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.
The 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.
He 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.
But 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!
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.
His 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 Samuels‘ banjo 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!
I wrote a couple of days ago about Bobby Crosby going on the disabled list and his father’s rant in the media about how badly his son has been treated by Billy Beane and the A’s. In Doug Krikorian’s article, the elder Crosby stated: “Right now Bobby’s on the disbled list, and he’s not even hurt.” That got me to thinking about the DL and how it is used.
Was he hurt when he was placed on the DL? I watched the game in which he strained his calf, so I know he had an injury. Was it enough of an injury to put him on the DL? Obviously, Ed Crosby doesn’t think so. So is the DL used by clubs to inactivate a player, maybe one who isn’t performing well, so they don’t have to send him down to the minors? Officially, they will say they don’t do that, but unofficially I think it’s done and may have been used by the A’s at least twice this year. But first, let’s look at the rules for placing a player on the DL.
Standard Form of Diagnosis: If a team wants to place a player on the DL (either 15 or 60 day DL), the team must file a Standard Form of Diagnosis (SFD) with the Commisioners Office.
The SFD requires outlining the exact type of injury or ailment the player is afflicted with, what the estimated time of recovery will be, and it must be signed by a licensed doctor. Notice there is no requirement for the doctor to state the severity of the injury. Apparently, most teams’ front office fills out the form and the doctor just reads it and signs it. Lots of wiggle room there.
The 15-Day DL: Once the Commissioner receives the SFD, the player is not permitted to participate in MLB games for a minimum of 15 days, but the SFD can be backdated to the day after his last game appearance, but no more than 10 days. Thus a player may actually be on the DL for as few as 5 days. Once on the DL, the player is removed from the 25-man active roster so that another player can be called up to take his place. He is not removed from the 40-man roster, so the club cannot add another player to the reserve list (more on this later.)
Continued DL or Rehab Assigment: When the stint on the DL expires, the player may or may not be activated. If he is still injured an SFD must be recertified to stay on the 15-day DL until he is no longer symptomatic, which may be less than an additional 15 days. Once a player is deemed to be “healthy enough for baseball activities”, he is usually sent to Double A or Triple A for a “Rehab Assignment” for a maximum of 20 days (30 days for a pitcher). After being on the DL and inactive for as many as 15 days, most players happily take the rehab assignment. If they injure or reinjure themselves during rehab, they are “returned from Rehab” to the DL until they are sufficiently recovered to resume baseball activities. This would have to be recertified by a doctor on a new SFD.
The 60-Day DL: Placing a player on the 60-day DL requres the same initial steps: filing an SFD with the commisioners office giving the type of injury and estimating the time for recovery to be 60 days or longer. At such time the player is removed from both the 25- and 40-man rosters, but is still protected on the reserve list (meaning the player is not available for the Rule 5 Draft.) That way a team may have more that 40 players on the reserve list at the same time and the team can also add a player to the 25-man roster to take the place of the injured player who is on the 60-day DL. If the injury persists past the 60 days, no recertification (SFD) is required to keep him on the DL.
The “Phantom DL”: So Ed Crosby said that Bobby isn’t hurt enough to be placed on the DL. Could Bobby have played through the injury? Perhaps. But Bobby is elligible for free agency at the end of the season so he doesn’t figure in to the A’s future plans. Cliff Pennington does, so he was brought up to play shortstop for the rest of the season and Bobby was put on the DL. Smells fishy to me.
But an even more obvious example is the handling of Jason Giambi. He was placed on the DL with no discernable injury at all (a “phantom” injury?), other than the ongoing problems of advancing age (not a valid diagnosis) and his sore knees, which he played on most of the season. It is well known that he retreated to his house in Las Vegas and was reportedly seen working out and taking batting practice after he had only been there a day or so. Doesn’t sound like he was injured to me.
So why would a team use the DL to hold a player off the 25-man roster? Former player FP Santangelo said on a recent A’s postgame show that there is something called the “Phantom DL” where a team can “park” a player on the 15-day DL while the team decides what roster moves to make. He said that when that happens, “a player sucks it up and doesn’t play for 15 days–he takes it for the team.” That sorta sounds like what happened to Crosby and Giambi to me. But you can be the judge of that.
The “Spread” : I will leave you with this anecdote: One of the things an MLB player always does when he is sent to the minors on a rehab assigment is to purchase the “Spread.” Tradition dictates that while he is there he must provide at his expense at least one meal for the minor league team he is assigned to. A player with a big contract might choose an upscale restaurant to cater the meal. A player with a minimum MLB contract ($400,000 in 2009) might provide ribs and chicken.
Woe is the player who forgets to provide the Spread. His MLB teammates will find out and make his life miserable. An affluent Jays player forgot and his teammates gave him such grief that he sent a check to the minor league clubhouse manager to procure a meal for the team. Bet it bought chicken and ribs.
(Many thanks to Bart Given, former Asst. GM of the Blue Jays, whose blog provided a glimpse into the workings of the disabled list and the Spread anecdote. Check out the blog at www.insidethemajors.com. He gives insights into the game of baseball from a front office perspective.)
