2013 Reds / Series Preview

Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

Okay, I’m going to level with you. There was a lot of illness at Casa de Linden this weekend and not much research got done. Also, it’s just a two-game series, so we’re going to do things quick and dirty. Here we go…

Offense and Lineup:

The A’s are a very solid offensive team. While they lack one player who truly stands out, they have a lot of guys who bring offensive prowess with them to the ballpark as part of the way they earn their living. The real prize being third baseman Josh Donaldson. Consider this: They have five players who are at least semi-regulars who are getting on base at a better than .360 clip. There are also a few black holes, as you’ll see…

Position Player L/R AVG OBP SLG
C Derek Norris R .188 .299 .303
1B Brandon Moss L .236 .322 .471
2B Eric Sogard L .272 .337 .343
SS Jed Lowrie B .304 .379 .421
3B Josh Donaldson R .305 .373 .488
LF Yoenis Cespedes R .224 .290 .465
CF Coco Crisp B .279 .363 .469
RF Josh Reddick L .216 .303 .327
DH Seth Smith L .284 .362 .441

Also of note is John Jaso who is the back of catcher, but also DHs some. he has 205 plate appearances and a .745 OPS, which includes a .377 OBP.

Starting Pitching:

The listed matchups at this writing are as follows:

Tuesday: Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.14) vs. Tommy Milone (6-7, 3.98)
Wednesday: Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.75) vs. A.J. Griffin (5-6, 3.90)

First, I have to point out that the Tuesday matchup sounds like the undercard in a Rocky movie. Second, I have to point out that the A’s starting pitching is not great, and that’s on display here. Milone and Griffen are both yonng and have some promise, but right now, they are nothing special and the Reds should be able to put some runs on the board. Certainly, it is the Reds who are fielding the better pitcher in both games.

Bullpen:

The A’s do have an excellent bullpen, headed by closer Grant Balfour and his 2.03 ERA. I would not be surprised to see one or both of these games start with the Reds in the lead, only to become more interesting when the bullpens get involved.

Conclusion:

The A’s and Reds are both very good ballclubs and they matchup well against each other. Calling for anything beyond  a split seems foolish given how close they are, but the Reds are a little better and have at least a shot at taking both games. I’m sure all of us would love to see that.

52 thoughts on “Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

  1. Reds woke up this morning to find themselves 2.5 games out of first. A 2 game sweep of Oakland would be nice for sure.

    Unfortunately, St. Louis gets Houston and Pittsburgh gets Seattle in this same stretch. The Reds may HAVE to sweep this series just to keep pace.

  2. The A’s don’t like swinging at bad pitches. Gotta love the OBP of most of these guys. Jed Lowrie has always been a bit of a favorite of mine, although he isn’t a very good fielder. He generally handles what he gets to though. Josh Reddick is following up his outstanding 2012 with a not so good 2013 so far. Derrick Norris is making A’s fans call for Jaso behind the plate a lot more. Never been a fan of Coco Crisp but he’s looked strong both in CF and the top of the A’s lineup the last couple years. Cespedes is really, really fun to watch play baseball. He kind of has the Vlad Guerrero “swing at anything close” approach at the plate however. This should be a good series to watch.

    • @LWBlogger:

      This should be a good series to watch.

      Well 1 of the 2 games in this series should be fun for the Old Cossack to watch. I can’t even pretend that the Old Cossack will make it past the 3rd inning of tonight’s game.

  3. It will be fun to see if the A’s can lay off Bronson’s frisbees. I don’t trust the Reds offense against pitchers they haven’t seen, however. Looks like two tight games.

    The Reds should commence to going.

  4. My guess at the Reds lineup.
    Robinson LF
    Choo CF
    Votto 1B
    Phillips 2B
    Bruce RF
    Frazier 3B
    Heisey DH
    Cozart SS
    Hanigan C

    I’m assuming Heisey as the DH since he is just coming off the DL.

    • @RedForever: Since BP was placed on paternity leave yesterday, he’s probably not qavailable, so Heisey will be activated without anyone being optioned back to the minor league system. Why have none of the beat writers even mentioned this roster move?

      • @Shchi Cossack: I didn’t even know BP was married or had any children, although getting married has never been a prerequisite to having children.

        I haven’t seen a transaction come down the wire regarding this and i get feeds from most of the major sites.

