Athletics

Reddick finally gets a taste of his own medicine

812312.jpg

Reddick finally gets a taste of his own medicine

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The A's have won eight games in walk-off fashion this season. That is a lot of forcibly administered whipped cream pies and water cooler showers. When the walk-off hero experiences the sweet taste of victory via a pie smash to the face, it is always Josh Reddick on the other end of the plate.As a result, Reddick knew he was doomed when he launched a game-ending double in the 13th inning to beat the Mariners 2-1."I don't mind it. I can dish it and I can take it," Reddick said after a long shower. "I was just happy it was me for once. It feels good to be on the receiving end."Well, what goes around comes around. Reddick was nailed with two coolers of iced liquid and two whipped cream pies. One pie came courtesy of Kurt Suzuki, the other from Jemile Weeks, who scored the game winning run on Reddick's double. "We couldn't wait," Weeks said. "He deserved it, he deserved everything." Reddick was lucky he wasn't eaten alive by seagulls after being made to look like a dessert item in the post game celebration. As the game lingered on into the late afternoon, more and more seagulls started circling and dive bombing at the Oakland Coliseum. With the sun, cloudless sky, and birds everywhere, it got so bad that it was actually hard for players to see balls hit into the air. "Oh, you could see them," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was like the movie The Birds.""You've got the white baseballs with the white seagulls out there, you have to distinguish between the two sometimes with the sun," Weeks said. "At the end of the day we fought through the seagulls and made it happen." The A's first run was driven in by Yoenis Cespedes in the first inning. He then stole second base, spraining his left thumb. Cespedes was taken out of the game prior to the fourth inning. According to Melvin, the A's medical staff thinks the All-Star break will be enough time for his thumb to heal. As of now, a return to the disabled list for Cespedes doesn't appear likely."He is literally day to day," Melvin said. "I'm not really sure how he is going to feel tomorrow. He is going to have four days off and hopefully he is good to go." The A's wouldn't have been in a position to win if it wasn't for an efficient performance from Bartolo Colon. The veteran right-handed pitcher threw 93 pitches -- just 14 balls -- in 8.2 innings of work. He threw a first-pitch strike to 32 of the 34 batters he faced. He walked no one, and allowing one earned run. "It was difficult to take him out of the game emotionally," Melvin said. "He pitched so well and wanted it so bad. He gave us everything we could possibly expect. He never ceases to amaze. He is a pretty remarkable guy."Colon out-dueled Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez, who lasted 7.2 innings with one earned run. When the game was handed over to the bullpens, the A's had the advantage. A combination of Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Grant Balfour, and Jordan Norberto threw 4.1 innings of two-hit ball. The collection of pitchers struck out five batters and walked no one. The A's pitching staff went 13 innings without issuing a walk, the first time that has happened in Athletics history since 1927. At 43-43 the A's enter the All-Star break with a .500 record for the first time since 2008. They are just 2.5 games back in the American League Wild Card standings. They are 16-10 in games decided in the seventh inning or later. "We're a lot more battle tested," Melvin said. "I think we expect to play games like that."

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

marcell-ozuna-marlins-ap.jpg
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?

khris-davis-funnylook-usatsi.jpg
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.