I feel sorry for Bobby Crosby, not because the A’s took away his shortstop position this year, but because he can’t hit. Even in his Rookie of the Year season, he hit only .239. In 2005, his best year, he hit .276, but he’s hovered between .223 (2009) and .237 since then.
The A’s, as any team, have to do what is best for the team, and when they had the chance to get Orlando Cabrera, a proven hitter and very good shortstop, they took it, and rightly so. Bobby’s response was to pout unprofessionally to the media.
Then when it was obvious that the A’s would finish in last place in the AL West and Cabrera was traded, the A’s decided to look to the future and called up Cliff Pennington to play shortstop for the rest of the season. Bobby again opened his mouth and spouted off, calling the move “a joke.” Not a very good way to ingratiate yourself to potential teams who might need a shortstop. It screams loud and clear: “NOT A TEAM PLAYER!,” which certainly won’t help him in the free agent market.
This week in an article by Doug Krikorian in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Bobby’s father, former MLB player Ed Crosby, took Billy Beane to task for not treating his son fairly. “My feelings are that…Billy Beane has done a number on him,” complaining that Bobby is on the disabled list when “he’s not even hurt.” (More on this use of the DL in my next post.) He even went off on the Moneyball philosophy and criticized the A’s for not letting their players swing at the first pitch in an at bat, complaining that the A’s have “taken the bat out of the hands of their players.”
Statistically the chance of making an out by swinging at the first pitch is overwhelming, so Billy Beane presumably told the organization not to swing at first pitches. So opposing pitchers poured strikes in on the first pitch, getting ahead in the count most of the time. That didn’t work so the A’s have adjusted and we see many more first pitch swings this year. But I digress.
Ed Crosby has a right to vent his feelings, but his rant didn’t help his son’s future prospects. Ed is a former MLB infielder and he should know that teams will look at this and think twice about going after Bobby this offseason.
A .223 hitter needs to be a team player, keep his mouth shut and play his best when he’s put in the lineup if he wants to get a good contract when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Bobby will certainly not command a salary anywhere close to the $5.3 million that the A’s are paying him this year and a utility role is most likely all he will be able to get. Too bad really. He could have positioned himself so much better by sucking it up and keeping his mouth shut.
A good comparison might be to Jack Hannahan, who bounced around the Detroit Organization before being traded to the A’s where he’s played third base during Eric Chavez’ various stints on the DL over the last few years. Bobby is very much like Jack: great fielder but can’t hit. The difference is that Jack Hannahan is a gentleman and a true team player, and will always be able to find a job. I saw him play Monday night in Seattle as a Mariner and he made some great plays. It was a pleasure to watch, even though the gems were at the A’s expense.
So all this hoopla about how badly Billy Beane has treated Bobby is way overblown, in my opinion. The A’s organization hung with him through multiple serious injuries, and years when he averaged less than one hit per game, and kept him as the everyday shortstop. They could afford to do that when other guys were hitting the long ball and the team was having a winning season. But the team has been on a slide since 2006, and without power hitters the entire lineup has to be able to get on base and drive in runs to make small ball work. And Bobby can’t get it done. He should go at the end of the season, but he should have gone more quietly for his own good.
The A’s Win a Weird One:: After an ugly loss the night before to start the 2nd half of the season, the A’s bounced back to win Friday night by a score of 7-3. But this wasn’t a typical win as there were a total of 14 walks (7 for each team), 7 stolen bases (4 by the A’s!), and 17 hits (9 by the A’s) in the game.
The A’s faced Joe Saunders who usually has the A’s number, but he has been struggling of late and that continued last night. He just didn’t look confident and gave the A’s opportunities in every inning he pitched.
Unfortunately until the 4th inning, the A’s couldn’t capitalize on those gifts. Bobby Crosby changed all that with a 3 run homer in the 4th.
The A’s never fell behind after that.
Morales’ Home Run: Three events stand out from the rest of the oddities. In the top of the 2nd inning, Kendry Morales hit a line drive to left that looked like it hit something near the fence and bounced back onto the field right to Matt Holliday. The third base umpire called it a home run. Bob Geren came out and asked for another opinion. The Umps decided to do a video review and 3 of them left the field to look at various replays of the hit. 1 umpire had to stay on the field to make sure that none of the players moved from their positions. The slo-mo replay footage that we saw in HD showed, at least to me (but not the TV broadcasters), that ithe ball hit the lens of the TV camera (over the wall) and bounced back onto the field. This was confirmed when the umpires emerged from the tunnel under the stands and the crew chief indicated a home run by twirling his upraised index finger and clearly mouthed the words: “It hit the camera.” I guess my eyesight is okay. The amazing part of the whole thing is that the camera man didn’t even flinch when the ball hit his camera!
Rajai Dekes the Angel’s Catcher: In the bottom of the 4th, Raj Davis stroked a ball into the gap off Joe Saunders and motored into 2nd base. He took his usual big lead and as Saunders began his move to the plate, Raj looked like he was going to take off for 3rd, but after a few steps he stopped. The Angels catcher, Jeff Mathis glanced at Raj and obviously thought Raj would retreat to 2nd. Instead, when Mathis softly tossed the ball back to the pitcher, Raj took off and stole 3rd cleanly. He scored on Crosby’s homer 2 batters later. What a great acting job, Raj!
