I feel sorry for Bobby Crosby, not because the A’s took away his shortstop position this year, but because he can’t hit. Even in his Rookie of the Year season, he hit only .239. In 2005, his best year, he hit .276, but he’s hovered between .223 (2009) and .237 since then.
The A’s, as any team, have to do what is best for the team, and when they had the chance to get Orlando Cabrera, a proven hitter and very good shortstop, they took it, and rightly so. Bobby’s response was to pout unprofessionally to the media.
Then when it was obvious that the A’s would finish in last place in the AL West and Cabrera was traded, the A’s decided to look to the future and called up Cliff Pennington to play shortstop for the rest of the season. Bobby again opened his mouth and spouted off, calling the move “a joke.” Not a very good way to ingratiate yourself to potential teams who might need a shortstop. It screams loud and clear: “NOT A TEAM PLAYER!,” which certainly won’t help him in the free agent market.
This week in an article by Doug Krikorian in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Bobby’s father, former MLB player Ed Crosby, took Billy Beane to task for not treating his son fairly. “My feelings are that…Billy Beane has done a number on him,” complaining that Bobby is on the disabled list when “he’s not even hurt.” (More on this use of the DL in my next post.) He even went off on the Moneyball philosophy and criticized the A’s for not letting their players swing at the first pitch in an at bat, complaining that the A’s have “taken the bat out of the hands of their players.”
Statistically the chance of making an out by swinging at the first pitch is overwhelming, so Billy Beane presumably told the organization not to swing at first pitches. So opposing pitchers poured strikes in on the first pitch, getting ahead in the count most of the time. That didn’t work so the A’s have adjusted and we see many more first pitch swings this year. But I digress.
Ed Crosby has a right to vent his feelings, but his rant didn’t help his son’s future prospects. Ed is a former MLB infielder and he should know that teams will look at this and think twice about going after Bobby this offseason.
A .223 hitter needs to be a team player, keep his mouth shut and play his best when he’s put in the lineup if he wants to get a good contract when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Bobby will certainly not command a salary anywhere close to the $5.3 million that the A’s are paying him this year and a utility role is most likely all he will be able to get. Too bad really. He could have positioned himself so much better by sucking it up and keeping his mouth shut.
A good comparison might be to Jack Hannahan, who bounced around the Detroit Organization before being traded to the A’s where he’s played third base during Eric Chavez’ various stints on the DL over the last few years. Bobby is very much like Jack: great fielder but can’t hit. The difference is that Jack Hannahan is a gentleman and a true team player, and will always be able to find a job. I saw him play Monday night in Seattle as a Mariner and he made some great plays. It was a pleasure to watch, even though the gems were at the A’s expense.
So all this hoopla about how badly Billy Beane has treated Bobby is way overblown, in my opinion. The A’s organization hung with him through multiple serious injuries, and years when he averaged less than one hit per game, and kept him as the everyday shortstop. They could afford to do that when other guys were hitting the long ball and the team was having a winning season. But the team has been on a slide since 2006, and without power hitters the entire lineup has to be able to get on base and drive in runs to make small ball work. And Bobby can’t get it done. He should go at the end of the season, but he should have gone more quietly for his own good.
Yesterday’s Game Against the Twins: Trevor Cahill pitched well initially, but in the top of the 4th inning got into some trouble and gave up a 3-run homer to Joe Crede. Oh, no, not again, must have been going through the fans minds. Not another long losing streak, please? Thankfully, after that Cahill pitched 3 more scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Twins’ starter, Nick Blackburn, completely befuddled the A’s for the first 7 innings, allowing no one past 2nd base.
Jack Hannahan and Adam Kennedy Man Up: In the bottom of the 8th inning, Jack Hannahan, batting in the 9 hole, led off with a triple (has he finally solved the riddle of hitting?) He scored when Orlando Cabrera stroked a single to center field, making the score 3-1 Twins. Then Nick Blackburn left a pitch up in the middle of the strike zone and Adam Kennedy sent the gift over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Brad Ziegler, who had pitched the top of the 8th inning, worked a 3-up, 3-down 9th, keeping the game tied.
Things Start Going the A’s Way: In the bottom of the 9th, Jason Giambi led off with a walk, and was replaced by the speedy Chris Denorfia. Suzuki tried to bunt Denorfia to 2nd base but was unsuccessful in 2 attempts. Then Twins relief pitcher, Matt Guerrier, hit Suzuki, which accomplished the same result. Daric Barton laid down a nifty bunt in front of home plate and the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd. Now, there were 2 on and 1 out.
