Subscribe: Athletics Nation
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Athletics Nation

Athletics Nation - All Posts

An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2016-10-23T05:11:11-07:00


Oakland A’s prospect watch: Frankie Montas dominating Arizona Fall League


The Oakland A’s have seven prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League, and several others spread among the various international winter leagues. Let’s see how they’re doing! Arizona Fall League The AFL is through its first two weeks of games, and so far the standout of Oakland’s contingent has been pitcher Frankie Montas. The right-hander, acquired at the deadline in the Reddick/Hill deal, hadn’t yet pitched for the A’s organization as he recovered from long-term injury, but now we’re getting a glimpse of why they wanted him. Montas has made a pair of appearances and thrown six scoreless innings, with no walks allowed. More importantly, he’s flashing the elite velocity that is his calling card — in his first game Kimberly Contreras of Oakland Clubhouse had him topping out at 102 mph (click thru for video!), and his next time out Jim Callis of had sitting at 98-100. Both sources also mention his slider (88-90, top 92), as well as his pounding of the zone. From Callis: "I missed a lot of time during the season," said Montas, a 23-year-old right-hander now with the Athletics. "This is going to help me get back to where I was and to work on what I need to work on to get better. I'm mostly getting innings and working on a changeup. I'm also trying to get my confidence back and throw more strikes." As for the rest of the A’s pitchers (all RHP): Sam Bragg has dominated in a multi-inning relief role; Dylan Covey is back on the mound after an oblique injury ended his season in May (Contreras mentions he hit the mid-90s with his fastball); and Trey Cochran-Gill hasn’t gotten a lot of work so far. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone great for the hitters. Max Schrock has been the best of the trio, with a couple extra-base hits and only one strikeout in 25 plate appearances. Franklin Barreto had one big day to lead the team to victory, stealing home in the first inning (video at Oakland Clubhouse!) and finishing 4-for-4 with a walk, but otherwise he hasn’t done much. Yairo Munoz has been completely silent (.368 OPS). Stats Max Schrock, 2B: 6-for-23, 1 BB, 1 K, .711 OPSFranklin Barreto, SS: 7-for-31, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 2 SB, .508 OPSYairo Munoz, SS: 4-for-26, 2 BB, 8 Ks, .368 OPS Frankie Montas, RHP: 0.00 ERA, 6 ip, 6 Ks, 0 BB, 4 hitsSam Bragg, RHP: 1.50 ERA, 6 ip, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HRDylan Covey, RHP: 4.91 ERA, 7⅓ ip, 7 Ks, 2 BBTrey Cochran-Gill, RHP: 4.91 ERA, 3⅔ ip, 3 Ks, 1 BB * * * International Winter Leagues Remember last winter, when Rangel Ravelo destroyed the Venezuelan League and was named the top hitter? He’s doing it again. Through 67 plate appearances, his OPS isn’t as flashy (.879) but he’s already cracked three homers and drawn 13 walks to just three strikeouts. The 24-year-old had a subpar year in Triple-A (93 wRC+), but if he puts together another monster campaign in the LVBP then it becomes a bit easier to have patience and see if he can figure it out stateside next season. Also in Venezuela, right-hander reliever Carlos Navas has posted a line of 6 ip, 1 run, 6 Ks, 0 BB. The 24-year-old, who got a quick turn in Triple-A at the end of the season, was eligible for free agency but already re-signed with the A’s (via Baseball America). Over in Mexico, 2B Joey Wendle is doing his normal thing, with a low OBP but some extra-base pop to help make up for it. And in the Dominican Republic, OF Tyler Marincov is 2-for-8 with a pair of RBI through his first two games. Click here for a full list of all the A’s players participating in winter leagues. [...]