        • @RedForever:

          06/24/13 Cincinnati Reds placed 2B Brandon Phillips on the paternity list.

          From the official Reds website by MLB.com.

        • @RedForever: You know that makes a lot of sense and that is probably how it will shake out, but this situation presents an opportunity to really shake up the lineup creatively…

          CF Choo
          3B Frazier
          1B Votto
          RF Bruce
          SS Cozart
          DH Heisey
          C Hanigan
          2B Izturis
          LF Robinson

          Such a lineup will never see Dusty’s pencil, but with the LH pitcher on the mound for the A’s, the opportunity for such creativity does present itself.

  5. Amazing, simply amazing… The A’s are in 2nd place in the ALWD, trailing the mighty Rangers by just 1 game and the A’s are leading the AL wild by 1.5 games. This with a RF hitting just .216, a LF hitting .224 and a 1B hitting just .236. Then throw in a catcher hitting just .188 and no one in the lineup slugging over .500 and the lineup would appear to be a recipe for disaster.

    • @Shchi Cossack: The thing is the OBP of most of these guys. They just don’t make a lot of outs. It helps get their OPS numbers up to (OPS, OPS+):

      Norris – .602, 70
      Moss – .793, 119
      Sogard – .680, 92
      Lowrie – .800, 125 (from a SS!!)
      Donaldson – .860, 139
      Cespedes – .756, 108
      Crisp – .832, 131
      Reddick – .630, 77
      Smith – .803, 124

      Then you have Jaso – .745, 111

      They can have 6 of their 9 hitters above league average OPS+ when Jaso is in the lineup. What they are getting out of CF and SS is really impressive. What they’ve been getting out of Reddick on the other hand has to be very disappointing for them.

        • @LWBlogger:

          sarcasm font

          How would the Old Cossack manage such a thing? These old leathery fingers, baked by riding long hours across the Steppes, can barely manage legible keyboard strokes.

          I would seriously appreciate the info on customizing my posts. I’m not particularly computer literate.

  6. Jason,

    There was a lot of illness at Casa de Linden this weekend and not much research got done.

    I hope there was nothing serious and especially hope the kids are OK. Sometimes life does get in the way of our baseball. Drat :!: :P:

      • @Jason Linden: Yeah, Mrs. Cossack has a seriously bum ankle and the Old Cossack has a seriously bum knee right now, so we opted to just let the kids take care of themselves and hope the house is still standing and habitable by the time we again get mobil. :twisted:

  7. I’m not sure if it’s because they are in the AL, they are on the left coast, or it’s frankly apathy toward the A’s, but I can’t think of any other team in which I only know 3 names in the starting lineup.

  8. Although Oakland isn’t a great pitching staff, they are actually better than Steve gives them credit for. They are 5th in the AL, which I assure you, means they are above average. They are also extremely well suited to pitch in Oakland. Milone in particular thrives in Oakland as he is a flyball pitcher who doesn’t walk people. Milone is also a completely different pitcher home versus away.

    Griffin is also a capable pitcher who is well suited to Oakland’s stadium. I’m glad the Reds missed Jarrod Parker, as he’s been pretty lights out after starting the season off horribly.

    This 2 game series is a bit of a crapshoot imo. A’s offense has been better than the Reds, at a fraction of the price. Beane has put together a solid, cheap roster to compete with the big boys.

  9. Looks like plate discipline will be an especially critical part of the next two games. Will the Reds make the A’s youngsters prove they can throw strikes? Will the A’s hitters be able to resist flaying at Bronson’s 79 mph breaking balls?

      • @LWBlogger: Actually, by almost any measure you can find, the Reds are solid where plate discipline is concerned. They are 4th in baseball, 2nd in NL in walks. They are above average at laying off pitches outside the zone (10th of 30) and good at swinging at balls actually in the zone (3rd in baseball and the NL).

        They do strikeout more than you’d like to see, but that’s more about missing once you do swing than about choosing poor times to swing.

        • @Jason Linden: That’s better than I would have thought. This is why I should check the figures before spewing my mouth off… Anyway, if I get a second or if you get a minute, can you take a look and see if those numbers are perhaps skewed by having Choo and Votto in the lineup? They are particularly good when it comes to BB-rate.

