Thursday, August 21, 2014

Notes on a Key Series, and a Report about John Jaso

The Garrett Richards-less Los Angeles Angels invade Oakland this weekend for a crucial three-game tilt against the A's. Now, Richards wasn't scheduled to start any of these contests, but one wonders how the Halos will respond to the loss of their indisputable ace. (Richards's ERA of 2.61 is almost a full run lower than that of the Angels' next best starter, Hector Santiago.)

Does Richards's loss – he'll reportedly be out of commission for six to nine months – put pressure on the Angel hitters to compensate? In other words, given what was (and is still being) said about how Donaldson and Moss need to step it up in Cespedes's absence, is the shoe now on the other foot? And forget the added pressure on the Angels' lineup: Could they, could anyone, swing the bat better than Trout and Co. have done recently?

The answer is, actually, yes. In August, Trout is hitting only .219 (which surprises me, because it seems like every time I check the Angels' box score, Trout has powered one out in the late innings of a tight game) and Josh Hamilton has barely breached Mendoza (.203). So, although it scares me to say it, there's definitely room for improvement.

As there is, of course, for the Athletics. In the nineteen games since Cespedes's departure, Brandon Moss's batting average and slugging percentage are .176 and .216. Donaldson has done much better; he's hit .277 with a solid .815 OPS, but he's launched just two homers, and half of his RBI total (of eight) came on a single night in Kansas City. Of course, they can't do it alone, and in this regard Oakland's terrific, versatile trio of catchers Jaso, Norris and Vogt can and do need to make big contributions down the stretch. John Jaso shared some of his thoughts about hitting with me, and this “Eye on the A's” report was the result:

Posted by C.S. Soong

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