Athletics

Drew's all-over-the-place effort sparks A's

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Drew's all-over-the-place effort sparks A's

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OAKLAND -- On a night that Major League Baseball's 500,000th error was committed, the A's defense dazzled at the Oakland Coliseum. After making an American League-worst 124 errors in 2011, the A's made it their priority to focus on their glove work going forward and the leather was on full display on Saturday as they again held the Orioles to just two runs to win the game 5-2.Stephen Drew's all-over-the-place effort led the way. He snared a liner that saved a hit, made a highlight reel glove flip on a play ranging up the middle, ranged deep into foul territory to make a catch, and was the relay man in possibly the most pivotal play of the game. "I just told him 'You had a busy night, huh?'" starting pitcher Jarrod Parker said of Drew. "He's running the left field line, up the middle, everywhere. That's what's fun to watch and he's able to make some great plays and it really helps out mentally for me."As the media assembled around Drew for his postgame comments, reliever Ryan Cook walked by and proclaimed in a joking fashion that Drew is the best shortstop ever. On this night he sure looked the part."I like getting action out there instead of sitting back on my hill," Drew said. Oh, and he hit a home run too. Drew really did do it all on this evening. His second home run with the A's put Oakland on the board in the third inning. It sparked a five-run rally that saw 10 batters step to the plate."It's been fun being here," Drew said. "It's kind of crazy how this team works sometimes."The five-run rally featured RBI singles from Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes and a two-run opposite field double down the right field line hit by Chris Carter. On Carter's double Cespedes got a great jump and was running so fast that he almost passed Reddick on the base paths. "Reddick runs pretty good but when Cespedes gets going full tilt he runs really well," Melvin said. "It was a big inning for us."After the A's big inning, the Orioles were answering with a rally of their own. Adam Jones led off with a single and Chris Davis clubbed a double to the wall in left field. As Jones rounded third and headed for for home, Cespedes got to the ball and came up throwing. He hit Drew with a perfectly-aimed throw and Drew turned and fired home to catcher Derek Norris, who caught the ball in perfect position to make the tag on Jones at the plate. The impressive defensive effort stopped the Orioles in their tracks and seemed to deflate them offensively. "You see that play not go right a lot," Melvin said. "Everything has to work on a play like that."Parker was the beneficiary of the A's stout defense and explosive inning, but he made his own luck with another solid pitching performance, earning his 11th win of the season. He lasted seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. He now has 119 strikeouts this season, which is fifth-most for a rookie in Oakland history. He fell behind 2-0 early in the game after allowing an RBI double to Mark Reynolds in the second inning and a solo homer to Nate McLouth in the third inning, but grounded the Orioles hitters after that. "Early on I was kind of battling myself a little bit and then I was able to get over that and just pitch a little better," Parker said. "They are an aggressive team and I got some early contact with some offspeed pitches and that helped out." The A's victory over the Orioles could come in handy later as it clinched the season series. If the A's and O's finish with the same record atop the Wild Card standings, the one-game Wild Card playoff game will now take place in Oakland. The A's are now a season-high 23 games over .500 and just two games behind the Rangers in the American League West after Texas lost 8-6 to the Mariners on Saturday. Oakland hasn't been this close to Texas in the standings since April 13.
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"We know that stuff is going on," Parker said. "We just want to win. That's all you can ask for. If we take care of our business then good things are going to happen."Oakland has won eight of the last nine games, and are 41-18 since the All-Star Break. They are keeping it all in perspective behind their even keel manager. "As long as we can try to remain in the moment not get too caught up in how things are going, what's being written, and where you are in the season, and just kind of play for the day and have all your energies in that, then I think it's easier to focus and stay calm," Melvin said.

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.