Tagged: Rangers

AL West

Note: a “straight
run differential projection” is based on a team’s actual runs scored and
runs allowed.  A “component runs projected” is based on
basic runs created and component ERA without the adjustment to make it an ERA figure (i.e. IP and
the multiplication by 9 not included).  I then applied the
Pythagorean
Formula
with an exponent of
1.83.


Well, well, the AL West, a division full of teams with flaws.  Only one team in this division is above average at both scoring and preventing runs, and that team plays in a climate that has historically caused their pitching to melt down in the summer heat.  The rest of the teams allow more runs than they score, which is obvious cause to doubt their prospects.  


ANGELS

jered weaver.jpg

39-33, .542 winning percentage, 3.5 GB, 4.5 GB Wild Card.  4.74 runs per game (6th in AL), 4.88 runs allowed per game (11th in AL), straight run differential projection 83 wins and .511 winning percentage; component run projection 79 wins and a .488 winning percentage (an 13 games behind first place…ouch!)

Over the past two weeks the Angels have faced the A’s, Dodgers, Brewers, and Cubs, and they have made the most of their competition, with an 8-5 record over that time.  But their bogus run differential condition persists: they have scored 61 runs (4.69 per game) over that  period, but they’ve allowed 65 runs (5.00 per game).  This is the oddness of this year’s Angels ballclub: they are six games over .500 despite giving up more runs than they have scored, and they are out-performing their expected record by four games.  Their record of 8-5 over the past two weeks is about two games better than we would expect, all things being equal.  On top of this already kind of odd oddity, the Angels’ actual run differential significantly over-performs their expected–component–run differential, which implies that they’ve been efficient and quite lucky so far this season.  Or they are a wild aberration.

Jered Weaver, pictured above, is leading the AL in strikeouts.

From here, the Angels return home to face the slumping Dodgers, then the Rockies, and then the division-leading Rangers as June draws to its close.

The Angels’ offense is surging but…the pitching, particularly the bullpen, remains suspect.  It used to be that once Scioscia went to the ‘pen, the game was over, and you could practically feel that even while watching on TV.  But it hasn’t been like that in either ’09 or ’10, and, in fact, the opposite feeling, one of near panic, has been palpable, even on my computer monitor.  Heck, you can practically smell the flop-sweat dripping off of Angels’ relievers’ faces when they come into tight situations.

A good example of what I’m talking about took place on Friday, when the Angels led the Cubs 7-2 heading into the ninth inning.  The “other Francisco Rodriguez” promptly walked the first two batters than served up a dinger to Tyler Colvin to cut the score to 7-5 and then Fernando Rodney walked a high wire in a high win to close out the Cubs 7-6.  But why did that game end up that close?  in 2008 the Angels’ ‘pen just shut them down.  Of course, the game would have been 3-2 in 2008 in the first place, so maybe I don’t have a point.

Despite infield injuries that include the Erik Aybar’s knee, the Angels are holding together and really swinging the bats very well.  But if they keep on giving up more runs than they score…well, they just won’t be around to play in the post-season.

[Note: I have not hyperlinks for the Angels because…I was delinquent and had a power outage while I was typing this post the other night and all my material went…wherever stuff goes in cyberspace when the power goes out before you save your work….]


A’s

34-37, .479 winning percentage, 8 GB, 9 GB Wild Card.  4.00 runs/game (12th in AL), 4.28 runs allowed per game (4th in AL).  Straight run differential projection for 77 wins and a .473 winning percentage; component run projection for 76 wins and a .467 winning percentage.

Over the past two weeks the A’s have fallen off the pace in the AL West. Granted the Rangers have been really, really hot, but the A’s have faced the Angels, Giants, Cubs, and Cardinals and they have won only 4 games, losing 9, in that time period.  They have scored 50 runs (3.85/game) while allowing 56 (4.31/game), meaning that their offense has been worse and less active in the past two weeks than it has over the course of the season, which is scary, since their offense hasn’t been…so far this year.

From here the A’s host the Reds (whom they trail 0-1 right now in game one of that series), and the Pirates (which maybe should give A’s fans something to be happy about) before they travel to Baltimore to end the month of June.

According to A’s fans, manager Bob Geren isn’t making the grade, and the blog Athletics Nation offers a condensed Managing 101 course for their allegedly confused skipper. 

I’m not sure it’s just an issue with a manager, but rather than this team simply can’t score enough.  


