Athletics

A's agree win against Angels was 'big'

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A's agree win against Angels was 'big'

ANAHEIM -- Sometimes simple things get overlooked in the aftermath of a ballgame. As the Oakland Athletics took down the Angels' six-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory, several obvious things stood out. One, the pitching of Jarrod Parker. Two, the A's two solo home runs. Three, the fact that Oakland has now won 10 road games in a row and are 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2006. Lost in the shuffle was the most important run of the game. The first one. The A's never once held a lead when they got swept in three games at home against the Angels last week. Coco Crisp started the game by smacking a lead-off triple off the jumbo electronic scoreboard wall in right field. Seth Smith grounded out scoring Crisp. That one run in the first inning that gave the A's a 1-0 lead seemed to change the tone of the whole contest. "It's always key especially on the road, especially against these guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They're going to be very aggressive when they get ahead." That's not to say the pitching of Parker wasn't important. He shut down the red-hot Angels lineup with ease. He allowed just three hits and pitched seven innings of one-run ball. "I tried to get some early outs and early contact and it translated into going deep into the game," Parker said. "Pitching to their aggression was big because they saw me just a week ago."Parker's plan worked brilliantly. The rookie pitcher earned his 10th win becoming the 10th rookie pitcher in Oakland history to reach double-digit wins. "I'm not done so it's a feather in the cap and it is what it is," Parker said. "Moving on it's a big win today and we need to continue doing it." It was a big win indeed. So big in fact, that Melvin admitted it. "That's a big win for us based on the fact they handled us pretty good at our place and they've been playing so well at home," Melvin said. He wasn't the only one that felt that way. The A's usually stick to the company mantra of one inning, and one game at a time. They can enjoy this one at least until they wake up on Tuesday. "That was definitely a big game for us," second baseman Cliff Pennington said. "They came into our place and did what they did. We need to come into their place and take care of business too. To get the first one is a big step."Parker was poised in front of the crowd of 36,064. The hype and pressures of the playoff atmosphere seemed to play into his strengths. He had a poker face that even Lady Gaga would have been proud of. "He's a pretty calm guy," Melvin said. "You never know what's going on inside.""It's just kind of who I am and how I pitch," Parker said. "If I get too hyped up or too anxious I start trying to do too much." Parker got enough run support to win the game because the A's continued to have success with the long ball. Brandon Moss hit the go-ahead homer in the fifth inning and Pennington tattooed one of his own in the sixth. "A lot of us don't swing for singles," Moss said after his 17th homer. "You look at their club and a lot of good clubs, they all have the ability to change the score with one swing and that's something we have."Maybe more important than the home runs, was an inning-ending double play turned by Pennington. Yep, we are back to the underrated and overlooked theme. With two runners on base in the fourth inning and the Angels gaining momentum fast, Mark Trumbo hit a grounder to third baseman Josh Donaldson who flung the ball to Pennington, who stood his ground absorbing the blow of Erick Aybar's takeout slide before as he threw to first for the final out of the inning.The way Pennington handled the play impressed his skipper. Pennington is still learning second base but looked every bit the part at that moment. "For a guy that hasn't been playing the position that long he was just fearless," Melvin said. "And he has a great arm on top of it." Melvin said he was equally impressed with what Pennington did with his glove and bat this evening. Pennington elected to choose a side. Not surprisingly the long ball won out. "I'll take the homer," Pennington said laughing. "The double play we've been working at it and trying to get better at it."

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.