Athletics

A night of firsts fires up A's bats

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A night of firsts fires up A's bats

OAKLAND -- When a team puts a 20 in the run column odds are there were some career-best performances involved. That was certainly the case on Friday night as the A's obliterated the Red Sox in a 20-2 rout.

It's a team game, so let's begin there. The A's 20 runs were the fourth highest offensive output in Oakland history. The A's have won a season-high tying seven games in a row, are a season-high 17 games over .500 (74-57), and have won six consecutive games against the Red Sox for the first time since 1969. Now for the individual performances Player of the game honors have to go to Brandon Moss. He tallied a career-best four hits and four RBI. "It feels great," Moss said emphatically. "I'm not going to lie."His two-strike, two-out, two-run second-deck homer in the fifth inning had the A's clubhouse buzzing after the game."That's about max distance for a human being right now," Jonny Gomes said. "If you want a ball further than that you are going to have to use some kind of machine or something."Second deck, home run, Oakland Coliseum, at night. You really don't see those words strung together often. That tells you what kind of night it was in Oakland. The A's sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh inning scoring nine runs. The big inning featured another career first for an Oakland player as Josh Reddick clubbed his first career grand slam."For me I don't think it could be any more special," Reddick said. "Coming against your former team that you just got sent out from, any time you do that it's a special thing."Reddick's 28th homer is his third in as many days. Not to be outdone, Josh Donaldson has also homered in three consecutive contests -- something he has never done before. The young third baseman hit a two-run shot off the concrete facing of the left field bleachers in the second inning, and drove in his third run while reaching on an error in the seventh inning. "It feels good, obviously that's a first for me," Donaldson said. "It's nice to come up here and have some success because it has definitely been a roller coaster ride for me this year." The A's topped out at 20 runs when George Kottaras added a two-run homer of his own in the eighth inning. He also hit a solo homer in the sixth inning, and smacked a two-run bases loaded single in the seventh. The two home runs and five RBI -- you guessed it -- both career highs. Get the point yet? Notes:
Donaldson was removed from the game with a hip flexor strain. The A's say he is day-to- day. If he is forced to miss time the team won't skip a beat because Brandon Inge is with the team in Oakland and ready to be reinstated from the disabled list. "I've never been a guy that wants to miss a game," Donaldson said. "I felt a little tightness when I was trying to accelerate to go to second base. I really didn't want to come out of the game, I wanted to finish it." The A's have now won 74 games -- matching their 2011 win total.

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.