Athletics

A's lineup: Crisp out, Drew leading off, Reddick moved up

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A's lineup: Crisp out, Drew leading off, Reddick moved up

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's-Indians starts at 4:00 on CSN California, with A's Postgame Live immediately after the final out!

The Oakland A's are a season-high 13 games over .500. They are on a three-game winning streak and have won eight of their last 10 games. Entering Tuesday they are tied for the top Wild Card spot in the American League. The Indians have lost 11 of their last 12 games. Oakland needs to capitalize on the Tribe's recent turmoil.

Oakland Athletics (70-57) lineup:
1. Stephen Drew (L) SS
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Yoenis Cespedes (R) CF
4. Seth Smith (L) DH
5. Chris Carter (R) 1B
6. Brandon Moss (L) LF
7. Josh Donaldson (R) 3B
8. Derek Norris (R) C
9. Adam Rosales (R) 2B

Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp is out of the lineup. This is likely what they call a "maintenance day" in hockey. Crisp has played in all but one of the team's games in August so he may be a little banged up. With Crisp out of the lineup, Stephen Drew is batting first and Josh Reddick moves up to the the second spot in the order. Top of the OrderDrew actually led off in 16 games for the Diamondbacks this season. He hit .156 at the top of the order. In a larger sample size, Drew is a .280 career hitter in 212 games while leading off. Reddick had gone 5 for 8 with a homer since moving down to sixth in the lineup. He clearly benefitted from hitting in a lower pressure spot in the order. The A's will have to hope he stays in the swing of things batting in an unusual place. Reddick has never hit second for the A's. He had 14 at-bats in that spot for the Red Sox. Heart of the OrderSeth Smith is batting in the cleanup spot for the third straight game. He is hitting .313 (5 for 16) with a homer and two RBIs in five games since returning from the disabled list. Chris Carter's power numbers have dropped a bit in August. He has a .444 slugging percentage and three homers this month. In July his slugging percentage was .576 and he hit six home runs. He may have altered his approach at the plate a little. Check out this information on Carter from Bloomberg Sports:
Bottom of the OrderJosh Donaldson went 3 for 3 off Indians' starting pitcher Zach McAllister 11 days ago in Oakland. He is hitting .358 (17 for 48) since being recalled on August 14. Five of his seven RBIs since returning have either given the A's the lead or tied the game. Starting PitchersThe A's will send Tommy Milone (10-9, 3.87 ERA) to the mound in the second game of the road series against the Indians. It will be Milone's 25th start of the season. The rookie lefty snapped a career-worst three-game losing streak with a win on Wednesday with eight innings of one-run ball. McAllister (5-4, 3.50 ERA) will be on the mound for Cleveland. McAllister allowed four runs over six innings of work on August 17 at Oakland. The A's won the game 6-4.

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.