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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oakland Series Preview 

Brought to you by M.C. Hammer (a super-dope homeboy from the Oak-Town)

Oakland, Seattle, and the Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim each go into Wednesday's play tied for first place at a lackluster 7-7. The Mariners come back to Seattle today for a two-gamer against Billy Beane's Athletics.

With Beane and company coming to Safeco Field, it seems like an opportune moment to offer a quick thought the book that made Beane famous, Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. A common interpretation of Moneyball is that Beane and his Athletics organization simply do not employ the use of scouts, favoring statistical analysis nearly 100%. I think the main lesson that Lewis is trying to convey, actually, is that Beane, with an incredibly limited budget, has been forced to find quality players in ways and places that other teams are not looking. If Beane identified a freakishly athletic prospect, that showed some potential but had limited organized baseball experience, and lived in the backwoods of Alaska, for example, that no other teams knew about, Beane would go after him. Beane is simply after the undervalued, however they became to be undervalued.

To the hydrofoil! Oakland series preview:

WEDNESDAY:

Pineiro (0-1, 7.94) vs. Zito (0-3, 7.27)

When he's healthy, Pineiro is the one pitcher on the Mariners' staff that makes me say, "There's a chance for a no-hitter tonight." Unfortunately, he's probably not 100% tonight, so we'll have to wait at least one more start for that no-no. I do expect him to bounce back from his rough start last week though; let's say he goes six innings and allows three runs.

Zito's struggles from last season (11-11, 4.48) seem to have seeped into the first month of 2005. The Mariners will run out a string of powerful righties -- Beltre, Sexson, and Boone -- in the middle of the lineup against a lefty that's somewhat longball-prone (Zito gave up 28 home runs last season). Hopefully the Mariners can force an early exit from Zito.

8-5, Mariners.

THURSDAY:

Franklin (1-1, 2.18) vs. Harden (0-1, 0.68)

Franklin continues to exceed my expectations, and hopefully he can continue that trend if the Mariners are going to have a chance on Thursday. The problem is that the Athletics' lineup has home run power up and down, and Franklin is a home run pitcher. Eric Chavez has a great chance at more than one longball for the A's. As Dave Niehaus just told me, Chavez has hit the second-most homers (13) of any player on a visiting team at Safeco Field (if you can't think of who has hit the most, for shame). A lot of runs could be scores for the men in green.

Rich Harden has been nearly unhittable so far in 2005, holding hitters to a .200 batting average. I expect similar numbers from the Mariners hitters. This one will get ugly, and I see Oakland coming out on top in a squeaker, 11-2. If you want to kill any optimism you might have had about this and subsequent Mariner seasons, watch Rich Harden pitch and remember that he's only 23 years old. He could be the next Pedro Martinez-Mike Mussina Official Thorn In The Mariners' Sides.

A'S LINKS:

Athletics Nation. This is the only place you need to go to read about the A's.

7:15 PM:
For some strange reason, Blogger ate the last half of today's preview. I had to re-write it tonight, and hopefully this edit doesn't suffer the same fate.

Comments:
Another misconception about Moneyball is that all Beane is doing is finding the best on-base percentages and simply signing those guys cheaply. That is part of the Oakland plan, but it's more about finding the trait of a good ballplayer that is most undervalued at the time. Kind of like reading the stock market. For years, it was OBP and patience at the plate (i.e. walks). now, I have no idea what it is.
 
I think the next Moneyball wave will be portly left-handed relief pitchers.
 
GET OUT THE RYE BREAD AND THE MUSTARD!!! IT'S GRAND SALAMI TIME!!!
 
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