Tag:Jason Kendall
Posted on: April 10, 2008 6:34 pm

FAQ: Panic Attack

The answers to the questions you want to know......

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Q: Which pitcher has surprised you the most so far?

Edwin Jackson's start to the season has definitely been the biggest surprise to me. So far, through two starts this season, Jackson is 2-0, with a 0.64 era and 10 strikeouts in 14 inningsr. Jackson was a 15 game loser last season that had an era of almost 6. He once was considered the top pitching prospect in the Dodgers organization, but became an afterthought after he struggled with them early on. Jackson is only 24 years old this season and if he reaches the potential that scouts once thought he had, the Rays will have a pretty solid rotation with him, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and James Shields.

Q: Of the batters off to hot starts, which one surprises you the most?

So far there have been two players starts that have surprised me so far. The first one is definitely Joe Crede of the White Sox. After 7 games this season, Crede is batting .393 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. After a slow spring, Crede is making other GM's look foolish for not trading for him and he's also making Kenny Williams look like a genious for keeping him on the big league roster over Josh Fields, who had a solid year with the White Sox last year.

The second player that has completely surprised me is Jason Kendall of the Milwaukee Brewers. Through the first half of last season with the Oakland Athletics, Kendall was struggling just to stay above the .200 mark in batting average. Moving him behind the pitcher to the 9th spot in the order has seemed to work out so far as Kendall has started off the year hitting .526 with 5 RBI, 5 runs scored, and one steal. I knew Kendall would help Milwaukee's pitchers (2.95 team era), but I don't think anyone thought he'd be this effective with the bat. I always thought Kendall was a better National League player, and his performance so far has shown me why I still believe that.

Q: Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago (AL), Florida, and St. Louis have all gotten off to hot starts so far. Of those teams, which one has the greatest chance of reaching the postseason?

This question had me thinking for a very long time. I guess the best way to answer this question is to start off with teams that I can pretty much guarantee won't reach the postseason. Even though the Orioles have gotten off to a hot start, they play in baseball's toughest division this season and don't have much of a chance. There is no way Florida would beat out Atlanta, New York, or Philly in the NL East without Miguel Cabrera, and even though Kansas City has great potential, I think they are going to cool down once Detroit and Cleveland start playing better. So that leaves me with the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals......Even though the NL Central has been the weakest division in baseball the past couple of seasons, I still don't see the Cardinals emerging on top. Their mediocre pitching staff will catch up to them and the offense isn't much outside of Albert Pujols. The White Sox, on the other hand, have the offense to compete with teams in the Central, and they spent big money to revamp the bullpen this offseason. The only question remains is the starting pitching, yet they have a decent ace in Buehrle and potential in the back with Danks, so if I had to choose one of these five to make the postseason, it'd be them.

Q: Should the Giants try to trade for Dan Johnson now that the A's designated him for assignment?

In my opinion, the Giants are the only team where Johnson would make sense. Although Johnson hasn't had great success in the big leagues, the success that he has had is certainly a lot better than both Rich Aurilia and Dan Ortmeier (who the Giants are playing at first base). If Johnson could just raise his batting average, he'd become a much better player. He already has a solid eye, as he walked 72 times last season. Maybe a move to the National League is just what he needs. If the Giants want him, I say they don't risk another team posting a claim on him and go ahead and trade for him. At the very most, it'd cost a player that the Giants don't utilize much like Fred Lewis and at the very least it would cost a low-A ball player.

Q: What do you make of the Dodgers outfield situation? Will Joe Torre finally figure it out?

When the news first broke that Andre Ethier would be starting in place of Juan Pierre, I thought Torre was making the right move. What the reports failed to tell us was that Juan Pierre would be eating up Matt Kemps at bats, which is worse than originally expected. Pierre only has 3 hits all season, zero walks, and has been thrown out trying to steal second. He doesn't deserve to start on the Dodgers and hopefully Joe Torre will eventually realize that. If he doesn't, it's going to start costing the team some wins.

Q: What is wrong with Andruw Jones? Will he ever be the player that he was 2-3 seasons ago for the Braves?

It remains to be seen. I remain optimistic that Jones can turn around his 2007 season, but he hasn't shown anything of the sort so far in 2008. I find it hard to believe that a player that has had as much success in this league as Jones, and is only 30 years old, will continue to decline. So far, Andruw Jones is proving me wrong about him. I hope by the end of the year that the "It's only April" excuse will apply to him because that would be a shame to see someone that good fall so fast.

Q: The Indians just locked up Fausto Carmona to a long term deal. Was this a good or bad move?

