Tag:Athletics
Posted on: October 23, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Ortiz top DH



By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the toughest positions for a free agent to land a big contract got a little tougher after Adam Dunn's terrible 2011. Teams are already skittish on spending big bucks (and maybe more importantly, tying those dollars up for years) to a DH, plus with only 14 of the 30 teams having the position, it's difficult for any free agent DH to have leverage. Most of the teams already have a DH under contract, so the possibilities here are going to be pretty repetitive.

1. David Ortiz: Big Papi created a stir when he said he may be interested in playing for the Yankees, but it's unlike the Yankees would want to spend that kind of money on Ortiz. Instead, they expect to have Jesus Montero as their main designated hitter in 2012 and beyond. Ortiz struggled early in 2011, but finished with a .309/.398/.554 line with 29 homers and 96 RBI. Even though he didn't start his career with the Red Sox, it's tough to imagine him in any other uniform. 
Possible teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners

Edwin Encarnacion2. Edwin Encarnacion: The Blue Jays have a $3.5 million option on Encarnacion, who has been a frustrating player to watch. Just when you think he's done, he goes on a hot streak, and he can really hit when he's hot. After the All-Star break, Encarnacion hit .291/.382/.504 with 11 homers and 36 RBI. Encarnacion played third base and first base, but DH is his best defensive position.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Mariners, Athletics

Johnny Damon3. Johnny Damon: Damon will be 38 next season and he's more or less finished in the outfield, even though he did play some first base with the Rays last season. In 150 games, he hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI. The Rays are considering bringing Damon back, but he'd have to cost less than the $5.25 million he made in 2011. Damon is 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career and would likely need two more seasons to reach the milestone. It could be difficult for him to find a place to do it unless he decides to take a pay cut. 
Possible teams: Rays, Mariners, Athletics

Jim Thome4. Jim Thome: There was a report that the White Sox were considering offering Thome their hitting coach position, but did not. However, that may be a sign of which way Thome may be leaning in his decision for 2012. Thome did say he was leaning toward playing, and although he was used mostly against right-handers, his splits were pretty even -- .257/.352/.470 against right-handed pitchers and .253/.385/.493 against left-handers. Thome seemed energized after joining the Indians, hitting .296/.390/.479 in Cleveland. Even if he doesn't return, he will have solidified his Hall of Fame resume, hitting his 600th home run in 2011. 
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Athletics, retirement

Hideki Matsui5. Hideki Matsui: The A's loved Matsui, if not his production. A solid influence on younger players, Matsui hit just .251/.321/.375 in 2011, but rebounded hit hit .295/.353/.425 in the second half of the season. Matsui would have to accept less than the $4.25 million he earned in 2011, but that doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. Most expect him to return to Oakland, especially with the A's agreeing to open the season in Japan against the Mariners.
Possible teams: Athletics, Mariners, Japan, retirement

Jorge Posada6. Jorge Posada: One of the "core four" is probably done as a Yankee. If Posada wants to keep playing, he'll do it in a different uniform. The Yankees will be moving on with Montero as their DH who can also catch. Posada hit a career-worst .235/.315/.398 with 14 homers in 2011, but did go 6 for 14 in the NLDS against the Tigers, starting all five games. He struggled against left-handers this season, hitting .092/.169/.108 against lefties. With few DH spots available, he may not find any takers and will retire a Yankee, not by choice, but because there's nobody out there willing to let him play for another team.
Possible teams: Athletics, retirement

Vladimir Guerrero7. Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero has said he'd like to play two or three more seasons, but it could be the end of his career, as well. Guerrerro hit .290/.317/.416 in 2011, but had just 13 home runs in 145 games for the Orioles. Guerrero passed Julio Franco for the most hits by a Dominican-born player late in the season and finished the season with 2,590 hits and 449 home runs. Guerrero didn't get a contract until Feb. 18 last year, but did get the money he was looking for -- that could be tougher this season. Still, there are teams out there that could use him.
Possible teams: Orioles, Athletics, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays, retirement

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Red Sox losing pitching coach, too

Curt YoungBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Pitching coach Curt Young has returned to the A's after serving in the same capacity for the Red Sox last season.

Young had spent 23 years with the A's before joining the Red Sox, including his time as a player, a minor league coach and serving as the pitching coach from 2004-10.

