Tagged: Aaron Miles

The Freak vs. The Franchise, and Other Random Thoughts

The Freak Re-Ups with the Giants.  A couple of days ago, I started to write a screed on how dumb the Giants are for not giving Tim Lincecum the additional $3M he wanted for a 3-year contract and casting their fate before an arbitrator.  In the middle of writing, I decided to check the Giant’s website and found out that The Freak and the Giants’ Franchise had avoided arbitration with a 2-year deal.  But who won?  Or was it a draw?  A little analysis might shed some light on these questions.

Tim Lincecum’s agent asked for $40M for 3 years. 
 The Giants offered $37M for the same period.  Lincecum’s demand averages out to $13.33M per year, while the Giants’ offer was for $12.33M per year.

 
Tim Lincecum - cropped.jpgI don’t know about you, but I would have given Lincecum the additional $1M/year just to tie him up for 3 years.  But no, the 2 parties appeared headed to arbitration over a lousy $1M/year for arguably one of the best–if not the best–pitchers in baseball.

Lets put this in perspective.  Across the Bay, the A’s signed free-agent Ben Sheets to a 1-year deal worth $10M plus incentives.  Sheets didn’t pitch at all in 2009 because of elbow surgery a year ago, which makes him a risk, though if it was Tommy John surgery he’ll probably be just fine.  Sheets has 8 years in the majors, a career ERA of 3.72, 4 All Star appearances, and won the NL Cy Young in 2004.

Lincecum has 3 years in the Show, a career 2.90 ERA, 2 All Star appearances and won the NL Cy Young award the last 2 seasons.  He’s only 25 years old, and if he continues to pitch like he has the last two years, he’ll command a lot more in 2012 than he would have gotten under the $40M 3-year contract.  Maybe the Giants know something they aren’t telling.  If so, maybe they made a good deaI.  If not, they may have shot themselves in the foot.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Marty Lurie Moves Across the Bay.  In what seems a bizarre turn of events, the A’s radio home KTRB has decided that they can no longer make time in their broadcast schedule for  “Right off the Bat,” Marty Lurie‘s pregame show on the various A’s radio stations for the last 12 years. 
Marty Lurie - Resized.jpg
 Apparently, KTRB would rather have Mike Savage, a conservative talk-show host, from 3-6 pm, eliminating Lurie’s time slot.  Thus Marty’s wonderful insights into baseball, both current and historic, are no longer going to entertain A’s fans before Ken Korach and Vince Contronio’s regular 45-minute pregame show.

To make matters worse, the Giants gladly picked him up to do the pre- and post-game shows on the weekends on their radio home KNBR 680.  The one-hour shows will have many of the same features that the A’s fans have been treated to, plus the show will take more calls on air from the fans.  “I am excited to add Marty to the line-up of talk show hosts at KNBR,” said Lee Hammer, Director of Operations for Cumulus San Francisco (IKNBR 680).

Apparently, the A’s have signed a new deal with KTRB through 2019, so it doesn’t look like we will be hearing  Marty Lurie and Right Off the Bat again.  I think It’s a huge loss for us A’s fans.  His extensive knowledge of the history of the game, his insightful interviews with players, coaches, Hall of Famers, baseball writers, club executives and scouts, brought listeners a valuable perspective on the essence of the game of baseball.  We will miss you Marty!

Tidbits:  A’s Release outfielder Willy Taveras, who came over on Feb. 1st with Adam Rosales, in exchange for Aaron Miles of Antioch and a player to be named later.  Taveras was immediately designated for assigment and the A’s released him 8 days later.  He didn’t really figure in their plans as the player they really wanted was Rosales who is an infielder.  The A’s outfield is already set and has depth, so no room for Taveras..

Another radio deal was inked recently.  Ken Korach signed a 2-year deal as the lead play-by-play man for the A’s, which will keep him behind the mike in Oakland through 2011.  A good thing.

Spring training is upon us.  The pitchers and catchers have reported to Phoenix!  I’ll be there from March 17-23.  Can’t wait!

That’s all from here.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about anything that’s on your mind, whether or not it pertains to this article.  Go A’s!!!

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Billy Beane Has Been A Busy Boy This Month

Billy Beane has continued to make roster moves since I last posted here.  Some seem to be improvements for the team.  Others are downright puzzling.

