Posted on: October 10, 2010 7:29 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:35 am

R.I.P. A's: Injuries just too much

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Today: The Oakland Athletics.

Is there a more anonymous team in baseball right now than the Athletics? OK, maybe the Brewers.

The A’s are a clear No. 2 in a two-team market, they play on the West Coast, so nobody sees their games, they don’t have any high-profile stars because the roster is always filled with kids, and they’re neither good enough nor bad enough for you to really notice them.

With the exception of Dallas Braden’s perfect game, the A’s kept their usual low profile in 2010, finishing a perfectly average 81-81, nine games out in the American League West. They pitched well, but injuries and a lack of offense kept them from ever being a factor.


The A’s just didn’t hit well.  They were 11th in the AL in runs, 13th in total bases, 13th in slugging and 13th in home runs (thank goodness for the horrendous Seattle offense for padding the bottom of the barrel).

Their three players who made the most starts in the ever-rotating outfield combined for seven home runs. Seven! Nobody hit more than Kevin Kouzmanoff’s 16.

When you field a team with the lowest payroll in the league, you need everything to go right, and the punishing number of injuries the A’s had to deal with gave them no chance. They had 26 disabled list trips made by 23 different players, costing them a total of 1,399 games.

Where do we start? Eric Chavez made it 33 games before a bulging disc forced him out, and he might retire. Coco Crisp was limited to 75 games. Justin Duchscherer made just five starts, and Ben Sheets was lost on July 20. They got Conor Jackson in a midseason trade and got just 57 at-bats out of him.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.


The A’s got some great solid pitching at the top of the order, with Gio Gonzalez winning 15 in his first full season, Trevor Cahill winning 18 and Braden winning 11, including his May 9 whitewashing of the Rays. Oakland had the third-lowest ERA for starting pitchers in all of baseball.

Daric Barton had an outstanding year at first, batting .273 but finishing fifth in on-base with a .393. He also played good defense, as did the A’s in general, best in the AL by some defensive metrics.

The A’s also got good results from their bullpen, notably Craig Breslow and All-Star Andrew Bailey.

The rash of injuries among the veterans left a lot of playing opportunities for young players, and several have shown they will be big contributors, including Cahill and Gonzalez. And Brett Anderson is going to put up big numbers if he can stay healthy.

Outfielder Chris Carter had an ugly introduction to the majors, but is still a big prospect. Another top outfield prospect, Michael Taylor, is on the way, and will bring some power with him.

Nobody is going to be picking the A’s to win the World Series, but with their young, strong pitching and considering the extent to which injuries hampered them in 2010, they’ll certainly be expected to put up a winning record.


They need bats, but where do they get them? They have pitching to dangle, but trading young pitching isn’t exactly Billy Beane’s way. Crisp is one trade option (they’d have to pick up his $5.75 million option first), as the A’s are deep in the outfield.

The biggest decision the A’s face is whether to pick up second baseman Mark Ellis’ option at $6 million. He’s one of their few veteran leaders and is very good defensively, but that’s a decent chunk of change for the A’s and they have Eric Sogard on the way.

Without a big payroll move, which isn’t going to happen, there are no easy answers for the A’s. It’s going to be a balancing act between recovering injured players, developing organizational pieces and cut-rate free agents.


Considering they’re bound to be healthier and they have talent that is still maturing, the A’s should improve next season. But considering the AL wild card had 95 wins this season, it’s going to take a big improvement to get into playoff position.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: October 5, 2010 8:50 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2010 8:52 pm

Is Daric Barton best first baseman in league?

Daric Barton How good does Athletics general manager Billy Beane think first baseman Daric Barton is? Let MLB.com relay the words:

"He showed himself to be, in my opinion, the best first baseman in the league."

Them's fighting words.

Let's get this out of the way first: Barton is not the best first baseman in the league when you consider total package, but he's up there. Most of Barton's value resides in his fantastic fielding -- a 14.3 UZR/150 and 20 defensive runs saves outpace the other contenders significantly. There's no question that Barton is one of the better fielders in the game, and after several starts and stops has also proven himself adept with the bat, although he has a long way to go in that regard to be one of the better hitting first basemen.