MARINERS

Cliff Lee vs Reds 1-0.jpg

26-41, .388 winning percentage, 13 GB, 14 GB Wild Card.  3.41 runs/game (13th in AL); 4.38 runs allowed per game (8th in AL); straight run differential projection 62 wins, .382 winning percentage; component run projection 63 wins, .390 winning percentage.

Ah, Seattle.  They expected big thins this year but they just can’t score runs.  Their Offensive Ineptitude is pretty entrenched.  On the other hand, they can pitch a little here and there: they just swept the Reds, allowing Cincinnati only 1 run in the entire 3-game series and winning two 1-0 shutouts behind some obviously dominant starting pitching from Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and Ryan Rowland-Smith.  

In the last two weeks the Mariners have faced the Rangers, the Padres, the Cardinals, and the Reds, all teams that are at or near the top of their divisions.  Seattle has gone 6-7 over that stretch of games, but they needed to sweep the Reds to win six games, meaning they were 3-7 versus the Rangers, Padres and Cardinals.  Over the past two weeks, the Mariners have scored 32 runs (2.45 per game) while allowing 61 (4.69 per game), meaning that they weren’t very good until they started playing the Reds, allowing 60 runs over the ten games prior to their series with Cincinnati…yuck.

Going forward, the Mariners host the Cubs–maybe we’ll see the Silva vs. Bradley matchup we’ve been waiting for–before traveling to Milwaukee and the CitiField portion of New York as Seattle closes out June.

The brightest spot for the Mariners has been the ridiculous Cliff Lee, who threw a brilliant 1-0 shutout on Friday night.  Right now the Mariners are being coy and staying mum about what other teams are asking about trading for  Lee.  The blog, U. S. S. Mariner, provides a nice assessment of Cliff Lee trade stuff.  And my heart beats a little faster upon reading this item on the Twins being serious about pursuing him…oh, sorry, the Twins being serious about considering pursuing him.  

Finally, here’s an item comparing the Mariners to the division-leading Rangers.  Kind of funny if you’re not a Mariners fan.


RANGERS

41-28, .594 winning percentage, 0 GB.  5.14 runs per game (4th in AL), 4.33 runs allowed per game (5th in AL).  Straight run differential projection 93 wins and a .577 winning percentage.  Component run projection for 90 wins and a .554 winning percentage.

The Rangers have the largest lead over second place of an division-leading team.  They are HOT, and their offense has been completely ridiculous in June: .302/.361/.467, a .829 OPS, and a .360 team wOBA (that’s in 2009 New York Yankees territory).

While they did just come off a sweep of the putrid Astros, the Rangers hold a 9-1 record over their last 10 games, a 15-4 record in June, and they are 11-2 over the past two weeks, having faced the Mariners, the Brewers, the Marlins, and the Astros, and having scored 80 runs (6.15 per game) while allowing only 38 (2.92 per game).  They have over-performed their expected wins for the past two weeks by 1 game, and they are two games over expectations for the season.  

And Nelson Cruz hasn’t been at 100%.  

Gosh, Vlad Guerrero loves hitting in the Ballpark.  While that .371 BABIP looks unsustainable, he was a .390 career hitter at that ballpark in over 100 career games there before the season started.  He just flat-out hits in Arlington: .389/.439/.690, 1.129 OPS and .476 wOBA.  That. Is.  Obscene.

The Rangers will finish June by playing the Pirates and Astros at home before going to LA to face the Angels.  In other words, they are set up to continue their strong June before facing their nearest division competitor.

One source of strength for the Rangers has been the unexpected contributions they have received.  Additionally, 5 key pieces in their lineup are simply raking with runners-in-scoring-position and 2 outs.  

josh hamilton.jpg

Josh Hamilton has been ridiculously hot as well.  After last season, no one could expect that Hamilton would be good, but the better he is the more likely the Rangers will be to take the AL West.

Right now, Texas is the class of the division, but as I noted in the opening, the summer heat is still on its way, and it tends to melt Rangers pitching.  There’s still 90 games to be played and the Rangers could fold like a Titanic deck chair, but even in they do, none of us should forget the June they’ve had here in 2010 because it’s been special.


Twins Sweep Rangers, Head West

Starting pitcher Scott Baker wasn’t particularly sharp, though he got big outs when he needed to do so, and the Twins’ lineup came out slugging against really, really inefficient–and possibly injured–Rangers’ starter Derek Holland as Minnesota swept slumping Texas 6-3 and opened up a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Detroit Tigers.

