Red Hair Red Light: Kielty Gets Knee Surgery

Score one for the red light Will Carroll gave Kielty’s health risk over at Baseball Prospectus:

He crushes lefties when he’s healthy, but his hand, shoulder, and oblique have made him more known for his costumes than his bat.

Add a knee to that list of body parts. Susan Slusser reports that Bobby Kielty needs some minor knee surgery, and will miss three-to-six weeks. I’m sure he’s quite depressed about this…

Kielty depressed

…but look on the bright side: this reduced the odds considerably that the Pittsburgh Pirates might want to trade for him.

* * *

The flip side to Kielty’s red light is Milton Bradley’s green light. I was quite curious how a five year veteran who has only managed to stay healthy enough for 400 ABs once in his career managed to get a no-comment green light from Carroll. I asked Will for a comment about this surprising (to me) result. He acknowledged that the system may have missed something but “I think the green’s still accurate. The shoulder doesn’t appear to be a long term concern, he overcame the knee problem with no real effect, and most of his past history is either non-recurring (oblique) or traumatic (appendectomy.)”

OK, then. I’m still not sure I understand how that makes him all that much of a better health risk than Kielty, but since Kielty is now injured, and Bradley (knock on wood) is not, we’ll give Will the benefit of the proof in the pudding.

Smell Like Canadians

And so I’m sitting here thinking I don’t know what I’m doing with this module I’m programming–the concept of it is still too unclear in my head–so I just keep futzing around, not attacking it, just kinda waiting for some divine inspiration, so maybe I need to take a break and think about something else to reboot my brain, and my thoughts keep turning back to the fact that I got an email today telling me that my Oakland Athletics season tickets have been shipped and they’re on their way and will be here in three days, and so I followed the FedEx link to track my package, and the tickets are being shipped from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which strikes me as being highly weird, except really, Saskatoon isn’t really any further from Oakland than Kansas City, and would I think it was weird if the tickets were being shipped from Kansas City? Not really, since the team itself was shipped from Kansas City back in 1968. But perhaps it would have been better to get the tickets printed in Fremont, you know, so it would be a clever bit of foreshadowing.

But nope. Saskatoon it is. How did a company in Saskatoon win a bid to print tickets for Major League Baseball? I look up the weather in Saskatoon and it’s 18 degrees F, which is quite unspringtraininglike. And I’m thinking, those Canadians who printed the tickets must think that baseball is a highly abstract concept at this point. Which is appropriate, because the most famous major league player who was born in Saskatchewan is Reggie Cleveland, and Reggie Cleveland is like an abstract concept to me, too. I mean, he’s not Reggie, and he didn’t play for Cleveland, so he makes no sense.

I read the reports coming out of Arizona (Dan Meyer lives! Bobby Crosby swings! Landon Powell and Joe Kennedy aren’t quite so fat! Dan Haren looks like Bigfoot!), but they don’t quite hit home yet. But three days from now, I’ll have something tangible in my hands, something with weight and dimension and color, something to see, feel, touch, smell. Maybe the tickets will smell like Canadians, but they’ll be affiliated Canadians, and they’ll be real, and baseball will finally come alive once again.

OK, enough dreaming. There’s some software that is slouching towards Arneson to be born. Time to go on the attack. Futztime is over.

Ex-Athletics Report: Zito’s New Delivery

I’m now in my forties, and I am finally getting comfortable and confident with my own political beliefs. But I still don’t like talking about it much, because I see flaws with both sides of the major philosophical divide:

Progressives: Quite eager to fix problems, but because of the laws of unintended consequences, their solutions introduce as many problems as they solve, if not more.

Conservatives: Their fear of unintended (or intended) consequences leaves many problems unsolved.

Basically, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. What’s worse is when you can’t even tell which party supports which flawed philosophy. I’m sure you can come up with your own recent examples of Republicans making the progressive mistake, and Democrats making the conservative mistake.

