Athletics

A's will retire Dave Stewart's No. 34 in 2020 season, team announces

A's will retire Dave Stewart's No. 34 in 2020 season, team announces

OAKLAND -- The A's had a major surprise in store Sunday at their 30th-anniversary celebration of the 1989 World Series title.

In front of players, coaches and executives from that championship squad, A's president Dave Kaval announced that World Series MVP Dave Stewart would have his No. 34 retired next season.

"Dave is one of the great legends in Oakland A’s history," Kaval said in a statement. "He exemplifies what it means to be an Oakland A. He gave his heart and soul to this Club and our Oakland community."

An Oakland native, Stewart pitched eight seasons for the A's, going 119-78 with a 3.73 ERA. The right-hander finished in the top four of Cy Young voting for four straight seasons from 1987-90.

Stewart got emotional when talking about the honor.

"I've had people say, 'You should be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame' but I'm smart enough to know that my numbers don't equal that," he said. "So, in a small way, you want to do something good in your community and be remembered. And this does that."

Stewart's postseason numbers were simply incredible. In 10 ALCS starts, he went 8-0 with a 2.03 ERA, winning a pair of ALCS MVP awards.

"I've watched the A's since they came to Oakland, so I know the history of the organization," Stewart said. "I could probably tell you about every player, especially in the early days. As a kid, I used to hop the fence to come in and watch these guys play. Until today, the names and the numbers that have been retired were all Hall of Famers, and deservedly so.

"For the organization to step outside that and honor me in that way, there just are no words to express how I feel."

The honor was made even more special by the opportunity for Stewart to share it with his former teammates from the '89 World Series team, who were on hand, along with the squad's manager Tony La Russa.

"I like to say that we're best friends," Stewart said of La Russa. "That was built on my time here in Oakland and earning his respect. ... When you think about family and all the hardships and all the happy times that you have, those are the friendships that I built through those years that I will continue to have until I die."

Added La Russa: "That team had everything. Their minds were right from day one of spring training till the end. Just let them play. ... When you have that conversation of greatest teams, it's impossible not to include the '89 A's because every place you looked, there was a productive player. Every place on the pitching staff and the position players, it was so deep."

La Russa and Stewart both carry a tremendous amount of pride for that team. Stew probably summed it up best.

"F---ing good. We were good," he said. "We didn't accomplish everything that we wanted to, but we were really good. I mean, from top to bottom, we could beat you in a lot of ways. We could run the bases, we could pitch, we (had a) bullpen, we could hit, we played small when we had to.

[RELATED: A's outfield depth to be tested after Piscotty has MRI]

"We were really good."

They sure were.

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

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AP

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

Major League Baseball has initiated the first-ever All-MLB Team. This was put forth for fans to vote on their favorite players from the 2019 season's entirety.

This is a bit like the All-Star selections only that, in this case, it's not in the middle of the season, and with these, there are both first and second teams. Also, this team will not be broken up by leagues and players were previously nominated -- pretty cool, right?

I voted for my 2019 All-MLB Team and here are my results:

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso put on a show at the plate this season and during the Home Run Derby. Sure, we dig the long ball, but we also appreciate a guy who shows his emotions when he does something great on the field, like setting a rookie home-run record with 53 dingers this season.

The middle-infielders as of late have become these gems filled with power, which is a characteristic we didn't see in the earlier eras of the game. 

For second base, Houston Astros star José Altuve proved once again why he is a constant force to be reckoned with. The six-time All-Star finished his 2019 campaign slashing .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 124 games. 

Marcus Semien was the vote at the shortstop position. While there were plenty that deserved the honors (Jorge Polanco and Xander Bogaerts should not go unmentioned), Semien was such a fascinating player this season.

Sure, there's a slight bias over here, but imagine having someone only get better as the season went on. Semien started in all 162 games this season and showed no signs of tiring, finishing with 33 homers and doubling last season's total. He was also third in AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. 

Semien didn't receive All-Star honors this season, which is a shame. He deserves something after the show he put on.

Speaking of Bregman ... I voted for him at third base, the position that was the toughest to select across the roster.

He, Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado each put up a phenomenal season and reminded you just why it's called the hot corner.

For Bregman, he was sensational across the board in each hitting category, finishing 2019 with a .296 average, 41 homers and a 1.015 OPS. Arenado matched Bregman's long-ball numbers with 41, but ya know -- Coors. 

And that energy is contagious.

Outfielders were easy to vote for.

Trout, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. I really hope you guys won't argue with me on those.

The starting pitchers, for the most part, hosted arms from the final two teams still playing October baseball. Justin Verlander earned his second Cy Young Award, posting a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts in 223 innings and an MLB-leading 0.80 WHIP.

Well-deserved. 

Verlander's former teammate Gerrit Cole was behind him in Cy Young voting, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also voted for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and once again, I hope there are no arguments there. If there is, I have plenty of photos of them drenched in champagne celebrating a World Series championship to back me up.

Former A and current Cincinnati Red Sonny Gray didn't reach his 2015 heights, but he dropped his ERA drastically from his 2018 campaign, boasting a 2.87 ERA with the Redlegs. His season deserved to be recognized.

From the bullpen, A's Liam Hendriks got a vote because he not only put up the numbers but switched to closer role responsibilities and did it smoothly and masterfully.

He finished his 2019 All-Star season with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings with a 0.97 WHIP.

[RELATED: Hendriks shift in energy factors in success with A's]

How'd I do? Let me know.

The winners for first and second-team honors will be announced at this year's Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

A's, free-agent reliever Jake Diekman agree to two-year contract

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USATSI

A's, free-agent reliever Jake Diekman agree to two-year contract

The A's are bringing back an important piece to their bullpen one day after non-tendering their former closer

The A's and left-handed reliever Jake Diekman have agreed to a two-year contract with a club option, the team announced on Tuesday. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan first reported the news. Diekman reportedly will earn a guaranteed $7.5 million. 

The A's acquired the 32-year-old from the Royals on July 27 for two minor leaguers. Diekman went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA in 28 appearances out of the bullpen for Oakland.

[RELATED: Why A's could target these three non-tendered players]

Between the A's and Royals, he had a 4.65 ERA over in 76 games out of the bullpen. 

Diekman struck out 21 batters in 20 1/3 innings for the A's, but he also walked 16 batters.