING MASS contest. For those unfamiliar, you're trying to pick the player who will have the poorest OPS or ERA in the most number of PA/IP. Essentially, you want to find the worst hitter/pitcher who will somehow hold onto their job all year. After a lot of painstaking research and the less-than-surprising realization that I have a massive dislike for Terrence Long, I present my team:

C: Mike Matheny
1B: Darin Erstad
2B: Craig Counsell
3B: Sean Burroughs
SS: Pokey Reese
LF: Reed Johnson
CF: Dave Roberts
RF: Terrence Long
Pitcher #1: Sean Estes
Pitcher #2: Chan Ho Park

They've thrown a new wrinkle this year, making it so you can't take Rockies pitchers. So, you either hope your pitcher gets traded to Colorado, or you just make do. I made did with Shawn Estes, a big barrel of suck who in addition to pitching at BOB, will also have a few trips to Coors this year against a division rival. Without planning to, I ended up taking a Giants player and a player of every non-A's team in the AL West. Look for Pokey Reese to be the MVP!