Athletics

Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends

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Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends

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OAKLAND -- Six years ago to the day, Justin Verlander pitched Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series and the Tigers swept the A's. Six years later he shut down the A's to again end Oakland's season, this time in the American League Division Series. Verlander was too good, and the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in the seventh inning en route to a 6-0 win. Okay, now it's over. The A's offseason may be starting on Friday, but this team accomplished much more than anyone in their right mind expected. The A's won 94 games, the American League West, and clawed their way back from a two-game deficit to force a Game 5. This season led to the emergence of rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook, Yoenis Cespedes, and Sean Doolittle as well as the breakout performances of Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, the late arrival of Josh Donaldson, and the return of Brett Anderson. And of course, the walk-off pies. 2012 may be over, but 2013 looks like it may pack some promise. The core of this A's team is intact for the future. Don't expect a firesale after this season. With the payroll at 52 million, they could potentially make additions. At the PlateThe reigning American League Cy Young and MVP flat out dominated the A's hitters. Verlander only allowed four hits in nine innings. He struck out 11 batters. The A's 50 strikeouts in this series broke the previous Oakland strikeout record of 43 for a five-game playoff series. Starting Pitching Report Jarrod Parker became the youngest pitcher in the last 15 years the start a deciding game in the playoffs. He looked like a veteran on the hill. Parker allowed four runs, in six and one-third innings of work. Two of those runs scored after Parker left the game. In two postseason starts he performed admirably. The A's can rest easy knowing they have an ace in the making in this talented young righty. Parker allowed a one-out double in the first inning to Quintin Berry. With Berry in scoring position Miguel Cabrera was on deck and Prince Fielder was in the hole. Parker got both of them to ground out to end the inning. In the second, Parker dispatched the Tigers with relative ease. He gave up a single to Andy Dirks on a controversial call. Replays showed that Dirks was actually out at first. The Tigers right fielder stole second to put some pressure on Parker. He responded by striking out Alex Avila to end the inning. The A's ran into trouble in the third inning. Parker allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and was charged with a wild pitch that moved him to second. Infante became the third Tigers player to reach second in as many innings. Austin Jackson ripped a double to left-center to put the Tigers on the board. He was bunted over to third and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Parker pitched a three up, three down fourth inning, his first clean inning of the game. The Tigers got a runner on second in four of the first five innings. The young righty remained poised in big situations. He only had 70 pitches through six innings. In the seventh inning Parker allowed two singles and was lifted from the game with one out. He was pulled with 85 pitches and runners on the corners. A's manager Bob Melvin elected to go with Ryan Cook instead of Parker. That decision proved to be problematic. Bullpen ReportCook allowed an RBI single to Jackson to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. He then walked Berry to load the bases before plunking Cabrera in the shoulder with the bases loaded to make it 4-0. Jerry Blevins entered the game next. He allowed a bloop single to Fielder to make it 5-0. Young hit a sharp ball to Stephen Drew next and couldn't field it cleanly. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play the Tigers ended up scoring their sixth run. Blevins got a ground ball out of Dirks that allowed Pennington to throw Cabrera out at home. He then got a pop out to end the inning. Evan Scribner pitched a three up, three down eighth and ninth innings. Scribner didn't allow a run in his final six regular season appearances. He didn't disappoint on this evening. He might be a solid weapon for the A's next season. In the FieldPennington made a nice play on a ball hit up the middle by Dirks. He ranged to get to the ball and made a perfect off balance throw to first. First base umpire Scott Berry called Dirks safe. Replays showed he was out by a step. Dirks reached second with a stolen base. He ended up stranded there. Norris struggled in the third inning. Omar Infante led off with a single and advanced to second on a ball that got away from Norris. The passed ball issue popped up again when Norris wasn't able to block a ball that allowed Jackson to score. The Tigers only stole 59 bases this season but they ran all over the A's on Thursday night. They stole three bases against Parker and Norris. AttendanceThe A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,393. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's pack their bags and get to enjoy some well-deserved time off with their families. It's never easy getting bounced out of the playoffs but the A's had a heck of a season. They have a lot to build on for the future. If the success of this team is any indicator, you can expect the A's to be back in contention. That's a lot more than anyone expected entering 2012. Free AgentsBrandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, and Jonny Gomes are the A's only free agents. Stephen Drew can elect to test the open waters of free agency this offseason if he wants. The A's and Drew have a mutual option for 2012.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

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

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AP

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.