Athletics

A's Digital Mailbag: Flip Reddick and Cespedes?

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A's Digital Mailbag: Flip Reddick and Cespedes?

The A's are 23-9 since July 1 which is the best record in Major League Baseball over that span, and firmly planted in the American League playoff picture. Time to open up the A's Digital Mailbag. TWITTER:@caseyprattcsn Who is the Athletics biggest threat(s) in the AL wild card race? Aaron T (@aaron_1981) August 10, 2012CP: The A's biggest threat in the Wild Card race could be the Rangers. Allow me to explain. With the Wild Card winners being awarded a one-game playoff, the A's could be put in a tough spot. If they are opposed by the Angels, they will have to face Jered Weaver with everything on the line. If Detroit makes it, then they could be facing Justin Verlander in a win or go home scenario. The A's surely have their sights firmly planted on Texas. If they gun for the American League West crown and fall just short then they can worry about the Wild Card. I also think the Orioles will fall off. They are the only team in the hunt with a negative run differential (-57).@caseyprattcsn Hey dude, are the Athletics still looking for a SS? Or do you think they are content now? Donny (@donnyc99) August 10, 2012CP: Getting a healthy Cliff Pennington back is a boost. He says his left elbow feels 1,000 times better. He didn't want to make excuses for his struggles, and he doesn't have to if he can go out there and perform. He drew two walks and scored a run in his return to the lineup. A's manager Bob Melvin will likely use Pennington and Adam Rosales in a shortstop platoon. Pennington is hitting .213 against right-handed pitching and .152 against left-handed pitching. That might minimize some of the struggles at the position. Pennington was better than most gave him credit for last season. He had achieved career-highs in hits (136) homers (8), and RBIs (58). He also ranked fifth in the A.L. with a .348 batting average with runners in scoring position. That being said, if a shortstop slips through waivers the A's will definitely take a look. @caseyprattcsn on our road trip what do you predict A's our record? Also if we sweep the white sox is Melvin locked for manager of the year? Panda Yeung (@TYeung153) August 10, 2012CP: I hate making these predictions. Here it goes: I am going with 4-2. Whether the A's sweep the White Sox or not, Bob Melvin should be a lock for American League manager of the year. No one had the A's pegged as contenders and here they are surprising every expert in baseball. That has a lot to do with Melvin. He is a very skilled communicator and leader. He has a lot to do with the way this team is playing. @caseyprattcsn Who do you envision as the Athletics starting 5 once everyone is healthy? PrattATatTat LetsGoOakland AJ Jones (@justplainaj) August 10, 2012CP: It could be a starting six. And it could be determined on what you mean when you say "everybody." Dallas Braden probably won't factor into the team's 2012 rotation. Of the guys currently available -- or close to ready -- here is how I see the rotation shaping up. Five-man (everyone healthy): Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker. Six-man (everyone healthy): Add A.J. Griffin or Dan Straily, use Travis Blackley as a long reliever or spot starter. Remember this is the A's we are talking about, so it is doubtful everyone will ever be healthy at once. That is why depth is important. @caseyprattcsn are we going with a 6-man rotation now? v (@foursixthreeDP) August 10, 2012CP: The A's aren't admitting to going this route. It could be a beneficial course of action though. Brandon McCarthy benefits greatly from extra rest. Plus, the A's could limit the innings of rookie pitchers Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone this way. They have the talent to do it. @caseyprattcsn how close is Braden to returning? M V (@mvaccaro13) August 10, 2012CP: He has been throwing bullpens and mixing in all of his pitches lately, which is usually a sign that he is getting closer. Then he had a minor setback suffering a groin strain. Based on how deep the A's pitching staff is, the team will take their time with him. Once he gets back on the mound and throws some more bullpens without issue he could head to Arizona to pitch in simulated games. I just don't see him factoring into the A's starting rotation this season. @caseyprattcsn I agree with what you said to Townie on the show about keeping Cook as closer, but if you could choose someone else, who? Shay Lennon (@RealShayL) August 10, 2012CP: It is still Ryan Cook's job to lose. Bob Melvin says he isn't seeing anything fundamentally wrong with Cook on the mound so they are going to be patient. If he does lose the job, and I had to choose his replacement, (something they would never, ever consult me on) I'd probably go back to Grant Balfour. He has been pitching very well lately. He just recently had a 13-game scoreless streak snapped, and he ranks sixth in the A.L. with a .173 opponents batting average.E-MAIL:Hey Casey,
Do you think the As have lost chemistry since the Kurt Suzuki trade. Feels like it.
-MKCP: The day the A's traded Kurt Suzuki there were some sad faces in the clubhouse. The players were definitely not happy, but they said they would react similarly to anyone getting moved. Suzuki meant a lot to those guys, as a leader, mentor, and friend. That being said, most of them recognize that Suzuki got put in a great situation in Washington where he can play everyday. The team did what was best for him. The A's also believed it was Derek Norris' time. He has done a good job with the pitching staff and got to learn a lot from Suzuki. The A's have won 17 of the 25 games Norris has started. In July they won 13 of the 14 games he started. Baseball is a tough business and all of the guys know that. This move might have been a mutually beneficial one though. The clubhouse chemistry is still intact. Hi Casey,
Big A's fan here.I'd like to advocate flip-flopping Reddick and Cespedes in the batting order. Simply put, Reddick is not getting the job done with runners on base.Reddick is killing our rallies and I would like to see Cespedes bat 3rd now, Reddick 4th and Carter 5th.Your thoughts?- Jason L.CP: Saving the best for last. This is an interesting idea. There's no question both of these guys have been great for the A's this season. Would a flip in the order work? Reddick is batting .301 with 14 homers and 29 RBIs with two outs. His 14 two-out home runs lead Major League Baseball. He is only batting .167 with runners in scoring position though. Nine of Yoenis Cespedes' homers have come with runners on base. He is hitting .362 with runners in scoring position.Based on the stats I'd leave them where they are. The thought being that if anyone gets on base in the first, Cespedes then steps to the plate with a runner or runners on. Reddick batting fourth means he would actually bat more with runners on. His stats with RISP aren't good. Cespedes is hitting .402 since the All-Star Break and has a .468 on-base percentage since the break which is second bast in all of baseball. Would you really want him batting behind Cespedes? I'd rather see Cespedes batting with Reddick on, than the other way around.

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.