Rajai’s First Walk-Off Hit: Manager Bob Geren had told Rajai Davis in the dugout before he went out to the on-deck circle, “You’re gonna win the game.” After Barton was thrown out at first after his great bunt, Raj stepped into the batters box. He dumped the first pitch he saw into right field for a walk-off single, scoring Denorfia and giving the A’s a 4-3 victory and a split of the series at 2 games apiece. That shut down the losing streak at 2 games.
The Battle of the Young Guns: Tonight the A’s move across the Bay to begin a 3-city interleague road trip. The pitching matchup for the first game is stellar: Tim Lincecum (5-1. 2.96 ERA, Opp. BA .235, WHIP 1.211) is going against Vin Mazzaro (2-0, 0.00 ERA, OBA .170, WHIP .923). For those of you who are not familiar with the WHIP statistic, it stands for Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched. It’s a truer measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness than ERA. In all those categories, Mazzaro has the better stats, but he’s only pitched 2 games in the Major Leagues. It should be fun to watch.
Texas Hurts the A’s Again and Again and Again: The A’s need Orlando Cabrera to hold another meeting and kick some butt. After dropping a double header to the Rangers Friday and losing shamefully yesterday by the score of 14-1, the A’s need a swift kick in the pants. Not to mention that the Ballpark at Arlington took its toll on the health of A’s players once again. The last time they were there, 4 guys went down. This trip Travis Buck, who was beginning to get his swing back, is now on the DL, and the two Jacks (Cust and Hannahan) have sore backs and are day-to-day. Let’s hope we don’t lose anyone else today.
The River Cats Are on a Tear: The bright spot in the A’s orgaization is their Triple-A team, the Sacramento River Cats, who have won 9 out of their last 10 games. In about 90 minutes, I am headed up to Sacramento for their 1:05 start today against the Las Vegas 51’s, who are currently in last place in the PCL Southern Division. Hopefully, I can witness some good baseball and another River Cats win. They now lead their division with a 31-18 record. Not too shabby! I’ll keep you posted. Go Cats! And Go A’s!
A’s Hope Opener: Well, last night was certainly a disappointment (the A’s lost 5-4) but the game was overshadowed by the pregame ceremonies memorializing the four slain Oakland police officers gunned down a couple of weeks ago. I had a tear in my eye as four OPD officers, each representing one of the families of the slain cops, placed police caps and baseballs on the pitcher’s mound to stand sentinel as the audience lowered their heads for a moment of silence. Nick Adenhart was also honored–a mention that was appropriately brief so as not to detract from the local tribute. The jet fighters’ fly-over and fireworks, the latter choreographed with the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, capped off the moving tribute.
Chavy’s Back: It is great to see Eric Chavez making gold glove plays at third base like the Chavy of old and to have his bat back in the lineup. He’s such a classy guy and had every right to complain during the two plus years he was playing hurt or sidelined, but he never joined the pity party. Hat’s off to you, Eric.
Bobby Bobbles: Crosby just booted a routine play at third base (Chavez is getting the day off, and there’s no TV so I am listening on the radio). I want Jack Hannahan back, lousy bat and all. He is a proven utility infielder. Bobby is anything but, and keeps demonstrating it on the field. It’s his $5+ million salary that’s keeping him in the majors, not his bat, and certainly not his fielding at any position other than shortstop. Please, can I have Jack back, Billy?
A’s Lose Again to the Mariners: The game’s now over. Let’s hope that the A’s can salvage a win tomorrow after blowing another one. The A’s had the lead or were tied for most of the game. Jack Cust’s homer in the fifth was a bright spot–the A’s first homer of the season–making it 5-3, A’s. But the M’s went ahead for good in a disastrous eighth inning off Santiago Casilla and Brad Ziegler, giving Casilla the loss.
Maybe the collective thinking about where the Mariners will wind up at the end of the season could be wrong–last place in the AL West, according to Baseball America and others. The M’s can flat out hit. However, the A’s young pitching staff is showing rookie nerves, which will disappear in the coming weeks, so I guess we can’t be too concerned yet. An A’s win tomorrow would sure be good for the guys’ (and the fans’) morale.