Athletics

Help is on the way for A's offense

774270.jpg

Help is on the way for A's offense

The A's suffered their eighth shutout loss of the season Sunday as they were swept by the Yankees. They are currently suffering through a season-high five-game losing streak. When will the suffering end? Perhaps soon. It is no secret the A's biggest problem is their offense. They have scored an American League-worst 158 runs. After Sunday's 2-0 defeat, their ninth-straight loss to the Yankees, a welcomed face appeared in the clubhouse -- former All-Star third baseman Brandon Inge.
RECAP: Pratt's Instant Replay -- Yankees 2, A's 0
Inge will be activated by the A's on Monday. He is fresh off a two-game rehab stint with the Sacramento River Cats in which he went 6 for 7, with two homers, and eight RBIs. Hopefully for Oakland he packed his bats. "It's not like I'm a savior or anything like that," Inge said while laughing. "I'm about a career .220 hitter, I'm not giving anyone tips, they need to have fun and relax. Hitting is hard enough as it is." Inge will be the first of three A's hitters to return on their upcoming road trip. He will be followed by Manny Ramirez, who is eligible to return from his 50-game drug suspension on May 30 -- which is coincidentally his 40th birthday. And according to Manager Bob Melvin, Yoenis Cespedes could return June 1."It's always a plus when you get guys of their caliber to come back and join your ballclub," Coco Crisp said. "I believe everybody from inside the clubhouse, to the fans are looking forward to Manny being Manny, Cespedes coming back, and definitely Inge. He did a fantastic job when he was here."Previously Melvin said he would take a wait-and-see approach on Manny Ramirez's return. But based on the A's recent struggles, he is likely licking his chops at the thought of how Ramirez -- who has 555 career home runs -- might impact the lineup. "We'd like to see the at-bats get better, we'd like to see him drive some balls," Melvin said. "We had targeted that date for a reason, but based on the fact we aren't swinging the bats in the fashion that we would like, maybe that expedites a little bit." On Monday in Sacramento, A's fans will get a sneak peak at what the heart of the lineup could soon look like. Yoenis Cespedes, who took batting batting practice with the team on Saturday and Sunday, is going to be in the River Cats lineup. Batting beside him will likely be Manny Ramirez. According to Melvin, Cespedes will play three games for the River Cats. If all goes according to plan, the team will use their off-day on May 31 to give Cespedes time to travel from Sacramento to Kansas City.
The big question is if the team will give Ramirez some extra at-bats in Sacramento, and have he and Cespedes travel together. It all depends on how desperate they feel offensively. Even a rusty Ramirez should help."His veteran presence in the lineup is going to make us more intimidating," Coco Crisp said. "He is one of the hardest workers I have ever played with." Aside from the injured players that are soon to return, the A's hitters are pressing at the plate. How else do you explain Sunday's eight-inning, four-hit shutout at the hands of Hiroki Kuroda?"I think we are beyond pressing at this point," Melvin said. "We've got to relax. We are trying too hard we've got to try easier.""Each guy is trying to hit a five-run home run, which is impossible," Inge said. "The more you press the worse you get, they got to go out there and have fun."What could be more fun than adding a guy with first-ballot Hall of Fame numbers, a guy that was on pace to win the Rookie of the Year award when he got hurt, and an all-star third baseman that had four homers and 16 RBIs in his first 11 games with the team? Yeah, the A's likely don't have to look too far for solutions. Help is on the way.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

williams-matt-ap.jpg
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.

A's Media Services 

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

khrisdavis-healy-ap.jpg
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.