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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2017-02-21T06:00:04-08:00


The Weekly Bernie, 2/21/17: Pitchers and catchers report for Oakland A’s


Spring Training has finally arrived, with the A’s first Cactus League game coming this Saturday, and team president Dave Kaval gave a ballpark update this weekend, among other news. Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie: Spring Edition! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more! Pitchers and catchers officially reported to Arizona this past week, meaning plenty of Athletics updates. First off, slugger Khris Davis has decided that he will not be playing for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Although Davis feels “terrible” about the decision, ultimately he would like to focus more on the upcoming season with the A’s. For more, check out Slusser’s piece. The A’s might not necessarily commit to one closer to start 2017, as manager Bob Melvin told Jane Lee of The A’s deep bullpen will include four former closers, righties Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, and John Axford, and lefty Sean Doolittle, and a pair of excellent set-up men, Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks. For more on this decision, check out Nico’s piece. Righty Jesse Hahn has looked impressive so far, as Lee reports. The 27 year-old has always had exciting potential but posted a 6.02 ERA over nine MLB starts in 2016 and hasn’t been able to miss bats since his rookie season with the San Diego Padres. For more on Hahn’s 2017 outlook, read Tim Eckert-Fong’s write-up. On Sunday, A’s team president Dave Kaval spoke with the media about future ballpark plans as well as new features added to the Coliseum. As Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area writes, the revamp will include a brand new “Champions Pavilion” on the plaza between Oracle Arena and the Coliseum. This pavilion will feature 8-16 food trucks, televisions to watch the game, bocce ball, and more. The West Side Club has also been remodeled and transformed into the Shibe Park Tavern, complete with artifacts from the Philadelphia Athletics’ original ballpark. Finally, renovations have been made to allow concession food to be cooked inside the Coliseum. Also included in Stiglich’s piece are updates on the search for a new ballpark site, and the potential transportation issues the club may face. For more on the ballpark situation, check out Tim’s article. Some quick hits: catcher Josh Phegley is finally healthy; 2016 first-round pick A.J. Puk is in better shape and is bringing back his curveball; Jed Lowrie, now able to sleep, might be in for a bounceback campaign; and pitchers Chriss Bassitt and Felix Doubront have rehabbed together from Tommy John Sugery, and could be ready to return as early as June. All links per Jane Lee. Big lefty Sean Manaea enjoyed a strong rookie season in 2016, and the A’s are ready for him to take big steps forward in 2017. Ryan Pollack of FanGraphs writes that Manaea is ready for that jump, and could continue to improve. That’s all for this week. The A’s take on the World Champion Chicago Cubs this Saturday in their first game of Cactus League action. The contest will be broadcast on 95.7 The Game and starts at 12:05 P.M. PST. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans! [...]

The Coliseum experience gets upgraded


Also, some updates on the search for a new stadium and why the Coliseum is my favorite place to watch baseball. For years and years, we as A’s fans have been treated to platitudes and non-answers about the state of the A’s home. Nothing ever seemed to get done at fault of both the A’s and of factors outside of their control, and while the team has undoubtedly put lots of time and money into their stadium search, nothing substantive was accomplished. Worse, little energy has been spent making the Coliseum more palatable for fans, even if the Coliseum is low-key awesome (we’ll get to that later). With the entrance of Dave Kaval, MVP of the A’s offseason, we’ve finally got some movement both inside the Coliseum and out. Joe Stiglich has more! Let’s dive in. The possible options, and the importance of BART The A’s are currently parsing through four possible locations (Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, Laney College, and Brooklyn Basin), researching transport and environmental issues for each. The A’s are placing high importance on proximity to Bart. Says Kaval, “I think if you’re in a certain range of a BART station, it doesn’t matter if it’s one block or two blocks,” he said. “But if you start getting a little farther, it does change people’s willingness to actually take that public transportation to the venue.” Turns out finding a location for and building a stadium that holds 50,000 or so people isn’t a simple task. The good news is, the A’s are finally making headway and are doing their due diligence. The bad news is, we’re a ways away from knowing where the A’s new home will be, and even further from actually moving there. The Coliseum receives a makeover! Makeover is probably a bit of a generous term. If the Coliseum were a person, what’s happening now is the equivalent of a pedicure, maybe a tummy tuck. The whole situation is still problematic, but the effort makes a difference and there are people out there who are into feet. This analogy has gone haywire. Anyway, the West Side Club is no more, rebirthed as Shibe Park Tavern in homage to the A’s original home in Philadelphia. The new tavern even features materials from the original Shibe Park, a nice touch to improve what previously was a three star facility, per Yelp. Three stars on Yelp is the online-review equivalent of Eric Sogard - it’ll do, but you should get excited about the potential upgrade. If you think that’s exciting, get a load of “Champions Pavilion”, an area situated between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena full of food trucks and video monitors for ticketed guests to grab a bite and watch the game. With between 8-16 food trucks available at most home games, your options for food choices have exploded. The A’s die hard fan base will show up through thick and thin. Attracting a more casual fan, especially when the team is projected to blargh is an important and difficult proposition. Upgrading food and drink and giving fans more options inside the Coliseum should upgrade the fan experience substantially. The goodwill it’ll build among the numerous fans who have felt frustrated is an added bonus. We are off to an auspicious start in the David Kaval era. Some love for the Coliseum Every time I go to the Coliseum, I'm blown away by how many people comment on the less than stellar nature of the A's home. Sure, it's a lot of concrete; apparently people are uncomfortable being surrounded by one of the strongest materials while sitting basically on a fault line. I get it. In spite of the unsightly nature of the home of the Green and Gold, it will always be my favorite place to catch a baseball game. It’s (usually) the most intimate experience in baseball The best story in the sport right now is Adam Lind and fartgate. Did he fart smoke? @Mariners @ROOTSPORTS_NW #farts #adamlind— hilariousmutt (@usmctanker1812) September 20, 2016 Bonus: Mark Canha? From that last Jane Lee link in the Alcantara section: “Joyce, who will likely [...]

