Athletics

A's Mike Fiers a 'hero' for revealing Astros scandal, Bob Melvin says

A's Mike Fiers a 'hero' for revealing Astros scandal, Bob Melvin says

A’s Manager Bob Melvin can sum up his sentiments on the Astros' cheating scandal in two words: “Not happy.”

He’s seen a lot of chatter over during the offseason, including comparisons of what Houston did to what the New England Patriots have been accused of in the NFL.

“It’s not even in the same realm,” Melvin said. “The only thing you could compare it to is if somebody hacked into their play calling and knew every play they were running. That’s how significant it is.”

Significance has been hard to quantify, specifically how much the Astros gained from knowing what pitches were coming. 

What really gets under Melvin’s skin is backlash towards A's pitcher Mike Fiers, who was the named source that really put MLB’s investigation in motion.

“When I hear some of the criticisms of Mike Fiers, it really upsets me,” Melvin said.

Opinion and criticism exists that an unwritten rule was broken by Fiers not “keeping it in the clubhouse.”  

Melvin couldn’t disagree more.

“This goes way beyond that," Melvin said. "This is the integrity of the game. This is the closest thing you can find to fixing a game. It’s something that needs to be cleaned up.”

A lot remains to be seen regarding what happens next in Houston, and across Major League Baseball. Nobody will ever know when the story is “over,” or unfolds a new wrinkle.

[RELATED: Fiers blamed by Jessica Mendoza]

But Melvin knows one thing right now.

“The farther this goes on the more I think people are going to realize Mike Fiers was a hero for doing something like this,” Melvin said. “It needs to be out of our game.  No one should have that advantage.”

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's reported to spring training on time Monday morning for the preseason’s first full-squad engagement. This group, as assembled, is stacked.

It doesn’t take advanced stats experts to see the 2020 crew is loaded with talent, depth and the superstars required to improve upon back-to-back 97-win seasons. That’s even true in an improved AL West and at a point on the calendar where hope springs eternal.

Manager Bob Melvin was quick to point to another reason for extreme optimism this season.

It starts with the A's superstars setting a proper tone throughout the organization. Their work ethic, Melvin said, proves contagious.

“We have a bunch of guys like that, whether it’s Matt Olson or Matt Chapman or Marcus Semien, those guys set the tone for how we do things around here,” Melvin said Monday morning. “When you have younger players coming up or new players coming in and they see how our top guys work, they have no choice to work the same way.

"It’s great when your best players are the hardest workers.”

Those players can absolutely mash. That was clear during the first full-squad workout. Several have been around taking swings in recent days but seeing so many established veterans alternating through the cages around Lew Wolff Training Complex certainly creates belief the A's can score with anybody in 2020. Pair that with a legit frontline starting rotation and All-Star closer Liam Hendricks and even Melvin can see a clear path to great things this season.

Melvin has been around a long time and managed a lot of good baseball teams. His expectations for this group are sky high. He made that clear in his opening speech to the full squad here in major league camp.

“We always discuss in our first meeting what our goals and expectations are,” Melvin said. “We try to keep those to ourselves but, when you have two seasons with 97 wins and 97 wins and you feel like we have a better team this year, yeah I think our expectations are pretty high.”

[RELATED: Why Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team]

Vegas oddsmakers set the over-under line at 89.5 wins for these A's, a significant sum that would put them back in serious contention for a third straight postseason berth. They’ll be gunning for a division title after two straight wild-card berths where the season died out in a one-game playoff.

This largely established group is focused on staying healthy and intact for when the games actually count. That doesn’t mean they’re content to sit back this spring and wait for good times to roll. The grind continues for the entire team as it works to become more versatile.

The A's are placing emphasis on situational hitting this spring, possible going against the grain for a team that as historically liked walks and big blasts.

That will be important in working through offensive slumps like the A’s experienced near last season’s end.

“You can bludgeon teams at times, but there will be times where we go through offensive droughts as a team,” Melvin said. “The defense is always going to be there, but if we can win some games situationally by getting guys over and getting guys in by putting some focus on that, the team will be better because of it.

"We’ll continue to emphasize that.”

Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

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Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

Mark Canha, like many A's players, quietly fell under the radar last season. The recently-turned 31-year-old hit a career-high 26 home runs, yet nobody seemed to mention his name. 

One person, at least, did notice. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince named Canha to his All-Underrated Team going into the 2020 season. Canha is Castrovince's center fielder, though he mostly will play in left for the A's with Ramon Laureano healthy. 

Canha actually played four positions in 2019: 56 games in center, 27 games in right field, 15 games at first base and 10 games in left. The Cal alum also served as Oakland's DH in 16 games. 

Along with a career-best in homers, Canha posted career highs along his .273/.396/.517 slash line. He also produced a .913 OPS and 145 OPS+.

Canha's versatility once again will be key for Bob Melvin's squad this season. Melvin has a plethora of outfield options in Canha, Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Robbie Grossman, Chad Pinder and more. 

[RELATED: Manfred believes Fiers did 'service' revealing Astros scandal]

Perhaps none of the above bring more to the table than Canha, though. 

As the A's look to move past the AL Wild Card Game this year, the San Jose native figures to be a reliable asset yet again.