Jason Kubel collected two hits and drove in two runs, contributing .119 Win Probability Added; Nick Punto (!) chipped in .101 WPA, and Scott Baker, who scattered eight hits over six innings while walking three and striking out four, rounded out the top three WPA contributors with .075.  WPA saw this as an evenly matched effort by Twins’ pitchers and hitters, with the pitchers contributing .260 and the hitters .240.
However, the game had an ugly ending as second baseman Orlando Hudson and centerfielder Denard Span collided with one another as they both pursued a short fly ball.  Span made the catch to end the game, but both players lay in the outfield grass for several moments, with Hudson lying face down and remaining almost motionless for a scary amount of time, obviously in pain.  X-Rays of Hudson’s wrist came back negative but he is scheduled to receive a CT scan while the Twins head West for series with both the Mariners and the A’s.
Because of how the game ended, Erin at “Twinkie Talk” calls it “Sweeping Ugly.”
Jon Marthaler at “Twinkie Town” wonders what’s up with all the double plays the Twins are hitting into.  He gives us three theories (actually, they are hypotheses, but given the general scientific illiteracy that pervades popular culture I will just shrug and shake my head).  Hypothesis Three has by far the highest probability of being correct: Batters can only hit into double plays if there are runners on base.  
Finally, thanks to some neat linkage from “Twinkie Talk”, we learn some disturbing details about a few Twins fans that the Twins could do without.  Baseball isn’t a bloodsport; there’s no reason for boorish and obnoxious behavior at the ballpark.   

Pavano Really Strong, Twins Offense Strikes Quickly Putting Minnesota on the Brink of a Series’ Sweep

A record crowd of 39,659 watched Rangers’ starting pitcher C. J. Wilson silence, or at least seriously muffle, the Twins’ bats for five and two-thirds innings Saturday afternoon at Target Field.  He was coasting along, with the Rangers holding a 2-0 lead.  And then things changed quickly.    

Denard Span singled, and second baseman Orlando Hudson followed with a home run, his  third in a Twins uniform, tying the game.  Hudson’s blast seemingly awakened the rest of the Twins’ bats, and the lineup suddenly came alive in the seventh, propelling the Twins to an 8-3 victory over the Rangers.
Meanwhile, as Wilson and the Rangers’ bullpen’s drama was playing out, Twins starter Carl Pavano was masterful, scattering seven hits over seven innings of work, walking one, and allowing only two runs.  He received ample help from his defense as the Twins turned three double plays, including a flyout-throwout gem from Jason Kubel to catcher Joe Mauer with one out and runners on second and third.  Mauer once again demonstrated his superior ability to show the baserunner an opening at the plate before sealing it off and tagging him out.  Pavano also helped himself out in the second inning by snagging a liner and throwing out the runner on first.   
Delmon Young continued to make me happy, ripping the first pitch he saw from Rangers’ reliever Chris Ray for a bases-loaded double during the Twins’ big seventh inning scoring rally.  If you’re into RBIs, take note that he already has 24 this season, putting him on pace for 80 or so.  If you’re not, take note of: his improving walk rate, the fact that his BB/K ratio is five times higher than it was last season, consider his career best slugging percentage and isolated power, and the fact that he’s still been unlucky as his BABIP is still .065 below his career rate.  I must sound like a broken record, but his slash line numbers will improve over the course of the season.  
“Twinkie Town’s” cmatheson emphasizes the “ambush” aspect of that seventh inning rally, and that post’s recap of the inning deserves reproduction:

The Twins could
barely get the bat on the ball against [Rangers’ starter C. J. Wilson] until
the sixth, when Denard Span singled
with two outs and Orlando Hudson homered
to left field to tie the game.

This
seemed to relax the boys, who came out swinging in the seventh and put up six
runs against Wilson and Chris Ray. It started innocently enough, with a Justin Morneau walk.
Then Michael Cuddyer launched
one towards the overhang in right that was dropped at the wall by David Murphy. With runners on second and third, Wilson
then walked Jason Kubel to
load the bases, earning an early trip to the showers. Delmon Young smoked
the first pitch he saw from Ray to the wall in left to plate two.  The
wheels came off for the Rangers when Josh Hamilton lost
a JJ Hardy pop up in the roof sun for another two-run double. When all was
said and done, the Twins had batted around plus one and scored six to put the
game out of reach.

