Tag:Oakland Athletics
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:41 am

Slow-footed Angels risk getting left behind

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Paging the Los Angeles Angels, attention Angels.

Anybody there?


Free agent Carl Crawford is still out there. So are free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and free agent closer Rafael Soriano ... and, yes, free agent ace Cliff Lee.

Are you?

After getting aced out of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia two years ago and failing to produce a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins last year, the heat is on the Angels to swing and connect this winter. On something.

Crawford has been a high priority, according to sources, though late Tuesday night it was confirmed that the Angels were in contact with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, and that that dialog is expected to remain ongoing.

As for Crawford, his price certainly will be sky-high after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday.

"I don't have a reaction," Reagins told a small group of reporters Monday night when quizzed on how the stunning Werth contract will affect Crawford's value. "We still have to conduct business with any free agent. Teams are conducting business and this is just part of the process that happens at this time of year. ...

"We're conducting business. What other clubs do doesn't affect how we operate."

Maybe that helps explain why the Angels, who took hard runs at both Teixeira and Sabathia two winters ago, have swung and missed lately. What other clubs do does affect the rest in this game, because market values are set.

Here in Florida, Crawford's market is still taking shape, and you bet the Werth contract will be a barometer.

The Angels are one of the few teams with pockets deep enough to pull up a chair at Crawford's table. One break they may have gotten in the past few days is that in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox may be out on Crawford -- at least, at seven or eight years.

The Red Sox are said to have agreed with Gonzalez on the parameters of a seven-year deal worth between $161 and $168 million that likely will be finalized sometime around Opening Day. It's hard to see Boston signing two players to contracts that long in one winter.

Other than the Angels' interest, things have been awfully quiet here regarding Crawford.

The Angels always operate with the secrecy of a CIA spy, but until Tuesday night and the Lee revelation, there was little indication that much of anything was happening.

Beltre? The Angels currently are not taking an aggressive path there, according to a source with knowledge of the club's thinking.

Soriano? No indicators there, either.

Lee? Hmmm.

Reagins, scrambling because of a flight delay Monday, was among the last GM's -- and, far as anybody can tell, the last -- to arrive at the Winter Meetings.

Owner Arte Moreno is known for being aggressive. But over the past couple of years, he hasn't been aggressive enough.

The Angels got worse last year. They looked old. They were slow.

The decision to let Figgins walk backfired when Erick Aybar did not develop into a leadoff hitter. The decision to let Guerrero walk blew up when he had a great year and Hideki Matsui was disappointing.

Suddenly, the shift of power in the AL West is becoming evident.

Texas not only won the division, but the Rangers are loaded with good, young talent. They're not going anywhere.

The A's have the kind of good, young pitching that has them poised to recapture some of the glory of old.

Seattle? Well, let's not get carried away here. Not everybody in the division is on the move.

Right now, though, in terms of forward momentum, the Angels are more Seattle than Texas.

Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that the return to health of first baseman Kendry Morales, who slammed 34 home runs and collected 108 RBIs two summers ago before suffering a season-ending broken leg early in 2010, will be a boon in 2011.

As for the rest. ...

"It's kind of like the offseason becomes fantasy baseball for the players, too," Scioscia said. "You look at who's out there and who might be in the lineup and think, 'Man, if we had this guy or that guy, we'd be a better team.'"

So far this winter? The Angels' big move was to fire head trainer Ned Bergert, who had been with the organization for 36 years.

Oh, and they fired a scout, Dale Sutherland, who had been with them for 19 years (and was primarily responsible for the club claiming David Eckstein off of waivers from Boston, and acquiring Figgins from Colorado in a trade). Oh, and scouting director Eddie Bane.

Looks like a whole lot of scapegoats. And so far, not much else.

Posted on: July 24, 2010 1:56 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2010 2:11 pm

Oakland's Sheets re-injures troubled elbow

The July trade market -- or, at the very least, Oakland's season -- has changed significantly: Athletics right-hander Ben Sheets has re-injured his troubled elbow, CBSSports.com has learned.

At the very least, Sheets will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. But a source close to Sheets says there is very real concern that the elbow has blown out again and that he is finished for the season.

The Athletics signed Sheets to a one-year, $10 million deal this season figuring that he either could help them contend in the AL West or, if not, he could become a valuable trade chip.

