Tagged: Coco Crisp

Winter Comings and Goings – A’s Style

It’s been a few months since I wrote a blog article, but as I did last year, I’d like to bring you up to date on the roster moves that Billy Beane and Co. made during the offseason.

Comings – New Faces Abound for 2011:


David DeJesus.jpgOF David DeJesus came over in a trade with the Kansas City Royals on Nov 10th for RHP Vin Mazzaro and LHP Justin Marks.  DeJesus, 30, batted .318 with 5 HRs and 37 RBIs in 91 games with the Royals in 2010, but missed the last two months of the season after surgery on his right thumb.  He played primarily in right field and has a 241-game errorless streak dating baci to Sept 15th, 2008.

RHP Brandon McCarthy signed as a free
Brandon McCarthy.jpgagent on Dec 14th, (Texas Rangers),
 recurring shoulder problems, $1Million 1-yr deal laden with performance incentives.


Hideki Matsui 2 cropped.jpgDH Hideki Matsui signed as a free agent on Dec 14th (LA Angels), $1.25M 1-yr deal, a pure hitter with 20-25 HRs/season potential and a career batting average of .290, should hit 3rd or 4th in lineup (a HUGE upgrade from Jack Cust!).


 OF Josh Willingham came to the A’s in a trade with the Washington Nationals on Dec 16th for RHP Henry  Rodriguez (100+mph) and OF prospect Corey Brown.  Willingham, 32 in Feb, has 7 years in the majors, averaging 20 home runs and 66 RBIs over the past 5 seasons,  and is another middle-of-the-order hitter. 
Josh Willingham.jpgHe had surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee last August, but says he’s fully recovered.  He made $4.5M last year and is going to arbitration unless a deal is made today (Jan 17th), and will probably earn more than $4.5M in 2011.

RHP Rich Harden signed as a free agent on Dec 21st (Texas Rangers), a 1-yr deal worth $1.5M+incentives.  No stranger to the A’s (2003-08), he has been plagued by injuries most of his career, but has lights out stuff when he’s healthy.  He’ll be vying for the 5th starter slot with Brandon McCarthy.

RHP Grant Balfour signed as a free agent on Jan 14th (Tampa Bay Rays), a 2-yr $8.1M deal with a club option for 2013, to bolster the bullpen.

  


Grant Balfour.jpg
Balfour, 33, an Australian, went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 57 appearances last season.  He still has to pass a physical, likely today.

Brian Fuentes.jpgLHP Brian Fuentes (Minnesota Twins) signed as a free agent on Jan 16th, a 2-yr deal expected to yield him $5M+/year (details not yet announced).  Fuentes is a 4-time All-Star, who has averaged 31 saves over the past 6 seasons with the Rockies, Angels and the Twins.  Last year he recorded 24 saves, a 2.81 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP*. 
He will also have to pass a physical, most likely today or tomorrow.  If Andrew Bailey is healthy, Bailey will probably still be the closer, but Fuentes gives Manager Bob Geren the option of going with a left-hander to close out a game.

 

Stayings:  Some Familiar Faces Re-signed:

2B Mark Ellis:  The club exercised it’s option for 2011 and will pay Mark $6M for the year.  Ellie led the A’s in batting in 2010, hitting .291 in 124 games.  He also has the 2nd-best fielding percentage (.990) among 2nd basemen with over 750 or more games.  Always a fan favorite, he’ll be back in the lineup for one more year.


Coco Crisp Thumbnail.jpgOF Coco Crisp:  The A’s also excercised their club option for 2011, and will pay Coco $6M.  When Coco was healthy in 2010, he hit .279 with 8 HR and 38 RBIs in 75 games, and stole a career-high 32 bases.  To put it in perspective, he finished 2nd on the A’s in steals (to Rajai Davis), 3rd in triples (4), and 5th in homeruns, despite missing over half the season!

