A's may not be finished making moves


A's may not be finished making moves

Phoenix, Ariz -- School's back in session. Today marked day one of pitchers and catchers reporting to the 2012 Oakland A's camp - here are a few observations from Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: He may still be several months away from returning to the mound, but at 20-25 pounds lighter, Brett Anderson looks game-ready - and his Skip has taken notice. Bob Melvin said Anderson has "progressed beautifully" rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last summer. Melvin said with Anderson's new stature, he's even taken on a new persona, "he's more energetic, confident, vocal." And Melvin suspects Anderson will be more agile as well when he takes the mound for drills, although he isn't expected to return to game action until August.

NOTABLE: Bob Melvin told the handful of media members that were present for his 1st First 'Address' of the Spring, that there are "...some questions he had to shy away from," because he's not sure what the roster will look like, hinting that the team may still be doing some wheeling and dealing. "As we've shown this off-season, we're not afraid" to make moves, Melvin said.REWIND: A's sign Cespedes
QUOTABLE: When I asked Dallas Braden how hard it was to watch some of his friends be traded this off-season, he told me, "It's tough because you invest a lot of emotion, a lot of time with teammates. You spend more time with these guys than you do your own damn reflection sometimes." He went on to explain "as a human," losing these guys was "a tough pill to swallow," but "as a player," he's looking forward to this time with the new guys. CACTUS-LEAGUE SNAPSHOT: Want to be like Mike... Michael Taylor and Michael Choice arrived at the facility this morning, six days before their actual 'report day'. All decked out in green workout gear, the two went across the street to Papago for an impromptu workout, only to be told it was coaches only at the other facility.
LOOK AHEAD: Speaking of which,will Manny Ramirez sport the green and gold? I asked current A's players their thoughts on Ramirez joining the Oakland ranks, and the overall reaction was nothing, but positive.Michael Taylor explained to me how Manny was one of his favorite guys to watching growing up, and said guess he'll just "sit back and watch and learn something from him (if he joins to the A's) both on and off the field.""You talk about his ability first, his ability to perform...he's easily one of the hardest workers at his craft," said Dallas Braden, "When you talk about the financials of the game, it makes sense for the organization to pick him up at a low cost.""I know Manny pretty well," Jonny Gomes told me, "I worked out with him last thing you can't bend is time so only time will tell what's up."

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


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


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.