So here they are, the Giants and A’s, clubs playing tag with .500 records, set to rekindle their fairly tepid rivalry Friday for the opener of a three-game interleague series at The Park That Isn’t AT&T.
Time to contrast and compare, position by position, and give you a reason to feel good — or bad — about the bet you just laid down with the annoying neighbor who wears green to your orange, or vice versa.
(Note: The Giants’ propensity for lineup changes makes this exercise a little more difficult, so we’re sticking with where editorial license says guys should be in the lineup Friday for the comparisons).
FIRST BASE: Dan Johnson vs. Ryan Klesko: Klesko has been pretty hot in the early going, but Johnson has been red-hot as of late. And let’s face it: Johnson is basically Klesko 10 years ago, with maybe a little less power and a slightly better glove. EDGE: A’S
SECOND BASE: Mark Ellis vs. Ray Durham: Ellis is the most reliable defensive second baseman in the game, but he’s wildly inconsistent at the plate. Durham is solid and sometimes spectacular at the plate but wildly inconsistent on defense. EDGE: NONE
THIRD BASE: Eric Chavez vs. Rich Aurilia: Chavez is a six-time Gold Glover who, while streaky as all get-out offensively, is a legitimate slugger who uses the whole field. Aurilia won’t kill you on defense, but he won’t steal runs from the other team, either. He’s a good hitter, but not scary-good like Chavez is at times. EDGE: A’S
SHORTSTOP: Bobby Crosby vs. Omar Vizquel: Crosby has great potential. Omar has a great résumé. EDGE: GIANTS
LEFT FIELD: Shannon Stewart vs. Pedro Feliz: Neither of them are going to wow you out there; Feliz is much better at third base, and Stewart is closer to average than above average on defense. Stewart is a more consistent hitter, but Feliz is more dangerous. EDGE: NONE
CENTER FIELD: Milton Bradley vs. Fred Lewis: When he’s healthy, Bradley is a beast. Lewis is still learning. EDGE: A’S
RIGHT FIELD: Nick Swisher vs. Randy Winn: Is this really necessary? Not even close. EDGE: A’S
DH: Jack Cust vs. Barry Bonds: See above. EDGE: GIANTS
STARTING ROTATION: Dan Haren has been better than Barry Zito this year, Matt Cain just plain is better than Joe Blanton, Matt Morris and Chad Gaudin are a wash, Noah Lowry is better than Joe Kennedy and Tim Lincecum is infinitely better than whomever the injury-ravaged A’s are trotting out as their No. 5 these days. EDGE: GIANTS
BULLPEN: Huston Street’s injury and Justin Duchscherer’s struggles suddenly make this a matchup of alternately good and evil. EDGE: NONE
Learned anything? Me neither. Check back when the A’s get healthy. That’s when the scale will tip in their favor.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).