Athletics

A's Lineup: Crisp still out

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A's Lineup: Crisp still out

OAKLAND -- The A's return home after a 4-2 road trip through the American League East. They now begin a 10-game homestand against the Rays. Derek Norris has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for new catcher George Kottaras who as acquired via trade on Sunday.
Oakland Athletics (55-46) lineupJemile Weeks, 2B
Jonny Gomes, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, CF
Chris Carter, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Seth Smith, LF
Brandon Hicks, SS
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp is getting another day off to rest his sore hamstring. He will get some work in on the field prior to the game. Jemile Weeks will be leading off in place of Crisp as usual. The A's are facing their sixth left-handed pitcher in seven games. Top of the OrderJonny Gomes is batting second and is the designated hitter. Gomes has had success against Rays starting pitcher David Price -- going 3 for 6 with a double in his career against him. Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick is in the lineup and in right field for a second consecutive day after being forced to miss Saturday's game for precautionary measures after colliding with the outfield wall in Baltimore. Reddick has been the A's most consistent performer and the team has been fortunate to have him healthy all season. Since the All-Star Break Yoenis Cespedes is leading MLB with a 1.272 OPS. He is tied for the MLB lead with 18 RBIs, and his .443 batting average since the break is second best in all of baseball.Bottom of the OrderKurt Suzuki gets a major confidence boost having outlasted what looked like the end of his time with the A's. When Oakland called up rookie catcher Derek Norris on June 21 and gave him more playing time than the veteran catcher, it looked like he was slowly being pushed out the door. Now Norris is in Triple-A and Suzuki appears to be here to stay -- at least for now. Suzuki has been pretty consistent in the power department every year but he has just one home run this season. Maybe his stats will level out soon. Starting PitchersThe A's head back home to open up a 10-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays, and Angels. A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.25 ERA) gets the ball in the first game. He has gone six innings in all six of his Major League starts. The rookie starting pitcher has yet to allow more than three earned runs.The A's will face yet another left-handed pitcher on Monday, and one of the best in the game, Rays starting pitcher David Price (14-4, 2.57 ERA).He has won his last three starts and last six decisions, and hasn't lost a game since June 13. Price beat the A's on May 4, tossing eight innings of one-run ball and striking out 12.

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.