Athletics

Athletics extend protective netting to far ends of dugouts

asnetting.jpg
USATSI

Athletics extend protective netting to far ends of dugouts

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics will expand protective netting between the stands and the playing field to the far ends of both dugouts ahead of the 2018 season.

The netting will be a similar green color as the grass on the field to reduce the visual distraction to fans in attendance and those watching on television, the team said Tuesday. The A's will also expand the netting at the team's spring training ballpark in Mesa, Arizona.

Team President Dave Kaval said the extra safety measures are consistent with recommendations from Major League Baseball.

"We are committed to delivering a great experience while also ensuring the safety of our fans,” Kaval said. “The additional netting coverage is in line with the safety recommendations by Major League Baseball.”

Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, the New York Yankees, Milwaukee, Minnesota, San Diego, Seattle and Toronto are among teams to announce expanded netting this year.

By the end of last season, Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, the New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Texas and Washington had netting that reached the far ends of the dugouts.

A's send Opening Day starter down to Triple-A

A's send Opening Day starter down to Triple-A

The A's optioned Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville Thursday, along with fellow RHP Chris Bassit. In a corresponding move, newly acquired RHP Wilmer Font was activated to the 25-man roster.

Graveman struggled mightily in his six starts this season, going 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA. His five losses lead the major leagues, as do his 28 runs and 41 hits allowed.

The 27-year-old earned his first quality start of the season Wednesday night at Texas, allowing three runs in six innings, but still took the loss. Last season, Graveman went 6-4 with a 4.19 ERA in 19 starts.

Bassitt was recalled from Nashville last Friday, but did not appear in a game with the A's. The 29-year-old is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in three relief appearances with Nashville this season.

Font was acquired from the Dodgers Wednesday for LHP Logan Salow. The 27-year-old went 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA in six relief appearances with Los Angeles.

Re-examining A's Doolittle-Madson trade with Nationals

sean-jesus-us.jpg
USATSI

Re-examining A's Doolittle-Madson trade with Nationals

Last July, the A's traded veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals. Oakland fans were understandably disappointed to see them go, but the A's received some excellent young talent in return, acquiring RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Jesus Luzardo, and infielder Sheldon Neuse.

While it is far too early to determine which team “won” the trade, we can at least begin to evaluate the players Oakland added.

Blake Treinen

At the age of 29, Treinen has shown he has what it takes to be an effective Major League closer. Since joining the A's, Treinen has appeared in 43 games, allowing just 11 earned runs in 50 innings for an ERA of 1.98. He has converted 16 of his 21 save opportunities.

Treinen immediately helped fill the bullpen void left by the departures of Doolittle and Madson. His four-seam fastball and sinker consistently register in the high 90s, and his slider has baffled hitters this season.

Treinen has all-star closer stuff, and he is a bargain financially, making $2.15 million this season. He won't be an unrestricted free agent until 2021, so the A's appear to have their closer for the next few years.

Jesus Luzardo

Luzardo could be the biggest prize in the entire trade. A third-round draft pick out of high school in 2016, the 6-1 left-hander is still just 20 years old and already in Double-A, a rare feat.

Luzardo dominated at High-A Stockton this season, striking out 25 batters in 14 2/3 innings, while allowing just two runs on six hits. He was promoted to Double-A Midland earlier this week, giving up two runs in five innings in his debut, and striking out five.

MLB Pipeline ranks Luzardo as the A's second best prospect, and the eighth best LHP prospect in all of baseball

Luzardo's fastball clocks in the high 90s, and he has an above average breaking ball and changeup. He got his first taste of the big leagues in Spring Training, pitching six scoreless innings and striking out six, including two-time MVP Mike Trout. Luzardo is definitely on the fast track to the big leagues.

Sheldon Neuse

Neuse (pronounced 'noisy') has primarily played third base, but can also play shortstop, second base, and even first base if needed. The 23-year-old starred at the University of Oklahoma and was selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

A right-handed hitter, Neuse is off to a slow start this season at Triple-A Nashville, batting just .153 through 18 games. But he has shown tremendous ability in previous seasons. In 22 games with High-A Stockton last year, Neuse hit .386 with seven home runs and 22 RBI. He was promoted to Double-A Midland, where he batted .373 in 18 games.

Like Luzardo, Neuse joined the A's for Spring Training, batting an impressive .310 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 58 at-bats. MLB Pipeline ranks him as Oakland's 11th best prospect.

Analysis

Again, it is way too early to declare either team the winner of this trade. Doolittle, 31, and Madson, 37, have both pitched well for the Nationals, helping to shore up their struggling bullpen.

But A's fans have to be excited about the players they added, especially Luzardo. If the talented southpaw reaches his full potential, this could wind up being a steal for Oakland. For now, we'll call it a win-win, as both teams got what they needed out of the deal.