Young had a contract dispute with the A's last year, pushing his hand to leave Oakland. He returns after an eventful year in Boston, which ended with controversy over the starting pitchers' work ethic and actions during games. The Red Sox, of course, have also lost their manager and will lose their general manager. With that much unknown, he can return to the ultimate familiarity of a place where he's spent the majority of his professional career.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 11:57 am
 

Red Sox pitching coach Young could return to A's

YoungBy Evan Brunell

The Athletics are searching for a new pitching coach and it could end up being their old one, MLB.com reports.

The Athletics fired pitching coach Ron Romanick after the season, having promoted him from bullpen coach to fill the void left by Curt Young, who left to Boston after a contract dispute. Young had worked as pitching coach in Oakland for seven years, and 27 years in all inside the organization. In Boston, Young oversaw a Josh Beckett resurgence, and Clay Buchholz was pitching well before falling to a back injury. However, John Lackey's struggles plus a lack of a big season out of Jon Lester shone a spotlight on Young, who also had to battle with ineffectiveness all over the staff. It's difficult to determine how much blame Young serves, but after seeing skipper Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein leaving, Young may prefer to return to Oakland.

Young is a friend of new manager Bob Melvin in Oakland and is expected to rejoin the A's by the end of the month.

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Photo: MLB.com
Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Video: Faux-trailer for 'Too Much Moneyball'

By Matt Snyder

By now, surely all baseball fans -- or anyone who watches TV, really -- knows there's a movie about baseball in theaters now called "Moneyball." It stars Brad Pitt as A's general manager Billy Beane trying to put a competitive team on the field with a low payroll.

Well, Jest.com came out with an utterly hilarious spoof trailer, called "Too Much Moneyball," about the big-spending Yankees.

In case you haven't seen the movie or need a refresher, here's the trailer for the real "Moneyball."



Now, check out the spoof.



Hat-tip: Big League Stew

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 6:32 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Oakland Athletics

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Oakland Athletics
Record: 74-88, 22 games back in AL West
Manager: Bob Melvin
Best hitter: Josh Willingham -- .246/.322/.477, 29 HR, 98 RBI, 69 R, 26 2B
Best pitcher: Gio Gonzalez -- 16-12, 3.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 197 K, 202 IP

With injuries to the pitching staff, more lack of offense, the most exciting thing happening for the A's this season came at the box office, not the ballpark. But hey, I rather enjoyed "Moneyball" -- I'd only advise going to the movie with the understanding that Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez were completely ignored. If you know that going it, it's enjoyable.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They started off losing four of their first five, but didn't give up by any stretch. In fact, the A's were 22-20 and tied for first place in the AL West on May 17. Then a seven-game losing streak sunk them and a week later they began a season-killing 10-game losing streak that cost Bob Geren his job. Bob Melvin took over and went 47-52 the rest of the way. Considering how bad the offense was and that both Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson were lost for the season, that's pretty fine work and general manager Billy Beane agreed -- giving Melvin a three-year deal.

The A's finished 12th in the AL in runs scored. They don't even get on base anymore, as the .311 OBP was also good for 12th in the AL. Meanwhile the staff ERA was the third best in the AL. So it's the same old story in Oakland. They can pitch, but not hit.

2012 AUDIT

If Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden come back strong from injuries, the A's have a very solid 1-5 rotation. Trevor Cahill will need a bounce-back season, but Gonzalez and McCarthy figure to be similar to this season. Full seasons out of Joey Devine and Andrew Bailey will make the bullpen better as well. But they were already good at pitching, as the numbers show. And they're still young enough to count on the staff being good for the next several years. So, just as it has the past several seasons, everything is going to boil down to what the A's can muster on offense. Young Jemile Weeks showed he's ready to take over at second base, but many other young players still haven't shown they can be consistent offensive threats at the big-league level. There's promise with the Chris Carter/Brandon Allen/Michael Taylor group and some prospects are getting closer to joining the fray. The 2012 season will not be a complete rebuild as much as it will be preparing for 2013.

