Monday, March 28, 2005
Saturday: A's 8, Angels 6I'm too lazy to answer the question of whether Bartolo Colon ranks among the worst free agency busts in history, though the contracts of Mo Vaughn (as a Met) and Mike Hampton (for Colorado) come to mind well ahead of him, obscuring (for now) Colon's so far dubious addition. Saturday's outing by Colon did nothing to change my mind about his likely ability in the regular season. Despite a still-glossy 2.35 ERA in 15.1 spring innings, El Ladrón remains suspect until he can prove his ace tall dollars, and Saturday's game merely confirmed my low opinion of him. Starting the game with a leadoff walk to Mark Kotsay, the walk turned into a run on Charles Thomas' single. In the fifth, a pair of doubles from 3B Marco Scutaro and Kotsay (again), and in the sixth, 1B Scott Hatteberg got aboard on a throwing error by third baseman Maicer Izturis, subsequently scoring when LF Eric Byrnes whacked another double off Colon. To his credit, Colon managed to get the A's in the second, third, and fourth innings, all in order, though not without the help of a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth.
The problem, overall, was Colon's weak command. Unable to locate his fastball, he sank into deep counts constantly. Though he only surrendered a single walk, he came near to doing so again on many at bats. This was Colon's problem all last year, too. Four strikeouts in six innings against our principle rivals also didn't encourage my hopes, either.
The Angels offensively looked much worse, going down in order in the first and fifth innings, and barely putting up a fight elseways against former Houston farmhand Kirk Saarloos. Some of this naturally can be attributed to inexperience (the Angels had seen him for but five innings prior to the game), but the Long Beach native's 4.93 ERA with the Astros didn't raise any confidence that the lad was about to break through. The 2005 Baseball Prospectus' positively thudding endorsement didn't help, either:
... when you do finally get a look from the one organization willing to look past your limitations, it probably isn't a good idea to hurt your elbow. He's a question mark after elbow surgery, so you can probably toss him into that same mental dustbin as other delightfully-monikered sometime A's, like Joe Slusarski, Will Schock, or Big Bird Birtsas.Saarloos' 3.75 ERA in 12.0 IP, like all spring numbers, needs some explanation, but his strikeouts of Erstad, DaVanon, and Finley aren't smoke. He may not be the second coming, but in a second division like the AL West, he'll be plenty good to keep the A's in contention.
Other general notes about the game:
- Anderson's fielding hasn't improved any in the offseason. He didn't make it to a run-scoring Eric Byrnes double in the sixth that he most likely would have had two seasons ago.
- Esteban Yan was a disaster, displaying the ugliness that I recalled from his days as a Cardinal, giving up three runs. The only positive I took away from his outing was the excellent fielding he made on one play in the 8th.
- UT Lou Merloni bobbled a couple throws at third, thus proving he has almost no business playing the position.
- Izturis bobbled a line drive straight at him, botching a double play and setting up...
- ... a swinging bunt, which Kotchman hesitated fielding. This set up a scoring triple by Jermaine Clark and an RBI single by Mark Kotsay. (So much for the A's having bad luck with players named Jermaine.)
- In the ninth, Izturis struck out on three consecutive pitches.
Sunday: Padres 8, Cubs 6I discovered Al's gripe about the Cubs' spring training park announcer giving incomplete or even nonexistant substitution announcement. Thanks to Blogger Buzz (which I was about to write off as useless, too), we know that announcer is named Tim, and that he has a blog. I left him a comment asking why 'twas so; perhaps he may respond someday.
Was the Cubs' loss to the Pads "dispirited"? Yes, but then, so did I feel watching the game, slathered in sunblock and slowly turning to a raisin in the dry, warm Arizona spring. I'll commend you to Al's delightful recap, and remind the reading audience here that if the Padres' acquisition of Tim Redding was a reaction to Darrell May and his inflatable ERAs, so, too was it in response to green rookies like Justin Germano, whose inexperience and lack of an out pitch is tempered with his age (22).