Athletics

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- 2012 AL West Title vs Scutaro's bases-clearing 2B in '06 ALDS

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AP

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- 2012 AL West Title vs Scutaro's bases-clearing 2B in '06 ALDS

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports California is looking back at the A's 50 Memorable Moments since the franchise relocated to Oakland in 1968. Below are the next two moments you can vote on. Tune into A's Pregame Live today at 6:30 p.m. to watch highlights of the two moments. After the A's and Angels conclude, tune into A's Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round!

1. A's winning 2012 AL West title on final day of the season (Four-time winner --  Defeated Coco Crisp's walk-off single against Tigers in Game 4 of the 2012 ALDS)

(From A's play-by-play broadcaster Glen Kuiper)

On the morning of Sept. 25, 2012, the A's trailed the first place Texas Rangers by five games with nine to play. My thought, oh well, Wild Card game here we come. 

Six games later, the A's were two back with three to play. And the Rangers were coming to town for a season-ending three-game series. My thought, forget that Wild Card game, lets win this thing. 

The A's win the first two games of the series to catch the Rangers for 1st place. Then on Oct. 1, Game 162, all hell broke lose at the Coliseum. 

Getting ready to do the game that morning, I remember feeling nervousness, tension, but most of all excitement. Be at your best, don't screw anything up, don't start screaming in the 1st inning, and just enjoy the moment. The A's trailed 5-1 going to the bottom of the 4th inning, and I was concerned. I should have known better. That A's team had no intention of losing that day. Forget the Wild Card game, this division is ours. The A's scored six runs in the 4th inning, the final two runs scoring on a dropped fly ball in CF by Josh Hamilton. When something like that happens, you just know it is your teams' day. With the crowd going nuts the rest of the game, the Coliseum turned into a party zone. The A's won the game 12-5, and won the Division. 

It was by far the most fun series I have ever announced, capped of by Game 162. I had a sore throat for two weeks from yelling during our broadcasts, but it was well worth it.

VS.

2. Marco Scutaro's bases-clearing double in Game 3 of the 2006 ALDS against the Twins

(From Ben Ross)

Leading two games to none, and up 5-2 in the seventh inning, the A's were one swing away from burying the Minnesota Twins. Marco Scutaro provided that swing.

With the bases loaded and two outs, and more than 35,000 fans at the Coliseum chanting his name, Scutaro went opposite field for a three-run double to put the A's up 8-2, and all but clinch a spot in the American League Championship Series.

The A's went on to win Game 3, 8-3, to finish the sweep of the Twins. However, they ran into a buzzsaw in the ALCS, getting swept by the Detroit Tigers.

VOTE HERE:

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Mike Fiers

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Mike Fiers

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Mike FIers put together the best full season of his career in 2018. The 33-year-old went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 31 starts between Detroit and Oakland.

The A's acquired Fiers from the Tigers on August 6 in exchange for minor league pitchers Nolan Blackwood and Logan Shore. The right-hander made 10 appearances for Oakland, including nine starts, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.

In eight career seasons, Fiers is 54-55 with a 4.04 ERA. He earned $6 million in 2018 and is projected to get $9.7 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

At this moment, Fiers is probably the A's number one starting pitcher. With Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and A.J. Puk all expected to miss at least the start of the season with injuries, Fiers becomes even more of a necessity in the A's rotation. While $9.7 million is no small chunk of change, it is more than fair for a top of the rotation starting pitcher, especially on a team that struggled in that area last season. Oakland can rely on Fiers to eat plenty of innings and give the team a chance to win in every one of his starts.

Why he might be too pricey

You could argue that $9.7 million is too much to spend on a 33-year-old pitcher who has never had dominant stuff. On most playoff teams, Fiers would be a middle of the rotation type pitcher, rather than a number one or two. Perhaps the best argument is that the A's didn't even trust him to start the American League Wild Card Game, though that strategy is still being debated.

Verdict

When you weigh all the factors, it seems likely the A's will bring Fiers back next season. He helped stabilize an injury-ravaged starting rotation last year and should be able to do the same in 2019. While he is not an overpowering pitcher, he lives in the strike zone and works quickly, inducing lots of weak contact when he is on his game. He has also proven to be extremely durable, starting at least 28 games in each of the last four seasons. Fiers is a good bet to be the A's Opening Day starter in 2019.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Ryan Buchter

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USATSI

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Ryan Buchter

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

While other A's relievers may have earned more notoriety, Ryan Buchter was an important part of the bullpen in 2018. The 31-year-old southpaw went 6-0 with a 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in his first season with Oakland.

Buchter was especially effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .169/.231/.265 slash line. He finished the season extremely strong, allowing just two runs in his final 24 appearances.

The fourth-year pro earned $555k in 2018 and is projected to get $1.3 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Buchter spent almost the entire year as Oakland's only left-hander in the bullpen. Manager Bob Melvin relied on him to retire opponents' best left-handed hitters, and Buchter did a tremendous job of that. He also faced a number of right-handed batters and held his own against them.

For $1.3 million, the A's would be wise to bring Buchter back, especially since there is a good chance they will lose Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelley.

Why he might be too pricey

Some might argue that $1.3 million is too much money to spend on a left-handed specialist. Most of Buchter's outings lasted less than an inning, as he was typically only asked to retire one or two batters.

Even if the A's do end up losing Familia, Rodney, and Kelley, they still have solid right-handers to turn to in Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, and Yusmeiro Petit.

Verdict

For just over a million dollars, Buchter is absolutely worth bringing back for another season. He proved to be a reliable left-handed option out of the bullpen and only got better as the season progressed. While Oakland has other reliable arms in the pen, Buchter is their only left-hander and would be especially valuable against AL West lefties like Robinson Cano, Kole Calhoun, Josh Reddick, and Joey Gallo.