Athletics

A's can't solve Noesi, shut out in Seattle 4-0

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A's can't solve Noesi, shut out in Seattle 4-0

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE (AP) -- Jesus Montero finally made the splash Seattle's been waiting for with a solo home run and a two-run double, Hector Noesi threw eight shutout innings, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Saturday night.

The two centerpieces Seattle received in its major offseason trade with the New York Yankees shined together on the same night. Montero showed off his power with a line-drive homer in the second inning and later his ability to go to opposite fields by lining a two-out double just inside the right-field line to give Seattle a 4-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Noesi (1-1) was brilliant on the mound, rebounding from a rough first start for Seattle. Noesi gave up five hits, struck out six and picked up his first major league victory as a starter.

Oakland's Tommy Milone (1-1) took a one-hitter into the sixth inning before Seattle scored three times to break the game open.

There was plenty of expectation when Seattle gave up All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda to get Montero and try to help its staggering offense. The goal by bringing in the young slugger was finding a bat that could provide the pop Seattle's offense has missed but would remain under the team's control for a number of years.

Montero's power had not shown up through the first eight games, but its display on Saturday was impressive. Montero lined a 3-2 pitch 415-feet over the wall in center field. It was his first extra-base hit in a Mariners uniform and was greeted by a standing ovation from the appreciative home crowd.

But that was it for Seattle's offense until the sixth. Seattle got its first hit since Montero's homer when Brendan Ryan lined a single into center with one out in the sixth. Ryan then got gutsy and made it to third on Chone Figgins' single to left-center with Figgins going to second on the throw. Dustin Ackley then walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Ichiro Suzuki, but Seattle's new No. 3 hitter weakly popped out to short for the second out.

Justin Smoak walked when Milone was wide with a 3-2 pitch to force in Ryan. Montero then broke it open with an inside-out swing that dropped a liner down the right-field line and scored a pair. Smoak was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first.

Milone gave up four runs and four hits in six innings for the A's.

Although he was somewhat overlooked in the framework of the trade, Seattle's management was just as excited about bringing Noesi over from New York. He was knocked around in his first start for Seattle, giving up six hits and seven earned runs in just three innings against Texas. But back in a more pitcher-friendly park, Noesi flustered the A's and induced popups and fly outs most of the night. Of the 24 outs Noesi recorded, nine popups were caught by infielders and another five fly balls caught by outfielders.

Noesi scattered hits to Daric Barton, Josh Reddick and a pair to Cliff Pennington. He ran into trouble with two outs in the eighth when Pennington's second hit was followed by Jemile Weeks' ground-rule double to deep center. Despite being at 104 pitches, Noesi stayed in and got Coco Crisp to pop out to end the inning.

Notes: Seattle LHP George Sherrill has not received MRI results on his sore left elbow but said it started bothering him after the Mariners returned from Japan. Sherrill was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a strained flexor bundle. ... A's manager Bob Melvin said he would announce Oakland's No. 5 starter on Sunday. Because of schedules, the A's have not needed a fifth starter until Tuesday's game at the Angels.

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

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AP

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.’”

Ouch.

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?

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USATSI

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.