Wheat/Chaff Analysis On The Throwing People


"Pitchers" -- that’s it! When I wrote the title I couldn’t think of the word and who has time to edit? I certainly, don’t even if, placement of the commas is, wrong. So once upon a time, I gave my updated analysis of several young position players and today I look at several of the A’s young pitchers who showcased their wares during the 2016 season... Sean Manaea: Wheat! When Manaea first arrived to Oakland, what concerned me was not so much that he struggled (mightily), but rather that his stuff didn’t appear to be as advertised. He threw 93 MPH, not "upwards of 97 MPH" and his slider looked more like a work-in-progress than like a wipeout pitch. Fast forward to the second half of 2016 and here’s what we saw: Manaea displayed a pretty devastating changeup and the ability to throw strikes, two strengths that were not really part of the scouting profiles that gushed far more about his pure velocity and his slider. In fact, Manaea’s fastball command and his changeup are enough to get him pretty far, and the slider adds a third "weapon of bat destruction" that allows him to dominate, not just succeed, on a good day. I think that if he stays healthy (and his "forearm tightness" DL stay scared the bejeebers out of me — oh come on, auto-correct, "bejeebers" is so a word — Manaea is a legitimate #2 SP whose best comp is probably a slightly poor man’s CC Sabathia. And prior to 2013, when he started to lose significant velocity, Sabathia was a great comp to have. Jharel Cotton: Wheat Let’s keep in mind that as exciting as Cotton’s inaugural stint with the A’s was, it represented only 5 starts and all 5 came in September (assuming you’re willing to count his final start as being on September 31st). There is a wise baseball adage, "Never fall in love in March or September," which explains why the Todd Linden and Daric Barton Hall-of-Fame wings are so sparsely attended. Cotton will probably not retire with a career ERA of 2.10 unless he is called by the priesthood this winter. However, he has enough going for him to continue to succeed at the big league level. His changeup is certainly a special pitch, and any time you lead with a pitch that is among the better ones in the league, you have a chance to succeed. What is discussed less is that Cotton’s fastball is legitimate, averaging 92.3 MPH and able to hit 94 MPH more than just occasionally. This immediately separates Cotton from the likes of Dillon Overton, Tommy Milone, and other soft-tossers whose "plus changeup" can only get them so far. (In Overton’s case, "so far" is usually somewhere between 400-450 feet, often to left field.) Also encouraging is that Cotton is not a two-pitch pitcher, having unleashed a big curve and a cutter, each inconsistent but also at times very effective. With 4 BBs in 29.1 IP, Cotton proved he can throw strikes, so now you’re looking at a 4-pitch pitcher with good velocity, a "plus" pitch, and control. Where I worry is that to my eyes, Cotton’s fastball doesn’t have terrific movement. The main reason it is so difficult to hit is that batters are forced to be on guard for the changeup that comes out of the same arm slot. If batters are guessing fastball and guessing right, though, I don’t think Cotton’s velocity alone is going to save him. Perhaps this explains his HR tendencies, which will likely follow him so long as he throws a lot of strikes and has a fastball batters can track when they’re sitting on it. A comp for Cotton? I see him as a #3 SP whose stuff reminds me of early James Shields. In his heyday (hay? cotton? I’m about ready to bale), Shields was far more than a #3 SP, but I’m not sure Cotton will settle into being more than a mid-rotation fixture. Maybe somewhere between Jeremy Hellickson (similar profile but with a fastball sitting more like 90-91 MPH) and 2011-2014 Shields (he was actually really good before he became a 19-game loser and laughingstock). The good news is that a mid-rotation fixture describes a really valuable pitcher, which is why I[...]

