Brandon Moss was a big part of the Athletics’ offense both in the regular season, and in the American League Wild Card game against the Royals. In the one-game playoff, Moss homered twice and knocked in five runs, but it just wasn’t enough as the A’s were eventually the victims of a 12-inning, 9-8 walk-off loss.
During the regular season, Moss hit .234/.334/.438, slugging 25 home runs and knocking in 81 runs. It’s the third consecutive season in which Moss has hit 20-plus home runs, which comes after years of limited opportunities in the minor leagues with the Red Sox, Pirates, and Phillies.
Moss talked with Eno Sarris of FanGraphs in what is a must-read interview. Fittingly, as he is on the Athletics, Moss is a huge advocate of Sabermetrics, calling batting average “the stupidest stat”. He also recalled how Phillies GM Ruben Amaro passed over him in favor of John Bowker in 2011 because it was believed that Moss couldn’t hit a fastball. Also noteworthy: Adam Dunn did not know who Amaro was.
Dunn: Tell me. Who’s this?
Moss: Ruben Amaro.
Dunn: Who’s that?
Moss: The GM for the Phillies. I was with the Phillies.
Dunn: The GM. They have no say.
Moss: Well, yes it does matter, if you want to be called up. I was having a good year and they went out and traded for a guy because they needed left-handed bench bat and someone asked, you know Moss is having a pretty good year in Triple-A for you guys, why do you need to go outside. He was like ‘We just don’t believe Brandon Moss is consistently able to hit a major league fastball.’ And I was like, that’s really all I kinda hit. It’s my best pitch. Everything else, I just hope I hit it. If you’re here, you’re like that. You better be able to hit that pitch. It was a funny comment and I laughed about it. Okay, if that’s how they feel, I can’t do anything about that.
It was a bummer that Adam Dunn didn’t get to play in last night’s game, as he’s gone his entire career without playing in the playoffs. But it’s not like he’s hung up on that apparently, because he still plans to retire, saying last night that “That’s probably it” and that he is almost certain to retire.
He had no problem with not playing in the game, saying that it was the manager’s call. Melvin himself said that the only time he considered using Dunn was in the top of the 12th, with a man on second and first base open. He probably would’ve been walked in that instance. As it was Alberto Callaspo game in and delivered an RBI single.
So long, Adam Dunn. It’s been an interesting 14 years. You socked 462 homers and walked and struck out like crazy. You were one of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s Wild Card Game between the A’s and Royals, in Kansas City:
CF Coco Crisp
LF Sam Fuld
3B Josh Donaldson
DH Brandon Moss
RF Josh Reddick
SS Jed Lowrie
1B Stephen Vogt
C Geovany Soto
2B Eric Sogard
SP Jon Lester
Adam Dunn, who served as the A’s primary designated hitter down the stretch, is out of the lineup against a right-handed pitcher. Dunn posted a .783 OPS versus righties this season, with 20 homers in 370 at-bats. His absence opens up the DH spot for Brandon Moss, except he’s struggled throughout the second half while playing through a major hip injury.
Another surprise is Derek Norris being on the bench and Geovany Soto catching Jon Lester, which he’s never done before. Kansas City runs a lot and Norris has struggled throwing people out, but it’s still unexpected. A’s manager Bob Melvin is going defense-heavy in this game, with Soto and Sam Fuld.
SS Alcides Escobar
RF Norichika Aoki
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
C Salvador Perez
2B Omar Infante
3B Mike Moustakas
SP James Shields
Standard lineup for the Royals, who used the same nine players and the same batting order in each of the final eight games. Josh Willingham, acquired from the Twins in August to hit left-handed pitching, is on the bench versus a lefty. Eric Hosmer has a sub-.700 OPS off lefties and is batting cleanup.
If, like most of us, your preferred rooting interest is not in the playoffs, you have two choices: tune out totally and throw yourself into another sport or pick a surrogate rooting interest for the post season.
I mean, sure, maybe you can just “watch for the love of baseball” and not root for anyone, but then who would you took smack about? Man, you GOTTA pick a postseason rooting interest.
A couple of universal rules however:
1. You are totally excused from picking a division rival to your actual rooting interest. You can if you want to of course, but intra-division hatred is likely to trump all of the pros and cons listed below and you need not apologize for that.
2. You are totally free to go back to hating your postseason rooting interest next spring when the new year starts. Indeed, you probably should. I know a lot of people have “second favorite teams” but that’s not a good look for anyone over 12. I sorta like the Dodgers, for example, but I’m never gonna describe them as “my second favorite team,” ever, and when they play the Barves next year, I am going to hope they get beat 20-0 every game because they ain’t my team, get me?
OK, with that aside, let’s break them down. First with the AL. The NL will follow in a bit.
- Why To Root For Them: They overcame big injuries — Weiters, Machado — and big disappointments — Chris Davis, the Ubaldo Jimenez signing — and cruised to the division title. That’s pretty cool. Adam Jones is a fun guy who is hard to hate. They hit a lot of home runs, and that’s about as rare these days as a profitable unicorn farm. Buck Showalter has, inexplicably, transformed from something an uptight killjoy back in the 90s to one of the more loose, “I don’t give a crap” quote-giving managers around, and that can be refreshing.
