Athletics

A's contacted MLB about Astros cheating before Mike Fiers interview

A's contacted MLB about Astros cheating before Mike Fiers interview

MLB's offseason gave us the cheating "scandal" brought to surface by A's pitcher Mike Fiers. But it appears his explosive interview with The Athletic back in November was not the first time Major League Baseball knew about it.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Wednesday that manager Bob Melvin said the A's had called the league about the Astros cheating allegations prior to Fiers going on record.

"Everyone was fed up with it," Melvin told Slusser.

Slusser later confirmed with A's general manager David Forst that the team did indeed make an official complaint through the front office.

Fiers was with the Astros team in 2017 that would go on to win the World Series. He said the team stole signs during home games in real time with the assistance of an outfield camera. 

“I told the teams I was on, I didn’t know how far the rules went with MLB, but I knew [the Astros] were up to date, if not beyond,” Fiers said in The Athletic interview. “I had to let my team know so that we were prepared when we went to go play them at Minute Maid (Park).”

His former Astros manager, A.J. Hinch, has since been relieved of his duties in a slew of punishments handed down by the league and the Astros. Hinch spoke out in a recent interview with MLB Network's Tom Verducci. 

"I haven't spent a lot of time focusing on the emotional side of the reaction to Mike telling the story and getting this message out,” Hinch told Verducci. “I wish I would have had an environment and a culture that was better for him to have come to me in real time. I wish I could have done better, to maybe get that nudge to make better leadership decisions. I focus on that."

Hinch appeared to answer the questions without admitting fault or apologizing.

[RELATED: Fiers doubles down on future, past Astros scandal]

As for Fiers, his teammates voiced support of what he did during the team's media day in late January. Melvin even dubbed him a "hero," and said the team was aware of the sign-stealing.

The Astros players were not made available to media on Wednesday, but you can imagine everyone will be ready to ask questions and wait for a public apology.

MLB rumors: A's expected to sign prospect Pedro Pineda for $4M or more

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AP

MLB rumors: A's expected to sign prospect Pedro Pineda for $4M or more

The A's aren't known for handing out large contracts and could have some tough free-agency decisions to make on Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson in the coming years.

But the A's are expected to make a splash on the international market. While MLB's season continues to be on hiatus with the coronavirus pandemic, the signing period still is scheduled to open on July 2 but the league does have the ability to delay the start date until Jan. 15, 2021. 

Baseball America's Ben Badler reported Monday that the A's are likely to hand out the largest J2 international contract this year. Oakland is expected to sign outfielder Pedro Pineda out of the Dominican Republic for more than $4 million. 

Pineda, 16, already is listed at 6-feet tall and 180 pounds. Here's how Badler describes Pineda's skill set: "He's a strong, athletic, physical center fielder with a loud tool set and a power/speed threat. He's a center fielder with excellent speed, a fast bat and the power potential to hit 25-plus home runs."

Here's a video of Pineda hitting and wearing A's gear last month.

Baseball America also has a longer video of Pineda launching homers.

[RELATED: Stewart addresses how short MLB season will affect players]

The A's signed shortstop Robert Pauson, MLB.com's No. 2 international prospect for 2019, to a $5.1 million contract last July. Pauson, 17, already is ranked as the A's No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He sits behind just Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy, all of whom made their big league debuts last year.

The A's can only hope Pineda has as much talent as Pauson. Both players should add to Oakland's top-heavy farm system.

Why Tony La Russa believes 1989 A's are best Bay Area team ever assembled

Why Tony La Russa believes 1989 A's are best Bay Area team ever assembled

The 1989 A’s were something special.

They were crowned World Series champions after defeating the Giants in four games that bookended the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake. Oakland also finished the regular season with a 99-63 record. And for Tony La Russa, the team’s manager at the time, he dubbed it the best Bay Area championship team ever.

“I’m a great believer in not disrespecting anybody, whether it’s a great 49er team, or the Warriors, or the Giants, but there isn’t any team that would be better than the ‘89 A’s,” La Russa said in a recent interview with 95.7 The Game. “Because they were absolutely complete in every way. Not just talented checking every box, but also in their attitude about teammates playing hard, playing tough.”

NBC Sports Bay Area asked fans last week to vote for the best Bay Area dynasty of all time. While the mid-1970s A's team was included, the late-1980s A's were not.

Still, the 1989 A's were pretty good.

Mark McGwire was 25 years old and hit a team-leading 33 home runs that season with infielder Carney Lansford hitting a .336/.398/.405 line with 185 hits. 

This team also had Dave Henderson and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson roaming the outfield. Rickey would end the season leading the league with 77 swiped bags. World Series MVP Dave Stewart was a dominant starter. Out of the bullpen, Dennis Eckersley collected 33 saves on the season, boasting a 1.56 ERA.

“So, the ‘89 team had, not only was it a really good team, almost great, but once you added Rickey, then we became truly great, and we added Mike Moore, which added an outstanding starting pitcher to the rotation, but it had something else man, it had a fever going,” La Russa said.

La Russa named every aspect of the team that brought them back to the Fall Classic that season. The infield, the outfield, the pitching staff, and of course, the coaches.

[RELATED: Stew describes coronavirus scare]

The team also possessed the perfect balance of rookie and veterans to get to the big stage and win it all. 

“It was the perfect team,” he said.

Just about.