Indians GM Mark Shapiro is one of the best when it comes to locking up young talent. He did it with Grady Sizemore a few years back and now he's locking up Carmona to a deal that will buy out his first two seasons of free agency. While most general managers would usually wait another year before making such a deal, I think it was a smart move by Shapiro. If the Indians lose C.C. Sabathia in the offseason, they will be in trouble. At least this guarantees the team a front of the rotation starter for at least the next six seasons.

Q: Based on what we've seen so far, what are the best trades made this past offseason?

So far, I'd say the best trade made was the Diamondbacks acquisition of Dan Haren from the Athletics, simply because it helped both teams involved. So far, Haren has been lights out for the Diamondbacks, while both Dana Eveland and Greg Smith have pitched very well for the Athletics. Meanwhile, Brett Anderson was solid in his first minor league start and Carlos Gonzalez is batting .300 for the River Cats. Another trade that has worked out very well is the Orioles trade of Miguel Tejada to the Astros. Tejada's been hitting the ball well for the Astros, but Luke Scott has been hitting it even better. Scott leads the American League in batting average at .500. Meanwhile, both Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate have yet to give up a run in over 9 innings of relief (combined). Also, as expected, the Mets deal for Johan Santana is working out great.

The worst trade we've seen so far could be Seattle's trade for Erik Bedard. While Bedard has had a solid two starts for the Mariners, the team has lost many games because their bullpen is now extremely weak and the offense is worse than it was a year ago. We'll have to give it more time to play out though.

Q: What is wrong with the Yankees? They have gone from having the best offense in 2007, to having the worst so far in 2008?

The Yankees are typically slow out of the gate, so I wouldn't be worried too much. Since 2004, the Yankees record in April is only 46-51(not counting this season) and they've made the postseason each one of those years. With both Posada and Jeter injured, and Giambi, Damon, and Cano off to slow starts, they should be happy with the 4-5 record. As always, the only people performing in New York right now on offense are A-rod, Matsui, and Abreu. I think Joe Girardi needs to handle his pitchers a little better. Not starting Kennedy because the "threat" of rain is lame to begin with and then bringing him in when the team is down 2 runs in the 7th is even more pointless.
Posted on: March 11, 2008 2:56 am
Edited on: March 11, 2008 6:02 pm

2008 Oakland A's Baseball

You've got questions? I've got the answers. Everything you need to know about the upcoming season for the Oakland Athletics is right here.

Q: Will Mike Sweeney make the big league roster?

It certainly looks like it. After several injury plagued seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Sweeney is off to a great start this spring for the Athletics batting .400. initially, it was thought that Sweeney was brought in to compete with Dan Johnson for a backup role, but because of his strong performance, it is likely that Sweeney will open the year as the A's DH with Jack Cust shifting to the outfield. Meanwhile, Johnson is struggling mightily at the plate and could be traded by opening day.

Q: Do you expect any spring training surprises?

With both Chris Denorfia and Ryan Sweeney struggling this spring and Emil Brown not a viable option in center, the A's could turn to Carlos Gonzalez in centerfield. Gonzalez was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Dan Haren to Arizona and has all the raw talent to develop into a superstar. It was expected that Gonzalez would play at least the first half of the season at AAA Sacramento and with the A:s not competing this season, there is no real reason to put him in the lineup right away (as their was last season with Travis Buck).

Q: Who will be the next Marco Scutaro, of the timely hits and awesome chant?

It remains to be seen. Scutaro was the captain of clutch for the A's, but with him reaching arbitration and the A's having both Donnie Murphy and Jack Hannahan they could turn to, they decided to cash in on the super-sub. As far as the chants go, it remains to be seen. There are so many new faces in Oakland this season, so the fans will be forced to come up with some fresh material. I'm gonna try to make it to the opening series against the Red Sox, so maybe I'll think of something by then.

Q: What will the lineup look like?

That's a good question. I'm not sure what Bob Geren is thinking of doing, but I imagine it will look something like this....
  1. RF Travis Buck
  2. 2B Mark Ellis
  3. 1B Daric Barton
  4. DH Mike Sweeney
  5. LF Jack Cust
  6. 3B Eric Chavez
  7. SS Bobby Crosby
  8. C Kurt Suzuki
  9. CF Carlos Gonzalez/Chris Denorfia
With Daric Barton set to take over first base and the emergence of Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney in the lineup, a lot of pressure will be taken off Eric Chavez this season. Chavez is coming off of three offseason surgeries and still isn't fully recovered.

