Athletics

A's lineup: Crisp returns

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A's lineup: Crisp returns

The Oakland Athletics have won their last six games against the Indians, and have shut them out in their last three contests. The A's are now a season-high 14 games over .500, with two more games remaining against Cleveland before heading home to the Coliseum. Oakland Athletics (71-57) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Stephen Drew, SS
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Seth Smith, DH
Chris Carter, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Derek Norris, C
Cliff Pennington, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp returns to the lineup after a day off to rest and help heal a sore foot. The immediate impact is a return to the sixth spot in the batting order for Josh Reddick. He went 5 for 8 with a homer in two games while batting sixth and it was a surprise to see him batting second for the first time this season on Tuesday. While batting second, Reddick popped out with the bases loaded in the second inning. He is hitting just .185 with runners in scoring position this season, the only blemish in an otherwise fantastic year. The sixth spot in the lineup might be a good place for him to hit even when he turns it around. Seth Smith is the designated hitter yet again. It appears the A's still don't want him in the outfield after straining his left hamstring. Since returning from the DL on August 21 all six of his starts have been as the DH. Smith has struggled all season offensively when not playing in the outfield, but seems to be overcoming the challenge lately. He is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with six runs, a double, a homer, and two RBIs since coming off the DL. Top of the OrderCrisp has become one of the most important players in the A's lineup. He is experiencing improvement across the board in 2012, even after getting off to a very slow start. He attributes his success to a modified batting stance and moving back to center field. He is apparently also killing sliders this year. Here are few statistical breakdowns on Crisp, courtesy of Bloomberg Sports.

Heart of the OrderYoenis Cespedes has been menacing pitchers all season. He is struggling on this road trip though, batting .143 with no walks and five strikeouts. Even with the recent dip in offense, he is hitting .333 since the All-Star Break, which is the eighth best average in the American League in that span.The reason Cespedes has been so successful this season is because he has found ways to quickly adjust on the fly. Pitchers have tried to exploit his perceived weaknesses many different ways this year only to see him modify his approach at the plate. Early this year pitchers tried to fool him on breaking pitches -- it didn't work. Then they tried pitching him outside -- he started going opposite field. Lately he is crushing change-ups.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Cespedes was 1 for 2 with a home run last time he faced Indians' pitcher Corey Kluber.
Bottom of the OrderDerek Norris is batting .197 with five doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBIs since returning to the A's on August 3. Norris is a rookie with a lot of responsibility behind the plate, so the A's aren't going to worry about his offense too much. That being said, he has been more productive than Kurt Suzuki offensively.
(Courtesy Bloomberg Sports)Norris has a lot to work on. Opponents have been able to successfully steal in 21 of 26 (80.8 ) attempts against him. The young catcher is calling a good game though, as A's pitchers have a 3.02 ERA with him behind the plate. Starting PitchersThe A's will dip into their pitching depth and start Travis Blackley (4-3, 3.52 ERA) on Wednesday. It will be his 19th appearance and 12th start this year. The Australian-born lefty is 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts. The Indians will counter with Kluber (0-2, 5.32 ERA). The right-handed pitcher allowed one run against the Yankees over five innings in his last start.

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.