Forecasting Sonny Gray's future using historical comps


Will he be more like Charles Nagy, or Ricky Romero In 2015, Sonny Gray was the A's lone shining light. After a rookie season in which Gray's electric stuff lit up the playoffs and a second season in which he took another step forward, Gray seemed to solidify himself as an ace in 2015, finishing third in Cy Young voting. There were some questions regarding Gray's ability to miss bats and his stamina as he faded down the stretch, but there was never a doubt that he was an asset. Then, 2016 happened. Gray was downright bad and a guy who was once the cornerstone of a young rotation was the leading cause of disappointment for a team that couldn't do anything right. One of the first questions you have to ask when thinking about the viability of a 2017 playoff run is which Gray will we get. The difference between Gray's 2015 and 2016 is the difference between an ace and a fringe major leaguer, and could easily be the difference between 82 wins and a playoff berth. What does history have to say? The power of the Play Index If you're a fan of baseball history or of throwing hours of your life down an internet rabbit-hole, the Play Index from Baseball Reference is for you. With the power of said tool, we can look at all the players similar to Sonny Gray. I defined that as players who put up between 5-8 bWAR in a single season before their age 27 season and followed said season with a season worth 1.0 bWAR or less, since the DH era began in 1973. It's a bit arbitrary, but it should give us a nice idea of how common or rare this is while also not taking hours on end for me, which I know is most important for you. Basically, we're looking to see how often young pitchers fall off a cliff, and how they respond in the season following. How often has a pitcher pulled a Sonny Gray? I've defined pulling a Sonny Gray as a starting pitcher who put up 5 or more bWAR but less than 8 bWAR in a single season before the age of 27, then following it up with a season of 1 or fewer bWAR. That's to make sure the pitcher is nearly elite and young, and should signify that the dropoff isn't the result of a pitcher being past his physical prime. With that loose definition of "pulling a Sonny Gray" in mind, there have been 19 instances of pitchers doing so since the DH was implemented in 1973. Of those 19, ten never recovered, six turned into serviceable, albeit lesser pitchers, and three returned to their former glory. Sonny Gray As a reminder, this is how Sonny Gray's past two seasons have gone. 2015: 5.8 bWAR, 31 GS, 208 IP, 2.73 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 2016: -0.5 bWAR, 22 GS, 117 IP, 5.69 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 The tragic cases I've read enough Harry Potter to know you always end on a positive note, so let's start out with some of the sad, cautionary tales. Of the 19 players fitting the criteria, 10 didn't return to any level of success. They are Roberto Hernandez, Ricky Romero, Matt Harrison, Steve Busby, Craig McMurty, Matt Young, Mike Norris, Jhoulys Chacin, Oliver Perez, and Joe Kennedy (Rest in Peace). An example: Ricky Romero Season 1: 6.3 bWAR, 32 GS, 225 IP, 2.92 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 Season 2: -1.4 bWAR, 32 GS, 181 IP, 5.77 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 A common theme among players on this list is a lack of control. That makes sense, as to attain a 5 bWAR season, you have to have great stuff and to attain a season with less than 1 bWAR with that kind of stuff, you have to have a major problem. That problem has often been an inability to locate, and Ricky Romero went from electric starter to guy who couldn't hit the broad side of an Angel Hernandez strike zone. Like Gray, Romero was known for his electric stuff and most believe there was never a physical ailment that caused his demise. While Gray did see an increase in walks, his demise wasn't entirely control based: he still threw strikes, by and large. The return to serviceable Of the 19 pitchers to pull a Gray, 6 of them returned to being serviceable. This again is a bit arbitrary, but all of these guys were fixtures in starting rot[...]

Chip Hale to return to Oakland A's as 3B Coach



Out with the old, in with the old.

In Ron Washington's vacancy, Chip Hale will be returning to the Oakland A's to coach third-base.

Hale was the A's bench coach during the 2012-2014 playoff run. He has a long history with Bob Melvin, previously working with him in Arizona during Melvin's first managerial stint.

Most recently, Hale was fired as a manager of those same Diamondbacks along with GM Dave Stewart. Hale was in a true no-win situation, and in spite of leading a team that overachieved in many aspects, he was unable to survive Arizona's organizational overhaul.

While Hale is well known as the losing manager of the hapless D'backs front office, he's better known for being involved in one of the most famous baseball bloopers of all time. He's the guy hitting the ball in the video below, and is at least partially responsible for the death of that poorly constructed wall.

src="" width="400" height="224" frameborder="0">

In addition to the Hale news, it's been reported by Susan Slusser and confirmed by the organization that the rest of the A's coaching staff will return. There apparently was some question about the continued employment of some of those coaches who oversaw the A's disappointing 2016, but the likes of Curt Young, Darren Bush, and more will once again don the green and gold.

Welcome back Chip! We have missed you.

