This is my last Battle of the Bay column, and I want to extend a hearty and heartfelt thanks to both Drew Fairservice and Riley Breckenridge for letting me pinch-hit for Riley while he was out gallavantin’. This was a freaking blast, not least of which because it let me watch a ton of baseball games and pretend I was actually working. Can’t ever complain about that.
The Week That Was
Oakland Athletics: 2-2 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of July 23: 83.1%)
The A’s can do dumb shit like make three errors against the Astros, trail most of the game, and still win.
Oakland dropped a series to the Angels, but they now have a chance to get well against a horrendous Astros club. They took the first game of the series last night, despite making 74 errors and generally playing like shit. You can do that when you play the Astros, I guess.
San Francisco Giants: 2-2 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/23: 3.8%)
I’m often tempted to refer to this season as a trainwreck, but that’s far too interesting. This here is a much closer approximation of the Giants’ 2013 season.
The Giants won a series against former division leaders Arizona, which helped the Dodgers take the lead in the NL West. Also, Tim Lincecum and the Giants got absolutely brutalized by the visiting Reds last night. Would losing three of four this week be enough to convince Brian Sabean to sell?
The Leader In The Clubhouse
The Rangers have been in free-fall of late, allowing the A’s to extend their lead in the AL West to 3 games. Of course, Jon Daniels just traded four players to the Cubs to acquire Matt Garza, so don’t go pronouncing the Rangers dead just yet. (Counterpoint: Garza is unlikely to help the Rangers’ offense, whose 96 wRC+ is currently tied for ninth in the AL.) But things at least have the potential to get interesting now.
Meanwhile the Giants are kinda-sorta righting the ship. They’re still in fourth place in their division, but they’ve actually won two consecutive series. But they opened a four-game set against a tough Reds team by getting absolutely decimated with perfect-game-owner Tim Lincecum on the hill. And just down the 5, the Dodgers, powered by a resurgent Hanley Ramirez, have won 10 of their last 12 and are in first place. The Giants haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, but they can probably see mathematical elimination from their house.
Line Score Of The Week
- OAK: Bartolo Colon, July 21 vs. the Angels: 9IP, 4H, 0R, 1BB, 5K. Game Score: 83.
With this whole Biogenesis thing about to come crashing down, I’m a little worried about what’s in store for the Fat Wizard. But given that he’s innocent until proven guilty, I’m standing by him as my Line Score of the Week again. He just keeps turning in these crazy performances, and it’s pretty fun to watch, I gotta say.
- SF: Chad Gaudin, July 19 vs. the Diamondbacks: 7IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 8K. Game Score: 79.
This is where I remind you, again, that Gaudin is making $750,000 this season while leading the Giants in ERA+ with a gaudy 156. (For comparison: All Stars Bumgarner and Romo are both sporting ERA+’s of 115.)
AL & NL West Standings Update
SFG: 45-53. Still fourth in the NL West and only 5.5 out, 9.5 out in the Wild Card race. Nothing much has changed, save for the number of games remaining. But that there’s the rub — we’re 98 games into a 162-game season, so the margin for error grows incrementally smaller each and every game. Time and the schedule march on, inexorably, every day.
OAK: 57-41. Even with the Rangers’ acquisition of Garza, I still feel like the AL West is Oakland’s to lose. After all, if Colon goes down in the Biogenesis thing, the A’s will be able to summon another effective starter out of thin air the way they always do. Plus, if Colon goes down, so does Nelson Cruz, probably …
Headline Of The Week
Could Giants, A’s end age-old trade drought? by Ray Ratto
This is my last “Battle” entry, and I’m so, so glad to be able to bring you a Ray Ratto piece. It’s almost as if Mr. Ratto wrote this solely for me.
We can’t help ourselves. The baseball season is long — sometimes stultifyingly so — so when we get bored we haul out the old A’s-Giants comparisons. Particularly when bad-team-becomes-good-team-while-good-team-becomes-bad-team, as is occurring now.
Is anyone else winded after that graf? I need a minute. Hang on.
These are called “talkers,” and are meant to generate conversation, though they rarely do, because the A’s and Giants do so little business that it is as if they are in different sports. The last time they made a trade, it was the legendary Darren Lewis-Earnest Riles deal in December of 1990, and only two trade partners have gone longer without exchanging humans.
This might be true, and I’m too lazy to fact-check it, but it sure would’ve been nice for Mr. Ratto to mention who those two trade partners were. But nah. Also, Ernest Riles’ name is spelled wrong.
This is plainly wrong, and given that Billy Beane and Brian Sabean do not share the same animus that their superiors do toward each other, a deal should be made to occur now, and for the best reason of all.
I’m not sure how that is “amusing,” exactly, but sure. For the sake of this “talker,” let’s assume it would be amusing to someone.
And we’re not talking about Tim Lincecum or Hunter Pence, though those would be hilarious talkers, and would make both fan bases explode their own heads. The A’s don’t need rotation or bullpen help, though pitching is something that most general managers tend to hoard as though they were old folks who keep too many cats.
Wait, old folks who keep too many cats also hoard pitching? That seems weird, and yet that’s exactly what the sentence says. I’ll take Ray’s word for it.
