BayAreaBall Musings – Before Our Attention Turns to Football…
BayAreaBall Musings will be our weekly attempt to take a light hearted look at a weekly topic based on the back and forth conversations of our writers.
Aaron Rubenstein: So here we are Frank, entering the last week where baseball has our undivided attention, and the Giants are leading the NL West by 4.5 games while the A’s are leading the Wild Card standings and sit just 3 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. While most of the nation prepares to completely immerse themselves in football the Bay Area still has plenty of reasons to keep watching baseball.
As an A’s fan, how are you feeling about this season? Regardless of whether the A’s make the playoffs this year or not, has this season changed your outlook on the team in 2013 and beyond or is it hard to get excited about the future as long as Lew Wolff is prominently involved with the team?
Frank Gomez: Glad you asked Aaron, as an A’s fan who’s living this season in the now, I’m trying to take in all the winning and ass kicking that the A’s have been dishing out over the last week and just bask in it. Because I know that seasons like this are very few and far between especially when you have the ownership group that the A’s have right now. Nothing is sacred during these great baseball times in Oakland. Wolff still has his eyes on the South Bay and San Jose and the fact that the A’s are winning this year in spite of him saying that they could never win in Oakland is probably secretly upsetting him right now.
Which probably means that Bob Melvin gets fired next year, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick get traded, and Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone are sent back down to the minors because they need more seasoning. See this is what happens when you make the boss unhappy by foiling his plans to move his team to San Jose and proving that you can win in Oakland. That is why I am completely for the A’s making the greatest ever “NO ONE EVEN SAW THIS COMING” baseball run of all time. Even I only had the A’s pegged for an 86 win season and was chastised for how crazy I was at the time and that wasn’t close to the pace that they are on right now and the record the A’s will probably end up with. Made it Ma, Top of the World!!!
As a Giants fan, how are you feeling about what’s been going on with the Giants? They haven’t exactly been lighting the MLB on fire but they seem to be keeping a steady course for the division despite the Dodgers attempts to throw money at an ever widening chasm in the NL West. Should Giants fans be worried or excited at the fact that the Dodgers are acting like a virgin at a strip club with their life savings to burn?
AR: I’m feeling surprisingly good about the Giants right now, both for 2012 and beyond. We all know Tim Lincecum is only signed through next season but the way he’s struggled this year has almost been a blessing. For the first time I think this team can be competitive without him, and with him playing most of the year like dog feces his price and term have almost certainly dropped. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have him kicking ass and taking names, but I’m starting to think the Giants window might be open longer than I would have guessed at the beginning of the year. The offense isn’t a disaster anymore, especially on the road, and the Giants are doing this with a bullpen that’s not as good as it was in 2010 and Barry Zito still on the team.
That’s not to say I can’t complain about things here and there because lets face it: the relationship with a baseball team and the daily grind of the sport is different than the relationship fans have with teams in other sports. Things can never be going well enough and if you really love your team there’s also a part of you that kind of hates it too. Or at least hates certain players or coaches or decisions. I guess what I’m saying is you’re not a true baseball fan if you can’t find something about your team to complain about. The only time a real fan is totally content is during the week immediately following a World Series parade. Other than that there’s always something that annoys you.
I’ll be honest, I was a lot more worried about the Dodgers becoming a financial juggernaut before they took on $262 million worth of salaries just to get Adrian Gonzalez. I really liked the Hanley Ramirez move as a way to boost the team this year and start generating interest for the future but the big trade is awful. Josh Beckett has looked totally disinterested in baseball for most of the last 3 years and maybe he turns it around but he’ll need a full offseason of actually exercising to have any chance of that happening. Carl Crawford will be coming off Tommy John surgery in 2013, which would be ok if he was coming to the end of his contract or playing in the AL where he could DH. Fortunately for Giants fans neither of those stipulations apply. The Dodgers spending freely scares me, whereas the Dodgers spending like idiots makes me happy.
Speaking of juggernauts, the Rangers seem awfully interested in spending money and the Fightin’ Trouts have been one of the biggest spenders for the last few years. Can the A’s actually compete with them for any extended period? Is this a group that can actually be better in 2013 and 2014 or is this the high water mark before Billy Beane starts another rebuild?
FG: Based on the current contracts and talent that the A’s have right now, they should be able to compete for the at least the next 3 years. The problem is the way ownership wants to run the team is completely opposite of how both the Rangers and Angels will be running their teams into the future. Wolff and Fisher don’t plan on spending the requisite amount of cash to keep this team competitive for any real length of time. Really, all they need to do is get Reddick and Cespedes under extensions going forward and maybe lock up another young pitcher just like the GIants did with both Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. But I have a feeling we’re gonna hear about how they can’t re-sign those guys because they don’t just have the cash. Which is an utter fabrication considering combined they are worth billions and will be raking in the revenue sharing checks.
In terms of Billy having to start the rebuilding process, I figure he has two more years with this iteration of the Oakland Athletics before the tear down begins once again, much to the chagrin of A’s fans. If there is one correlation between this year’s team and the 2002 “Moneyball” team it’s the fact that ownership is going to be willing to let star players walk away just like they did back then.
Alright Aaron final question that way we can both get back to some labor day bbq’n. Is it possible that both the A’s and Giants may be seeing each other in October or am I just in a daze from 9 game winning streak that the A’s are on? Sure the A’s have a harder road to hoe in September but the Giants need to be careful that they don’t let the Dodgers creep back into the race especially with their easier schedule. I actually think the schedule in September may be good for the A’s in order to keep them on edge and performing at a high level. Instead of falling victim to the “playing down to your competition” schedule that can lull them into a false sense of security.
AR: There’s some danger in playing down to the competition but if I’m in a close race I’ll take the easier schedule every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Iron sharpens iron and all that, I’d just prefer the teams that have unloaded their best players in trades and are already scouting October golf locations.
Can the A’s and Giants meet in the playoffs? It’s possible, just not very likely. The odds certainly increase if the A’s can catch the Rangers and win the division because in a one game playoff there’s really not a lot of rhyme or reason and it can all come down to which team’s best starting pitcher is available that day. And even if the ace is ready to pitch that single game he’s not going to be available to start games one or two of the NLDS, and would probably only get to pitch once in the series. As things currently stand the Giants are in a much better position to advance just based on the fact that they’d avoid that game and get an extra day or two of rest.
One thing about playoff baseball is that every team’s weakness always seems to rear its ugly head at some point. The Moneyball A’s were built without a lot of regard for defense and, as the movie clearly shows, defense was at least a part of their undoing. The Giants have done a pretty good job of improving the offense and with the way they’ve been playing lately starting on the road might actually work to their advantage. If there’s an area that I’m worried about it’s the bullpen. Right now I trust Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt to a lesser degree, but after that? Not sure I’d feel totally confident seeing anyone else trotting in from the pen. I guess the good news is that without a surplus of reliable options there will surely be a roster spot for both Zito and Lincecum. Maybe one of them can step up. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything in the playoffs because the sample size isn’t big enough for a strength to balance out a deficiency. If the starters falter in a series can the Giants bullpen step up with 4 or 5 shutout innings more than once in a series? I honestly don’t know the answer to that.
Enjoyed the chat Frank. Until next time…
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