        • @LWBlogger: Sure, Choo and Votto skew it, but then so does Cozart. You probably aren’t going to find a team where everyone walks at an above-average rate. MLB average is 7.8%. Here are the walk rates for Reds contributors:
          Votto – 16.1
          Choo – 15.1
          Paul – 11.8
          Robinson – 11.7
          Mes – 11.2
          Frazier – 10.7
          Hanigan – 9.7
          Izturis – 9.2
          Hannahan – 8.1
          Bruce – 6.5
          Phillips – 6.3
          Cozart – 3.9
          Heisey – 2.5

          So, you can see the Reds only have three significant contributors who are beow average. And Bruce is well off his norm. His career rate is 9.3.

          So yeah, this is actually a pretty patient team.

    • @Richard Fitch:

      Looks like plate discipline will be an especially critical part of the next two games.

      Heisey 2013 BB%=2.5 & career BB%=5.6
      Cozart 2013 BB%=3.9 career BB%=4.6
      Izturis 2013 BB%=9.2 career BB%=4.9

      Plate discipline looks to be a problem and I agree, that will be a problem with these matchups.

    • @Matt WI: That surprises me after Theo’s repeated strong denials regarding that action. Then again, strong denials by the front office don’t usually mean much I guess.

      • @Shchi Cossack: I like that they slipped it into a new cycle dominated by the joy of Chicago fans otherwise being occupied by the Blackhawks victory. Well played.

  10. Both the A’s and the Reds have OBPs of .328, plus the Reds don’t have the DH, so I’m not gettting the supposed superiority of the A’s hitting approach. The A’s have slugged .403; the Reds, .399. The A’s have scored 362 runs in 78 games; the Reds, 344 in 77 games, so factoring in the DH, there is no discernible difference offensively. Yeah, GABP is more of a hitter’s park, but that shouldn’t affect OBP as much as the not having a DH does.

    I would like to see both Heisey (cf or lf) and Mesoraco (dh) in the lineup against the A’s lefty, although Baker tends to ease guys in off the DL. Mesoraco has a .866 OPS against lefties.

  11. Some interesting discussion just now on MLB Network. Should Jay Bruce move up in the order ahead of Phillips? I think we need to maximize Bruce’s hot streak with runners on base, even when BP returns from his paternity leave. Start it out Choo, BP, Votto, Bruce. Even with 2 lefties 3-4, that’s only for 2 spots in the order late in the game.

  12. I don’t follow the AL but this will be a tough series. I imagine it’s hard to take games off a team with Brad Pitt as the GM.

    • @Redgoggles: We’ll have HOU later on, the only difference in our schedules is the 4 game series with CLE while STL gets KC. That’s pretty even. Remember, STL just was swept by TEX.

  13. Jayson Stark over at ESPN had the following observations regarding Detroit’s search for a closer…

    Now the mission is finding the right closer to shut down those big games in October that this team is almost destined to play. Unfortunately, at this point, there appear to be only two potentially available arms who would meet that description — Papelbon and Jesse Crain (he of the 29 consecutive scoreless appearances for the White Sox). “They’ve got the pieces to cash in for what they need,” one exec said. “And they’ve got the motivation. They really want to win for [owner Mike Illitch]. And I think they’d just about back up the truck for the right piece.” If that means dealing one of their two most coveted young bats — Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia — other clubs say they’re willing to pay that price. And if they are, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers won’t get what they want.

    I’m not sure how much other clubs value Chapman or how much the Reds value Chapman, but based on the solicited feedback from other organizations when the Reds were considering converting Chapman from a shut down closer to a potential starter, that valuation by other organizations is (or was) pretty high. If WJ can swing a Chapman for Castellanos trade, I say make it happen and make it now!

  14. Now I considered this option, but I never thought the Reds would consider this option…

    06/25/13 Cincinnati Reds recalled Henry Rodriguez from Louisville Bats.

    So maybe we see HRod in the lineup tonight rather than Izturis? Not likely, but he’s on the roster. Still no announcement regarding Heisey’s activation. If Heisey is activated, now another roster move will be needed, probably the Big Lutz optioned out.

  15. Well now that’s really weird. Heisey is listed on the 25 man roster, along with HRod, but no one was removed from the 25 man roster, so the 25 man roster is now the 26 man roster.

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