“Twinkie Talk’s” recap, along with the obligatory WPA chart and best/worst assignments can be found here.
The Twins go for a sweep tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball–my advice is to turn off the TV volume and listen to the radio feed so Joe Morgan’s bitter-old-man routine won’t piss you off–with Scott Baker starting for the Twins while lefthander Derek Holland takes the mound for the Rangers.
Go Twins!

Missing the Forest for the Trees, Ranger-Watching Style

The question for the day is if the Rangers miss Rudy Jaramillo, their old hitting coach.  

First, Randy Galloway writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the answer is yes, the Rangers do, indeed, miss Jaramillo.  As evidence he cites the following “statistics”: 

Meanwhile, a comparison of stats from a year ago, and for those who doubted or blamed Rudy for the Rangers’ ’09 offensive slide, the early “numbers,” even the “deep count” geek numbers, work against them.


Not counting Thursday night:


Pitches per plate appearance: 3.8 then and now.


Walks: 140 now, 122 a year ago. (Thank you, Elvis, and also Justin Smoak.)


Strikeouts: 288 now, 335 a year ago.


Batting average: .265 now, .272 a year ago.


Home runs: 37 now, 57 a year ago.


Runs: 194 now, 221 a year ago


And worst of all:

Hitting with runners in scoring position: .241 now and .267 a year ago.

Hmm.  Pretty convincing, right?  Well, not really.  
Galloway tries to preempt what I’m going to say/write by referring to “deep stat geek numbers” a couple of times in his piece and then throws some numbers against the page to “prove” that the Rangers’ offense is terrible, just terrible, just well and truly terrible this season.
*Sigh* If only he had a point.
Rob Neyer of ESPN.com, who referred me to Galloway’s silly piece, thinks Galloway’s “analysis” is either all wet or that it doesn’t hold water (hmm, funny how those opposite images mean the same thing, isn’t it?).  Neyer concludes his piece with the following analysis of his own:
In 2009, the Rangers finished seventh in the American League in OPS and seventh in scoring. 

In 2010, the Rangers rank sixth in the American League in OPS and fifth in scoring. 

I’m not sure what else to say about this. The Rangers apparently decided that no hitting coach, even one with Jaramillo’s track record, is worth “big money and a multiyear deal.” Nothing that’s happened this season would support the argument that they were wrong. 

About their team, anyway. The Cubs’ hitting has improved some under Jaramillo, thanks largely to Alfonso Soriano‘s and Kosuke Fukudome‘s twin rebirths. 

But analyzing the Rangers’ hitters without accounting for league context just isn’t good enough. I don’t know how much money the Rangers saved when they didn’t match (or exceed) the Cubs’ offer to Jaramillo. But a fourth of the way into the season, it looks like that money was probably better spent elsewhere.

Neyer hits it right on the head by noting that citing the stats without providing a wider context isn’t good enough.  I think he’s being rather charitable, for I think that citing the stats without evaluating the larger context is largely meaningless.  What’s worse, if Galloway had done about seven minutes of work with an internet connection and Excel, he would have seen that, well, things have changed in the AL between 2009 and 2010.  
More on the “change” thing below, for there are some other matters that need to be addressed right away.
First, batting average with runners in scoring position, let’s call it BARISP for short, is extremely subject to variation and fluctuation due to small sample size.  Additionally, it is prone to extreme turns as things “regress to the mean.”  The best example–albeit an extreme one–would be the Minnesota Twins in 2008 and 2009.  The Twins had a BARISP of .305 in 2008, allowing them to score the fourth most runs in the AL despite having a and OBP that was in the middle of the pack.  But in 2009, the Twins experienced a sharp decline in  BARISP compared to the previous season (it was.278, a decline of .027, which was larger than the Rangers’ decline in BARISP between ’09 and ’10); the small sample size just caught up with them.
Second, one of the factors that Galloway completely glosses over is the vast improvement in the Rangers’ walk to strikeout ratio.  In the first two months of 2009 it was 122 to 335, or .36 walks for every K; thus far in 2010 it is 144/280, or .49 walks per K.  Why is this important?  Well, for one thing, they are seeing more pitches and making more contact.  While contact can lead to double plays–just ask Michael Cuddyer of the Twins–it also tends to lead to more base hits over time, for a ball has to be in play for it to have a chance to become a hit.
Third, saying that the number of runs scored is down can only show that the offense is worse if the overall number of runs scored is the same league-wide.  Neyer points out that the Rangers are fifth in scoring in 2010 compared to seventh in scoring in 2009.  It is the rela
tive
 standing that matters here.  That is, the context matters.  
 
