Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 28, 2006
BASEBALL: Going Down, Down, Down, Down Part III
Kameron Loe: 3.42 ERA at age 23 in 2005 now looks like a fluke.
Laynce Nix: The 25-year-old outfielder had holes in his game in 2003 and 2004; the past two years, it's been all holes, as he's surfaced just for a 3-for-32 slump this season.
Dallas McPherson: McPherson's a classic guy whose star has dimmed due to injuries; he's continued to flash decent power when healthy long enough to get into a groove, but he missed April in the minors and has missed July with back spasms, and you can't establish yourself that way.
Casey Kotchman: With Darin Erstad breaking down and offense in short supply in Anaheim, the 23-year-old Kotchman's time to shine was now. But he batted .162 in April and .091 in May before the Angels had to DL him with mononucleosis.
Dan Johnson: Despite a bad late-season slump that marred a fine rookie campaign, the 26-year-old Johnson entered the season with a hammerlock on the A's first base job but potentially a narrow window of opportunity ahead of super-prospect Daric Barton. The good news, for Johnson: Barton has struggled badly at AAA Sacramento, raising questions about his own prospect status, and the A's had the patience to sit out a terrible early-season slump (Johnson batted .196 with with 2 HR and 8 RBI as the everyday 1B in April and May) to be rewarded with a hot June in which he batted .321/.543/.406. But Johnson tumbled back into a slump in early July and the A's finally sent him down, indicating that Billy Beane's faith in him may be waning.
Joe Blanton: Blanton's another cold-hot-cold story - he won over some early skeptics in 2005 by raising his K rates as he came down the stretch to a 3.53 ERA in 201.1 innings last year, but regressed and struggled with his command in April and May, and has yet to post an ERA below 4.00 in any month. Blanton projects as a fourth starter now.
Bobby Crosby: An assortment of nagging injuries in 2005 and 2006 and a .231/.343/.298 line this season have taken much of the bloom off the 26-year-old Crosby. I still expect good seasons from him, but a long and smoothly successful career seems much less likely than it did a year or two ago.
Mark Ellis: Ellis looked to have hit his stride with the bat last year with a .314 average to go with a great glove after missing all of 2004. At 29, Ellis could have been entering a nice couple of year run, but his .220/.328/.286 line this season means he'll be fighting for jobs again in the near future.
Keith Ginter: Having lost out to Ellis, Ginter - who came to Oakland at age 29 in 2005 with a career .257/.448/.344 line - batted .161 part-time last season and has spent most of 2005 and 2006 at Sacramento, despite a major league contract. His .278/.431/.361 line at AAA this season is solid but not enough to attract the suitors he needs to bring him back to the majors.
UPDATE: Of course, this is probably where I disclose that my AL list here includes three members of my 2006 rotisserie team - Dan Johnson, Brian Anderson, and Josh Towers - five if you count the reserve draft (Willie Harris and Kyle Lohse).