Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics: Better Than You Think


Let’s skip the formalities. Here is a quick synopsis of Mark’s latest article “Pitchers Don’t Bounce.” Blah Blah Blah World Series titles. Blah Blah Blah All-Star game appearances.

Now you’re caught up.

It was a tired rehash of previous arguments in favor of the Giants, without any real research about what the injuries to the Oakalnd Athletics may actual mean. Let me enlighten you.

First, let me rehash some points I’ve brought up in our back and forth.

  • Sonny Gray will be the ace of the staff in 2014. Yes, he has been put into this role due to injuries, but his line against the Giants last week was impressive. 5.2 IP, 3 Hits, 1 Walk, 1 Run and 7 K’s. You know, ace-type stuff.
  • Scott Kazmir will be an upgrade over Bartolo Colon. After watching him pitch Thursday, heck all spring, who wants to argue that point.
  • Michael Morse is terrible at defense. I mean, you saw him drop a routine fly ball too right? Not to mention the ball he dove for that went all the way to the wall. But his offense should be an upgrade, albeit in a park that is known for keeping the ball out of the stands. Have fun with that one.
  • The A’s have the depth to absorb injuries. Just ask the Giants who are 1-4 against the A’s this spring. This team is still a contender.

Yes, Jarrod Parker will miss the 2014 season. Yes he was primed to be the ace of the staff. Yes it hurts the rotation. Parker’s WAR, or Wins Above Replacement was only 1.8 in 2013. If you take 2 wins off of the 96 from last year, you are still left with a 94 win team. I’d say that’s good enough to make the playoffs. With the additions to the bullpen made in the offseason, the A’s have an entire staff of arms that will all be working towards a win, not pinning the outcome of the game on their starter.

Let me pose a question. Which Matt Cain is going to show up in 2014? Will it be the Cain that threw 5 perfect innings against a rebuilding Cubs’ squad (that they lost 3-2) or the Matt Cain that gave up 7 runs in 2.2 innings against the A’s in a 8-1 loss? Are you sensing a theme here? It’s that no matter what Matt Cain and his stable (that’s because he’s “The Horse”) of All-Star appearances does, the Giants have been unable to win. As a side note, Tommy Milone, the guy the A’s sent down and you belittled in the last article held your Giants to 3 hits and no runs in 5 IP and got the win. It must suck to have your #2 beaten by our #6. I guess I was correct when I mentioned how the A’s develop arms.

That brings me to a point that we haven’t touched on much in this series. The A’s offense is flat-out better.

Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick had down years offensively in 2013, and somehow the A’s were among the best in baseball in scoring runs. This spring, they have continued putting up runs with an average of 5.9/game. We already know Cespedes can crush the ball (See the Home Run Derby from last year’s All-Star game). Just imagine what would the A’s offense COULD be if Cespedes actually starts hitting for average.

Since Mark harped on pitching, let’s go back to that. Let’s stay current, as Mark keeps saying. Let’s look at some starter’s spring ERAs. Keep in mind: all of these players have been All-Stars. Cain 7.47, Lincecum 6.52, Vogelsong 9.00, Hudson 3.72. Bumgarner has been solid, I will grant you that. Since their defense is so used to playing behind them, imagine how high their ERAs would be without being in the Giants’ rotation year after year! The A’s have 3 starting outfielders that are capable of robbing Home Runs, and and form one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. Reddick and Cespedes have cannons in right and left, keeping runners from taking an extra base. The threat of their arms alone will keep runs from scoring, and allowing the A’s “inferior” pitchers more opportunities to get the 3rd out.

Now let’s look at Jesse Chavez, the guy that was our 7th starter and has none of the luxuries of the defense behind him knowing who the hell is is. A  spring ERA of 2.74 low enough? Here is the rest of the rotation: Milone (4.26), Straily (4.73), Gray (3.48) and Kazmir (2.38) have all been solid as well. Which pitching staff, coupled with offense was superior again? By the looks of it, its the 2-time AL West Division Champions on both fronts.

Let’s address Mark’s argument about All-Star game appearances. Yes, the Giants have more players on their roster that have made the team. The Giants have also won World Series titles recently. Being in the Series gains a player recognition. That also means that team’s manager gets to pick which players he wants on the team, after the fan voting. Getting elected to the All-Star game is literally a popularity contest. Somehow Josh Donaldson, the MVP candidate, was left off of the 2013 squad. The A’s haven’t had representatives not because they don’t have people that are deserving, but because they aren’t household names, through no fault of their own.

