Leyland expects more from his offense, campaigns for Melvin


Leyland expects more from his offense, campaigns for Melvin

OAKLAND Considering his Tigers have a commanding 2-0 leadin the American League Division series against the As, it was surprising tohear Jim Leyland say before Tuesdays Game 3 that his team needs to hit betterto advance.Leyland brought up the fact that his Tigers have scored only one of their eightruns in the series by way of a hit. Their first run of Game 1 came on a groundball double play and a second run scored on an error by starting pitcher JarrodParker. Alex Avilas solo home run in the seventh inning Saturday was the lonerun-scoring hit Leyland referenced.
PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's lose close Game 1 in Detroit
The Tigers scored five runs in Game 2, none by way of thelegitimate hit. A groundout scored the first Detroit run and a Coco Crisp errorled to two more in the seventh. The game-tying run in the eighth came across ona Ryan Cook wild pitch and the game-winning run scored on a sacrifice fly.
PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's on verge of elimination
Its hard to believe that a lineup that boasts Triple Crown winner MiguelCabrera and Prince Fielder has had to manufacture runs and take advantage of acrucial error and wild pitch. Were going to have to do better than that if we want toclose this thing out at some point, whether it be tonight, tomorrow or the nextday, Leyland said. If were going to close it out, were going to have to hitbetter, to be honest with you.The Tigers are tasked with hitting better against As left-hander BrettAnderson, whose last start came in Detroit on Sept. 19. Leyland said he had noidea what the Tigers would be up against in a well-rested Anderson.I really dont know, Leyland said. You just really dont know what toexpect, to be honest with you.Leyland said he did know what to expect from the Asoverall, however.This As team is ready to play tonight, Leyland said. Theyre down twogames to none, but theyre ready to play; their mindset is good.Leyland said he was paying attention to the As surprising run to steal theAmerican League West title away from the Texas Rangers long before he knew hisTigers would be matched up against Oakland in a playoff series.The job theyve done all year has been remarkable, Leyland said. They won 94games. Theyve had the best record in baseball for a long, long period of timenow. Its an unbelievable job whats happened here with what Billy Beane andBob Melvin have done.At Mondays workout in Oakland, Leyland and Melvin traded compliments, but theTigers skipper took it a step further before Game 3.Not to put the cart before the horse, but I hope that Buck Showalter and BobMelvin are Co-Managers of the Year this year, Leyland said. I think thiswould be a year there should be two guys that get the award.The Coliseum has been in hibernation since it rocked for Game 162 against theTexas Rangers. When the As clubhouse opened Monday, many players said theyexpected the crowd to be a factor in their first postseason home game since2006, which unfortunately comes in Game 3 for the team with home-fieldadvantage due to the new playoff format.I guarantee if you ask the guys from Texas, theyll tell you its loud, JoshDonaldson said Monday. This place is going to be rowdy.The crowd is probably the key ingredient, Brandon Ingesaid. Who wants to play in front of nobody?The atmosphere was really good in Detroit, Cliff Pennington said. Imexcited to see what we have here.Jonny Gomes said the Coliseum will be rocking and rollingand Leyland agreed.I know its loud here; its very loud, Leyland said Tuesday. Theyre goingto be out in force tonight supporting their team, which they should be. Andthey should be very proud of this team, by the way. We know this is not goingto be easy to do. Its going to be very loud, very difficult. Were playing agreat team, one that has done a wonderful, wonderful job. But thats what we dofor a living. Were here, were supposed to be able to handle that kind ofstuff.One final baseball-ism from Mr. Leyland:Its baseball and you never know how its going to play out.The As are banking on it.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


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


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.