 

Goings:  Chavez’ Option not Picked Up

Eric Chavez at 2010 Spring Training Fielding.jpg3B Eric Chavez, who spent his whole career in the Athletics organization, including 13 seasons with the A’s.  He is a .267 career hitter with 230 HRs and 787 RBIs in 1,320 games, and holds numerous A’s records, ranking in the top 10 in nearly every category.  He also won 6 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 2001-06.  He is reported to be working out with teams (Dodgers, for one) in hopes he can find a place to play in the majors in 2011.Contracts Not Tendered or Players Released: DH Jack Cust (now with the Mariners), OF Gabe Gross (still unsigned), OF Travis Buck (Indians), P Justin Duchscherrer (still unsigned, but Yankees showing interest), OF Jeremy Hermida (Reds), P Russ Wolf (Pirates), OF Jeff Larish (Phillies), P Boof Bonser (Mets), P Justin James (Brewers), P Brett Tomko (still unsigned), IF Dallas McPherson (White Sox), IF Corey Wimberly (Pirates), and 3B Akinori Iwamura (Rakuten, Japan).


Rajai thumbnail.jpgTraded
OF Rajai Davis (Blue Jays for 2 pitching prospects), P Vin Mazzaro (Royals, in the DeJesus trade), P Henry Rodriguez (Nationals, in the Willingham trade).  We will miss his hustle and that great smile.  I hope he has the opportunity to play everyday in Toronto.  He deserves it.

I haven’t mentioned that the A’s won the right to negotiate with Hisashi Iwakuma, for which they had to pay $19.1M.  They had 30 days to negotiate with his current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles (the same team that Akinori Iwamura will play for in 2011).  Negotiations broke down over the salary that the A’s would pay him (in addition to the $19.1M!) and Iwakuma will return to Rakuten to finish out his contract year there.  The $19.1M was returned to the A’s, under the Japanese negotiating rules.

Also, I didn’t mention that the A’s claimed Edwin Encarnacion on waivers from the Blue Jays in November, but released him back to the Jays in December.

That’s it for now.  It looks like this will be an exiting year for the A’s and their fans.  The new aquisitions, re-signings, and the players no longer on the team, have put the A’s in position to compete creditably for the AL West Division Title in 2011, if the injury bug doesn’t take a huge toll. Nevertheless, there is so much depth on this roster that very capable guys can step up and fill any holes if players go down.  I can’t wait!

Upcoming Blog Post Topics:

A’s Coaching Staff Changes

Injury/Surgery Updates

A’s New Minor League Affiliates

 

Come back and visit often!

 

*Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitched (anything close to 1.0 is very good)

  

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Profile: Adam “Rosie” Rosales

As one of the Comcast SportsNet California TV broadcasters said recently, “If it weren’t for Adam Rosales, the A’s wouldn’t be where they are right now,” which, as of today (May 29th), is 3 games above .500, a half a game behind the division-leading Texas Rangers.  After the last couple of years’ dismal seasons, the A’s are definitely in the hunt for a post-season birth.  But let’s back up a minute and take a look at how Rosie wound up in the role of utility man extraordinaire for the A’s.

Adam M. Rosales was born on May 20th, 1983 in Chicago, Illinois.  He graduated from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill., a Chicago suburb, and still lives there.  He went on to Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo,where he was named to the All-Mid-American Conference 1st Team. 

He was selected by the Cincinati Reds in the 12th round (362nd overall) of the June 2005 Amateur Draft. He was immediately sent to Billings in the Pioneer League (rookie) for 34 games, where he batted .321, and was elevated to Low Single-A Dayton in the Midwest League, batting .328.

In 2006 and 2007, he worked his way up the Red’s organization, ending up at Chattanooga in the Double-A Southern League.  In the fall of 2007, he participated in the Arizona Fall League, a showcase league for the top 6 or 7 best players in each MLB team’s minor league system, where he batted .281.  (See my previous blog article on the AFL.)

In 2008, he started the year with the Louisville Bats in the International League (Triple-A), and was called up to the Reds on August 9th for a brief stint, and again on August 20th when Jerry Hairston Jr. went on the DL.  He started the 2009 season back at Louisville, but was called up on April 28th when Edwin Incarnacion fractured his wrist.  He played in 87 games with the Reds that year, batting .213.

But batting is not all that Rosie was known for.  He was signed as a shortstop and played that position until 2007, when he was moved to first base. In 2008, he played both short and 3rd at Louisville, and 3rd and 2nd with the Reds. 

