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2016 MLB roster outlook: Oakland Athletics

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2016 MLB roster outlook: Oakland Athletics

2015 record: 68-94, 5th place in AL West

Manager: Bob Melvin, 6th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $87 million

Key additions: OF Khris Davis, 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Ryan Madson, 2B Jed Lowrie

Key losses: 3B Brett Lawrie, SP Jesse Chavez, RP Drew Pomeranz

Projected lineup

CF Billy Burns
2B Jed Lowrie
RF Josh Reddick
LF Khris Davis
C Stephen Vogt
3B Danny Valencia
DH Billy Butler
1B Yonder Alonso
SS Marcus Semien

Projected rotation

RHP Sonny Gray
RHP Jesse Hahn
LHP Rich Hill
RHP Chris Bassitt
RHP Kendall Graveman

Top relievers

CL Sean Doolittle
RHP Ryan Madson
RHP Liam Hendricks

Biggest questions entering 2016

1. Can they prove 2015 was an aberration? The Oakland Athletics took a major step back last season, as they won just 68 games and finished last in the AL West. That came after three straight playoff appearances and an average of 93 wins per season from 2012 through 2014. Billy Beane shook up the A's roster - most notably by trading Josh Donaldson, and Yoenis Cespedes the season before - and the bottom fell out. Donaldson is long gone at this point and the A's will have to make do with what they have. They still have plenty of talent, but it won't be easy beating out the Astros and the Rangers in the AL West.

2. Will their pitching improve? The Athletics made the playoffs three straight years with one of the best offenses in baseball, but their pitching wasn't too bad either. In 2014, they allowed only 572 runs, which was their best mark as a franchise since 1990. Then, in 2015, they gave up a whopping 729 runs. They were in the bottom third of the majors in that category and only one team that gave up more runs than them, the Rangers, made the playoffs. Better health in their bullpen could help that cause and so could a breakout year from either Kendall Graveman or Chris Bassitt, two third-year pitchers.

3. Can Sean Doolittle get back to All-Star form? The Athletics had one of the best closers in baseball two years ago, when Sean Doolittle had a career season that earned him an All-Star nod. But last year he was limited to just 12 appearances due to a shoulder injury. This spring he is also banged up with a tricep strain. Their bullpen looks a lot better with a healthy Doolittle and his progress will be interesting to watch. In 2014, he posted a 2.73 ERA with 22 saves in 61 appearances. He was dominant and they would love to see that version of him return.

[Roster info via RosterResource.com]

[RELATED: Does this NCAA Tournament star look like Bryce Harper?]

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.