Q: Will Travis Buck keep his hair long, or will he cut it NYY style?
It's a good thing we talk about what is important. Buck had his hair long for the first half of 2007 and then cut it towards the 2nd half. Report out of spring training are that Buck hasn't cut his hair yet and is sporting the long haired look he had at the beginning of last season (see picture to the left). After the fans outcry, I think the hair will stay for good.

Q: Will Rich Harden stay healthy through Spring Training? Through April? Through the All-Star Break? Through the end of the year?

It's really hard to determine the health of a player, especially one that has had constant injury problems the past few seasons like Harden. However, reports out of spring training are encouraging. In fact, the A's have worked with Harden to tweak his delivery a bit this season in an effort to keep him more healthy. While I'm not really going to predict the health of Rich Harden and how long he lasts, it is obvious that the A's are a much better team when he takes the mound for them.

Q: Will Blanton step up to the challenge of being promoted in the rotation?

I think he will. "Big Country" will only be 27 next season and will begin to enter his prime. Joe is a solid pitcher that eats a lot of innings and will give opposing teams a run for their money. He isn't the prototypical ace, but he's good enough to get the job done for the A's. Aside from his first outing of the spring, in which Blanton was mainly throwing fastballs, he has looked solid and if you couple him with a healthy Rich Harden, the A's could surprise a few people this season.

Q: Will we miss Duchscherer’s presence in the bullpen more than we enjoy his performance as a starter?

Duchscherer has arguably been one of the A's best pitchers over the past couple of seasons and there is no reason to assume that he'll fail as a starter. He came up through the minor league as a starter, but was blocked from a job by Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Cory Lidle and Ted Lilly and was forced to change to a reliever to get his shot. The A's shouldn't miss him too much in the pen as Santiago Casilla and Keith Foulke will likely be called up to take his place. In addition, Joey Devine, who the A's added in the Mark Kotsay deal, could make a significant contribution as well.

Q: Are we really looking at Lenny DiNardo in the starting rotation?

It looks like it. However, I think DiNardo's stay in the rotation may be short-lived. Gio Gonzalez, the main prospect acquired in the Nick Swisher deal has looked solid so far this spring. Couple that with his minor league statistics the past couple of seasons and it makes you wonder why he is a long shot to be considered for the rotation. Last season at AA-Birmingham, Gonzalez was 9-7 with a 3.18 era and recorded 185 strikeouts in just 150 innings pitched. Look for him around mid-season.

Q: Will Foulke be a welcome addition to the A’s ‘pen?

Definitely! Foulke was solid when he was the closer here in Oakland and fans still remember that. The Indians thought Foulke was healthy enough to be their closer last season, so after a year of rest, he should be a solid middle reliever for the A's. If he's not, big deal. The A's are only paying him a base salary of $700,000.

Q: Can Bobby Crosby emerge as a serviceable shortstop now that (presumably) his injuries are behind him?

I'm not so sure. There were high expectations for Crosby when he first came out and I think those expectations, more than his numbers, led him to getting the rookie of the year award back in 2004. I always gave Crosby slack as he could never live up to the guy he replaced (Tejada), but it's about time he starts to perform. He can start by raising his abysmal batting average. If he doesn't, Oakland could be looking for a replacement in 2009.

Q: Is Chavez finally healthy, and if finally healthy, finally good?

No. Chavez is still recovering from his 3 offseason surgeries. He suffered a setback earlier this month and is just about a lock to miss the opener in Japan. Chavez is highly unlikely to ever return to the player he once was from 2001-2004, but he's still an above average third basemen and the top fielding third basemen in the league.

Q: Will we see Barton at first base?

Yes. The 22 year old Barton was already named the A's opening day starter before spring training even began. The A's were impressed with his callup last September and felt that he deserved to be handed the job without competition. Barton, who was traded to the A's along with Dan Haren for Mark Mulder, has been the A's best prospect in their farm system for a while now and has a great eye and is a solid contact hitter. However, his power number are a bit low for a first basemen (Barton was a converted catcher).

Q: In April, can Suzuki quadruple the number of homeruns that Jason Kendall hit in his entire Athletics’ career?

Considering the fact that Kendall only had 3 his entire Athletics's career, I don't think he'll do it in April, but maybe throughout the course of the year. Suzuki hit 7 home runs in just 213 at bats last year for the team which is already more than Jason. While I think that number may be a bit high (in terms of frequency), I think you can expect anywhere from 12-15 homers from Suzuki on the year.

Q: Any Bold Predictions?

Sure....why not.

- A's final record will be 76-86, 3rd place in the AL West
- Jack Cust will hit .265/.410/.500 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI
- Both Rich Harden and Joe Blanton win 15 games this season
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com