Bartolo Colon

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

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USATSI

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

It's no secret the A's could use some starting pitching help.

The problem became more dire this week when the team announced talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

Though the season is already underway, there are still several starting pitchers available on the free agent market. Former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel tops the list, but don't expect the A's to throw massive money his way.

Instead, Oakland may choose to pursue one of these five starters:

Edwin Jackson

Jackson certainly makes the most sense of anyone. The 35-year-old right-hander was the most pleasant of surprises last season. Jackson went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and was a key part of the A's clubhouse chemistry.

The two sides have been in contact for much of the offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal. That could change now that Jackson and the A's both figure to be a little more desperate.

James Shields 

At the age of 37, Shields is obviously nearing the end of his career, but he figures to get a shot somewhere in the league. The former All-Star went just 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA last season with the White Sox but did pitch over 200 innings.

Shields has a career ERA of 4.01 in 13 seasons. The right-hander would likely fair better on a team like Oakland, especially playing his home games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum.

Miguel González

González is coming off season-ending rotator cuff surgery, but at just 34 years old he has a chance to bounce back. The right-hander went 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA in 2017, his last full season, but recorded a solid 3.73 ERA the year before.

González has a career ERA of 4.06 in seven major league seasons and could be another pitcher who would benefit from the Coliseum. He will be available for cheap, making him a low-risk signing.

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo has struggled the past few seasons, but at just 33 years old, he still has time to regain his form. The right-hander has a career ERA of 4.06 in 12 big league seasons.

Gallardo's last productive season came in 2015 with the Texas Rangers. The former All-Star finished that year 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. Like González, he should be available for a low cost.

[RELATED: A's have options at first base after Olson injury]

Bartolo Colón

Yes, Big Sexy is still going strong at the age of 45. You've got to think someone will take a flier on the former Cy Young Award winner, who will be entering his 22nd major league season.

Colón has 247 career wins and a 4.12 ERA, though he struggled to a 5.78 ERA last season in Texas. But three years ago, the right-hander went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and made his fourth career All-Star Game.
 

Six Bay Area athletes who should follow Jason Witten, attempt comeback

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AP

Six Bay Area athletes who should follow Jason Witten, attempt comeback

Jason Witten announced he will end his retirement after a year and return to play football, the Cowboys announced on Thursday via Twitter

This will mark Witten's 16th season in the league and with Dallas. 

The 11-time Pro Bowler is trying to make a comeback which is something to look forward to, and I respect the enthusiasm. But doesn't it give you warm fuzzies to know this could start a trend for others to return?

Let's take a look at some Bay Area legends that we would be very excited to see give the game a second chance.

Marshawn Lynch

When Marshawn Lynch tweeted a cryptic photo of some cleats hanging on a phone line and a peace symbolic emoji, people weren't sure it was actually over for him, but he confirmed "he was done" -- he was going to retire after the 2015 NFL season after six seasons with the Seahawks. 

But wait ...

Lynch was then acquired by the Raiders in April of 2017 -- the Oakland native would return to the Bay Area. 

At the moment, we don't know if Lynch will return to the Raiders, or football altogether and the team still isn't sure what to do with the five-time Pro Bowler with his contract expiring next month.

Still, he's the type of guy worth waiting for. 

Bartolo Colon

So, Bartolo Colon hasn't retired -- thank our lucky stars for that. But perhaps one day he will.

Across 21 seasons, the 45-year-old has four All-Star selections and an AL Cy Young Award he earned back in 2005 where he was also in MVP talks. He spent two seasons with the  A's where he earned one of those All-Star honors and was once again in talks to earn yet another Cy Young Award.

You should all join me on this train when I say Colon should never retire -- but if that day does come could you imagine him attempting a comeback? Sign me up.

Also, someone please sign him -- he's a current free agent -- and ahem, we know he looks good in that green and gold.

Patrick Willis

When five-time All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis decided to retire after the 2014 season, many were surprised -- but he felt it was the right time as he said in an interview with Matt Maiocco.

“I believed in myself before anyone else saw it. I never put that in anybody else’s hands. So for me, it was the right time.”

Still, he's keeping in shape and still in the industry offering up his expertise with "CoachTube," an online training course that teaches individuals basically how to be a linebacker.

He looks like he could still play.

Rickey Henderson

We already know what it would look like if Rickey Henderson were to announce he was coming back. It would look like this:

Henderson is an Oakland native and spent 14 seasons with the Green and Gold across his 25-season illustrious career. He has 10 All-Star selections, two World Series championships, stolen like a million (1,406) bases, and he has a place in Cooperstown.

He still does guest coaching spots with the team and you know they would welcome him with open arms. 

Barry Bonds

Speaking of the Bay Area welcome ...