Trade Daze Episode 9: Dog Daze II



Every athlete deserves a chance to shine

Never underestimate an athlete's desire to get better. Like Wash did for Semien, every athlete deserves the same commitment and patience as they find their own path to success ...


Some just take more patience than others.

Contending in 2017? How Do You Get Better On “Both Sides Of The Ball”?


I liked Tim Eckert-Fong’s article asserting that the A’s can contend in 2017 because I like optimism, I want the A’s to contend in 2017, plus Tim seems like a swell guy. In reality, though, the tl;dr version of the article of why the A’s can go from worst to first, from highly flawed to highly awed, is "Hey, it does happen." It does and more often it doesn’t. The problem the 2017 A’s face, specifically, is that they were terrible on defense while also being terrible on offense. (The pitching was nothing to write home about either, but on paper the quality and depth look to be promising going forward.) The A’s infield offers a look at the conundrum Oakland faces in trying to improve its squad significantly before the arrivals of Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto (please hurry!). On the left side of the infield you have players, in Ryon Healy and Marcus Semien, who offer legitimate bats for the position but give some of it back on defense — in Healy’s case the bat is better but the defense worse; in Semien’s case the defense was closer to average but the bat wasn’t gang-busters like Healy’s. Then on the right side of the infield, in Yonder Alonso and Joey Wendle you have the kind of defense you want in order to compete but you give up a lot of offense. So where do you get better? Do you upgrade your hitting at 1B and only get worse on defense where you are already bad? Or do you upgrade your defense somewhere at the expense of an offense that was already last in the league in runs scored? Hey, I hear Sam Fuld is available! Obviously what you want are players who both hit well and play good defense, and guess what? Those guys are, well, very expensive if you don’t already have them early in their career. (That reminds me ... Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto: please hurry!) I would love to see the A’s add someone like Dexter Fowler, but the reality is that precisely because he is good at more than one or two things Fowler, a fast switch-hitting OBP machine with some pop and good defensive skills, is probably going to be priced out of the A’s range. Watching the playoffs has only been more painful because you always think your players are better until you see some real ones. Semien and Wendle are fine, but how they stack up next to Lindor and Kipnis? The Cubs are just really, really athletic and the 2016 A’s...weren’t. So here are some truths we know: the 2017 A’s need to get more athletic and need to play better defense. This would be an easier fix were Oakland coming off of a season in which they were "middle of the pack" in runs scored. But they weren’t. Last in OBP, last in runs scored. Granted they had only a half season of Ryon Healy, but still they were dead last so you would want to improve the offense at positions like 2B, CF, RF — positions where you can’t easily hide poor defense. Aha, so get rid of defensive butcher Danny Valencia...and now your offense just got a bit worse... No I am not offering a lot of answers because I don’t really have any, other than eagerly awaiting the talent that is now one step from the big leagues. Splurging uncharacteristically on a "both sides of the ball" player would be one avenue, be it a free agent or an international gamble. I will also point out that moving Healy to 1B improves his defensive value while not losing his bat, but that move likely will not come until Chapman arrives. Another way to go is to emphasize offense heavily at the corners and defense heavily up the middle. Perhaps a team with, say, Joey Wendle and Jarrod Dyson, up the middle would be complementary with corners of, say, Healy and Brandon Moss. That’s potentially affordable because Dyson and Moss are more "one way" players. I’m not sure how else you get better on defense and still score more runs, while keeping your overall budget under $100M. Thoughts? Other than: please do hurry, Chapman and Barreto! [...]

MLB Playoffs 2016: ALCS Game 2, NLCS Game 1



Two LCS games on the docket for Saturday.

Blue Jays vs. Indians

ALCS Game 2 (Indians lead 1-0)

Pitchers: J.A. Happ vs. Josh Tomlin

Time: 1:08 p.m.


Yes, in a postseason full of elite, dynamic pitching, that’s Happ vs. Tomlin, a pair of nondescript past-30 veterans, for Game 2 of the ALCS. And yet, they both had quietly productive years (ERA+ of 134 and 106, respectively), as well as solid (if short) ALDS outings. Game 1 was a pitching duel decided by a single homer, so will any big bats come out today?