Solving problems is hard. There is usually no perfect solution: there are risks, and there are tradeoffs. I suppose it’s too much to ask to have a discussion that acknowledges these risks and tradeoffs, instead of having everything labeled right or wrong, good or evil, brilliant or idiotic, for us or against us, to have a political discussion that doesn’t just descend into namecalling. But unfortunately, risks and tradeoffs don’t fit neatly into 30-second soundbites.

* * *

What got me thinking about this was my first reaction to the news about Barry Zito changing his delivery: “There he goes again.”

Back in 2004, he tried to change his delivery, presumably to solve a problem he was having with his knee. The unintended consequence was he lost his ability to reduce the BABIP against RHB, which is the whole key to his success. He abandoned the new delivery mid-season, at which point his BABIP-reducing skills quickly returned.

OK, new problem: Barry Zito has worn down in September each the last two seasons. ERA over 5.00 each time, unlike the summer months where his ERA has been excellent.

Barry Zito is a smart guy. Smart guys figure out how to solve problems, right? So Zito decides the problem is with his legs, or lack of use thereof, so he bulks up his legs in the offseason, and decides to use a different delivery that makes more use of his legs. More power from legs, less stress on arm, greater endurance…problem solved!

D’oh! Forgot about those unintended consequences.

Lessee, what possible unintended consequences could there be? Let’s make a list:

  • Loss of control
  • Loss of deception from release point
  • Loss of deception from difference in speeds
  • New delivery may cause injury

Hmm…so…what to do? Be conservative, leave things the way they were, and leave the endurance problem unsolved? Or be progressive, use the new delivery, hope that the unintended consequences are minimal, and solve the problem, hoping everything works out great?

Or…maybe…there could exist some sort of middle ground, that trades of a little of the risk for a little bit of progress towards solving the original problem? A–dare I say the word—compromise?

The more radical elements of Barry Zito’s new delivery appear headed for the dustbin after he and pitching coach Dave Righetti had a long chat Friday. Asked afterward if Zito will revert to something closer to his Oakland motion the next time he throws, Righetti said, “Probably.”

Righetti insisted he did not order Zito to scrap the new windup, which featured a longer stride and a more crouched stance, but said they talked for “a bunch” and had a meeting of minds. Zito still might incorporate some of what he tried on the mound Thursday to generate more thrust from his legs, but the result should be more like the upright delivery that made him successful with the A’s.

“You don’t look at a Michelangelo sculpture halfway done and start commenting on how terrible it is,” Zito said. “You wait until the final product.”

Damn Zito. He’s nothing but a flip-flopper.

A’s Claim DiNardo, Waive Bocachica

Well, I suppose the Hiram Bocachica Fan Club isn’t too happy about this. The A’s have decided to Firam Bocachica from their 40-man roster again, this time in order to claim Lenny DiNardo off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

With the A’s having waived both Charles Thomas and Bocachica this past week, it makes you wonder who will man centerfield in the inevitable case that both Mark Kotsay and Milton Bradley are hurt at the same time. Nick Swisher? Yeech! Javier Herrera is on the 40-man roster, so I’d guess he’d be the guy, but that’s assuming he has recovered from his Tommy John surgery.

The A’s have two Rule 5 picks on their 40-man roster, and there’s probably not room for both of them on the 25-man roster. If either one gets sent back to their original teams, that would leave a roster spot or two open for the emergency fill-in. Someone like Hiram Bocachica.

As for DiNardo (who apparently has a fan club, too), he’s a soft-tossing lefty. He throws cutters, cutters, cutters, a slider, and an occasional changeup. Baseball Prospectus says,

DiNardo draws consistent comparisons to Jamie Moyer because he’s left-handed and throws about as hard as a pitching coach.

Ouch. That’s not particularly encouraging–many are compared to Moyer, but few actually do Moyer. PECOTA gives DiNardo about a 30% chance of being something better than a scrub. Which is actually pretty good, considering that DiNardo’s 2006 season was plagued with a neck injury, and PECOTA probably thinks he just sucked in 2006 because he sucked. DiNardo also pitched in the WBC, for Italy. You can ask Esteban Loaiza about how starting pitchers struggled after the WBC last year.

