Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Twins 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Twins 1

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson hadn't stepped on a big league mound since June 5, 2011. He certainly didn't appear to be rusty. Anderson, 24, dominated the Minnesota Twins with seven innings of one-run ball and the A's won 4-1.On a day in which the team introduced Stephen Drew and demoted the previously-deemed "untouchable" Jemile Weeks, Anderson reminded everyone that his return to the mound was the real story with a spectacular performance on the mound.Starting Pitching ReportIt turns out the A's are pretty good at evaluating pitching. They were dead-on when assessing that Anderson was ready for his return. Anderson faced one over the minimum for seven innings. He allowed just four hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out six.Anderson retired nine batters in a row at once point and induced 13 groundouts and no flyouts. This wasn't just Anderson's first start in 14 months, this was one of the best pitching performances of his career.The only run that he allowed scored when Norris couldn't handle one of Anderson's sliders. It was ruled a wild pitch.Anderson's fastball topped out at 93 mph, and he effectively worked in his slider and curveball. Two of the hits he allowed came against his change-up, the other two were against his slider.Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle pitched a perfect eighth inning. He struck out two batters.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead. He notched his 12 save of the season and hasn't allowed a run in 18 of his last 19 outings. Balfour has converted all five of his save opportunities since taking over the team's closer role.In the FieldYou never know what you are going to see at the ballpark on any given day. As they say around these parts, it's hard not to be romantic about baseball. The 13,116 fans in attendance on Tuesday witnessed something special when the A's turned a triple play in the fifth inning.RELATED: A's turn 5-4-3 triple play
Anderson had retired nine batters in a row when he gave up back-to-back singles to start the fifth. With Trevor Plouffe batting, Anderson threw a 77-mph, first-pitch curveball that was hit on the ground to Josh Donaldson, who started the 5-4-3 triple play.
It was the 21st triple play in A's franchise history, the eighth in Oakland history. The A's last triple play was an unassisted triple play handled by Randy Velarde on May 29, 2000 at New York.According to our CSN A's statistician David Feldman, the last time the A's turned a triple play at the Coliseum: July 18, 1983 vs Tigers (Peters to Phillips to Almon to Gross)At the PlateSeth Smith returned from the disabled list after missing 16 games with a strained left hamstring. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance and immediately put his hammy to the test. Josh Donaldson cracked a double to the wall in left field forcing Smith to score all the way from first. Donaldson's double tied the game at one.Smith would later add two singles. He finished the night 2-for-2 with two walks -- one intentional -- and two runs scored.Norris drove Smith home for the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning. The A's added two more runs in the seventh inning when Crisp led off with a double down the right field line, and Josh Reddick hit a bloop single to left that barely stayed fair. Chris Carter then drove home Reddick with a double.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 13,116.Dot RaceFor the first time ever the A's Dot Race featured dots that are green, white, and gold. A long-standing A's tradition at the Oakland Coliseum, the dots used to be red, white, or blue. In this brave new era of Dot Racing, gold won.Up NextThe A's will send Tommy Milone (9-9, 4.03 ERA) to the mound. It will be Milone's 24th start of the season. The rookie lefty is 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his last four starts. Milone pitched on extra rest in his last outing and looked much better. He made one mistake in his previous start, allowing a grand slam to Shelley Duncan. Strangely, the A's are 2-0 in games that Milone allows a grand slam. He's walked one batter or fewer in each of his last 10 starts.The Twins will counter with Liam Hendriks (0-5, 7.04 ERA). As of Monday, this spot in Minnesota's rotation was listed as "TBD." He has never won a game in the major leagues.

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.