Fourth, run scoring in the AL is down.  (Heck, offense across the Majors is down.)  In April and May of 2009, scoring in the AL was 4.92 per team per game; in 2010 it is down to 4.52 per team per game.  In April and May of ’09, the Rangers scored 5.42 runs per game, which worked out 110% the AL average.  So far in ’10, the Rangers are averaging 4.86 runs per game, which is 107% of the AL average.  The Rangers’ average runs per game per team is down, but it is only slightly down, 3% of the league average (or about one-sixth of a run in 2009 terms).  However, the Rangers, who averaged 4.43 runs per game in April ’10, are averaging 5.35 runs per game so far in May.  And that May figure works out to 116% of the AL average for May of ’10 (which is 4.60 runs per game per team).  
By the way, while for April combined with May of ’10 the Rangers offensive numbers look down, their May numbers alone are way, way up from both their April numbers of ’10 as well as their April and May numbers of ’09. In short, Galloway’s time-slice doesn’t account for change within the time period he chooses.
Fifth, all offensive numbers are down across the American League.   The League’s batting average, .268 through May of ’09, sits presently at .258; the League’s OBP, .335 in ’09, is sitting at .328 in ’10; the League’s SLG, .429 in ’09, is .406 in ’10, decline of .023.  So, the League’s “slash line” for 2009 was .268/.335/.429.  In ’10 it is: .258/.328/.406.  The Rangers’ slash line in 2009 was .272/.331/.489; for 2010 it is .270/.335/.406.  
The Rangers’ slash lines show three things: their average relative to the League’s is up, their OBP is up in absolute terms, and their slugging percentage is way down.  Fueling that decline in SLG is a sharp decline in home runs, measured in home runs per plate appearance, which in 2009 was 4.4%, while in 2010 is only 2.5%.  The League has seen a much smaller decline: from 2.9% to 2.6%.  Perhaps this decline is attributable to Jaramillo’s absence, but does it matter thus far?  The Rangers are still scoring runs, and doing so relative to the League average at a higher rate: they are fifth in scoring in ’10, while having been 7th in scoring in ’09, remember?
I prefer the stat wOBA to OPS, because it is scaled to OBP and it  directly correlates to run scoring.  At any rate, the AL had a wOBA of .336 through May of ’09, and the AL wOBA is .324 so far in ’10, another indication that offense is down in ’10.  The Rangers’ wOBA through May of ’09 was .352, which was 105% of the AL’s, while their wOBA so far in ’10 is .330, which is 102% of the League’s.  
So, yes, thus far in ’10 the Rangers’ offense is slightly down, but note that it’s down only slightly.  Don’t confuse the Rangers’ offense with the Mariners, for goodness’ sake!  And that’s the problem with Galloway’s piece, in a nutshell: his tone makes it sound as though the Rangers are displaying Mariner-level offensive ineptitude, and (1) they aren’t, and more importantly, (2) they are winning and in 1st place.
Sixth and finally (finally!), a couple of key bats have missed a lot of playing time for the Rangers so far this season: Ian Kinsler, who absolutely scorched the ball all through April of ’09 (with a wOBA of .428), missed all of April and substantial chunks of May in ’10.  Since he’s been back, he’s been pounding the ball like he did last spring, which may account for the improvement in the Rangers’ output in May.  Nelson Cruz has also spent time on the DL already this season, but he, too, is crushing the ball when he is in the lineup.

I Gotta Quit…(Updated)

writing nice things about teams.  I just gotta’.

