Not Much Guessing for A's Lineup

Not Much Guessing for A's Lineup

Jan. 22, 2010A'S PAGE
The As held their annual sponsors luncheon and their 2010 media day Thursday, and on my way to the former I decided to do the same type of Guess The Lineup blog that I did for the Giants a while back. After talking with Oakland manager Bob Geren, though, I realized there wont be much guessing involved. He sounded like a man pretty set on how things are going to shake out if -- and even he conceded that this is a massive if -- everyone stays healthy throughout spring training. The only guessing regarding the lineup at this point relates to the biggest if of all, Eric Chavez. If Chavez is healthy, the lineup presented and discussed on Thursday nights SportsNet Central -- and further examined below -- could change dramatically from day to day. If Chavezs most recent comeback attempt, this time as an uber-utilityman, doesnt pan out, heres what youre likely to see come Opening Day: 1. Rajai Davis, LF: Geren said Davis, last years breakthrough player for the As (and biggest doh! for the Giants), might have to learn to play on a corner. Translation: Coco Crisp is going to start in center field. You dont give a guy 4.5 mil and ask him to move; you tell the guy who just enjoyed his first taste of big-league success to move. 2. Coco Crisp, CF: A seemingly delightful chap with a quick smile and engaging charm, Crisp claims to be healthy in the wake of surgery on both shoulders that cost him much of 2009 with the Royals. Hes been a leadoff man for much of his career and said hed like to do it in Oakland. But Geren likes to go right-left-right or left-right-left up and down his lineup to give opposing bullpens matchup problems. Andconsidering that the only name he threw out as a potential No. 3 hitter was that of a right-handed hitter, Crisp, who hits from the left side, Crisp seems slated to follow Davis, a righty swinger with virtually the same offensive skill set. 3. Kurt Suzuki, C: Last seasons team leader in RBIs, Suzuki was the most consistent contributor and has improved every year that hes been in The Show. Its not a stretch to think he could get his batting average up in the .300s and go 20 HRs110 RBIs hitting in this spot. Batting third and handling a young starting staff is a ton of responsibility to throw at a guy heading into his third full season, but Zook is equipped to handle it. 4. Jack Cust, DH: Cust hits from the left side, buthe fitsas the cleanup manas much for his power and ability to get on base as anything. Hes the only guy on the team that you can be near-certain will hit close to 30 bombs. 5. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B: His 88 RBIs for the lowly Padres last season matched Suzukis RBI total for the lowly As. Cust runs better than most people think, and Kooz is a solid gap-to-gap guy, so it's easy to see Cust drawing a walk and rumbling around to score as a Kouzmanoff drive short-hops the wall in deep left-center at the Coliseum.6. Ryan Sweeney, RF: The other centerfielder in what should be an awfully good defensive outfield, Sweeney had been used in the leadoff, No. 2 and No. 3 spots (among others) during his time with the As, and if he starts hitting with more power, hes a candidate to swap spots with Suzuki at some point. For now, this is a low-pressure, potentially high-RBI spot for Sweeney, who is still just 24 years old and developing. 7. Mark Ellis, 2B: You never really know what kind of offensive production youre going to get from Ellis, who can be streaky with the bat. Buthe's beenone of the best glove men at his position over the past several years, and you knowhe'll give youget smart at-bats, some surprising power and heady work on the bases. 8. Daric Barton, 1B: On this one I have to hedge; Id give backup catcher Landon Powell -- a legit power threat with nice patience -- a serious look at first base this spring. And Chris Carter is definitely going to get a look. But for now its Barton, for whom this season is the biggest of his career. If he doesnt cement himself as a regular, hes going to disappear in a hurry. 9. Cliff Pennington, SS: Coming off a nice showing in his first dose of regular run with the As, Pennington is a pesky, fleet-footed switch hitter with some pop and a good eye. Against lefty starters, hed give Geren right-left-right throughout the order. He was a better hitter against righties last year, though: .307 vs. 200. Again, a healthy Chavez would change everything. But this will suffice until further notice. And with speed at the top and bottom, and at least decent power from 3-8, its certainly an improvement on what we saw for most of 2009.--Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Raiders expect Lynch ruling soon; 'it would be the fairest thing'


Raiders expect Lynch ruling soon; 'it would be the fairest thing'

Running back Marshawn Lynch formally appealed his one-game suspension on Monday afternoon.