In short, this would have to be more of what old-timers used to call a cat-and-dog trade — you know, a Lewis-Riles deal.
So what could be done? Oh, you could concoct a Brandon swap with Moss and Belt, which would give the Giants a bit more power and the A’s a better glove, a stuffed giraffe outlet and tedious debates about body language. You could give the A’s an extra left-handed reliever -– say, Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez -– because Jerry Blevins and Sean Doolittle are probably one situational lefty too few. And hey, maybe Marco Scutaro misses those breakfasts at Lois the Pie Queen’s.
HELLO, LOCAL FLAVOR-SLASH-PANDERING. (Lois the Pie Queen is a semi-famous greasy-spoon-type joint in Oakland which, in case you were unaware, is separated from San Francisco by about 7 miles. I’m pretty sure Scutaro could drive to L the PQ’s if he wanted.)
The Giants, for their part, need prospects more than anything else, and Grant Green and Sonny Gray have been perpetual names, if nothing else. But the A’s seem attached to Gray more than Green (make your own puns here), so what we are coming to discover is that there is no obvious match between the two teams, even though one is probably buying and the other is almost surely selling.
Well this is 11 flavors of wrong, and I don’t even have the energy to unfuck everything that’s fucked in this graf. Of course the Giants need prospects — who doesn’t? — but they also have lots of needs RIGHT NOW. A starter, relievers, outfielders, middle infielders… and then the part about Oakland being more attached to Sonny Gray than Grant Green — Green is starting for the big club right now, and Gray is back in Sacramento. ‘Nuff said.
Besides, we are in a sad state indeed if we are waiting for the teams’ two invisible owners, John-Boy Fisher and Charlie Johnson to get involved.
If you have ANY idea what Ratto is talking about here, please email me. I literally have no idea what the hell is going on.
They are too busy not talking to each other about San Jose to even engage on a trivial level –- even if it was just a oh-the-hell-with-it Bobby Evans-for-David Forst deal, or a more liquor-fueled Kuiper-for-Kuiper deal (the A’s would probably have to throw in Roxy Bernstein, cash and two interns to be named later to make that work, and you know how the A’s hate to part with cash).
OK, that’s actually pretty good.
In short, we have nothing for you on this vital matter. Riles and Lewis remain safe -– though maybe we’ll get lucky enough for the White Sox and Tigers to do a deal, and better yet, the Angels and Astros. This matters only because the last Chicago-Detroit deal was in 1989, with the key acquisition being future Sox general manager Kenny Williams, and the Astros and Angels exchanged Ken Forsch and Dickie Thon in 1981.
OK, so these are the trade partners he was referring to way up there. And it’s actually four trade partners then, or two pairs of two. Why it’s all the way down here, though, I can’t fathom.
If they can be coaxed to become dance partners, Ernest Riles and Darren Lewis will become the key components in the oldest deal between trade partners in Major League Baseball.
Again, if you have the foggiest notion what Ratto is driving at here, please help me. I tried to parse this for like 10 straight minutes and I think I broke my brain. But Ernest Riles’ name is spelled correctly here. What.
If that floats your Buick in the quiet times, that is.
Much like Ray Ratto, I have no idea how to end this piece, so I hope this kickstarts your heart or something.
Quotes Of The Week
Sergio Romo, on his eventual selection to the All-Star Game: “I’ve never really seen myself as an All-Star. To be honest, I still feel like I weaseled my way into the big leagues.”
Bartolo Colon, after throwing a CGSO despite experiencing stomach discomfort: “My stomach was bad, but my arm was fine.”
DERP Of The Week:
“I said ‘Gimme a high and tight.’ You gave me a Kid n’ Play.”
“Can I retroactively invoke my no-trade clause? This team sucks.”
Fake Facts about the Bay Area Baseball Managers
This week’s Fake Facts™!
Bruce Bochy has been known as an artful manager of bullpens since his days in San Diego. He prepared for this by managing actual bullpens! The aspiring manager “punched dogies,” “busted broncs,” and “shoveled metric tons of shit” to learn the skills he’d need to become a big-league manager.
Bob Melvin is a Terminator! How else can you explain this photo?
Not sure which model, but judging by those bullet holes, he’s probably a T-1000. Come to think of it, a robot is the perfect manager for a Billy Beane-run team. Just like Ken Macha.
Who Controls the Future
I kinda feel like it’s the Dodgers and the Rangers, y’know? These teams have opened their wallets and their farm systems and are moving aggressively to improve their teams. The A’s may not have any glaring holes that can be addressed through trades, but they have to be at least a little concerned about what Texas is doing.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, the opposite is true — the Giants probably have more holes than can possibly be addressed by acquisitions. They’ll improve a little as key players come back off the disabled list — Vogelsong soon-ish, and Pagan eventually — but it will likely be far too little, far too late. Hell, they even worked out Brian Wilson over the weekend. That’s what it’s come to. Looks like the Giants will just have to settle for winning the World Series every other year.
That’s it for me, kids. This has been fun, and thanks for indulging me. Go local sports teams!