Barry Bonds -- perhaps you have heard of him: Hit 762 career home runs -- a lot of them into McCovey Cove, 14 All-Star selections, two batting titles, and he's a seven-time MVP.

Ringing any bells?

If you've seen the guy recently, you can tell he's still in amazing shape. And the Giants just recently retired his number -- perhaps to have it for safe keeping if he changes his mind?

OK, so that's farfetched, but we can all dream, right?

Baron Davis

When the Warriors acquired Baron Davis in 2005, a gorgeous backcourt was formed with Davis and Jason Richardson leading the way. He was also very happy to be back in California. 

The two-time All-Star didn't get those selections with the Warriors, but he was part of the "We Believe" movement that was the strongest group of Dubs since before the recent Steph Curry-led dynasty. 

Across his career, Davis averaged 16.1 points and 3.8 assists per game. 

Universal designated hitter? Possibility of new MLB rules spark conversation

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AP

Universal designated hitter? Possibility of new MLB rules spark conversation

As humans, a lot of us hate change. As baseball fans, well -- some want to embrace change and others (like me) feel like you shouldn't mess with the game of baseball ... much. 

And with all of the possible changes being brought to Major League Baseball, I put my two cents in for rules that should be implemented:

If you're a new follower of mine, I'm a very anti-mid-game marriage proposal type of person.

EMBARRASS YOURSELF LATER.

Yes, I was a bit facetious with my suggestions, but it did spark up a conversation among my followers. And the universal designated hitter scenario isn't something I just dreamt about one day. It's actually something being discussed by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

With that said, my tweet brought out a wide variety of responses -- and that’s fine, but I always love hearing how baseball-obsessed nerds like me feel about the game. A lot of fans of National League teams hate the DH rule -- I completely understand that.

But some of the suggestions for "changes" to MLB, well ...

"Ban Sweet Caroline." -- @danscan13

Dan, I have Red Sox fans that follow me on social media that would disagree with you -- they will die on that hill. Although, recently a former Yankees pitcher told me he hated hearing that song when he was playing at Fenway  Park Pahk. So, you at least have some support in this.

"Ban getting up during the inning." -- @CoxRyan89

I mentioned on the Twitter dot com that I am not God and I cannot control when fans sit or stand up -- which is upsetting because no matter how much I hate the wave, fans are allowed to do it.

"But the DH isn't baseball." -- @NorCalStoolie

It's literally a thing that happens in baseball, so it's baseball. 

"Agree with these. Would also add you need to know the fair/foul rule if you're sitting near the baselines. Don't need dumb fans interfering with the ball in play." -- @BlueJays_Giants

First of all, a Blue Jays slash Giants fan? Super cool. Secondly, yes fam -- I see you. 

You know when you get on a plane and the flight attendant is telling you how to put your seatbelt on and you're ignoring him/her, but still paying attention? There should be a quick demonstration on how to be a fan and how not to reach over the concrete, trying to do your best impression of a web-gem play. Don't try to live out your junior varsity playing days, Jim.

"And outlaw talking into your mitt. It becomes a balk. It's as if every conversation is filmed and immediately translated by lip readers." -- @kemoslobe

Have you seen those bad lip reading videos? They are legendary.

And I find it hard to believe you would be able to tell a pitcher he or she was not allowed to speak into their mitt. That's part of the communication process. If Noah Syndergaard can't read what his catcher's beautifully painted yellow fingernails are trying to say, he should be able to have a quick meeting. And maybe the pitcher is just being polite because there wasn't enough time for the teeth brushing that morning.

This just opened the can of worms known as pitcher/catcher mound-meetings which is a completely different issue.

"Reduce beer prices." -- @fvignuli

I have your back on this one. 

"I'm all for salary floor, banning shift, pitch clock and punishing franchises who tank." -- @chappy23us

There's a lot to unpack here ...

I don't think MLB ever has to worry about the salary floor.

Banning the shift is silly -- let the players adjust to wherever they need to go. That's part of the strategy. Imagine having a lefty walk up to the plate and not being able to move. That's a habit that would be almost impossible to break. Plus, how would you measure what is considered moving on the shift? Too much drama, no thank you.

Pitch clock. Meh, I'm impartial, but I get why you would want to execute it. I would have to talk to more pitchers and see how they felt about it -- I worry rushing through a delivery could lead to more injuries.

Punishing franchises who tank. I mean, everyone wants to hate another team, so have at it.

"Can we also ban 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' during the seventh-inning stretch?" -- @MKania04

Yeah, let's go around telling kids Santa Clause isn't real, too. 

***

Some of you brought up something that I can get behind. And that's the fact that if the National League adopts the DH, we have a less-likely chance of seeing Bartolo Colon do this:

And you know what, that's something I will have to live with. 

Well, I feel better now -- how about you?