Adam Rosales fielding in Red's Uni.jpg

In 2009, he put in time at all 4 infield positions for the Reds.  His hustle was rewarded by the Reds’ naming him as their representative for the Heart and Hustle Award.  He was selected “for his passion for baseball and his embodiement of the values, tradition and spirit of the game.”  Others nominated that year included:  Chase Uttley, David Eckstein, Pablo Sandoval and Albert Pujols in the National League, and Nick Markakis, Joe Mauer, Nick Swisher and Evan Longoria in the AL.  Jack Cust was nominated by the A’s.  Really?

Rosie played in the Mexican Winter League this past winter, where he got considerable experience playing in left field. This was icing on the cake for Bob Geren and Billy Beane, who were looking for a utility infielder for this season.

On February 1st of this year, he was traded by the Reds, along with Willy Taveras, to the A’s for Aaron Miles and a PTBNL.   Billy Beane has been quoted as saying that the player in that deal he really wanted was Rosales. This became clear when the A’s released Taveras a few weeks later.  Of note, the Reds designated Aaron Miles for assignment on April 5th.  Who got the better of the deal?  A no-brainer.


Adam Rosales in the dugout.jpgSo who is Adam Rosales
?  What we’ve seen so far this season is a guy who sprints around the bases whether he hits a homer or works a walk, a good fielder with a great arm at any position he plays, and a guy with some pop in his bat who seems to get hits when the team needs them. This type of situational hitting has been a real problem for the A’s over the past few years, especially with Jack Cust batting in the number 4 hole. 

 
Adam Rosales being congratulated for scoring against the Giants.jpgIt is nice to see Rosie, Jake Fox, Ryan Sweeney and Kurt Suzuki take up the slack this season.

Also, Rosie is very disruptive on the base paths, as are Rajai Davis, and Coco Crisp (when he isn’t on the DL).  And it’s the running game, I feel, that has made a big difference this year.  Rosie rattles the pitchers, forces the opposing fielders to rush their throws, often resulting in errors.  Rosie is also lightening fast, beating out infield hits almost routinely. As Manager Bob Geren put it, “Those kind of at-bats, that kind of speed, generates some action.”  

Recently, I attended an Oakland A’s Booster Club luncheon where Rosie was the player on the dais.


 
Adam Rosales at Boosters - small.jpgHe admitted that he was “scared to death” to be standing in front of 100+ Boosters, but not at all scared on the field.  He was asked what he thinks about the A’s as a team, and responded without hesitation that they are “the best team in the Majors. There’s great chemistry.  We’re like brothers.”

When asked why he runs so fast around the bases, he responded, “I always said if I ever get to the Major Leagues, I’m gonna play like I was 12 years old.” 

Adam Rosales running the bases.jpgHe says he likes playing all the infield positions, but is most comfortable at shortstop and 2nd base.  “I’ll play anywhere the team needs me to play.”

On the personal side, he she has a girlfriend, but is not married.  In an interview with Kate Longworth of Comcast SportsNet California, he said that If he weren’t a baseball player, he’d be a rock star.  His favorite bands are Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam.  His favorite sports movies are “The Natural,” and when he was a kid, “Sandlot,” not surprisingly, both baseball movies.  His pet peeve is “Waiting in Traffic!”

When asked what 3 things he takes on the road, he said:  his toiletry bag, his cell phone, and his guitar.  He hasn’t played for the his teammates yet.  “If they’re lucky enough, maybe I’ll play for them.”

His best baseball memory was facing his first pitch at Wrigley Field.  Since he grew up in Chicago, “I was really amped up.”

The A’s are extremely happy to have Adam Rosales on their roster.

 
Adam Rosales being congratulated for scoring against the Giants.jpgWhen he’s in the lineup, good things happen.  He’s had two 4-RBI nights in recent weeks, he’s hit homers, stolen bases, and made great plays in the field. 

 
Adam Rosales Throwing.jpgHe always seems to have a smile on his face.

  
Adam rosales' smile.jpgAnd everyone cheers when he sprints around the basepaths.  What more could we A’s fans want?!

 

 

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!