The Raiders hope to hear a ruling by Tuesday.

“I think we expect to hear something early in the week, hopefully by tomorrow,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a Monday press conference. “(It) would be the fairest thing so that the team can prepare.”

That’s the expectation, according to an ESPN report. The Raiders should know by Tuesday whether Lynch’s suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct will stand.

The suspension stems from a Thursday night incident where he left the sidelines to join an on-field fracas involving Raiders offensive linemen and Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters. The third-year pro was penalized for a late hit on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr his linemen didn’t take kindly.

Peters and Lynch are extremely close friends and Oakland natives, and Lynch instinctively went out to protect someone he views as family. He inadvertently grabbed an official by the jersey and let go shortly after. He was flagged and ejected by rule.

He missed most of Thursday’s 31-30 victory over the Chiefs, and the NFL suspended him one game without pay on Friday. That could cost Lynch a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

ESPN reports that Peters by phone spoke at Lynch’s appeal hearing, where the running back’s team also cited precedent of others contacting an official without getting suspended. Leaving the sideline, however, may not help his appeal.

Del Rio said he hadn’t spoken with Lynch since the ejection.

“I said the other night I was disappointed that we had a player leave the bench,” Del Rio said. “It’s something we talk about – don’t leave the bench area.”

The Raiders ran with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington after Lynch’s ejection, and combined for 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The pair with shoulder a rushing load Sunday at Buffalo if Lynch is unavailable.

“They don’t have the size and the power but they have a little more quickness, they catch the ball a little easier, better route-runners, things like so,” Del Rio said. “So, if you’re playing a little more wide open, in some respects they give you a little more juice. Marshawn give you the power back when you want to finish people and in tough situations. Those guys give you more than a change of pace.”


Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Stephen Curry knows he asked for this one. Begged for it. Wanted it so bad he not only ripped his mouthpiece out of his face but also wound up and fired it in the direction of a game official.

He has to be, and likely is, pleased that the NBA wanted nothing more than a $50,000 bite out of his newly fortified paycheck.

“It was a dumb thing to do. Stupid,” he said after shootaround Monday morning. “Learn from it and try to move on and be better.”

It was not nearly enough for the league that Curry apologized immediately after the mouthpiece-tossing incident that got him tossed in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday. Apologies don’t carry much weight in these matters and they are entirely weightless when it’s a second offense.

And that’s what this was, as you may recall Curry flinging his mouthpiece late in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He was tossed from that game, too.

Of more importance, and what Curry has to take away from this is that he can’t afford another offense. Ever. Though he surely can afford it monetarily, it would rob the Warriors of their offensive catalyst.

Throwing a mouthpiece once is a forgivable mistake. Doing it twice is a relapse that some may forgive while others definitely will not. Doing it three or more times falls into the selfish category, even if selfishness is not a characteristic fairly applied to the two-time MVP.

It’s conceivable that no one in the NBA gets pushed and grabbed and knocked around as much, without a whistle, as does Curry. Part of this is on him, for not being better at selling calls. Part of it is on officials who typically use a different standard for him than those usually set for MVP-caliber players.

Through it all, and it has gone on for years, Curry rarely says a peep. He plays on, simmering, but staying on task.

“I think people on the outside automatically think that these guys can control everything and be robots and score 35 and be perfectly composed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday morning. “But they’re all human beings, just like the rest of us. There’s going to be times where you lose your mind. There’s going to be times where you get angry and times where you’re in perfect mental and you’re playing at a high level and everything is under control.

But nobody can keep that level 100 percent of the time.”

Curry’s actions Saturday in Memphis were only partly the result of the officiating. The Warriors were losing, again. Curry was committing silly fouls, again. It was a buildup of unfavorable events and he lost it.

“We were playing terrible,” Curry said Monday morning. “I was frustrated because I was fouling. I thought I got fouled on the last play. The reaction was definitely a little over the top.

“Stuff happens. I’m going to try to continue to be myself and show some fire, but do it in a way that doesn’t take away from the team and misrepresent who I am.”

Curry said Monday that he didn’t bother to review his actions because he knew how unbecoming they were. He also expressed regret about lashing out. There was no need to brace for the fine he knew was coming.

Next time, though it won’t be a fine that will take a fraction of his check. Next time, it’ll be a suspension that will take away a piece of the Warriors.