FREE AGENTS

David DeJesus, OF
Josh Willingham, OF
Coco Crisp, OF
Hideki Matsui, DH
Rich Harden, SP
Brandon McCarthy, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The A's have to focus entirely on the offense and should probably make an effort to get younger instead of throwing out a group of veteran cast-offs. Sure, the "Moneyball" movie had the "island of misfit toys" line, but remember, they ignored the strong foundation of youth in place. We can't do that in real life.
  • Let Harden walk and spend the money on offense. Guillermo Moscoso and the five starters mentioned in the Audit section above give the A's enough rotation depth, not to mention if Tyson Ross can return healthy. Really, let's include the bullpen here. The pitching is fine. Bring back McCarthy and otherwise there's no reason for players outside the organization to even be considered.
  • Carter has been awful against major-league pitching, but it's only been in small samples with no consistent at-bats. At some point they need to leave him in the lineup for an extended stretch to find out if he's a "quadruple-A" player or not. Likewise, they might as well stick with Allen and Taylor, too, and just go with a youth movement offensively. Between first base, right field and DH, at least two of these three should be in the lineup everyday, in different combinations. 
  • Shortstop prospect Grant Green is going to be ready for a look soon. He hit .291/.343/.408 in Double-A. Cliff Pennington will hold down the fort in the meantime.
  • With Hideki Matsui likely to be retained, there is very little reason for the A's to bother with David DeJesus. They need to see what Taylor and Carter can do. When Matsui needs the occasional off day, you have all three young sluggers in there. 
  • I would bring Willingham back. He and Matsui can provide veteran stability to the middle of the order so that there isn't any extra pressure put on the younger guys. 
  • If anyone from outside the organization is brought in, it needs to be an on-base guy. They tried to go with patchwork quasi-power hitters and didn't work. You can't score runs if you aren't getting on base, so it's time Beane's A's go back to their roots.
  • How long until Michael Choice is ready? The A's 2010 first rounder was in High-A this season, but he hit 30 home runs with a .918 OPS. Better yet, he's a center fielder, which they'll need soon. Maybe bring back Crisp for one more season to bridge the gap?
If everything breaks right, the A's could be a serious AL West contender in 2013. The pitching staff is young and good. The offense could very well be respectable again with proper development from Weeks, Taylor, Choice, Green, Allen and Carter to go with Kurt Suzuki as a future nucleus. Plugging in veterans would only hinder the youngsters.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Pepper: Scutaro stumble costs Red Sox

Scutaro

By Evan Brunell


The Red Sox authored an unimaginable collapse, riding a 7-20 September all the way toward falling out of the playoffs at the last moment. As Boston fell to Baltimore 4-3, the Rays walked off against the Yankees 8-7 in an amazing end to the season. There's one play that stands out when looking back at how Boston blew Game 162 against the Orioles, and it appears to have been influenced by Red Sox Nation invading Camden Yards.

The setting: Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro is on first base in the eighth inning with Boston up 3-2. Carl Crawford at the plate. He slices a line drive to left fielder Nolan Reimold, who dove in an attempt to catch the ball. Scutaro, rounding second, heard cheers from the crowd. Scutaro, having briefly lost sight of the ball, paused, thinking cheers meant Reimold had made the catch. Except that Camden Yards is sometimes called Fenway Park South and it was no exception Wednesday. So the cheers actually meant Reimold had missed the ball.

"I heard the screaming, but I don't know if it was their crowd or our crowd, so I don't know if he made the play or not," Scutaro told the Providence Journal. "I just got a bad read. I should have just kept going."

Scutaro picked it back up once he realized what happened, and third base coach Tim Bogar tried to send him home anyways. The ball took a few hops to reach Matt Wieters, but it reached him before Scutaro did. Out.

Who knows if the Orioles would still have tied the game up or won in the ninth, but that extra insurance run and the wasted opportunity will haunt the dreams of Red Sox players all offseason.

"It seems like, the whole September, nothing works out for us," Scutaro said. "Everything went different ways and everything was against us, pretty much. I guess it was our destiny to be out of the playoffs. Nothing worked out. We didn't play good enough. What can I say? That's baseball."