Barton led the American League with 110 walks, which gave him an excellent .393 OBP to go with a .273 batting average, but the major knock on Barton is his lack of power, and 2010 was no different. Barton's 33 doubles, five triples (four in Oakland's cavernous park) and 10 home runs gave him a .393 slugging percentage. Subtracting his slugging percentage from batting average gives him an isolated power mark of .131, down from 2009's .141 and second-last among all first baseman just in front of the Dodgers' James Loney.

Even though Barton doesn't have the power, he's just 25 with plenty of time to develop -- and he'll get that time.

"I was quite pleased with what he did there this year, and I have no intention of taking him off first base," Beane added.

-- Evan Brunell

Join MLB Facts and Rumors at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday to chat live during the Rangers -Rays game!

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 30, 2010 1:45 pm

Matsui open to playing for A's

Hideki Matsui One thing the Athletics need to do in the offseason is add offense.

To that effect, the San Francisco Chronicle caught up with Angels DH Hideki Matsui, who said he would be open to playing for Oakland -- but that that's true for every team.

The Los Angeles Times recently put Matsui's return to L.A. between three to five percent, the Chronicle reports, which spurred thoughts of Matsui's future. What Oakland has going for it is a young, up-and-coming team with burgeoning young pitching -- and especially important to Matsui, a "decent-sized Asian community."

Matsui's season hasn't quite gone as planned for the 36-year-old thanks to a debilitating May slump but aside from that has shown he's still got the goods a year after winning the World Series MVP award. The lefty has a .272/.361/.454 line with 20 home runs in 543 plate appearances -- numbers virtually identical to 2009's season.

But how about the ballpark, kind to pitchers but death to hitters with its wide-open outfield and never-ending foul ground?

"You could say it's definitely a big ballpark. There's a huge amount of foul ground," Matsui said. "But I've always had a positive experience there. I've hit pretty well there."

Matsui has 136 career PA in the Coliseum, hitting .294/.353/.462, in line with his career averages.

However, with a plethora of outfielders in the fold and the need to work Chris Carter in, and Oakland may very well choose to keep a DH spot open and put the outfield in a rotation, upgrading the offense at other positions.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 28, 2010 10:57 am
Edited on: September 28, 2010 11:06 am

Duchscherer winding way back from surgery

Justin Duchscherer Justin Duchscherer can't seem to put injuries behind him, but the latest news has the 32-year-old a month away from throwing off a mound.

The Duke underwent elbow surgery in early 2009 and missed the season on rehab and resulting clinical depression issues. He was able to open 2010 in the rotation for his second year of being a starter. He piggybacked off 2008's success by posting a 2.89 ERA in five starts before his congenital hip problems flared up. He joined the team in Anaheim Monday for the first time since mid-May, expressing relief he was back in uniform.

"It's difficult when you're on a team but not able to do your part," he told MLB.com . "It's hard to watch. It's hard not to beat yourself up about it. I want to contribute and I want to help, but I can't."

The righty previously had surgery in the right hip to correct a condition that besets the femur when it meets the joint, but the left hip needed the procedure that takes about six months to recover from. That occurred in the first week of June to sensational results.

"I don't feel anything's wrong with me anymore," the righty said. "Going into the season, I had that back problem, which we found out was stemming from my hip. My hip's been fixed -- both have been fixed -- and my elbow's fixed. I can't imagine what else could go wrong."

Despite having missed parts of the last four seasons to injury, he has no plans to hang up his cleats for good. After all, health is the issue, not effectiveness.

"When I'm healthy, I've always proven that I can pitch," he added. "The thing I have to prove is that I can stay healthy. I haven't shown that yet. That's the worst part about that, being a baseball player and knowing I can do it but not physically being able to. So that's my goal, whether it's here or somewhere else. I'm a baseball player, and I'd like to pitch at least a few more years. I'm too young to try to move on to something else."

Making $1.75 million on the year, Duchscherer is a free agent and would love to return to Oakland, but knows it's not completely up to him.

"If [Oakland's] interested, that's great," he said. "I'd be certainly up to coming back here, but they've got some great pitching, and that's a tribute to them. I don't know if I'll fit. You never know, but we'll see what happens. I'm open to it.

