Athletics

2013 A's roster breakdown: Catchers

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2013 A's roster breakdown: Catchers

Editor's note: This is the second installment of the Oakland A's position-by-position offseason breakdown, teeing up the team's options for the 2013 season.The A's will enter 2013 without a veteran option at catcher. They don't seem too concerned by that fact. Derek Norris and George Kottaras are set to take the reigns in Oakland next season."We're comfortable with both of those guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Absolutely."Norris seems to be the logical choice to be the starting catcher for the A's next season. He was recalled on Aug. 21, and ended up taking over a bulk of the catching duty from veteran leader Kurt Suzuki. At one point in July the A's won 13 consecutive games started by Norris. He played well enough that Oakland felt comfortable trading Suzuki to the Washington Nationals. After Suzuki was traded there was a lot of concern about what would happen to the A's pitching staff. Norris proved he could handle the A's talented young pitchers.
It isn't a perfect statistic, but with Norris behind the plate, A's pitchers had a 3.08 ERA -- the lowest for a catcher in the American League with 50 or more innings caught. Despite the staff's confidence in him, Norris was only able to throw out 26 percent of would-be base stealers, which was third worst in the league. He will have to work hard in the offseason to improve that percentage.Norris, 23, only hit .201 in 2012, but he hit .339 with runners in scoring position, and four of his seven home runs came with a runner on. Kottaras also came through in big situations for the A's. He hit .293 with six of his nine homers coming with runners on base, and hit .368 with runners in scoring position. Norris is a right-handed hitter and Kottaras bats left-handed. That gives Melvin the opportunity to platoon the two catchers.Here in 2013:Derek Norris
George Kottaras
On the Farm:Jason Jaramillo
Blake Lalli
Max Stassi
Free Agents:NoneBiggest Question:Can Norris and Kottaras improve defensively?Analyst's Take -- Greg Cadaret:"I think Norris has the tools to be a good major league catcher. I think Kottaras is a major league backup. If you are splitting them 5050 I think you are weak there. Norris will improve once he gets the pressure off and stops trying to hit too many home runs. He has a tendency to let the frontside fly open and try and hook everything."I think he'll throw alright. I think he tried to be too fast sometimes. He showed the capability to block a ball, good hands, and the ability to call a game. A couple times he got lazy blocking balls and let a couple get away from him, but he looked like a guy that has some pop. He'll be a good major league catcher once he understands he doesn't have to try to do too much."Best Available (and possibly affordable):Mike Napoli, 31 (Not likely affordable)
Russell Martin, 30
A.J. Pierzynski, 36

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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USATSI

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.