Wakefield returning: Tim Wakefield has decided he wants to play another year and intends to return to the Red Sox. “I’ve definitely made up my mind that I definitely want to come back next year,” Wakefield told Fox Sports. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins. I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”

Pavanostache: Carl Pavano had a mustache in 2010 that drew all manner of attention and was dubbed the Pavanostache, and enjoyed one of his best seasons. He didn't rock it at all in 2011 -- until Wednesday's final game, where he tossed his first shutout of the year, throwing a five-hitter. Does the mustache have some mystical power we don't know about? (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Payroll rising: The Marlins' payroll will rise, but president David Samson reined in expectations, saying that it won't reach as high as $100 million. The Marlins will set a record for payroll at the very least, he says, but payroll figures to top out at $80 million. (Miami Herald)

Moneyball: The controversy over Moneyball continues, and the subject of both the book and movie finally weighed in. GM Billy Beane responded to allegations from manager Art Howe that Beane had a hand in crafting Howe's negative portrayal in the movie. "I was wondering who was going to be the first guy to think I produced, wrote or directed this movie," Beane told the San Jose Mercury News, saying he wasn't involved in making the movie. "Now I have my answer. [Howe's] comments are completely misguided."

Skippering: Davey Johnson wants to return to the Nationals in 2012, but Washington is going to continue with interviewing other internal candidates. It still appears likely Johnson will return. (MASN)

Arrested: Milton Bradley has been arrested for the second time this year after allegedly swinging a bat at his wife and missing. He was booked on felony assault, released on bail and is due back in court Oct. 18. (Los Angeles Times)

Affair: Yankees GM Brian Cashman has just been caught up in what could be a messy affair. He is alleged to have entered into a relationship with a woman in 2009 who was married. (Deadspin)

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


Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:04 am
 

Verlander, Kershaw win pitching triple crowns

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So, now that we've got that pesky playoff thing all figured out, we can get to the important stuff, like batting titles and the such, right?

OK, while eight teams still have something to play for, 22 other teams are done, and so are the regular-season individual titles. So what were the best marks in the biggest individual categories? Here you go:

American League
Batting average: .344 -- Miguel Cabrera
Home runs: 43 -- Jose Bautista
RBIs: 119 -- Curtis Granderson
Stolen bases: 49 -- Coco Crisp, Brett Gardner
Wins: 24 -- Justin Verlander
ERA: 2.40 -- Justin Verlander
Strikeouts: 250 -- Justin Verlander
Saves: 49 -- Jose Valverde

National League
Batting average: .337 -- Jose Reyes
Home runs: 39 -- Matt Kemp
RBIs: 126 -- Matt Kemp
Stolen bases: 61 -- Michael Bourn
Wins: 21 -- Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy
ERA: 2.28 -- Clayton Kershaw
Strikeouts: 248 -- Clayton Kershaw
Saves: 46 -- John Axford, Craig Kimbrel

If you want to know who led in other stats, you can check out our stats page.

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

Posted on: September 28, 2011 9:17 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:07 am
 

Signs point toward Matsui's return to Oakland

Hideki MatsuiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

In news that will make millions in Japan happy, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the A's are likely to re-sign designated hitter Hideki Matsui, meaning the season-opening series between Oakland and Seattle in Tokyo will feature the country's two favorite exports.

Earlier Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced the season-opening series at the Tokyo Dome against the A's and Mariners. Ichiro Suzuki is under contract with the Mariners for next season, and both Matsui and the A's are interested the 37-year-old returning to Oakland for 2012.

"He's the one free agent we'd seriously consider for a number of reasons," an A's official told Slusser.

Matsui made $4.25 million this season and would likely cost less in 2012. Slusser suggest he could sign for $2 million, making a mid-season DFA wouldn't hurt the A's bottom line. Although he hit just .252/.322/.377 with 12 home runs and 72 RBI, he did play better after Bob Melvin took over, hitting .298/.356/.429 with six homers in the second half of the season. He also is a good presence in the clubhouse and brings in more money for the team in Japanese sponsorships and increased merchandise sales in Japan.

It's tough to overstate Matsui's popularity in Japan. Although Suzuki is the bigger star in the U.S., Matsui has been a folk hero since his high school days and then played for the country's most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants. He hit 332 home runs while in Japan and won three MVPs. He also led his team to three Japan Series titles and his standing was elevated even more when he became a member of the Yankees.

The return of Ichiro to Japan was sure to be a big deal for those two games in Tokyo, but the addition of Matsui will make it even more exciting -- and lucrative.

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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