Friday, September 02, 2005

Split? D'oh!

Did I say I would do an Oakland Athletics team report at the end of yesterday’s column? Because, um, by that I definitely meant I’m going to bitch about the Yankees. And then some.

I have to admit, though, that I only caught the first inning via Sterling and Waldman on the way to work. Working 5-9 shifts proved beneficial when the games were at 10, but a 4:45 game just doesn’t work with that kind of shift. But, I pulled into work with the score 1-0, so I had little to worry about.

Sure, Wright struggled with the strike zone in the first, but we can call that a normality at this point. His approach to pitching a game is like a guy approaching a female at a bar. A bit nervous at first, trying to feel out the situation and not make any mistakes. So he throws the ball out of the strike zone (asking vague questions), hoping that the guys at the plate swing away (the female showing interest). And once he’s got their interest, it’s smooth sailing from there.

Quick side note: this would mean that his fifth inning against Kansas City this weekend would be the equivalent of the guy telling the girl about a girlfriend/wife. After he took her home, before the sex. It would also mean that getting shellacked with a liner in the shoulder would be like the infamous cock block. Hey, you can’t get the girl every time.

Enter Tanyon Sturtze, who apparently believes that since he took Paul Quantrill’s role this year, he has to follow the same path as the twice DFA’d reliever. On many occasions this year I referred to Quantrill as the king of plating inherited runners. Well, his replacement is making a run for the throne, and it couldn’t come at a worse time, with the Second Season starting and Moose’s immediate future unclear.

I’ve been on the Sturtze bandwagon as long as I could stand it, and I may be the last guy jumping off it. It’s amazing how long a pitcher can ride a month like Sturtze has ridden May, where he allowed just one run in 13.2 innings. And having just typed that, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Thirteen and two-thirds innings have defined this guy’s entire season to this point.

Did I mention he gave up a homer to a guy who 1) hadn’t previously homered this season and 2) had 12 career homers before that AB.

It’s time to open our eyes, though. Or at least it’s time I opened mine and looked at the comprehensive picture. Sturtze’s numbers by the month:

April: 10.1 IP, 6.10 ERA
May: 13.2 IP, 0.66 ERA
June: 18.0 IP, 4.00 ERA
July: 14.2 IP, 6.14 ERA
August: 12.1 IP, 5.11 ERA

And that’s not even counting yesterday! Now that Sturtze’s ineptitude is obvious to me, the only one left to convert is Torre. And judging by his comments following Sturtze’s outing Sunday, yesterday may have been Steve's Howe's third cocaine bust for Sturtze. Except Sturtze won't be banned from Major League Baseball; he'll just be banished to the depth's of Joe's bullpen -- which, according to Buddy Groom, are comparable.

That’s not to say I don’t want Sturtze in the bullpen. I just can’t see him working out down the stretch in the seventh inning role. As I’ve said before, Small could fill that void if Mussina and/or Wang are good to go in the rotation.

I pose this question: if you were Joe Torre, which four guys would you go with in the playoffs? The rules are simple: 1) Moose and Unit have to be included. No way the team removes a $19 mil and a $16 mil pitcher from the postseason rotation. 2) We’re assuming Wang won’t be back. And 3) If you say Al Leiter, I get to bludgeon you with my Wonder Bat.

So yeah, about that A’s team report. I’m kinda feeling like writing about the A’s will only depress me even further. Hopefully I’ll be back on Monday (or Tuesday, depending on how the weekend finds me) bright and cheery, wondering why I was so pessimistic following a split (A split! I was buggin’ over splitting a series!).

But more than likely, I’ll be bitching and bemoaning the upcoming series with Boston.