Run, Raj, Run! In the bottom of the 6th, Raj Davis walked to lead off the inning. With Mark Ellis at the plate, Raj got caught a little too ffar off 1st base. But Saunders’ throw to 1st was way off target and went into right field rattling around among the chairs on the field near the Angel’s bullpen.
Raj took off and flew around the bases and beat the throw to home, putting the A’s ahead for good.
Hairston Gets Drilled a la Bobby Crosby: In the bottom of the 8th, one of Justin Speier’s sliders failed to break and hit Scott Hairston on the hand.
Oh, no, I thought. Isn’t that the same guy who broke Bobby Crosby’s hand with a similar pitch last year? Yup. I hope Scott is okay. We need him in the lineup.
In short, it was a strange game, but the result was great. As Glen Kuiper said, “This game was not a thing of beauty.”
The A’s opened a 6-game series on the road in Toronto Friday night. A’s startier Josh Outman got knocked around by the Blue Jays, starting with a screaming homer by Marco Scutaro on the first pitch of the game. Outman gave up 4 more runs in the third, two of them earned, putting th A’s in the hole 5-1. “Poor, quite poor,” Outman admitted. “Our bullpen has been excellent, but I’ve got to make it through five [innings]. I’m killing the bullpen.” Said bullpen, which shut down the Jays league-best offense for the rest of the game, ranked third in American League with a 3.19 ERA before the game. “It’s pretty impressive,” said Bobby Crosby.
But the real story happened when the A’s had bats in their hands: they scored 7 unanswered runs: 4 in the 4th, 1 in the 7th and 2 in the 8th, to win it 8-5.
The big hit came from an unlikely source, newly-minted utility infielder, Bobby Crosby. In the 4th inning, he stroked his 2nd hit of the season, a line-drive triple to the center field wall which cleared the bases which were loaded with A’s, That hit put the A’s back in the game 5-4. A wild pitch scored Crosby from 3rd to tie it up.
Bobby also made some nifty plays at third base. He said after the game he is getting more comfortable playing the other infield positions than his historical spot at short stop.
In the 7th inning, Matt Holliday’s double scored Orlando Cabrara to give the A’s the lead for good. In the 8th, Mark Ellis singled, scoring Suzuki who doubled. Ellie then stole 2nd and went to 3rd on a wild pitch. Sweeney hit a grounder to 3rd driving in Ellis,
to complete the scoring.
Brad Ziegler high-fives Suzuki (at right) after closing it out in the ninth.
This is the kind of game I hope we will see for the rest of the season. The guys showed that they don’t give up when the starting pitcher gets in trouble. It is a real pleasure to have some bats in the middle of the order, which has inspired everyone on the team, especially the guys at the bottom of the order.
On another note, the A’s called up Dan Giese from Sacamento. Maybe they want to get a look at him, since he was claimed on waivers from the Yankees on April 8th. Otherwise, I would have thought Jeff Gray would get the call.
A’s Hope Opener: Well, last night was certainly a disappointment (the A’s lost 5-4) but the game was overshadowed by the pregame ceremonies memorializing the four slain Oakland police officers gunned down a couple of weeks ago. I had a tear in my eye as four OPD officers, each representing one of the families of the slain cops, placed police caps and baseballs on the pitcher’s mound to stand sentinel as the audience lowered their heads for a moment of silence. Nick Adenhart was also honored–a mention that was appropriately brief so as not to detract from the local tribute. The jet fighters’ fly-over and fireworks, the latter choreographed with the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air, capped off the moving tribute.
Chavy’s Back: It is great to see Eric Chavez making gold glove plays at third base like the Chavy of old and to have his bat back in the lineup. He’s such a classy guy and had every right to complain during the two plus years he was playing hurt or sidelined, but he never joined the pity party. Hat’s off to you, Eric.
Bobby Bobbles: Crosby just booted a routine play at third base (Chavez is getting the day off, and there’s no TV so I am listening on the radio). I want Jack Hannahan back, lousy bat and all. He is a proven utility infielder. Bobby is anything but, and keeps demonstrating it on the field. It’s his $5+ million salary that’s keeping him in the majors, not his bat, and certainly not his fielding at any position other than shortstop. Please, can I have Jack back, Billy?
A’s Lose Again to the Mariners: The game’s now over. Let’s hope that the A’s can salvage a win tomorrow after blowing another one. The A’s had the lead or were tied for most of the game. Jack Cust’s homer in the fifth was a bright spot–the A’s first homer of the season–making it 5-3, A’s. But the M’s went ahead for good in a disastrous eighth inning off Santiago Casilla and Brad Ziegler, giving Casilla the loss.
Maybe the collective thinking about where the Mariners will wind up at the end of the season could be wrong–last place in the AL West, according to Baseball America and others. The M’s can flat out hit. However, the A’s young pitching staff is showing rookie nerves, which will disappear in the coming weeks, so I guess we can’t be too concerned yet. An A’s win tomorrow would sure be good for the guys’ (and the fans’) morale.