I’ve had some fun openly rooting against the Oakland A’s on the air lately, but the truth is — I’m jealous as heck.
This week is a perfect example. I watched nearly every pitch of the A’s-Astros series, and found it pulsating with excitement, tension, power and pitching. And even though the Giants took two of three from Arizona during the same time period, I found the games mostly tedious, tepid and soporific.
(Yes, we Googled synonyms for ‘dull’ on the air.)
So with Giants executive Brian Sabean going scorched earth last week in his media tour, labeling the Giants’ bats “so inept it’s mind-boggling”, I gaze longingly across the Bay where five — five! — Oakland A’s sluggers have more home runs than the nearest Giant.
For the record, that’s Khris Davis (39), Matt Olson (24), Jed Lowrie (21), Matt Chapman (21) and Stephen Piscotty (18). Heck, even the A’s sixth-leading home run man, my buddy Mark Canha (thanks for the tank top, bro) would be nipping at the Giants’ team lead with his 14 round-trippers.
The Giants are led by Andrew McCutchen’s 15 home runs. Then, Canha would be tied with Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt.
As Jeremy Affeldt told us on the air this morning, with somber reality in his voice: “The Giants need to find some power.”
So, while playing Paulie’s sound board of Woltz-ian screams and Black Sabbath howls does fill a cathartic need, I decided to Jock Blog about that very topic: How did the A’s find all that power? And can the Giants replicate their tactics?
If you’re a true Giants believer, you’re smacking your forehead saying: Wait. You’re telling Brian (Confetti Down Market Street x 3) Sabean to ask Billy (Brad Pitt Played Me In A Movie, But Don’t Ask Me About October) Beane for advice?
Pretty much, yes.
Hey, 2014 was a long time ago. (So was 1989, A’s fan. A long, long time ago.)
The game shifted towards power, and when the Giants show up with their gap-to-gap hitters (on a good day), that doesn’t help a lot when the other team is launching the horsehide over the fence.
A quick study of the A’s lineup’s origins shows a combination of shrewd drafting (Chapman and Olson) and even shrewder trading (Davis, Lowrie, Piscotty). Even the vaunted A’s bullpen has been a combination of trades that worked out (shipping Sean Doolittle to Washington for Blake Treinen) and draft pick gold (Lou Trivino, 11th rounder).
The draft picks, in particular, sting. In each case of the A’s sluggers, the Giants drafted ahead of the A’s. In 2014, the Gigantes left Chapman on the board and selected Tyler Beede. Ouch. In 2012, the Giants left Matt Olson on the board and selected Chris Stratton. Sort of ouch.
Heck, even a 10-homer man like Chad Pinder was a draft pick — and the Giants selected Ryder Jones ahead of him. Ouch.
As has been evident in the farm system of late, the Giants have been outfoxed on draft day. Now, maybe Steven Duggar, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw will be the next Jack Clark, Chili Davis and Bobby Bonds — but until then, we’ll say teams like the A’s have outperformed.
Then there is the question of creative trades. We know the Giants tried to land Giancarlo Stanton, and tried to land Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. No dice. And we can’t blame them for not landing Khris Davis. His game doesn’t play in the senior circuit. But for the A’s to creatively find Semien (in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the White Sox!), Piscotty from St. Louis and even Ramon Laureano from Houston shows Beane and Dave Forst’s penchant for trades — often mocked by many while they finished in last place — has an end game.
The task is on Sabean and Bobby Evans to find power in unlikely places. That means research. And projecting. And scouting. Basically, all the tasks a winning club is saddled with.
The Giants once drafted Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. They drafted Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo. They once traded for Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro. They once traded for Affeldt and Javier Lopez. They once found Ryan Vogelsong in Japan, and Gregor Blanco in Venezuela.
Whether because of complacency, bad luck or the vagaries of baseball fate, the Giants need to get cracking again. They might start by sending a scout to the Oakland Coliseum.