Giants, A’s sharing same woes at the plate 

At least A’s manager Bob Geren hasn’t felt the need to say of his team, “We’re awful,” which is specifically what Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his team’s offense of late, even though they are not.

What they are is disappointing. So are the A’s.

Two teams on two sides of the Bay, one filling every seat at every home game and, although the thought is denied, maybe a little too full of itself after a championship of which reminders are everywhere, except on the field so far.
The other, the A’s, whose record as of Wednesday morning was marginally better than the Giants’ — 15-15 to 14-15 — but whose home attendance unfortunately is much worse — less than 10,000 on Monday against Texas? Yikes! — and play so far has been vexing.

If it gives anyone satisfaction, the Bay Area clubs are not the only ones in baseball where, as a team or as individuals, frustration is apparent.

The New York Mets’ only highlight was that five-hour spectacular against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday being played while the world was captivated by events in Pakistan.

And the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, with his new three-year $51 million contract, is batting so poorly, at .250 some 60 points off his career average, the New York Times felt compelled to analyze his problems on Wednesday’s front page, right below the story of Osama bin Laden’s death.

The strange situation locally is that the Giants appear to have become the A’s, injuries every time someone takes a step or a stab at a fly ball, while the A’s, leading the league in pitching and 10th in batting, seem to have morphed into the Giants.

The first basemen for both teams, to be kind, have struggled. When Aubrey Huff is hitting .190 (though he did smack the game-winning homer Tuesday night) and Daric Barton .204, what’s to choose? Maybe they call Jeter to commiserate.

San Francisco’s pitching, while hardly embarrassing, hasn’t been as effective as last year — will it ever be again? And it’s the Giants, the team of silent bats, who thus are being shut out instead of getting the shutouts.

The way everything went right in 2010, which is what happens when a team wins a World Series, everything or almost everything is going wrong in 2011. Which sometimes is what happens the year after a championship and a reason there hasn’t been a repeat champion in a decade.

Andres Torres will be back in a few days. Pablo Sandoval, however, won’t be back until July. Could anyone have guessed the end of last season the third baseman would be Miguel Tejada and the shortstop Mike Fontenot? Or that Buster Posey would have people mumbling the phrase, “sophomore slump”?

In Oakland, the only consistent hitter has been Coco Crisp. The A’s, like the Giants, have changed third basemen, but for a different reason. Kevin Kouzmanoff dropped to .208 and was replaced by Andy LaRoche.

When both men at the corners, Kouzmanoff and Barton, are around the dreaded so-called Mendoza Line of .200, even with an outfield of Ruth, Aaron and Mays, you’d have problems. The A’s have them. Problems that is, not Ruth, Aaron and Mays.

The 2011 season may not be rewarding, but it will be interesting.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

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