DiNardo had a pretty good season in AAA Pawtucket in 2005: 3.15 ERA, 1.32 WHIP. He’s basically another Brad Halsey/Kirk Saarloos for the A’s–a fifth-starter/middle-reliever type. He’s also apparently a replacement for Barry Zito in the left-handed pitcher/guitar player department. We love Bocachica–he has an all-time classic baseball name–but mediocre pitchers are harder to find than AAAA outfielders. The move gets my Catfish Stew stamp of approval.

Shannon Stewart Continues The Jaha-Thomas Tradition

Shannon Stewart is the winner of this year’s been-hurt-so-long-we-almost-forgot-about-him Billy Beane Sweepstakes. The Oakland A’s agreed on a 1-year, incentive-ladel deal with Stewart.

Back in his healthy days, Stewart regularly put up OBPs of .360-.380. That certainly would be welcome and useful, if Stewart can return to form after two years of plantar fasciitis problems.

He’s not the ideal platoon partner for Bobby Kielty, as he bats right-handed, but at least he’s been much better against RHP than Kielty has been. And it’s insurance in case Dan Johnson flops, Mark Kotsay gets hurt, Mike Piazza gets old, Milton Bradley implodes, and various other disasters. Depth never hurts.

* * *

Just for kicks, I was recently reading through the early Transaction Analysis articles over at BP. Here’s Christina Kahrl’s take on the original success story in the Billy Beane Sweepstakes (apparently called the Guillermo Frijoles Sweepstakes back then), John Jaha:

I’m not a big fan of bringing in Jaha, but the A’s are heavily left-handed, and he’ll get every opportunity to win the right-handed DH job. The misfortune is that there’s more Kevin Mitchell in this signing than Matt Stairs. Jaha basically can’t pass a physical, and some folks are joking that he hurts himself in workouts. They’ll have to be really stubborn and ignore all of that to make room for him.

Well, sometimes this sort of thing doesn’t work out (Mitchell, Tim Raines), and sometimes it does (Jaha, Frank Thomas). I guess we’ll find out soon enough about Stewart.

* * *

Reading those old transactions sure makes me thankful for the rosters of recent seasons. The 2007 A’s probably have about six starting pitchers, and about seven or eight relievers who are better than anybody on those 1996-1998 teams. Here’s a Kahrl note from 1998 that just about sums those years up:

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Recalled RHP Dave Telgheder from Edmonton; designated RHP Jim Dougherty for assignment. [4/28]

The A’s fall back on their third option for the fifth starter slot, as they’ve had to in each of the previous seasons: Dave Telgheder. Maybe its my easily inspired sense of imagination. Maybe only I shudder each time it happens. But the surrender that Telgheder represents, the agony of having to hand him a job every couple of months, is the surface ripple of the organization’s deep problems with their minor league pitching prospects. Whether its Willie Adams or Kirk Dressendorfer or Andrew Lorraine or Bret Wagner or Ariel Prieto, no matter what glimmering possibility seems to hold promise, we keep coming back to Dave Telgheder. You can’t kill him, you can’t hide from him. He’s the uninvited guest who chains himself to your couch. His agent certainly earned his cut by getting his client into the right organization as a minor league free agent.

Hilarious. But probably only because those days ended long ago. Just curious, though: does Jay Witasick use Telgheder’s old agent?

That’s ‘Six Feet Under’ 3.5 Times Over, For Those Of You Keeping Score

Overreact once, shame on you…overreact twice…OMG! If global warming increases sea levels by more than a couple of feet, the A’s new stadium in Fremont might find itself below sea level. We’ll all drown!!!

Except…it seems we’re all dead already…I’ve always felt that being an A’s fan is like being in some kind of purgatory…not quite hell, exactly, but not quite heaven either…things go well, but it’s never quite right…there’s great weather, but an ugly park…great transportation, but to a bad neighborhood…when you win it all, there’s an earthquake or something…and then you find out your favorite players were all a bunch of steroid freaks…anyway…to the point…now I understand why…because right now…today…without the help of global warming…there’s this:

The field at the Oakland Coliseum is 21 feet below sea level.