Athletics

A's look to keep champagne out of visiting clubhouse

798796.jpg

A's look to keep champagne out of visiting clubhouse

OAKLAND -- The champagne that was sprayed with unbridled elation is dried and sticky. The plastic sheets that acted as a clubhouse splashguard have been wadded into a huge ball and hauled away. The cigar butts that littered the floor are now swept out and disposed of. Today is a new day, and the 2012 Oakland Athletics live their lives one game at a time.

As a result, it's time for them to hide their grey American League Playoffs shirts and hats, stow away the goggles, and file away the memories of Monday night in order to focus on staying alive in the division. "We've got one thing on our mind," Jonny Gomes said. "And this is definitely a stepping stone to what we are trying to do." Sure, the Wild Card is a nice ace up their sleeve, a guaranteed spot in the postseason, but it isn't the most desirable route. If the A's can keep defying the odds and win their next two games against the division-leading Rangers they will be the American League West champions and will be assured at least a full series."We're still shooting for something," Reddick said. "We still got a lot of work to do."
RATTO: A's celebrate before it's back to business
The A's took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate -- and it was a pretty wild one for a while. As they let loose they acknowledged that it could be a small taste of what could be ahead if they handle their business the next two days. The champagne is much more effervescent when it is division-winning bubbly. If they lose just one game, it will be the Rangers that get to party like animals instead. The A's will be sending Travis Blackley to the mound on Tuesday. The Australian lefty enjoyed the celebration but had a more stern look on his face while his teammates partied around him. He has been struggling mightily lately. Last Thursday he gave up five runs against the Rangers and didn't make it to the second inning. He is 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts against Texas this year. It would appear the odds are against the A's on Tuesday, but when hasn't the deck been stacked against them this season? They have lost veterans Brandon Inge, Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Brett Anderson -- and they keep on winning. It seems surprising, but it makes sense when you look at the big picture. The A's aren't a team stacked with All-Stars. They get contributions from every player on the roster and don't lean on one player to carry the team.
PRATT: This is better than Moneyball
"We've got a great group," Brandon Moss said. "There's not a single guy in this clubhouse that hasn't contributed to something."While all the remnants of Monday night's celebration may have been disposed of, the A's know there's plenty more where that came from. The big question is if they can keep it out of the visiting clubhouse.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

marcell-ozuna-marlins-ap.jpg
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?

khris-davis-funnylook-usatsi.jpg
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.