Monday, May 30, 2011

A's As In Apathy

Today in Oakland, the Yankees bear the A's for the eighth straight time. They are now 22-4 against Oakland since the start of 2008. And anything that happens 22 times out of 26 shouldn't change your mind about much of anything... except for the particulars involved here.

The Yankees' starting pitcher was Bartolo Colon. He's 38. Their closing pitcher was, well, Colon. A big fat sack of goo that was borderline out of baseball, and while he's been having a comeback year and all, he also gave up 6 ERs to Toronto last week, and has seen his ERA go up a run in May, mostly because 38-year-old sacks of goo should start melting into uselessness when the weather gets hot and the pitch count gets past the 50 IP mark.

Now, I'm clearly giving short shrift to Colon. According to the game reports, he was still hitting 95 in the ninth, and the man has always had command and control.

However, here's the lineup he faced today, along with their OPS ratings.

Coco Crisp, CF - 712
Daric Barton, 1B - 596
David DeJesus, RF - 708
Josh WIllingham, LF - 775
Hideki Matsui, DH - 628
Kurt Suzuki, C - 686
Mark Ellis, 2B - 544
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B - 609
Cliff Penington, SS - 653

Nine out of nine starters under their career averages. Nine out of nine starters that you would not want on your mixed-league fantasy team (unless, I guess, you are ready to just toss aside all kinds of categories for the occasional stolen base). Nine out of nine starters that you aren't excited to see today. Nine out of nine who should not be starting for this team in, say, 2013, assuming you don't think that Suzuki or Pennington has another gear, or that Barton will somehow be more than the weak sauce son of Scott Hatteberg.

Meanwhile, of course, Andre Ethier works in Los Angeles for the Dodgers, given up for the rental of a couple of years of Milton Bradley. Carlos Gonzalez works in Colorado as part of the talent exodus that followed Dan Haren out of town. And it's true that while neither of those guys is likely to go to the Hall of Fame right now, they'd certainly be a hell of a lot more entertaining to watch than anything the A's play right now.

So they don't hit *and* they aren't patient; it's the early part of the century Royals out there, only without even the single useful element of Mike Sweeney to provide occasional moments of flash. When they do win, which happens about as often as they lose, it's from the most dull way possible -- starting pitching and defense, in a park that rewards both, along with an utter lack of intensity, since it's been years and years since anyone really went with a strong expectaiton of victory.

A true fact about baseball: if you aren't going to win games, you might at least as well lose them in ways that people want to watch. Starting nine guys with OPSs that do not rank in the top 155 in MLB? Not fun. Having a minor league system that hasn't produced a position player (that actually played for the home nine) of positive note since the early part of this century? Also not fun. Showing no evidence of making an effort to win games until your stadium situation gets resolved? The least fun of all.

Oakland lost today, and are now a game under .500, just 2.5 games out of the West. They are a game above .500 at home, two games under on the road. They've won 5 out of their last 10. They get back their closer, Andrew Bailey, this week.

And I care... very, very little. Nor should you.

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