Athletics

Cardinals vs. A's lineups: Stephen Piscotty activated to face former team

Cardinals vs. A's lineups: Stephen Piscotty activated to face former team

The A's lineup is slowly but surely getting back to its original form after an extremely rare off day Friday.

Oakland reinstated outfielder Stephen Piscotty (sprained right knee) from the 10-day injured list Saturday. Piscotty is back in the lineup Saturday hitting seventh against the St. Louis Cardinals, his former team.

A busy day of A's roster moves continued with the Los Angeles Angels claiming catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers, and Oakland sending second baseman Franklin Barreto down to Triple-A Las Vegas. In addition, right-handed pitcher Ryan Dull was designated for assignment, and right-handed pitcher Andrew Triggs was released. 

The Cardinals will be in town for a two-game stint and will start things off facing Mike Fiers in what should be an interesting matchup. Fiers has dominated the Cards throughout his career. In seven starts, Fiers is 3-2 with a 1.45 ERA against St. Louis.

The Cards are surging right now, holding on to the top spot in the NL Central with a 58-50 record. St. Louis just barely edges the Chicago Cubs with a .537 winning percentage to Chicago's .536. They also stood pat during the trade deadline, and Cardinals manager Mike Schildt said they didn't need to participate in it. 

"This team doesn't need a jolt," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told reporters Thursday. "This team jolts itself. It has all year, and will continue to do that."

St. Louis will send rookie right-hander Dakota Hudson to the hill who has never faced the A's. 

Here are how the lineups look to shape up as the A's host the Cardinals. Follow the action on NBC Sports California or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app

St. Louis Cardinals (58-50)

Tommy Edman, 3B
Jose Martinez, DH
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Marcell Ozuna, LF
Paul DeJong, SS
Kolten Wong, 2B
Dexter Fowler, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Yairo Munoz, RF

Dakota Hudson, P (10-5, 3.88 ERA)

Oakland A's (62-48)

Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Khris Davis, DH
Mark Canha, CF
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Jurickson Profar, 2B
Chris Herrmann, C

Mike Fiers, RHP (9-3, 3.54 ERA)

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

The A's might have thought about bringing Blake Treinen back, but the former All-Star closer will be turning in the green and gold for Dodger blue.

Treinen has agreed to a one-year, $10M contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Treinen broke out in 2018 for the A's, collecting 38 saves while putting up a microscopic 0.78 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. But 2019 was a tough season for the right-hander. Treinen struggled early and lost his closer job to All-Star Liam Hendriks. 

The right-hander fought to regain his All-Star form from a season ago, but was unable to recapture the magic, putting up a 6.14 ERA during the second half to the season. 

The A's opted to non-tender Treinen last week. General manager David Forst had said the A's remained in contact with Treinen, but it appears the reliever felt a change of scenery was for the best. 

In joining the Dodgers, Treinen becomes part of a bullpen that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman felt needed an upgrade. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen has seen his effectiveness waver over the past two seasons, and last offseason prize Joe Kelly was inconsistent at best in Year 1 in LA. 

The Dodgers have one of the more complete rosters in baseball, but adding a reliever who can get big outs late in the game is a must for any World Series contender. Whether or not Treinen can return to his 2018 form remains to be seen. 

[RELATED: Semien reiterates preference to stay in Oakland long term]

As for the A's, they still are trying to decide what MVP finalist Marcus Semien's future in Oakland looks like and will turn their attention to filling out the bullpen in due time. 

While there aren't a lot of top-tier relievers on the open market this offseason, the A's should be able to fill Treinen's with a low-cost, high-upside option that Billy Beane has been known to unearth. 

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien was both quantity and quality in 2019.

The A's shortstop started all 162 games and was a finalist for both American League MVP and Gold Glove Awards. He also was named to the second-team "All-MLB team," which was announced Tuesday.

It only raises the value for one of Oakland's longest-tenured players, who is expected to receive a notable raise in his final year of arbitration.

“But going forward, we all know what comes after that,” Semien told NBC Sports California in an exclusive interview Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “That is the business side. Of course, I love winning, love being home and love my teammates.  Love going to battle with guys who share the same qualities as me.”

Semien doesn’t hide his preference to stay in Oakland long term: “Of course, that would be ideal," he said.

The shortstop also said his camp wouldn’t want to currently interfere with VP Billy Beane and GM David Forst continuing to build the team before re-approaching a long term deal.

“As we approach Spring Training, we’ll see what happens,” Semien said.

Here's what else Semien touched upon during our conversation.

Success In A New Role

It’s easy to forget last season was actually a transitional one for Semien, who had previously been hitting in the bottom third of the lineup before becoming the became the regular leadoff guy.

“The amount of at-bats is a big one for me," Marcus said. “The more at-bats I get, I feel the better I get."

Batting first also helped him gain a better grasp on games.

“Most of the time it gets you in the rhythm of the game right away. I think in years past, I hit seventh, eighth or ninth, sometimes you don’t get your first chance to bat until the third inning. It’s harder to get into a rhythm, so I tried to take advantage of that this year."

Power or consistency

In his first four seasons with Oakland, Marcus' bat always was a strong point, through either consistency or power. In 2019, he excelled in both regards, clubbing 33 homers and a .285 average.

“The average is a byproduct of getting more pitches to hit," he said. "Getting in better counts to do more damage, that’s where the power comes from."

Especially noticeable was Semien’s ability to crowd the plate and still get around on inside pitches this past summer.

“A lot of my teammates laugh at it sometimes when I sometimes pull my hands in to hit a pitch that’s off the plate inside. But it’s definitely a quality that I want to keep, and a weapon to use if they throw it in there.”

Middle-infield partner

Marcus has paired with several different middle infielders over the years, and it seems like consistency at second base would benefit both him and the team. The departure of Jurickson Profar opens up a menu of at least four in-house choices for Oakland, and potentially anyone else they might acquire in the offseason.

“The platoon system has worked out for some teams,” said Semien. “But in my opinion, we’ve got an infield where three guys play every day, and have gotten better year in and year out. So we’ll see what they do at second base.”

[RELATED: Beane reveals he has Kyler on his fantasy football team]

Is this the window?

Optimism is high surrounding a team that has won 194 games over the last two seasons. After seeing the arrival of highly anticipated prospects like A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo debut last year, many are wondering whether Oakland is entering a window for something special over the next three to five years.

But Semien is not focusing on where the A’s have been, but rather where they need to go.

“Our division is only going to get better," he said. "Especially with the Rangers getting a new ballpark and looking to spend more money on free agents. Anaheim has one of the best lineups in the game, if they add pitching they’ll be right up there too.

"For us, we can’t take anything for granted, we need to get better and stay healthy as a group.”