Oakland A's 2017 Community Prospect List #23: Heath Fillmyer’s steep learning curve


The 2016 season was full of breakout performers in the Oakland A’s farm system, and Heath Fillmyer was yet another example. The RHP is the next player to join our Community Prospect List. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between their % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up): Franklin Barreto, SS (+67%) Matt Chapman, 3B (+26%) A.J. Puk, LHP (+38%) Jharel Cotton, RHP (+60%) Frankie Montas, RHP (+12%) Grant Holmes, RHP (+27%) Matt Olson, 1B/OF (+10%) Bruce Maxwell, C (+9%) Daniel Gossett, RHP (+53%) Max Schrock, 2B (+9%) Richie Martin, SS (+34%) Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+4%) Renato Nunez, 3B/LF (+14%) Norge Ruiz, RHP (+16%) Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+5%) Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+6%) Chad Pinder, IF (+5%) Jaycob Brugman, OF (+10%) Joey Wendle, 2B (+23%) Yairo Munoz, SS (+18%) Logan Shore, RHP (+30%) Heath Fillmyer, RHP (+23%) Fillmyer made last year’s CPL at No. 25, and the fact that he only moved up three spots this time around is a testament to the improvement of the rest of the system. It certainly wasn’t because the recent infielder-turned-pitcher failed to enhance his own stock — he began the year as almost a complete projection pick, and by the end he had backed it up with real production at High-A and an even slightly better stint in Double-A. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how far he’s come. Fillmyer switched to pitching in 2014, his final year of college. He’d dabbled before that, but now it was for real. One full college season on the mound was enough to get him drafted, and now he’s thrown two full pro seasons at ages 21 and 22. And somehow, at the end of it, that equation has already added up to a successful first crack at the upper minors. Granted, Sean Doolittle spoiled us by setting such a high bar for immediate success upon converting to pitching, but Fillmyer’s journey is nonetheless impressive. More importantly, it’s not over yet. Fillmyer will begin his fourth year as a pitcher by attending MLB spring training with the A’s as a non-roster invite. He won’t seriously be competing for a job in Oakland just yet, but you’d have to think it’ll be a particularly valuable experience for a guy still relatively new to his craft. Fillmyer will be a fun name to follow this year as he takes on the upper minors, likely beginning at Double-A Midland. Here is the process: Five candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all five players, and then I will respond to that with five new comments in the style of "Vote: Player Name" for each candidate. Please do not reply directly to the official "Vote" comments, so that the ballot can stay together in one group. Choose your ONE favorite by Rec'ing the comment with his name. Please only vote for one. The player who receives the most Rec's earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by a new nominee. In the comments, below the official voting, commenters will nominate players to be put onto the ballot for the next round. Similar to the ballot, I will start with a comment calling for nominations, which can then be made as a response to my comment. The format for your comment should be "Nomination: Player Name". After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec'ing that comment. The player with the most Rec's earns the nomination. If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space. If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should rank. * * * The new nominee is Skye Bolt. The outfielder was a high-upside 4th-round pick in 2015, but he didn’t do much in his first full season. Nagging injuries continually interrupted his year, and by the end he had only a 97 wRC+ and not much positive except a good walk rate and the f[...]