To this same point, how is it that the A’s are able to be the more consistent team, without any All-Stars or the same pitching staff year after year? It’s because the A’s pay far less for the same amount of talent, and are able to spend their money wisely. This has offered them the luxury of platooning players into positions they, and the team, will be more successful. Donaldson and Hunter Pence had nearly identical statistics last season. Pence is making $16M in 2014. For that amount, the A’s signed Josh Donaldson (MVP candidate), Yoenis Cespedes (HR Derby Champion), Josh Reddick (Gold Glove Winner) AND Coco Crisp (Engine of the Offense). That’s an entire starting outfield, filled with offensive and defensive threats, plus an MVP-caliber Third Baseman for the same amount as Pence.

On the bright side, when Morse has a particularly poor defensive game (so home games) or Buster Posey throws to first when nobody is covering, at least Giants fans can go to the in-house bowling alley to take their minds off of the baseball game being played just feet away. Oh yeah, I called AT&T an amusement park too. Another score for #TeamJason.



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Tags: A's Oakland Athletics San Francisco Giants

  • KK

    I swear, the ignorance Mark constantly displays knows no bounds.


    • Jason Burke

      In all fairness to Mark, he’s arguing for the Giants over the A’s. That’s a losing battle in itself.

      • Mark ONeill

        I haven’t even read this yet, i am still laughing so hard at the intro, I almost choked on my popcorn. As Arnold said, “I’ll be back.”

        • Jason Burke

          Im glad you saw the humor. Didn’t want it to seem mean-spirited.

        • KK

          Touting all star appearances is about as dumb as saying regular season games don’t matter.

    • Mark ONeill

      At least I am consistent.

      • KK

        Don’t worry Mark, anyone who can read knows how consistently ignorant you are.

        • Mark ONeill

          OK, having established that I am ignorant, is there anything you would like to add that has something to do with baseball? Just curious…

          • KK

            Not sure there’s much baseball to talk about with someone who is so one-sided. You allow fandom and pride blind you from the facts, as evident in all of your articles. For example, I asked a valid question regarding the regression of Tim Lincecum, and have yet to hear your opinion, too much truth on that subject? I understand the nature of this back and forth blogger’s war, but other than SF’s two WS titles, you bring little facts to the table, instead, sounding like a man who isn’t dealing too well with their fall from grace, just like your Gigantes

          • Mark ONeill

            Big sigh of relief. I thought I was dealing with someone with anger issues, rather than mere rudeness. Quick note of clarification, before I deal with the “regression” of Timmy. 1) I write for free as a hobby. 2) I am a Giants’ fan. 3) Of course I am one-sided; that’s what I get paid the big bucks to be. I am willing to grant the Oakland A’s all the respect in the world; respect is generally a two-way street.

            Timmy’s “regression,” as you so quaintly put it, is not a regression, so much as a readjustment. May I ask if you thought Timmy should win the Cy Young Award every year he pitches, as he did in the first two years of his career? Anything else must be considered a regression. He has had some extremes, from leading the league in walks, to pitching a no-no. What would you like me to say? Timmy has the benefit of working now with another pitcher who has never had a losing season, has the more wins than any other active pitcher, and is a sinker-ball pitcher. Brian Sabean, the longest tenured GM, acquired Tim to help Timmy. We shall see if it helps.

            I value the comments from anyone who reads my stuff, and try to respond accordingly. If you were I, and someone with whom you had no acquaintance, kept calling you ignorant, how long would you hang around? Anonymity is a poor excuse for bullying.

          • KK

            Lincecum has regressed, he’s not readjusting.Don’t dance around the fact that the Giants have gotten worse, including the pitching department. This all started with the claim that the Giants were better than the A’s, clearly an amateur viewpoint by an amateur writer. I’ve always had an issue reasoning with half-wits, and this case is no different. Keep your day job.

          • Mark ONeill

            No problems there on the day job; I am retired. My job in life is to keep smiling and I do it well. Your insults hurt only yourself. If I were actually to be able to feel anger at being called a half-wit, then you would completely win our little debate-within-a-debate. Not going to happen. I enjoy baseball, I enjoy writing about it, and I will continue. I am not always right-I don’t want to be always right. I am human and prone to errors. I want to present opinions and engage in friendly banter, the way Jason and I do. He is fun to converse with. I just don’t think poisonous, negative feelings have a place in a universe that also has baseball. In the future, if you wish to engage in friendly banter, and can do so with a modicum of civility, I would be delighted to respond to your criticisms. Until then, I have expended as much energy on you, KK, as I intend to. Enjoy your day and please don’t beat your cat. It’s not his fault.