I write something nice about the Rangers.  I say their starting pitching has been very good.  The Blue Jays sweep them by repeatedly shelling Rangers pitching.  All weekend.  (What the hell is up with Jose Bautista?)  It was like watching Foreman-Frazier three nights in a row.  Ricky Romero was spectacular.
I write something nice about the Nationals.  The Rockies’ pitching staff decides the Nationals shouldn’t score any runs, taking the bats right out of Nats’ hitters’ hands, and shutting them down, dropping them at least 3 games behind the Phillies into a tie with the Marlins.
I write something nice about the Padres.  The Dodgers came to town and won three ridiculously well-pitched games, further tightening the NL West, a division which seemingly any of its teams could win.  
Now, I am under no delusion that anything I write could conceivably impact anything in the Majors, but it is eerie that my praise immediately preceded these three teams tough weekends. Thus, I am giving serious thought to no writing anything positive about any team whose performance I like.  
Rather, I think I’ll write criticism of why teams should be sucking instead, questioning how it is possible that such a collection so miscreants, pretenders, and stiffs could possibly be winning ball games.  
That’s what I’ll do, or maybe I’ll write about the Tigers and what a great couple of series they’ve had against AL East powerhouses.  The Blue Jays, by the way, have really confounded me so far this year.  I thought the Orioles’ young starting pitching would have them poised to pass the Jays in the standings.  But it’s been the Jays’ young starters that have been getting the job done, that and their lineup’s power (61 HR, leading the Majors by 12).  The scary thing with the Jays is that they acquired Kyle Drabek as the key element in their trade of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and while he has some command issues, he is also still a highly rated prospect.

Nelson Cruz Makes Immediate Impact

The Rangers are in Toronto, with RF Nelson Cruz freshly returned from the disabled list.  He has made an immediate impact, with 4 RBI, including a 3-run homerun double off of Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil.  

The Rangers lead 8-3 with one out in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
UPDATE: Of course, by the bottom of the 4th, Toronto led 15-10, and have put up crooked numbers in three of the four innings.
UPDATE: Blue Jays batter Rangers, winning 16-10 while smashing 5 HR.

Rangers Win, Hold 2 Game Lead in AL West  (Updated)

The Rangers won a tightly pitched ballgame over the A’s at the Ballpark, 2-1.  (Read the preceding sentence again; five, heck, two seasons ago, who would’ve though the Rangers would win with pitching?)

Vlad Guerrero has been pretty decent for the Ranger so far: his K’s are down, his BB’s are up, his BABIP is right in line with his career rate, there’s no weird spike in his batted ball results, he’s just been himself but in a better park for hitters, which means he’s justifying his contract.  Good signing by the Rangers.
The Rangers now hold a two-game lead in the AL West.  They now head to Toronto for a three game series before before returning home for a seven-game homestand that includes back-to-back mini-series (2-games each) against against the Angels and Orioles and concludes with a three game set with the Cubs.  In taking 2 of 3 from the A’s the Rangers have to be encouraged by the overall performance of their pitching staff and the fact that they have clawed their way into first place despite significant lost playing time for both 2B Ian Kinsler and RF Nelson Cruz.  Their starting pitching is very good.
The A’s head to Los Angeles/Anaheim for 3 games against the Angels, with Dallas Braden getting his first start since his perfect game tomorrow night against Joe Saunders.  They follow that with a seven-game homestand of their own, including consecutive 2-game miniseries against the Mariners and Tigers before hosting the Giants next weekend.  Despite dropping 2 of 3 to the Rangers, they have to be encouraged by Ben Sheets’ performance this afternoon.  Their starting pitching is very good.  
It looks like the Angels have a chance to get themselves back into the thick of things, but both the A’s and Rangers have been playing better baseball than the Angels.
UPDATE:  Jean-Jacques Taylor of The Dallas Morning News has a good piece on the Rangers’ need to take advantage of what looks to be a weak upcoming schedule.  A lot of reporters working on the “real” news could learn from this guy, because he doesn’t mess around or bury the lead; the key quote starts the piece:

This is the time for the Rangers to make a move in the AL West.

The schedule is weak with only nine of the next 53 games against teams currently with winning records. The starting pitching has been excellent, and the Angels are struggling.

Unfortunately, the reporters who focus on the A’s are focused most firmly on Dallas Braden rather on the things the A’s as a team need to do moving forward.  I looked, I really did look, for an informative piece of writing about what the near-term prognosis for this team would be, but Dallas Braden (uh, thanks, but we all knew he should focus on his next start, just like every other starting pitcher), Dallas Braden (oh, and I though he was simply obsessed with living out all the unwritten rules of baseball), Dallas Braden (er, well, yeah, every pitcher would like to throw a perfect game in every start), and–thank goodness someone noticed–Ben Sheets.   
What’s interesting about the last piece, the one about Sheets, is that it says that “Sheets held the impressive Texas lineup to one run in six-plus innings .”  Why that’s interesting is that the Taylor piece about the Ranger kind of downplays the quality of Texas’ offense.  Grass is greener and all that, I guess.  
Oh well, eventually someone will snap out of it and write something useful about the  A’s and the team’s future over the rest of 2010.