Athletics

A's lineup: Still no Cespedes, Moss could stay hot

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A's lineup: Still no Cespedes, Moss could stay hot

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's-Dodgers coverage gets underway tonight at 6:30 p.m on CSN California with A's Pregame Live, then A's baseball is up next at 7 p.m. from Oakland, followed by A's Postgame Live.
Oakland Athletics (31-36) lineupCrisp CF
Weeks 2B
Reddick RF
Smith LF
Inge 3B
Moss 1B
Gomes DH
Suzuki C
Pennington SSPHOTO GALLERY: A's-Dodgers -- What to watch for
Instant AnalysisYoenis Cespedes is not in the A's starting lineup tonight. It is good to see the A's aren't attempting to rush him back this time. His last appearance came on June 13, when he had one at-bat before re-aggravating his strained left hamstring. He could start as the designated hitter some time during the Dodgers series. Without Cespedes in the lineup, Seth Smith gets to stay in the outfield. Smith hits much better when he isn't DH. As an outfielder he is batting .340 (33-97) with all seven of his home runs. As DH he is hitting just .178 (13-73).
RELATED: A's-Dodgers stat pack
The A's have never faced Dodgers starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who pitched for Oakland in 2002 and 2003. Top of the OrderCoco Crisp remains in the leadoff spot with Jemile Weeks batting second. Since moving back to the top of the order on June 14, Crisp has hit .411 (7-17). Weeks is batting .182 since being moved to the second spot in the order. Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick is batting third. Strangely, he actually plays better without Cespedes in the lineup. Reddick is batting .276 with 10 homers, 20 RBIs, and a .982 OPS in 30 games without Cespedes providing lineup protection. With Cespedes in the lineup, Reddick is hitting .255, with five homers, 13 RBIs, and a .744 OPS in 35 games. The reigning American League player of the week Brandon Moss has a .600 (3 for 5) career average against Tuesday's starting pitcher Aaron Harang. Bottom of the OrderJonny Gomes is heating up with the summer temperature. In June, he is batting .428 (7 for 16) with two homers, and four RBIs.

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.