OAKLAND -- Gold Glove voting is an imperfect science. The Major League managers and coaches who vote on the award don't often take the time to look at all the newfangled defensive metrics and statistics. It is an award commonly given based on reputation, and intangibles. Sometimes one highlight reel catch or play that is replayed over and over ad nauseam is enough to stick in the minds of the voters.Fortunately, for Josh Reddick, he made full-extension diving catches, full-speed sliding snags, crashed into walls with the reckless abandon of a Lucha Libre wrestler, and backed it all up with a high-caliber howitzer for an arm that delivered baseballs with laser precision all season long. Reddick is the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove winner among American League right fielders. He becomes the first Oakland Athletics player to win the award since Eric Chavez in 2006. He beat out Royals right fielder Jeff Francouer, and Indians' right fielder Shin-Soo Choo for the honor. He didn't give them much of a choice. Francouer may have led all Major League outfielders with 19 assists -- Reddick had 15 -- but he never scaled a wall like Spider-Man to make a catch like Reddick did on July 25, in Toronto. He never knocked himself silly making a game-ending grab like Reddick did when he caught a ball against the Orioles July 27, in Camden Yards. Reddick led all American League right fielders with a 17.7 UZR, a stat that measures defensive range.He did it because he takes a WWE approach to defense. He will catch the ball by any means necessary, or get hurt trying. "It doesn't matter if there's a brick wall or a padded wall there," Reddick told me on September 12 in Anaheim. "As long as I catch it then it doesn't matter how much pain I'm going through."Reddick's 15 outfield assists tied him for third most in a single season in Oakland history, and ranked third in the AL. It may be called the 'Rawlings Gold Glove', but his golden arm was a huge weapon for the A's. To Reddick's disappointment, the league began to take notice of how deadly accurate and quick his right field rifle was, and they stopped running on him. That's why stats don't tell the whole story when it comes to defense. Reddick committed five errors in right field, more than Choo (2), and Francouer (4), and his .983 fielding percentage also ranked him below Choo (.993) and Francouer (.985). The fact that Reddick beat out the other two finalists shouldn't come as a huge surprise, though. Well before voting began Reddick had a groundswell of support. "I've said he is playing Gold Glove right field and he has all year," A's manager Bob Melvin told me back in September. "It's what we've seen all year," starting pitcher Tommy Milone said earlier this year. "He hustles to anything that's close to him. He lays out, gives it his full effort and usually he'll come up with the ball."Reddick's efforts meant a whole lot to a team that at times had five rookies in the starting rotation. Their faith in him to get to balls in right field helped them stay at ease and gave them the confidence to pitch to contact. His teammates often raved about how his defense remained consistent all season long no matter what was ailing him. Sometimes when a player goes into a slump they can take their troubles out onto the field as well. Reddick never did that, even when he was in his worst rut at the plate. There's a running joke that the best offensive player by position often gets the award. Reddick certainly didn't hurt his case with a career-high and AL-leading 32 home runs by a right fielder. He may not have gotten the World Series trophy he wanted, but this hardware will look pretty nifty on his mantle nonetheless. Reddick now gets to go to a Rawlings Gold Glove ceremony on November 9 in New York to pick up his award. The event will be hosted by Joe Piscopo and Jerry Seinfeld will be providing the entertainment for the evening. Not bad for a kid that came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the most talented players in the game. Also, if you don't think gold is enough for the A's right fielder, you can go to Rawlings.com to vote on a Rawlings Platinum Glove award that will be given to one of the Gold Glove winners.Brandon Inge won't be in the running. He was named a finalist for the Gold Glove at third base, but was beat out by Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. It is the fourth time Beltre has won the award. Inge had an excellent defensive season at the hot corner, but he only played 76 games at third base. In a game on August 11, Inge made a diving attempt for a foul ball and dislocated his right shoulder. He popped it back in place and drove in the go-ahead run later in the game. That shoulder injury ended up ending his season. Inge is now a free agent.
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.’”
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.
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.