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:
OF 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
agent on Dec 14th, (Texas Rangers),
recurring shoulder problems, $1Million 1-yr deal laden with performance incentives.
DH 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.
He 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.
LHP 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.
OF 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:
3B 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).
Traded: 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
A’s New Minor League Affiliates
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*Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitched (anything close to 1.0 is very good)
Ellie: Mark Ellis is on fire! What a great walk-off homer which skimmed the left field fence yesterday! He’s batting something like .460 since the All Star Break. Welcome back Ellie.
Is it just me? Or is it fun to watch the young kids play ball? Yes, it’s painful when one of the young pitchers gives up “the big inning.” but by and large the kids are playing their hearts out and it’s just plain fun to watch. The A’s will probably finish in last place, but if they can get to .500 that will be a huge victory.
Duke: Something strange is going on with Justin Duchscherer. He missed a recent rehab start in Sacramento and he was penciled in to start for the A’s on Tuesday against the Yankees. That too has been scratched. Brett Tomko, who was released by the Yankees on July 21st and has been conspicuously mediocre at Triple A Sacramento, has been called up to pitch tonight against his former team, pushing Gio Gonzales to Tuesday’s game giving him an extra day between starts.
The reason for the Duke scratchings were said to be for “non-baseball reasons.” The last time we heard that explanation, Dallas Braden’s beloved grandmother was seriously ill. If is it a reason like that, why can’t they just come out and say it was a family emergency or just say what it is?. This cloak and dagger secrecy doesn’t make the organization or Duke look particularly good.
This secrecy is not unlike when the A’s placed Jason Giambo on the DL only to find out later he went to Las Vegas to work on his hitting. Two weeks later the A’s released him. All very strange.
Geren: Has anyone else but me noticed that when Geren gets tossed from a game, the A’s come back and win the game with Ty Waller managing? That’s happened 2 out of the 3 times Geren’s been thrown out this year. Will anyone ever forget that game in Boston when he was tossed in the 3rd inning and Waller guided the A’s to a 9-8 victory in 11 innings?
Now there could be all sorts of reasons the guys get psyched up after their manager gets tossed, but one of them could be that Bob Geren is a lousy manager.
He certainly has made some bonehead decisions this year. And when asked about Giambi going on the DL or Duke being scratched, he just hems and haws, and haws and hems, as Mychael Urban so succinctly put it.
As you probably know, Geren and Billy Beane are tight, Geren having served as BB’s best man at his wedding (or was it the other way around?), so the likelhood of BB firing him is nil. But Lew Wolff as managing partner could order it done. Come on, Lew, put us out of our misery and let Geren go at the end of the season.
Geren’s track record stinks for a reason. He has no leadership skills. He can’t motivate the team. He hasn’t created a culture of success in the clubhouse or on the field. You can have the latter and still not win, but he needs to fire these guys up and expect them to win. If he would do that, they will win. His deadpan affect does not instill confidence in the players except when he argues balls and strikes and gets himself tossed, and I think it is instructive that the team wins when he is not in the dugout.
So not the A’s take on the hottest team in baseball: the Bronx Bombers. I think Brett Tomko will have his hands full, as will the other young starters, but we have beaten them bepore and can do it again. It will be fun to watch, no matter the outcome.
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.”
I Can Post Articles on My Blog Again! My last blog post was on June 16th. The next day Comcast hooked up the last leg of my Triple Play package, and I dutifully logged in to mlblogs.com, went to “My Profile” and followed the instructions for changing my email address. I blythely hit the “Submit” button. I’m not much of a techie so I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
A couple of days later, I decided to post a new article on my blog and logged in using my new email and password. Up came an error message that stated in angry red: “Authentication Error: Email and/or password invalid. Try again.” Hmm. Maybe the change didn’t go through, so I tried to log in using my old email address and password. Same result. I tried other email and password combinations to no avail. Oh no, I couldn’t log in. Disaster! I can’t post any more articles?
I quickly emailed mlblogs.com and explained my plight. To make a long story short, after 3+ weeks of emails and phone calls back and forth to 4 or 5 different people, most of whom kept telling me to log in using the old email address (which I kept telling them I couldn’t do), I found Jacob Wilson who understood what happened. Bless his heart, he imported my blog with all prior articles, comments and photos into my new email account. So I am back and writing again on all things A’s.
The A’s Team We Were Hoping Has Finally Showed Up! Wow, the A’s won a series, and against the Tigers, the AL Central’s leading team. Yahoo!! I attended Monday night’s 7-1 victory in which Brett Anderson pitched scoreless ball into the 6th inning, when he walked two.
The usually-reliable Michael Wuertz came in and gave up a double to Gerald Laird to score one of those walks, marring Brett’s great outing. The A’s bats came alive in the 4th inning when Matt Holliday singled and Jason Giambi walked. Kurt Suzuki doubled in Holliday and Ryan Sweeney singled in the G man, giving the A’s the lead for good. The guys added on the rest of the runs in the 5th and the 6th inning, highlighted by Mark Ellis’ first homer of the year, a two-run blast, and another two runs on Sweeney’s 3rd of the season.
Small ball added the last run in the 8th.
Yesterday produced a 5-1 win to give the A’s the series win over Detroit. Highlights included Dallas Braden
pitching 7 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball,
followed by 2 shutout innings from Brad Ziegler who now has the set-up role,
and Andrew “Daily” Bailey, the team”s closer to everyone but Manager Bob Geren.
The day’s offensive fireworks came on 2 homers from Jack Cust (14)
and Jason Giambi (11)
scoring 4 runs between them. Detroit’s only run came in the top of the 2nd on a double from Gerald Laird, driving in Ryan Raburn who had singled.
I like this team. I hope they continue to show up. Maybe the much-hoped-for warm weather has finally arrived.