Athletics

Parker deems his outing embarrassing

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Parker deems his outing embarrassing

OAKLAND -- Rookie starting pitcher Jarrod Parker has been so successful lately that it is almost a shock when he struggles on the mound. Entering the night, he had allowed one run or fewer in 10 of his first 14 starts -- matching a record dating back to 1918. On Saturday, he lasted just four and two-things innings, which is the second-shortest outing of his young career, and Seattle won the game 7-1. The loss snapped the A's five-game winning streak, and defeated Parker who had won his last three starts. "I made a lot of mistakes, I'm not happy with it," Parker said. "It's kind of embarrassing to be honest." Parker was pulled from the game with 94 pitches in the fifth inning. He allowed a career-high tying six runs -- five of which were earned. It seems Parker either pitches great or allows six runners to score. This is the third time he has allowed six runs in a game. All of his other starts he has allowed two runs or less. "We're so used to seeing him go out there and throw up zeros or one run or less," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I thought his actual stuff was pretty good. It's just that his pitch count got up there rather quickly and he just started to fall off a little bit at the end." Parker got in trouble early in the game when he walked Michael Saunders in the first inning with two outs. Saunders ended up coming around to score when Coco Crisp missed a sliding catch on a ball hit to center field by John Jaso. He gave up a two-run double to Brendan Ryan in the second inning, and a solo homer to Casper Wells in the fourth. When Parker left the game in the fifth inning, two runners were on base. Jerry Blevins entered in relief, walked the first batter he faced, and then gave up a bases-clearing double to Kyle Seager. "What we want to do as a starting staff is be effective and attack early," Parker said. "I did the opposite tonight. It was not very good." A's starting pitchers hadn't allowed more than one earned run in their last seven starts. Parker snapped that streak. He will have to wait until July 15 to get back on the mound because of the All-Star break. "It's kind of just one of those nights," A's catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "He's been so good for so many starts you just kind of take things for granted." If there is a bright side to Parker's evening, it is that he was perfectly healthy, and had no issues mechanically. Good luck selling it to Parker that way though. "I felt good felt fine," he said. "It was execution that was terrible tonight." Notes:The A's only run came on a Josh Reddick home run in the first inning. It was Reddick's 20th homer of the season, making him the first A's player since Nick Swisher in 2006 to reach that mark before the All-Star break. "He really belongs and believes he is one of the elite right fielders in the league, and he has done nothing to disprove that at this point," Melvin said.Reddick also made a full extension diving catch in right field to rob Ichiro Suzuki of an extra-base hit. After Reddick put the A's on the board, Mariners starting pitcher Jason Vargas kept them off of it for the rest of the game. He tossed his sixth-career complete game and retired 13 batters in a row between the third and eighth innings. Vargas' last complete game was in July 6, 2011 against the A's. Travis Blackley threw three innings of scoreless relief on Saturday. Blackley had been bother by back soreness and had his turn skipped in the rotation as a result. The Australian-born lefty struck out three batters and only allowed one hit. An encouraging sign for the A's. "He's pitching really well," Melvin said. "He continues to impress for a guy that has a certain intensity and confidence now that he probably didn't have before the season."

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.