Series Preview: Oakland (August 17-19)

Aug 12, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (21) delivers a pitch during the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Next on the Tribe's West Coast swing is a team they haven't faced since April, and they might as well be facing a different club.

Team in a Box (click to enlarge)

Oakland_august_17-19_medium

Oakland is a fascinating club; they're one of the worst offensive teams in the AL, but one of the best at run prevention in the league. They've ridden their pitching staff (and a couple position players) to serious contention for one of the two Wild Card spots.

Typical Lineup

Pos. Player BA OBP SLG PA
CF Coco Crisp .250 .314 .365 350
DH Jonny Gomes .256 .371 .484 256
RF Josh Reddick .251 .322 .495 485
LF Yoenis Cespedes .301 .362 .498 340
1B Chris Carter .275 .402 .606 132
C Derek Norris .204 .268 .381 123
3B Josh Donaldson .173 .187 .279 107
2B Jemile Weeks .220 .304 .303 484
SS Cliff Pennington .199 .264 .289 334

There's a rather big contrast between the middle and bottom of the Oakland order: Gomes, Reddick, Cespedes, and Carter is basically the entire offense, with rest of the lineup contributing very little. Reddick was acquired last winter from Boston in the Andrew Bailey deal, which has turned out to be a great deal for Oakland; Reddick is under team control through at least 2016, and they've been able to replace Bailey fairly easily. The A's outbid several other clubs for Cespedes, and that move worked out great as well; the 26-year-old Cuban has hit from day one, and he's under team control through 2017 (though he's being paid like a major-league free agent). Carter was acquired in the Dan Haren deal in 2007, and at age 25 it looks like he's figured out major-league pitching.

The rest of the lineup? Not good. There are some injuries (Seth Smith particularly), but the entire infield has been an offensive black hole. Brandon Inge, who is also hurt, has given Oakland OK production, but second and short have awful. Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks still plays regularly despite a 55 and 71 OPS+ respectively, but I think that's because there's no one else in the organization that can do any better.

Probable Starters

Date Pitcher ERA Innings SO/9 BB/9 H/9
Aug 17 Tommy Milone (L) 3.91 140.1 6.5 1.8 9.2
Aug 18 Bartolo Colon 3.55 144.1 5.5 1.4 9.7
Aug 19 Jarrod Parker 3.71 121.1 7.0 3.6 8.1

In contrast to the Indians rotation, Oakland's starting five features five pitchers with an ERA+ over 100. So although the Indians won't face Brandon McCarthy, the A's best starter, it's not like they really got lucky.

LGFT Bartolo Colon is still going strong at age 39; the power pitcher days are long gone, but he's succeeding because he's keeping his walks down, a theme through the Oakland rotation. Milone and Parker were acquired in trades last winter, with Milone coming from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez deal, and Parker coming from Arizona in the Trevor Cahill deal. Both are under club control through 2017. Milone actually is doing better against right-handers than left-handers this season, so I don't think you'll see Manny Acta stacking the lineup with his bench tonight.

Key Relievers

Throws Pitcher ERA Innings SO/9 BB/9 H/9
Right Ryan Cook 2.72 49.2 9.1 4.2 5.3
Right Grant Balfour 2.67 54.0 7.7 3.7 5.3
Left Jordan Norberto 2.86 50.1 7.9 3.9 6.6

What's made the Bailey-Reddick trade so good for Oakland is that they haven't really lost a beat in the back end of the bullpen. They started the season with Brian Fuentes as one of their key relievers, but he was lost his role in early June and was released at the beginning of July. Grant Balfour was closing at the beginning of the 2012 campaign, but has settled in as the key eighth inning guy after Cook assumed the closer's role in mid-June.

Norberto is one of two remarkly similar (at least statistics-wise) left-handed relievers in the Oakland bullpen; Jerry Blevins is also in late-inning situations.

On the Shelf

  • RHP Brett Anderson (elbow surgery) - 60-day DL (return in late August)
  • RHP Dallas Braden (shoulder, groin) - out for season
  • RHP Andrew Carignan (elbow surgery) - out for season
  • RHP Joey Devine (elbow surgery) - out for season
  • RHP A.J. Griffin (shoulder) - 15-day DL
  • 3B Brandon Inge (shoulder) - 15-day DL
  • 2B Scott Sizemore (knee surgery) - out for season
  • OF Seth Smith (hamstring) - 15-day DL
  • IF Eric Sogard (back) 15-day DL

It's amazing how well the Athletics have pitched given who they have on their DL. Anderson and Braden haven't pitched and inning this season, though it looks like Anderson may be able to re-join the pitching staff later this month. Inge recently went on the DL with separated shoulder (but not before hitting a go-ahead RBI single), so an already weak infield gets weaker.

talonk's Almanac

All-Time Record 1015-886 (.534)
Runs Scored/Allowed 8959 8546
Pythagorean Win % .522
Best Season 19-3 1953
Worst Season 3-19 1914

Record since 2001 47-48 (.495)
Runs Scored/Allowed 371 456
Pythagorean Win % .407
Best Season 2011 5-2
Worst Season 2002/2009 2-5
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