Today's Lineups

Ezequiel Carrera - LF Rajai Davis - CF
Josh Donaldson - 3B Jason Kipnis - 2B
Edwin Encarnacion - 1B Francisco Lindor - SS
Jose Bautista - RF Mike Napoli - 1B
Troy Tulowitzki - SS Carlos Santana - DH
Russell Martin - C Jose Ramirez - 3B
Michael Saunders - DH Brandon Guyer - LF
Kevin Pillar - CF Lonnie Chisenhall - RF
Darwin Barney - 2B Roberto Perez - C
J.A. Happ - LHP Josh Tomlin - RHP

* * *

Dodgers vs. Cubs

NLCS Game 1

Pitchers: Kenta Maeda vs. Jon Lester

Time: 5:08 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Blue vs. blue, in a battle of two classic franchises. Note that the Dodgers made the NLCS and the Giants didn’t.

New Oakland A’s stadium closer than ever after Vegas Raiders stadium funding approved


If all goes according to plan with the Raiders and Warriors, the Athletics will soon be the sole tenant of the Oakland Coliseum complex. The Nevada Legislature approved $750 million in public financing for a planned $1.9 billion stadium, with the remainder to be paid by the Raiders and the family fortune of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is expected to sign the measure on Monday. The City of Oakland and Alameda County intend to work up a plan to keep the Raiders that will try to involve the investment group headed by former NFL stars Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier and Andy Ross, but such a plan will somehow have to work without the level of public funding promised by the State of Nevada. Sometime in September, the Lott-Peete investment group and the City of Oakland came to a 90-day memorandum of understanding with the City of Oakland to negotiate the possible sale of the Coliseum’s land to the investment group, reports David Debolt of the East Bay Times. The MOU, however, is not the sort of exclusive negotiating rights agreement the City handed to Floyd Kephart that was a huge waste of every party’s time. Let’s face facts here. Las Vegas has put down a big down payment on the Raiders, and the City of Oakland and Alameda County are still trying to knock heads together to even have a coherent proposal to offer the NFL that also somehow avoids spending taxpayer money on anything other than infrastructure improvements. With the Golden State Warriors set to move to the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season and the Raiders on track to move into their new Vegas digs for the 2019-20 NFL season, the A’s will soon be the only team left at the Coliseum site. The A’s played the waiting game, and they’re about to “win.” Timeline A little over a year ago, when the Raiders were contenders to move to Los Angeles with either the Chargers or the Rams, I outlined a timeline for constructing a new baseball-only stadium to open for the 2020 season at the Coliseum site. The L.A. plan involved the Raiders moving down south immediately, playing either at the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl temporarily. The Las Vegas Raiders, however, plan to stay in Oakland through the 2018-19 NFL season, using both of the one-year lease options it has with the Joint Powers Authority. It’s not clear whether the A’s would be allowed to break ground on a new stadium, as Mark Davis has made it clear he would not want stadium construction work interfering with Raiders game traffic. If the Raiders are approved to move to Las Vegas in January, the A’s will have the certainty to start laying down plans to build at the Coliseum. It’s possible under either scenario for the A’s to open the 2021 season at their new stadium, though it’s not inconceivable the A’s might have to start part or all of 2021 at the Coliseum. Let’s consider two possibilities at the Coliseum site, then: (1) The A’s can build their stadium even with the Raiders sticking around for awhile January 2017: NFL owners approve the Raiders move to Las Vegas, starting in the 2018-19 season, by a three-quarters vote. Winter 2017: The A's present a plan, promising financing from Major League Baseball, to construct a stadium in the Coliseum parking lot while requesting land sale and infrastructure assistance from the City of Oakland and Alameda County. Fall 2017: The City of Oakland and Alameda County, after negotiations, approve a deal to sell Coliseum land and make infrastructure improvements around the Coliseum for a new ballpark. Fall 2018: Ground breaks on a new baseball-only stadium. The Warriors are still playing in Oracle Arena and the Raiders start their final season in Oakland while the A's play at the Coliseum. Groundbreaking for AT&T Park was December 11, 1997 for ope[...]