Sheets Signs One-Year Deal:  Undoubtedly, the biggest move is the signng of free agent Ben Sheets to a one-year $10-million deal plus incentives, to anchor the starting rotation for 2010. 
Ben Sheets Head Shot.jpgThat makes it the largest 1-year contract the A’s have given to a free agent from outside the organization.

The 31-year old hurler didn’t  pitch at all in 2009 because he underwent flexor tendon surgery in his right elbow a year ago.  In his 8 years in the majors, he achieved an 86-83 record with a 3.72 ERA, and had double digit wins in 7 of the last 8 seasons.  In 2008 he went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts.

On January 19th he threw a pitching session at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and impressed scouts from several organizations, including Oakland, reportedly hitting the low-90’s with his fastball.  If he is healthy he’ll most likely be the #1 starter and will be an invaluable veteran presence for the younger guys in the rotation.

2010 Pitching Rotation:  The rotation will most probably line up as follows:  Sheets, Duchscherer, Anderson, Braden and Cahill, not necessarily in that order.  Spring training will shake this out when we see how Sheets, Duke and Braden do, coming of long stints on the DL and surgeries last year.  We can’t forget about Gio Gonzalez, Vin Mazarro, and Josh Outman who could pitch their way into the rotation, especially if one or two of the guys above don’t fare so well in Arizona.  The presence of Sheets will go a long way toward reducing the pressure on the young arms that was so evident in 2009.

Wuertz Returns to the A’s Bullpen.  The A’s rewarded Michael Wuertz for his outstanding work in the bullpen last year with a 2-year, $5.25 million contract. 
Michael Wuertz Doing His Thing.jpgThe team also has a $3.5M option for 2012, with a $250K buyout if the option is not exercised.  He is expected to earn $2.2M in 2010 and $2.8M in 2011. Wuertz was the A’s last arbitration-elligible player to sign.  His record in 2009 (6-1, 2.63 ERA, 74 appearances, and league-leading 102 strikeouts) was so good that the A’s violated their rule to tender only 1-year deals for arbitration-elligible players.

Monday, Feb 1st, Was a Busy Day.  The A’s signed free-agent outfielder Gabe Gross to a 1-year contract.  Gross hit .227 with 6 homers and 36 RBI’s in 282 at-bats last season for the Tampa Bay Rays. 

  
Gabe Gross in Rays Uni - cropped.jpgHe can play all 3 outfield positions, bats left, and has always been a solid defender.  “We just felt like he was a good fit for th team, whether it’s spotting some of our guys agains tough righties or filling at time since he can play both corner outfield positions.  We’ve always liked the way he plays,” said Assistant GM David Forst. His signing spelled the end of the speculation that Johnny Damon might resign with the A’s.

Also, last Monday, the A’s completed a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, obtaining infielder Adam Rosales and outfielder Willy Taveras for infielder Aaron Miles.  It was made evident that the key player in the deal for the A’s was Rosales, as they immediately designated Taveras for assignment. 

Rosales completes the infield picture for the 2010 A’s, as he can play all 4 infield positions, and will be used as a utility infielder and to spell Cliff Pennington at shortstop.  If any of the other infielders go down with injuries, he could get significant playing time.  “Our scouts have seen a lot of him over the past few years, and every single one of them just loves the way he plays the game and really likes his versatility,” said Asst. GM David Forst, who compared his energy to that of Eric Byrnes.

The A’s have until Feb. 11th to trade or release Taveras or they will be on the hook for $1.7M of his $2.3M salary for 2010.  The A’s are not in need of another outfielder, especially after the signing of Gross, so they will be looking to move him in the next week.  If they can’t and he clears waivers, he could go to the minors, most likely the Sacramento River Cats.

Finally, the A’s also designated for assignment infielder Gregorio Petit, and pitcher Dana Eveland (long overdue IMHO)

  
Dana Eveland.jpgHot off the wire, Eveland was traded today (Saturday 2/6) to Toronto for cash and a player to be named later, just 5 days after he was designated for assignment. 

They also claimed Twins’ minor-league infielder off waivers.  Tolleson, according to Forst, “…is another guy our scouts have liked since seeing him play in the  Arizona Fall League in 2008.  He can play a number of positions and helps add to the depth.”  Both he and Rosales have options left, giving the A’s lots of flexibility, esepcially of one or two of the regular infielders go down with injury (Chavez?). 