While the A's are in third place in the AL West at 48-48, currently 8 1/2 games behind first-place Texas, chatter around a Sheets trade has been increasing in recent starts.

Several scouts, notably from the Tigers and Phillies, have been in attendance at Sheets' recent outings. Though Sheets, who missed all of 2009 following elbow surgery, has not recaptured his one-time ace stuff from his Milwaukee days, he's been intriguing enough to allow contenders to imagine him helping them.

One scout who watched Sheets warm up in the bullpen before Monday's start said Sheets threw very few warm-up pitches. And scouts who have watched him recently say he has been very reluctant to throw his breaking pitches in games.

Over 20 starts in 2010, Sheets is 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA. He's worked 119 1/3 innings in 2010 and last started on Monday evening against Boston, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing the Red Sox two runs and seven hits, striking out two and walking two.

"He had no velocity but he adds and subtracts," one scout who was in attendance to see Sheets on Monday told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. "He threw only five pitches over 90 [m.p.h]. He was pitching at 86-88.

"He still competes, though. You know what he is? Right now, he's Freddy Garcia."

And, sadly, right now, he's not even that.

Posted on: May 26, 2010 10:00 pm

Can U2 hit the curveball?

Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny and U2 front man Bono each went on the disabled list in the past few days with a bad back.

Guess which one may have the widest-ranging repercussions on the baseball schedule?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the havoc U2's summer tour wreaked on the 2010 baseball schedule.

Well, with U2 now having had to postpone 16 dates on the North American leg of its world tour this summer following Bono's emergency back surgery, tour promoters are talking about rescheduling the dates for 2011.

Which means, as for those postponed concerts in Angel Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16), Toronto's Rogers Centre (July 3) and Florida's Landshark Stadium (July 9) ... uh-oh.

The 2011 baseball schedule has already marched on with or without U ... 2.

"It's way too late in terms of blocking dates for the 2011 schedule," says Katy Feeney, one of baseball's long-time senior vice-presidents and a point person in the scheduling process. "The first draft should hopefully be in clubs' hands by mid-June.

"People need to tell the promoters to cool their jets. I'm sorry Bono had back surgery, but it's way too late. To block dates right now is nearly impossible."

Because of the sheer magnitude of the stadium stage show, U2 requires roughly 10 days to set up, play the show and then break everything down. With the Angels, Blue Jays, Athletics and Marlins all requesting specific road dates in 2010 so they could host U2 (and make gobs of money in the process), baseball officials had to work overtime on this summer's schedule.

Because of all of the moving parts, the trickle-down affected other clubs as well.

For example: The Dodgers agreed to flip-flop home dates of their interleague series this summer with the Angels, who needed a long road trip to schedule Bono and Co. Consequently, the Dodgers were rewarded with an extra weekend homestand -- they now have 14, where most other clubs have 13. The Angels agreed to lose a home weekend series in the swap, giving them 12 instead of the normal 13.

So the Angels are on the road from May 31-June 13 in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and in Dodger Stadium ... to make room for a band that now needs to reschedule.

Because the concert promoters work with the individual clubs, and not directly with baseball, Feeney isn't quite sure of the band's makeup plans. But the Athletics already have checked in with her about rescheduling their U2 show next summer, and it is Feeney's understanding that the concert promoters are hoping to keep the same or similar dates in the baseball parks, only for 2011 instead of 2010.

But the rough draft of the 2011 schedule -- which must be presented to the players' union by July 1, by the way -- is already finished. And it does not include 10-day dark periods in Angel Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum or anywhere else.

"Maybe somebody needs to go and tell them to scale down their stage," Feeney suggested. "We've scheduled around several other bands over the years -- the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and nobody has needed that kind of time.

"If Bono's doctors are telling him to stop jumping around, maybe he could just play sitting down."

Hmmm. ...

Maybe a few day-night doubleheaders would work for U2?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Through the storm we reach the shore
"You give it all but I want more
"And I'm waiting for you"

-- U2, With or Without You

Posted on: May 13, 2010 8:14 pm

Braden set for encore Friday night in Anaheim

When Dallas Braden takes the mound Friday night in Anaheim in the latest attempt to become the only pitcher since Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer (1938) to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts, he says he will not feel any different than he did in his last start despite. ...