"I just want to be able to tell the organization thanks. When I move on, if I go somewhere else, this will always hold a special place in my heart."

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 25, 2010 7:03 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 7:33 pm

Cantu finally shows up at perfect time

Jorge Cantu
Perhaps Jorge Cantu was just lurking, waiting for the right moment to put his stamp on his new team.

Cantu, traded from the Marlins to the Rangers on July 29, had set a club record for futility by going without an RBI for his first 81 plate appearances as a Ranger entering Saturday's game in Oakland. Even batting .203, as Cantu was since the trade, you should accidentally drive in a run at some point over 81 trips to the plate.

Then Saturday, with the Rangers needing a win to clinch their first division title since 1999, there was Cantu. He delivered his first RBI on a single in the sixth inning to put Texas up 2-1, then in the eighth, with the score tied, he delivered a solo homer to center field to put Texas within six outs of the playoffs.

And that's just how easy it is to go from zero to hero in September. You can bet the champagne tasted a lot better than it would have a day earlier.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 24, 2010 2:04 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 2:05 am

Murton is the reverse Ichiro

Matt Murton
You might have heard that Ichiro Suzuki on Thursday notched his 10th consecutive 200-hit season. Less publicized was that Matt Murton did the opposite.

OK, it might not technically be the opposite. But Ichiro, a former Japanese player, got his 200th hit on the same day Murton, a former U.S. major-league player, got his 200th hit for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League.

The 200-hit mark is a bigger deal in Japan, where the season is shorter (it varies between 130 and 140 games), and Murton is just the fourth player in Nippon Professional Baseball history to reach the mark. The last? Ichiro, while playing for Orix in 1994. Another American veteran, Alex Ramirez, had 200 hits in 2007.

Murton, according to the Japan Times, notched his 200th hit with a homer against Chunichi in Hanshin's 131st game (Ichiro's hit Thursday came in the Mariners' 152nd game).

Murton, 28, batted .286 in five U.S. major-league seasons with the Cubs, Athletics and Rockies, who sold his contract to Hanshin last December. The fact that he and Ramirez (a part-time U.S. player in three seasons) have put up two of the landmark offensive seasons in Japanese history tells you something about the difference in the level of play (people who have watched both say NPB is roughly equivalent to Triple-A ball) and makes what Ichiro has done here all the more impressive.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 23, 2010 8:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 8:21 pm

Surgery for A's Bailey

Andrew Bailey
Oakland closer Andrew Bailey, who was shut down this week with elbow soreness, doesn't have ligament damage, but will have cleanup surgery that will end his season.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Bailey saw noted orthopedist James Andrews Thursday, and Andrews will perform the arthroscopic surgery. Bailey is expected to be ready for spring training.

Bailey, who missed nearly a month of the season with a muscle strain in his ribcage, finishes with a 1.47 ERA and 25 saves in 28 chances. Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz will likely get future save opportunities.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: September 22, 2010 5:43 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 5:43 pm

Sanchez can get Giants into record territory

Jonathan Sanchez
Jonathan Sanchez has been on quite a roll, and if the Giants left-hander can keep it up Wednesday night, he'll have the San Francisco pitching staff rolling into record territory.

The Giants have allowed three or fewer runs in 15 consecutive games. According to stats provided to the team by Elias Sports Bureau, that's one game behind the single-season record for the live-ball era (since 1920), 16 straight games by the 1972 Indians and 1981 A's. And it's worth noting that both of those teams did it in April, not in the heat of a pennant race.

San Francisco has a collective ERA of 1.57 in 18 September games, an amazing turnaround from August, when the staff had a 4.55 ERA.

Sanchez, who goes against the Cubs on Wednesday, has been a big part of that, dominating in his three September starts. He's 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA (one earned run in 19 innings) this month, and has lost just twice in 15 starts since June 30.

Interestingly, despite making 152 career appearances over five seasons in San Francisco, Sanchez has only faced the Cubs twice for a total of five innings. With a half-game lead in the National League West, the Giants hope to see Sanchez pile up some numbers against Chicago and contribute to a record-tying streak.

-- David Andriesen

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com