After the A’s acquired Aaron Miles, I became very curious about his role on the team as we didn’t hear his name mentioned at all in plans for the upcoming season.  Apparently, Miles know he might be used as trade bait when he was acquired by the A’s.  An Antioch native, he admitted, “It would have been nice to stay local and play for the hometown team.  But in the end, you gotta go with what’s best for your career, and I think that’s definitely in Cincinnati.”

Spring Training.  The A’s will have a lot of depth when they arrive at spring training later this month.  Is Billy Beane happy with who they have now?  Not so fast.  Forst said that the swarm of roster moves last Monday doesn’t necessarily mean the club is done wheeling and dealing.

MiscellaneaOC Signs:  Former A’s Shortstop, Orlando Cabrera signed a $3M deal with the Cincinnati Reds, which includes a $3M option for 2011 with a $1M buyout of the club doesn’t want to sign him for the additonal year.

A Higher Calling A’s Minor-League outfielder Grant Desme, the MVP of the 2009 Arizona Fall League, got a call, but it wasn’t from the A’s brass.

 
Grant Desme hits Homer at AFL 2009 - cropped.jpgHe resigned from professional baseball in late January to embark on the 10-year path to becoming a priest, starting with studies at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County beginning next August.  “It’s like I’m re-entering the Minor Leagues,” he said.

Sacramento River Cats Owner Dies:  Arthur Lynn Savage, the man who changed evenings in Sacramento and gave the River-City  baseball fans a home team to brag about, passed away at his East Sacramento home on Nov. 22, 2009.  He was 58.


Art Savage, Late River Cats Owner.jpgThe River Cats organization is one of the nation’s most successful minor league franchises. 
During the last 10 years, the River Cats broke attendance records every year, outdistancing 200 other minor league teams in the country. 

Mr. Savage was named the Sporting News Minor League Executive of the Year in 2000 and the franchise was honored with the Bob Freitas Award for Excellence in Minor League Baseball for the 2004 season.  He will be sorely missed by all who knew or played for him.

That’s all for now.  I’ll be at spring training with the A’s from March 17th to the 25th.  It should be lots of fun watching all that talent contend for the right to break camp with the A’s. 

Playing Catchup Ball – part 2

Wouldn’t you know it?  A couple of days after my last post, the A’s made another move!  In a deal with their new BFF trading partner, the San Diego Padres, the A’s acquired third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and sent them Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston,

Kevin Kousmanof in Padre Uni.jpgwhom the A’s obtained from the Padres last July.  The A’s also received minor-league second baseman Eric Sogard in this deal.

It appears, according to Rick Hurd of the Oakland Tribune, that Kouz will get the bulk of playing time at 3rd, and Eric Chavez will move over to 1st base.  Chavvy is recovering from his second back surgery in as many years.  Rick reports that Assistant GM, David Forst, said that Eric “has been throwing and taking grounders in Arizona,” and he “feels great.”  We’ll see how he does in spring training when he has to play in game situations.

Kouz seems a good solution to the A’s 3rd base dilemma.  He had a great year in 2009 with the Padres, hitting .255 with 18 home runs and a career-high 88 RBI’s.  He posted a .990 fielding percentage at the hot corner, committing just 3 errors, a National League record. 

Kevin and Eric will have some competition at 3rd from Jake Fox who was part of the deal that brough Kevin Miles over from the Cubs for Jeff Gray et al.  There is some question about Fox’s defensive skills, but he had 11 homers and 44 RBI’s in 82 games with the Cubs last season.

Scott Hairston, on hearing the trade rumors, said, “I hope I’m coming there for sure. If this is true, it’s a dream come true…unbelievable!” 

Scott Hairston's Homer 7-7-09.jpgScott will play alongside his brother Jerry Hairston Jr. when he reports for Spring Training with the Padres in Phoenix (Peoria, actually).

I am really looking forward to the upcoming season.  Join me here for the ride.

Playing Catchup Ball

Hi!  I haven’t posted an article in quite a few weeks as I have been working hard with my editor to get my novel, “Contract Year,” ready to submit to agents and publishers.  It’s going well but slowly, so I’m not there yet.  I didn’t want you faithful readers to think I have abandoned ship, so here I am with an update on what the A’s have done since I last wrote.

Hot Stove Baseball Logo.jpgThe A’s management implied that the winter might be quiet, but it has been anything but.  Nothing blockbuster-like–they don’t have that kind of money to spend.  So here, in no particular order (as they say on Dancing with the Stars) is a rundown of the moves the A’s have made:

Jack Cust resigned with the A’s for a purported $2.65M with incentives that could earn him more than he was paid last year.  More on this later.

