Athletics

Giants vs. A's: Who has the advantage?

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Giants vs. A's: Who has the advantage?

Programming note: Giants-A's coverage begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California!

The second leg of the Battle of the Bay series begins Friday at the Coliseum. The Giants took the first series in decisive fashion -- winning two of three. Those games were played in San Francisco. The A's hold the all-time series lead 46-43.Home FieldIn Oakland, the A's will have the home field advantage. The Giants haven't won in the East Bay since June 24, 2009. The A's will be looking for their seventh-straight win over SF on their turf. Advantage: A'sMomentumThe Giants have lost their last two games, and have won four of their last 10. The A's are on a three-game winning streak, having just swept the NL-best Dodgers. They have won eight of their last 10 games. The Giants were off on Thursday, while the A's beat the Dodgers on a day in which reigning NL Cy Young Clayton Kershaw started -- winning the game on a three-run walkoff homer by Yoenis Cespedes. The Giants have rest on their side, but the A's have the momentum. Advantage: A'sOffenseThe East Bay leg of this series brings the designated hitter into play. It is also worth noting that neither team had their top weapons available in the previous series. Pablo Sandoval missed the prior battle while recovering from hand surgery, and Cespedes had a hand injury as well. When these teams last met in SF, Melky Cabrera torched the A's -- going 8 for 11 with a double. The DH also lets the Giants keep Buster Posey in the lineup. The A's didn't have either of their Brandons -- Inge or Moss -- in the last meeting. Moss has clubbed seven home runs since joining the A's. That is more than every Giants first baseman has combined. Advantage: EVENTim Lincecum (2-8, 6.19 ERA) vs. Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82 ERA) Lincecum is in a freakish funk right now. He has allowed 14 runs in his last 16 innings pitched. He was also defeated by the A's in their previous meeting. Prior to that start, he had a 1.38 ERA against Oakland, and was 5-1, with three complete games -- two of which were shutouts. Parker is pitching on extra rest and coming off a start at hitter-friendly Coors Field, where he threw seven shutout innings. The young righty has a little extra motivation against the Giants -- who rocked him for six runs and knocked him out in the third inning on May 18. Parker has allowed two runs or less in all but two of his starts. He was pitching with the flu on that day. He'll be looking to prove that outing was a fluke. Advantage: ParkerMadison Bumgarner (8-4, 2.92 ERA) vs. Tyson Ross (2-6, 6.11 ERA) Bumgarner, 22 is becoming one of the games toughest left-handed pitchers. The A's will have their work cut out against him on Saturday. The A's have never faced him before. Coincidentally Bumgarner was born in 1989, the year the A's and Giants met in the World Series. Ross, 25, was three during that World Series. He grew up on 66th Street in Oakland, and is familiar with the A's and Giants rivalry. He has been ping-ponging back and forth between the Major Leagues and Triple-A this season. He faced the Giants in SF on May 19, he lost the game but threw six innings, and allowed two runs. The A's didn't score in that game. Advantage: BumgarnerMatt Cain (9-2, 2.34 ERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 2.54) This match up is the toughest to call. Sure, Cain is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in the game today -- he did just throw a perfect game after all -- but McCarthy is on fire lately. Cain is coming off an uncharacteristically mediocre start against the Angels, giving up three runs, six hits, and three walks in just five innings. McCarthy is on a career-best six-game win streak. The reason I am giving Cain the edge here is because he is "the horse." The Giants will ride Cain well over 100 pitches, while McCarthy will be on a strict pitch count. He will likely be held to 90 or fewer pitches after experiencing shoulder issues over the last month. Advantage: CainWho has the series advantage? You make the call

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.