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Pro Sports Wrap - Sports Personality of the Day:Steven Stamkos

8/2011 Team Scope: Oakland Athletics

August 2nd 2011 17:57
It is pretty much a known fact that the A's are one of the worst teams in the Majors, and that's due to their abysmal hitting. Their pitching is solid, and they do have some nice young talent on the roster as well as in the Minors. However, their hitting is more than sub-standard right now, and really only two players have been significantly helping the cause on offense.

Right now, Coco Crisp is the best non-pitcher on the team. He's still great on the basepaths, and he is the team's second best hitter behind Josh Willingham. Crisp leads all the "fielders" in WAR, and there is nobody else who is anywhere close. Willingham is the better hitter, but he is slow and a terrible fielder.

One of my problem's with WAR is that it values positions too differently. Of course it's tough to find a catcher who will hit like a first baseman, but Kurt Suzuki is not the second best player on the A's right now. He's been terrible offensively, and he's been average in the field and on the bases. Suzuki's a decent player, but he has a .289 OBP right now.

A lot of people talk about how good Cliff Pennington is as a fielder, but I just don't see what those guys are seeing. He's been their worst fielder, and their worst hitter of anybody with significant playing time. He hasn't been productive at all this season, and it might be time to assess his standing with the team. They have young infielders who have far more value and upside than him. If he doesn't provide value as a hitter or fielder, then I think it's time for the A's to cut their losses and ditch the Cliff. Everything that goes to him falls anyway.

Right now he's day-to-day with an injury though. Aside from 2010, Pennington has never had a good year in the field. He was excellent that year, so maybe that's where people are coming from, but he hasn't done anything of note recently. He's not a good hitter anyway, and the only thing that he is consistently good at is his baserunning.

I think I've criticized the A's offense too much and beating a dead horse isn't good. You have to knock the horse around for a bit, but then it just gets old. Anyway, it's time for me to focus on the A's pitching. Their rotation has three very good young pitchers in Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Brett Anderson. Right now, Anderson's on the shelf for a while which definitely hurts. Their bullpen is led by electrifying young closer Andrew Bailey.

Brandon McCarthy has pitched very well this year, and it's mainly been due to his control. He's limited his free passes, and his ERA is a little higher than it should be thanks to a high BABIP. While he has lucked out on the amount of homers that have been hit off of him, he has also done his part by making sure the fly balls don't fly too much. McCarthy has pitched like a guy who's ERA should be closer to 3.00 than 3.50 (3.58 right now).

Trevor Cahill has only been average, and the strikeouts- for some reason- just haven't been there. He is walking too many batters, but the number of homers he has given up should be attributed to some bad luck. Maybe it's control issues, but I'm more inclined to think that it's out of his hands. Cahill's still been okay this year, but we all expected more out of him.

The peripherals don't match the total output of ERA for Gio Gonzalez, and the only way his ERA can go right now is up. A 2.84 ERA is certainly an accomplishment, but he's also allowed just over four walks per nine innings. He's getting the K's, but he's also getting very lucky. I don't see this continuing, and I think his ERA hits 3.20 by the time the season is over.

In the pen, Andrew Bailey has been doing some work. He's mowing down hitters, but I think the zero and five in his 2.05 ERA switch places by the end of the season. The amount of homers he's given up is too slim to maintain, and he's only thrown 22 innings this year. More innings means a higher ERA for relievers. Just take a look at Joaquin Benoit.

If you haven't noticed my categories yet, you should take a look at them. Just click through them, and every player I have written about recently is in there. You can also search in that search box on the upper part of the left bar. I have everything from the types of articles to players and teams. I am also thinking of putting player grades (like A, B minus and such) next to the players in the categories as an interesting little tweak. Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments section. Thanks for reading guys!
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