Athletics

Kansas City-A's: What to watch for

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Kansas City-A's: What to watch for

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Comcast SportsNet California has you covered on tonight's game between the Royals and A's. Watch A's Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m., the Royals and A's at 7 p.m. and A's Postgame Live immediately following the action.

OAKLAND -- The A's are coming off their first 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals in Oakland since their World Championship season in 1989.

Barring rough weather, they'll call on their fourth starter for the first time this season as Royals manager Ned Yost and A's manager Bob Melvin will try to steer their clubs -- two of the four youngest teams in the majors -- to a victory.
New chapter in A's pitching: Prior to Monday's game, the A's previous three 1-0 wins were all authored by Gio Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was shipped this offseason to Washington, who offered up catcher Derek Norris and pitchers A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock and Tommy Milone in return.

Milone, making his first career start in Green and Gold, assuaged the sting of Gonzalez's loss immediately.
RELATED: Milone's gem -- digging deeper

Meanwhile, Gio got rocked in his inaugural start for the Nationals. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.

Rain: Gear up for a slick day at the yard. As of noon, it's raining all over the Bay Area. Weather.com forecasts a break in the showers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. But there's an 80 chance of precipitation starting at 5 p.m., and rain appears in the forecast every hour going forward to Wednesday at 9 p.m.History is on baseball's side, though; there hasn't been a rain-out at Oakland Coliseum this millennium. It happened last on May 5, 1998, when the A's game against the Tigers had to be rescheduled. The last rain-shortened game in Oakland was in 2005, when the A's were robbed of a chance to come back from a 16-7 ninth-inning deficit to the Rangers.Young arms: With the A's re-tooling in youth this offseason, you would expect them to have one of the youngest staffs in the league. But it's the 2012 Royals who possess the youngest pitching roster in the majors with an average age of 27 years and 12 days. Tuesday's starter is doing his part to bring the average down; California coast native Danny Duffy is just 23 years old. Last season, at 22, he made 20 starts for the Royals, going 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA.The promising young lefty is comfortable close to home. Two of his four wins came against the A's in Oakland, including his first major league victory at the Coliseum last June. He gave up five runs in 12 1-3 innings against the A's last year."It's cool to pitch there," he told the Royals' official website. "I've pitched well there and it's going to be nice to pitch in front of my family again. I can't wait."The A's Graham Godfrey -- years older at 27, despite just four major league starts -- is preparing for his first start of the season, and looking to justify manager Bob Melvin's designation as the fourth man in the rotation.Extra bases: The fact that Yoenis Cespedes has four hits in his first five MLB games is not impressive; the fact that three of those four hits left the yard, and the fourth was a double, is. Cespedes is the first player since 1969 to record an extra-base hit in each of his first four career games (Coco Laboy).The Royals have a young star-in-the-making of their own in Eric Hosmer. The six-foot-four, 22-year old first baseman also has four hits this year, and two of them have been big flies.Hosmer and Cespedes were silenced in the A's 1-0 win over the Royals Monday. Hosmer went 0-for-2 with two walks, while Cespdedes went 0-for-3 with one walk.
RECAP: A's beat Royal 1-0 behind Milone, strong defense
You can't keep players like these out of the box scores for long. A key to Game 2 of the three-game home series will be who wins the Hosmer vs. Cespedes battle.Rested: After 8 2-3 innings of bullpen work in the short series with Seattle, A's relievers are now on two days rest. A team day off Sunday, and Tommy Milone's eight innings of three-hit ball Monday gave confidence to Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young that they have a freshly stocked 'pen, all the more important with rain expected.A's closer Grant Balfour, the only other pitcher to toss Monday, has appeared in each of the A's past two games, throwing 16 and 18 pitches.Opportunistic schedule: With division-rival Angels out of action Tuesday, and the Rangers matched up with the Mariners, the A's would gain ground on two division opponents with a win.Bacon Tuesday returns: Last year, Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur made fans in the Oakland bleachers when interaction surrounding the unofficial "Bacon Tuesday" led to a gift for bleacher-dwellers -- an autographed baseball specially fitted with a 100 bill and a personal message.REWIND: Francoeur makes fans in Oakland bleachers
"Beer or bacon dog on me. Jeff Francoeur."The right-field bleacher group told CSNBayArea.com in January they plan to use the money to fund the second annual "Bacon Tuesday."
That day has finally come.

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.