Athletics

Trade or no trade, Jed Lowrie keeps producing for A's

Trade or no trade, Jed Lowrie keeps producing for A's

OAKLAND — By this point in the season, it’s no surprise when Jed Lowrie sprays extra-base hits to all corners of the ballpark.

That he’s still doing it in an A’s uniform?

Few people could have predicted that.

The assumption leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline was that Lowrie would be shipped off to a contender in need of a versatile switch-hitter infielder. While pitchers Sonny Gray, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and, eventually, first baseman Yonder Alonso all got dealt, Lowrie remains in green and gold.

That’s been to the benefit of A’s manager Bob Melvin. Lowrie has been as steady a hitter as anyone for Oakland this season. He doubled twice Friday night and delivered the game-tying hit in the 5-4 comeback victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

“He’s been through it many times,” Melvin said of the trade speculation. “He just plays it day to day and prepares to win on a particular day. This is as healthy as he’s been. He’s able to go out there multiple days in a row and he’s been as consistent as anybody we’ve had all year.”

Lowrie is hitting a team-high .275 and now leads the entire major leagues with 37 doubles. His RBI total is a modest 40, but some of that has to be attributed to a lack of opportunities from the No. 3 spot in the order. A’s leadoff hitters rank 13th out of 15 American League teams in on-base percentage, and their No. 2 hitters are dead last. There just aren’t enough runners in scoring position when Lowrie steps to the plate.

It’s still possible he could be dealt this month if he passes through waivers unclaimed. Teams can acquire players up until Aug. 31 and have them be eligible for the postseason.

Whatever happens, Lowrie is at peace with things.

“I think before the non-(waiver) deadline it was a distraction, no doubt, because everybody’s talking about it,” Lowrie said. “It seems like after the trade deadline, if (he were to be traded) it just kind of happens. It’s just not a theme that everybody is talking about.

“I was happy when the deadline was over whether I was traded or not. That distraction kind of dissipated.”

It stands to reason that the only way the A’s will deal Lowrie this month is if they are ready to recall top prospect Franklin Barreto from the minors and install him at second. Whether Lowrie gets traded or not, Barreto figures to rejoin the A’s sometime after the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

Worth keeping in mind: If Lowrie sticks around, the A’s hold a $6 million club option on him for next season that they can either exercise or buy out for $1 million.

Coming off an injury-plagued season in 2016, he’s been very durable this year, and the way he goes about his business on a daily basis doesn’t go unnoticed by the A’s younger players.

“He’s so professional, that’s the only way I can describe it,” rookie first baseman Matt Olson said. “He knows how to go about his at-bats. He has a plan up there, clearly. He hits the mistakes that you need to in order to be successful in this game.”

With his gap-to-gap approach, it’s no surprise he’s racked up 37 doubles. He’s got a great chance at surpassing the career-high 45 he collected in 2013 with the A’s.

“That’s my game,” he said. “It’s not like I’m gunning to be the leader. I just want to go out and continue to do the same thing I’ve been doing all year.”

 

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.