- The A's dispatched starting pitcher Dana Eveland to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday, with simple instructions: Find the man who inhabited his uniform last season.
Eveland's struggles in Oakland this season stretch deeper than his 16 walks in 241/3 innings (but those numbers don't exactly help). He also had trouble with his command in the strike zone, as evident in this damning number: Eveland allowed 41 hits in those 241/3 innings.
"I told him it's a matter of him going down there and getting his confidence and his aggressive game," pitching coach Curt Young said. "When you pitch defensively, you're not going to be pitching late in games, which is what we're looking for. Last year, he was the one dictating the game and forcing the action."
Eveland was 9-9 with a 4.34 ERA in 29 starts last season for the A's. His slow start this year - 1-2 record, 7.40 ERA - prompted his demotion, as the A's try to pump life into their decidedly green starting rotation.
As this season opened, the five guys in the Oakland rotation could boast the grand total of 18 wins in the major leagues ...
I don't suppose it would have been appropriate to refer to Eveland as the "ace" of the staff, particularly considering his unimpressive K/BB ratio last season (his best season). Still, he was the closest to a sure thing they had ... and of course he's been a disaster. Eveland's not really this bad, but then again it's not clear that he's anything more than a decent No. 4 or 5 starter, even at his best.
You might remember that the A's were my pick to win the West. I figured that two or three of Oakland's young starters would have to pitch well, and so far that's just not happening. They seem to have something in 25-year-old Dallas Braden, but 21-year-olds Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson -- both of them with sterling credentials -- have essentially flopped. Anderson's struck out only 14 batters in 28 innings, while Cahill has struck out 12 and walked 18 (!) in 33 innings. Neither has pitched even a single inning in Class AAA, and in retrospect it probably was terribly optimistic to believe they could step right into the majors and pitch anything like championship-quality baseball. Instead they're getting on-the-job training, and one can only hope they're tough enough, mentally, to survive the coming maulings.