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,
whom 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 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.
As the baseball season begins its fall from summer into winter, and as I embark on a major rewrite of my novel “Contract Year,” I will be posting a bit less frequently on this blog. This is also a natural occurance as the season comes to an end and many people’s focus shifts to football (not mine, however.) There just simply will be less and less news on baseball during the offseason to write about. I will still try to post once a week, but don’t desert me if I miss one or two.
Cliff Pennington and Landon Powell Contribute Big: Cliff had a great game on Saturday, making 2 amazing plays at shortstop, and hitting his first homer from the right side, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and a walk.
He has a cannon for an arm and Sunday threw out Ichiro when everyone including Ichiro thought he had a hit.
Landon Powell has caught 3 games in the last 8 days and muscled his 1st career grandslam home run to right-center in the 2nd inning on Wednesday against the Royals, and a solo shot high up in the right field bleachers on Sunday. Here’s his trot to homeplate on Wednesday.
Apparently, Landon left the locker room before the press could get to him to ask him about his grand salame, and a conference call had to be set up so that the press could get their statement. Rookie mistake!
Scott Hairston and Gio Gonzalez: Scott Hairston was both goat and hero on Sunday. In the 5th inning with Seattle ahead 2-1, Scott came up with the bases loaded and 1 out, the best opportunity for the A’s so far against Seattle’s Doug Fister from Merced, CA, and popped up to Jose Lopez in foul territory, stranding the 3 runners. Unfortunately, Landon Powell couldn’t get the runners home either.
However, in the bottom of the 7th, Hairston came up with exactly the same situation as in the 5th,
but this time he delivered, blasting a grandslam into the left bleachers, putting the A’s ahead for good, 5-2. He was grinning as he met the huddle around home plate. I bet he called big brother Jerry who plays for the Yankees as soon as possible to tell him the good news.
Gio Gonzalez had undoubtedly his best outing of the season, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and only 2 walks and throwing 3 strikeouts. The best part of the outing was his effective use of the new 4-seam changeup that he has been working on for the last few months, giving him a credible third pitch to go with his breaking fastball and nasty curve. After giving up a run in the 1st, he settled down and allowed only one more run in the next 6 innings. In the bottom of the 7th when Gio’s day was done, Hairston’s slam got him the win, the second time the A’s gave him a victory in that fashion this year. In July, the A’s scored 6 runs to give Gio a win after pitching his final inning in Yankee Stadium.
Brad Zieger came in and pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning and Andrew (“Boom Boom”) Bailey closed it out for his 23rd save, tying Huston Street’s Oakland record for most rookie saves. Bailey was named American League Rookie of the Month for August. He also is considered one of the front runners for AL Rookie of the Year. Go get’em Boom Boom!
All for now. Upcoming topics include: Being a Fan Can Be Dangerous, Interesting Statistics, and anthing else that I get curious about.
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.”
Young Pitching: The A’s young hurlers are having some successes and failures, and some of the good things don’t show up in the win column. We have to remember they are all under the age of 25, except the “veteran” Dallas Braden, who will be 26 on August 13th. These young guys are learning how to be professional ballplayers in the major leagues, not in the minors where pitchers typically spend 4 or more years before being called up.
Brett Anderson had a terrific complete-game 2-hitter against the Red Sox in Fenway, which was electricfying to watch.
Even the Sox fans acknowledged his feat with respect. The day before, Gio Gonzalez looked great in his 5-2 victory over Cy Young winner Cliff Lee in Cleveland. But those were the only bright spots since Dallas Braden beat Justin Verlander on July 1st in Oakland.
Trevor Cahill struggled mightily in Cleveland, lasting 3.2 innings and giving up 8 runs (5 earned). In Boston, he pitched well for 5 innings, but in the 6th gave up a solo home run to J.D. Drew and a 3-run shot to David Ortiz Maybe Bob Geren needs to pull these young kids when they first get into trouble (like after Drew’s solo homer) until they get used to facing tough major league hitting. In general, I think Geren leaves pitchers in too long.
Unfortunately, Vin Mazzaro pitched too well in his first 2 starts with the A’s. His luck has turned since then.
It didn’t help that twice he had to face the Giant’s Tim Lincecum who is having another career season this year. He has taken the loss in his last 4 starts, although he pitched well in his last outing but got no run support.
I won’t even comment on the Dana Eveland loss. I think the A’s need to cast him adrift or trade him. He has shown us over the last couple of years that he can pitch well at the Triple-A level, but falls apart in the majors. He just doesn’t fool major league hitting and I think the A’s need to wake up to that fact.
I hope that Dallas Braden does well today in Tampa. We need our “veteran” Ace back.
Silent Bats: Mention must be made of the A’s lack of situational hitting. A lot of the losses might have been wins if the A’s could have driven in maybe half of the runners they had in scoring position. It often seems as if the bats don’t come alive until the 8th or 9th inning when they are in the hole, sometimes a deep one. It’s too little, too late.
Jason Giambi has been a real disappointment to the team, the fans and himself. No one wants to win more than the G man. Unfortunately, it looks as if he’s a little late when he swings at fastballs and doesn’t make contact. But he’s not the only one who strikes out or hits into double plays. It’s been happening all too often up and down the lineup. Matt Holliday certainly isn’t helping his chances of being traded to a contender. In short, the A’s just aren’t getting the key hits when they need them.
Scott Hairston: To finish on a brighter note, the aquisition of Scott Hairston was a brilliant move by Billy Beane.
We control him through 2011, and he is a terrific hitter and can handle the center field position very well. Maybe he can ignite the lineup and they can score more runs to help out the young pitching staff. Time will tell. I haven’t given up on the A’s yet. I just hope they don’t finish in the cellar.