Athletics

A's lose 5-3 to drop series in Seattle

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A's lose 5-3 to drop series in Seattle

BOX SCORE
SEATTLE (AP) Brendan Ryan hit a two-run homer, Justin Smoak added a solo shot and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-3 on Sunday.Ryan's homer in the second inning was his first of the season. Seattle's starting shortstop hit three home runs last season, all of them coming on the road.Snapping streaks was the tone of the day. While Ryan hit his first homer before the home crowd, Smoak snapped a skid of 11 straight at-bats without a hit when he lined a solo homer to right field with two outs in the third off Graham Godfrey (0-2).Blake Beavan (1-1) threw seven strong innings. His only trouble came in the fifth when the first two batters reached and Eric Sogard followed with a three-run homer.The Mariners took two of three from the A's, thanks to the long ball and a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning that snapped a 3-all tie. Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances.Homers are expected to come off the bat of Smoak, who was one of the key pieces in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season. But Ryan might be the last person in Seattle's lineup expected to go deep.After fouling off three straight 2-2 pitches, Ryan hit a shot over the hand-operated scoreboard in left field. Ryan circled the bases so quickly there was barely a chance for the crowd to acknowledge the home run.And it was a two-strike pitch that Godfrey got beat on an inning later when Smoak lined a 3-2 pitch for his second homer of the season.While the home runs provided highlights, it was Seattle taking advantage of Oakland's defensive mistakes in the fifth that became the difference in the game.Chone Figgins walked with one out and Dustin Ackley followed with a chopper to second. Instead of making a pivot and overhand throw, Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks tried to make a back-handed flip and was well wide of the bag. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double off the wall in right for a 4-3 lead and Smoak got himself another RBI when his tapper back to the mound was initially bobbled by Godfrey, allowing Ackley to score from third without a play at the plate.That was plenty for Beavan, who struck out four and didn't walk a batter. His only problem was one stretch of three batters in the top of the fifth. Kai Ka'aihue led off with a single and Anthony Recker's jersey was brushed by Beavan's inside pitch, putting two runners on with no outs. Sogard, who had just one hit in his first 11 at-bats this season, then hit his third career homer into the seats in right field.After the homer, Beavan was terrific. He retired the next three and nine of the final 10 batters before the Mariners went to their bullpen.NOTES: Oakland has yet to record 10 hits in any of its first 10 games this year. That matches the longest streak in Oakland history to begin a season. ... After playing each other seven times in the first couple of weeks, the Mariners and A's won't see each other again until late June in Seattle. ... Hall of Fame center Bill Russell threw out the first pitch on Sunday as part of the festivities honoring Jackie Robinson. Russell one-hopped his pitch to Chone Figgins, then posed for a picture with the 5-foot-8 Figgins.

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.