Tommy Everidge was designated for assignment, taking him off the 40-man roster to make room for Cust.

Justin Duchscherer signed a 1-year incentive-laden contract for 2010, worth approximately $5.5M if he achieves all of his incentives. 
Justin Duchscherer.jpgHe says he’s 100% and has resolved his off-field issues that were largely triggered by the stress of being injured, his divorce and being so far away from his son who lives in Philadelphia. 


 Coco Crisp
was signed to a 1-year deal ($4.5M) with a club option for 2011 ($5.75 with $500K buyout).  He can play anywhere in the outfield.

Santiago Casilla was released. 

Bobby Cassevah, 24, was acquired from the Angels in the Rule 5 draft for $50,000.  A right-handed relief pitcher who pitched at Double-A in 2009 and must stay on the 25-man roster all year or be returned to the Angels for $25,000. 

Beau Vaughan was selected from Texas Rangers in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft under the same conditions as Cassevah. 

Michael Taylor, a Phillies prospect, was acquired in a multi-team trade that sent Brett Wallace to Toronto.  He attended Stanford and is a semester shy of a degree in political science. 
 
 And he’s a slugger!  A “potential monster talent” according to Billy Beane, he’ll probably be vying for the left field spot with Scott Hairston.

Infielders Jake Fox (26) and Aaron Miles (32) were acquired from the Cubs for Pitcher Jeff Gray (Sniff!) and 2 minor leaguers.  Fox played all 4 infield positions with the Cubs last season, batting .259 with 11 homers and 44 RBI’s in 82 games.  He will provide a good backup to Eric Chavez at 3rd.  Miles has played most of his MLB games at 2nd base and some at shortstop, but struggled last year with injuries batting a career low .185.  He had a .317 season in 2008 with St. Louis.

Jeff Gray going to the Cubs is a great opportunity for him since they need a power arm in their bullpen, and I am very happy for him. 
 The Sniff in the previous paragraph is because he has become a friend and I will miss him on the A’s.  The very best of luck to you, Jeff!

Pitcher Jay Marshall was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets.  Bye Bye.

Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Crosby, Adam Kennedy, Brett Tomko and Jack Cust filed for free agency.

Okay, now let’s talk about Jack Cust. He wasn’t tendered a contract by the A’s and filed for free agency on Dec. 12th. Thank God, most of us A’s fans thought.  No more strikeouts when we need a hit. 
Jack Cust's Homer - 4-13-09.jpgBut our relief was short-lived.   He signed a new deal with the A’s on January 7th.  He must not have gotten any serious bites on the FA market. 

$2.65M is a lot for someone who led the American League in strikeouts the last 3 years and gave us all apoplexy whenever he stepped up to the plate with runners in scoring position.  But he did post a .240 batting average, 25 homeruns and 70 RBI’s.  He looks good on paper, but awful on the field.

Frankly, I would have preferred keeping Tommy Everidge on the 40-man, than signing Jack Cust.  He’s only 26 years old, enthusiastic, has pop in his bat, can actually take the field (1st base) and is a helluva lot cheaper!  Go figure!

Other Tidbits:

Chris Carter (1st base/outfield, finished 2009 with the River Cats) was named the A’s organization’s Minor League Player of the Year for the 2nd year in a row, and received the MiLBY Award as the overall minor league baseball (all organizations) Hitter of the Year, and the Texas League MVP. 
Chris Carter wins AA MiLBY Player of the Year Award 2009.jpgHis overall stats for 2009 were:  .329, 28 homers, 115 RBI’s (2nd in minors), 179 hits (led minors), 310 total bases (tied for 1st).  He’ll be giving Daric Barton a run for his money at spring training.

Someone stole the Banjo Man Stacy Samuelsbanjo after he absentmindely left it on a sidewalk in Fairfax, CA.

So the winter hasn’t been exactly quiet.  I think overall the A’s will be an exciting team to watch this coming season.  Most of the has-beens are gone except Cust, the rookie pitchers from last season aren’t rookies anymore and should settle down and make up a great starting rotation with Justin Duchscherer back in the rotation, and both the outfield and the infield have been strengthened.  I can’t wait for spring training to startin 5 or 6 weeks when the pitchers report. The position players report a week later.  Take me out to a ballgame!