- Why Not To Root For Them: Peter Angelos is pretty awful. Based on their comments at this blog, Orioles fans may get on your case if you don’t root for then in EXACTLY the right way. Non-trivial chance that Ray Lewis may be featured in the commentary somehow, and that’s too unimaginable to contemplate.
- Why To Root For Them: Man, if you’re not from Detroit I am having a hard time thinking about why you’d adopt them. Nothing personal, but they’ve been in the playoffs a lot and if you’re an AL fan already you are probably too used to rooting against them. Plus the fatigue factor. I’d say Victor Martinez is a good reason to root for them. He seems cool. Brad Asumus is Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager, and that probably counts for something. I also feel like it’s a good time to buy low on Joba Chamberlain. He actually had a bit of a bounceback year, but it still widely loathed, I feel. But now he looks like Steve Earle or a Duck Dynasty dude and if he gets a key out in a big moment, it will drive Yankees fans totally nuts, and that’s what it’s all about, you guys.
- Why Not To Root For Them: The aforementioned fatigue factor. The fact that, no matter how valid a point it is that Detroit has had hard times and loves its Tigers — it has and they do — the whole “you gotta pull for the Tigers because they represent a city that has had tough times” thing is both old and pretty condescending to Detroit. If you want to support Detroit, go visit there and help the economy — there’s actually cool things to do there besides take pictures of ruin porn — don’t shallowly adopt the Tigers for three weeks.
Kansas City Royals
- Why To Root For Them: The underdog factor, which is hard to resist, I appreciate. If you dig pitching, they have good pitching and almost all of their pitchers are (a) fun to watch; and (b) have been given way less exposure than most great players this year. Also: they have Ned Yost on their side, so they’ll need all the help they can get.
- Why Not To Root For Them: That bandwagon could get AWFULLY crowded. Every person who had a layover in Kansas City and ate some watered down airport version of their good BBQ once is going to inflate their ties to and love for the place, and God that can be exhausting. Did I mention Ned Yost? Anti-statheads are gonna pound that “all of the calculator lovers in their mom’s basement thought the James Shields-Wil Myers trade was gonna be a bust for the Royals, and boy aren’t they DUMB!” until we’re all numb, and who needs that noise.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Why To Root For Them: Mike Trout is awesome, and if we’re ever going to get out from under the dumb “oh noes, what will we do without Jeter?” panicking, we’re going to need a new superstar to shine in the postseason for a bit. That’s kind of all I got for them.
- Why Not To Root For Them: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols storylines have been pretty much beaten into the ground for the past decade and those 40 minute World Series postgame shows are going to be even more unbearable if we have to endure more of them. Since Tony La Russa retired, there has been a dearth of “[Manager] is a genius” talk, and don’t think for a minute that the commentators aren’t going to remember that they used to say that about Mike Scioscia back in the day. Do you really want more Mike Scioscia in your life?
- Why To Root For Them: Because you finally want to shut up “Moneyball” critics, even if their criticisms were outdated eight years ago. Less negatively, because they friggin’ went for it this year with the Jon Lester trade, and it’s about time they did that. Because the longer the ballpark is hosting sellout crowds in October, the more likely it is that they’ll have another disaster with the plumbing, forcing Bud Selig and the rest of the Lords of Baseball into uncomfortable situations on national television. Because Adam Dunn plays for them and if you are a right-thinking person you realize how awesome Adam Dunn is and you want nothing more than to see him taking a champagne and beer shower at the end of the month, announcing his retirement and then walking the Earth like Caine from “Kung Fu.”
- Why Not To Root For Them: Because they traded a top prospect for
Jon Lester Jeff Samardzija thereby betraying their “Moneyball” roots. Hahaha, just kidding. No one cares about that crap. If you do, man, reevaluate. Really, the biggest reason not to root for them is that they wear white cleats and white cleats are awful.
There is the information. Make your choice wisely. The National League is next.
HERE’S THE NATIONAL LEAGUE
I’ve been thinking a lot about non-Jeters who we may not see again after this season. Konerko is obviously retiring. Ichiro may be done. Hiroki Kuroda. A.J. Burnett. Josh Beckett. Adam Dunn has suggested he may hang it up. But some less famous players may too, one of which is Mets reliever Buddy Carlyle.
I’ve paid closer attention to Carlyle than a lot of people have over the course of his career simply because he played for my team for a couple of years. When that happens you notice the name in the mass of late winter minor league signings more than you do guys who didn’t play for your team. But it’s not like I obsesses on him or anything. I saw him pitch once or twice this year, but didn’t realize until I just read Mike Vorkunov’s story about him over at NJ.com. Carlyle has posted a 1.53 ERA in 26 games. That’s his best mark ever. Still, he may retire after this year because he realizes that he’s almost 37 and someone will end his career for him eventually if he doesn’t decide to do it himself.
But it’s a neat story anyway. I’m sure a lot of guys have minor league-heavy odysseys like Carlyle has had. And so many of them are interesting. They could all be stories by themselves, even if we rarely notice them.