Anderson leads streaking A's to second straight sweep


Anderson leads streaking A's to second straight sweep


OAKLAND When Brett Anderson underwent Tommy John surgeryon July 14, 2011, he knew hed have a long road back to the big leagues.Its doubtful he knew how successful hed be upon returning to the top level ofcompetition in the baseball world.You always have to be confident in your abilities, Anderson said afterimproving to 3-0 in three 2012 starts in the As 6-2 win over the Red Sox. Headded a qualifier that he didnt know if he expected this level of success,though. Not only is Anderson enjoying big-league success again, hes also doing so inthe thick of a playoff race. While most major leaguers are glass-half-fulltypes when it comes to postseason chances, its hard to believe Anderson wasexpecting to pitch in important September games this season.Its been awesome, Anderson said of returning to acontending team. Youre coming out here throwing meaningful innings,meaningful games. Whoever its against, its a meaningful game because we needto win as many as possible.As manager Bob Melvin said its still too early for hisplayers to be looking at the standings, but that doesnt mean he cantappreciate what Anderson is doing under pressure.To give us three games with that type of performance and the magnitude of thegames and coming in later on in the season not just pitching games andgetting ready for next year pitching key games and doing well, its allreally impressive, Melvin said.Forgive the As skipper for his run-on sentence; hes that excited about Andersonsreturn to form. After youve been out that long, theres some things that creep into your mindgoing through the rehab, Melvin said. Anderson agrees.Theres always some days when you say Am I going to get back?, Anderson admitted.This all makes it worthwhile.Anderson has obviously moved past any mental hurdles and can now focus onregaining the control and velocity that made him one of baseballs mostpromising young pitchers in 2010. Melvin noticed that Andersons velocity wasdown a little, as did the southpaw himself.My velocity is still not quite where it was in 2009,Anderson said. But I feel good; my body feels good. Andersons body got a break from pitching early in Sundays series finale, asthe As plated runs in each of the first four innings, giving their starterextended rest in the dugout. Coco Crisp led off the game with a walk, SethSmith followed with a home run for a 2-0 lead and the As never looked back.The early lead, and subsequent insurance, allowed Anderson to pitch to contactand limit the pressure on his surgically repaired elbow.I can pound the zone and try and get early contact and keepthe pitch count down, Anderson said of what the run support allows him to do. Throughthe first five, I mixed and matched a little bit of everything. Got some groundballs, got some strikeouts. Anderson got nine ground outs and four strikeouts, to be exact, and was incruise control until the sixth inning. Thats when the Red Sox loaded the basesand scored their first run. It couldve been worse for Anderson if not forYoenis Cespedes. The Cuban slugger was held hitless, but made his presence felton defense. He threw a perfect strike to catcher Derek Norris at home platefrom deep left to cut down Scott Podsednik trying to score from second on CodyRoss RBI single.I got a little shaky there in the sixth, but Cespy made a tremendous throw,Anderson said.Melvin said a throw like that should turn heads around the league.Nothing surprises us out of him, Melvin said of his rookie outfielder. Hehas a cannon. The more he does that, teams are going to stop running on him.Josh Reddick, a fellow cannon-for-an-appendage outfielder, believes that the Asare inspiring each other during this season-high nine-game win streak.Hitting is contagious; defense is contagious, Reddick explained. If the bug keeps spreading and leads to a win Monday over Anaheim, the As will have their longest win streak since emerging victoriousin 20 straight games back in 2002. In fact, the 10th anniversary ofthat historic 20th win is Wednesday. But the As arent focused onstreaks or standings; Melvin has instilled a tunnel-vision mentality with hisplayers.We still have a month left and if were worried about thenext homestand or the next road trip, those are just distractions we dontneed, Melvin said. The message here is to prepare for the day; put all ourenergy and all our focus into that. And well add wins up a little bitlater.Melvin did admit that its often impossible to avoid looking at the standings,which inevitably will lead to playoff dreams. But for both Melvin and hisplayers, the old clich of one day at a time seems to be the mantra.You cant help but know where you are, but I think we tryto isolate on the day and I think that should be the case all the waythroughout the season, Melvin said. At the end of the day, well prepare forthe next pitcher and the next day and we need to continue to do that.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event


New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”


Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?


A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.