-- Becoming only the 19th man in baseball history to throw a perfect game last Sunday against Tampa Bay.

-- Reading the Top Ten list on David Letterman's show on Tuesday.

-- Appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

-- Appearing with his grandmother on the CBS Early Show on Thursday.

-- Watching his Q rating shoot through the roof.

"I don't get too wrapped up in all that stuff," Braden was saying in a conference call Thursday, his last public words before facing the Angels' Joe Saunders in his next chance for greatness. "I take some of it for what it's worth.

"I almost relinquish to a higher power, my mother having had a hand in what went on. I don't even know that I had a choice."

Braden's mother, Jodie, died of melanoma when he was a senior in high school, and his grandmother who helped him after that -- Peggy Lindsey -- was in the stands in Oakland on Sunday.

She also was at his side for postgame interviews and, now something of a cult figure (especially after her memorable "Stick it, A-Rod" line), Lindsey joined her grandson in Texas this week for a spot on Thursday morning's CBS Early Show.

"Believe you me, she's enjoyed it," Braden said of his grandmother and the limelight. "We did the morning show here in Texas, and the CBS folks were so nice to fly her out and take care of her. And I treated her to a spa day.

"I'm going to have to grease the walls to get her into her house when we get home, because she's loving life right now."

With just 17 career victories before Sunday's perfecto, the key for Braden, 26, is a changeup that tantalizes hitters. His fastball sits between 84 and 88 miles an hour, nothing special. Tampa Bay hitters swung and missed a total of only five times.

Because of that, the self-deprecating Braden doesn't think opponents will view him much differently from here on out, either.

"I don't think so," Braden said. "Because of how rare the feat is. I think everybody understands I'm not going to rattle off four or five in a row. I don't think there will be any fear of that.

"I think there will be fights at the bat rack to get to my fastball."

This will be his second start in Anaheim of the 2010 season. On April 11, he allowed three earned runs and five hits over six innings in a game Oakland won 9-4. Bobby Abreu drilled a first-inning homer against him, then Braden settled down.

"Good changeup," Abreu said this week. "He's got command in and out, and he's not afraid to throw it in, and then throw the fastball away. He comes right at you."

The key to facing Braden?

"Sometimes he gets a little wild," Abreu said. "Make him throw strikes. See how it's going to be in your first at-bat, then after that you decide."

Likes: Ken Griffey snoozing in the clubhouse? Check out the Seattle Times' Larry Stone, whose wildly twisted mind immediately came up with The Boys of Slumber: My All-Sleep Team. Included: Nap Lajoie, Robby Hammock and Andy Sheets, and Stone went deep on Clarence Pillow and James Yawn. Love it. ... And speaking of twisted minds, you know what else is a good read? Former infielder Morgan Ensberg's blog. Check it out here. ... The Detroit Free Press did a very nice job on a three-part series from an extended interview with the late Ernie Harwell last fall, during which the Free Press acceded to Harwell's request that it be held until after his passing. ... Finished Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. Very good read. Not as good as About a Boy or High Fidelity, but it would be nearly impossible to hit that bar again -- for anybody.

Dislikes: Lenny Dysktra needs money. So badly that he's selling crap on Craig's List.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

Now close your eyes and imagine new Royals skipper Ned Yost singing:

"I'll be standing on the corner
"On the corner of Twelfth Street and Vine
"I'm gonna be standing on the corner
"On the corner of Twelfth Street and Vine
"With my Kansas City baby
"And a bottle of Kansas City wine
"I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
"I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
"They got a crazy way of loving there
"And I'm gonna get me some"

-- Fats Domino, Kansas City

Posted on: April 23, 2010 9:35 pm

More A-Rod being A-Rod

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What's the big deal with this Alex Rodriguez-Dallas Braden dustup?

Why, I thought A-Rod was quite restrained while crossing the mound and stepping on the pitching rubber while returning to first base on Thursday.

It's not as if he planted the Yankees' flag atop the mound or anything.

Seriously, after talking with several baseball people about the incident Friday, here's the big deal: Common sense and respect for an opponent should preclude someone from using the mound as a shortcut. Pure and simple.

Nobody I spoke with Friday brushed it off as A-Rod being wronged. His closest defender, of course, was Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who called the whole thing "boys being boys."

To review: With one out in the sixth inning, Rodriguez went from first to third on what turned out to be a foul fly ball. Instead of retracing his steps back to first, he cut across the mound.

"Everybody has a point of view," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Friday night's series opener here against the Angels. "That's the beauty of our country. That's the beauty of the human mind.

"I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious."

Braden started the controversy when he hollered at Rodriguez on the field during the game, but really ignited it afterward.

"He should probably take a note from his captain [Derek Jeter] over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game," Braden told reporters. "I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."

Said Girardi on Friday: "As far as what Dallas said, I'm concerned with how my player reacts. I'm not concerned with other players."

I talked to several people in the game about the incident on Friday, none of whom were eager to step into the latest A-Rod controversy. The consensus: Rodriguez should have avoided the mound. Or, failing that, he should have simply cut across the very back part of the dirt, or the very front part.

Just as the plate is the hitter's piece of real estate, one player told me, the mound is the pitcher's.

"I wouldn't like a pitcher running through the batter's box and messing up my dirt if he was coming back from behind the plate," the player said.

The only person I spoke with who was prepared to defend A-Rod first wanted to know where Braden was at the moment. If Braden was not on the mound, the person said, then it is no big deal. But if Braden was standing on the rubber or in the vicinity of it at the time, then it's confrontation time.

Answer to that last question: Braden was returning to the mound himself, and was a step or two onto the third-base side of the mound when A-Rod jogged directly in front of him, easily brushing within a couple of steps of him.

You can see the video for yourself here.

My take: It's not as if A-Rod committed a felony. But it's another in his long list of stupid and uncecessary moments.

Posted on: January 15, 2010 7:53 pm

Padres trade Kouzmanoff to Oakland

The Athletics will acquire third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and a minor-league prospect from San Diego for outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

The deal, in place, is pending physical examinations and likely will not be formalized until early next week.

The Padres have been shopping Kouzmanoff for the better part of a year because he's eligible for salary arbitration and they need to clear third base for Chase Headley, who played left field last year but is better suited for third base.

The deal comes after Kouzmanoff set a National League record for third basemen in 2009 with a .990 fielding percentage.

Oakland acquires not only a solid glove man -- Kouzmanoff finished second to Washington's Ryan Zimmerman in Gold Glove voting -- but a third baseman who can put the ball out of the park. Kouzmanoff last year hit 18 homers and collected 88 RBI while hitting .255 with a .302 on-base percentage. He's hit 41 home runs over the past two seasons.

While looking to make room for Headley and clear Kouzmanoff's salary, the Padres had been looking for a right-handed hitter who can split time in center field with Tony Gwynn Jr.

In re-acquiring Hairston, who played in San Diego from 2007-2009 until former general manager Kevin Towers traded him to the Athletics last summer, the Padres obtained exactly what they were looking for.

Posted on: July 31, 2009 1:04 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2009 2:04 pm

Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera

The Minnesota Twins have acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Oakland in exchange for minor-league shortstop Tyler Ladendorf, CBSSports.com has learned.

Cabrera, 34, has come on strong lately at the plate after a very slow start. He was hitting .280 with a .318 on-base percentage in 101 games for the Athletics, and he arrives in Minnesota with an 11-game hitting streak intact. He's hitting .375 (18 for 48) over that stretch and, since July 1, he's batting .373 (41 for 110) with eight doubles, two homers and 16 RBI.

The acquisition for the Twins comes less than an hour after AL Central-leading Detroit acquired left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn from Seattle. The Twins, weak in the middle infield with Brendan Harris (.264) at shortstop, Alexi Casilla (.171) at second base and Nick Punto (.208) spelling them, also were talking with Toronto about Marco Scutaro.

In acquiring Cabrera, the Twins gave up their second-round pick from last summer's draft, Ladendorf. Initially, the Athletics were focused on outfielder Aaron Hicks, rated the Twins' top prospect in 2009 by Baseball America, and third baseman Danny Valencia, whom the Twins think is their third baseman of the future.

Cabrera is due roughly $1.25 million in salary this season, plus a $250,000 bonus for being traded. He is expected to arrive in Minnesota in time to play in Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Twins, who also receive an unidentified amount of cash from Oakland in the deal, remain in the market for a relief pitcher.

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