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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2018-03-19T10:00:02-07:00


Views from Arizona: Mengden, Manaea, Luzardo, other pitchers


My analysis from a weekend of Cactus League baseball begins with a look at of some of Oakland’s brightest young hurlers. For those of you on the fence about it - come to spring training. Seriously. Whether you’re kicking it on the lawn with a mustache pretzel or sitting behind home plate listening to A’s assistant general manager and director of player personnel Billy Owens talking baseball with scouts, there’s something to love for everyone. The price is right, and you get to experience A’s baseball in an intimate way that you simply cannot at the Coliseum. Plus, you get to say hi to me - a win-win! While I spent the first couple weeks of the spring taking care of schoolwork and trying to find my bearings in the Cactus League, this weekend I was able to sit down and take in all three home games at Hohokam Park. Today we’ll start with some of the pitchers that caught my eye, and tomorrow we’ll take on the hitters. I’ll begin with Friday afternoon’s starter. Daniel Mengden While Hohokam Stadium does not have a radar gun, there are always at least a few scouts sitting in the stands behind home plate tracking pitches, and it’s easy enough to read off of their radar guns. On Friday Mengden’s fastball was sitting at 93 MPH very consistently, even as he pitched into the sixth inning. His velocity did dip slightly to about 91 MPH when pitching out of the stretch, signaling that Mengden still hasn’t quite fixed his struggles when pitching without his full wind-up. The Indians’ lineup on Friday was far from their best possible, but even so the only hitter to make consistently hard contact off of Mengden was leadoff hitter Bradley Zimmer, who started the game with a home run off of what looked like a hanging changeup. Mengden’s primary offspeed for the day was his slider (83-85 MPH) and he made hitters look silly with a few slow curves (70-71 MPH). Mengden was impressive, looking much better that his previous spring outings. However, until he learns to pitch out of the stretch, I believe Mengden will be very inconsistent. He has the talent to shut down a lineup like he did against the Phillies last September, but he also remains incredibly susceptible to gascan outings like he showed in the first half of 2017. He’ll likely open the season as Oakland’s number three starter, but some games he will look like an ace, while others he will look like he barely belongs in Triple-A. I’d expect it to even out at an ERA somewhere in the high 3’s/low 4’s by season’s end. Sean Manaea Manaea got the start on Saturday and I was instantly concerned. When he was flying through the A’s minor league system, he was lighting up the radar gun, touching the upper 90s with his fastball. In 2016 his fastball averaged 93.3 MPH, while in 2017 it dropped to 92.2 MPH (per BrooksBaseball). On Saturday, I didn’t see him throw a fastball over 91 MPH. His fastball ranged from 88-91 MPH, while his changeup sat 81-82 MPH. He only threw a few sliders - also interesting, as the pitch was his best secondary in the minor leagues, but since making it to the majors he has thrown it less in favor of his changeup. Manaea looked decent against a weak Mariners split squad lineup. His command was spotty, but it was his first time working with new catcher Jonathan Lucroy and home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz had a tight strike zone for both sides. Overall, Manaea spotted his fastball well. He did give up two hard hit balls to a lefty (first baseman Mike Ford), but this was likely just random and nothing to worry about. Manaea’s velocity drop should not be a huge red flag...yet. There was no reason for him to give max effort in a meaningless spring training game, and he is still getting back into action after a slight delay due to back issues. I’m not too worried yet, but I will definitely be keeping a close eye on his velocity numbers in April. He is still clearly Oakland’s second best starter, and isn’t far from being number one. Jesus Luzardo This one was fun. Jharel Cotton’s unfortunate injury opened the door [...]

Elephant Rumblings: Cahill Signing Serves To Prevent Past Mistakes, A’s Consider Sea Levels


A’s Coverage: Nico: Inside The Mind Of Pitching Coach Scott Emerson: Part I... Calcaterra: The A’s are considering rising sea levels in planning their future ballpark... Lee: Phegley out with two broken fingers... Gallegos: Why top prospect A.J. Puk was among the A’s roster cuts... Moriarity: Talking Top Prospects with A’s Assistant GM Dan Feinstein... Slusser: A’s Chris Bassitt frustrated by unexpected role out of bullpen... MLB News: Twins SS Jorge Polanco suspended 80 games... Jose Altuve finalizes 7-year, $163.5M deal with Astros... Minor-league baseball players may be exempt from federal labor laws soon... Baseball Interest Stories: Astros lock up Jose Altuve, but here’s why it’ll be much harder to keep Carlos Correa... Braden Halladay, 17, shows glimpses of his father in emotional outing vs. Blue Jays... The Braves will play the service-time game with Ronald Acuna Jr. for better or worse... Byron Buxton Is the Most Exciting Player in Baseball—but Can He Become a Star? Today in Baseball History: 1977 - The Oakland Athletics sell pitcher Paul Lindblad to the Texas Rangers for $400,000. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, unlike his previous Oakland A’s decision (regarding Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue), does not void the deal as not being in the best interest of baseball. 2006 - When the Oakland Athletics open their season at home against the New York Yankees next month, the entire upper deck will be covered by green tarpaulins, making McAfee Coliseum the midget of the major leagues in terms of seating capacity. Best of Twitter: A bit of irony in the Cahill signing... They won’t agree, but the A’s made a mistake pushing Trevor Cahill & Brett Anderson onto the Opening Day roster in ‘09. Ironic that signing Cahill prevents a possible similar error with A.J. Puk.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) March 18, 2018 Barreto: 2-for-4, K Let’s check in on Barreto Watch — 12 Ks in 42 PAs (28.6%), but 1.053 OPS to make up for it (on a .385 BABIP). Can’t wait to see what he does when the real games start. Olson: 1-for-3, 2B, sac fly, RBI As long as we’re counting Ks, Olson has only 9 in 43 PAs (20.9%). Remember how worried folks were about whether he would make enough contact, just 12 months ago? The A’s are back in action on Sunday against the White Sox. For the A’s, exciting lower-minors prospect Jesus Luzardo will make the start. [...]

Oakland A’s sign pitcher Trevor Cahill


Finally, some veteran pitching depth. The Oakland A’s have signed free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill, reports insider Jane Lee. The deal is still pending a physical and terms are not yet known, but Lee notes that it’s an MLB contract. At some point, a corresponding move will have to be made to clear space on the 40-man roster. The A’s found themselves in need of an emergency addition after losing starter Jharel Cotton to Tommy John surgery this week. The rotation was already thin even with Cotton, and without him the depth was almost nonexistent. Now there’s an extra veteran arm in the mix. Cahill is a familiar face for A’s fans, having begun his career in green and gold. He was drafted by Oakland in 2006 and debuted in 2009, and in 2010 he put up what proved to be the best season of his career — a 2.97 ERA, an All-Star bid, and even a few downballot Cy Young votes. However, Cahill’s success didn’t continue after leaving Oakland. The A’s traded him to Arizona and he ate some innings for the D’Backs, but injuries and mechanical issues soon got in the way and he washed out of both the desert and then later Atlanta. He resurfaced as a good reliever for the Cubs in late 2015 and stuck around for 2016, striking out a batter per inning out of the pen and helping Chicago to a championship. The Padres gave Cahill another chance to start in 2017 and it went reasonably well, but after a midseason trade he finished out the campaign getting torched out of the Royals bullpen. His time in Kansas City included a DL stint (shoulder impingement), and Royals Review chalked up his struggles to the degradation of his previously strong curveball and also maybe fatigue (due to spending the year stretching back out from relief to starting). Cahill, 2017 SD (11 starts): 3.69 ERA, 61 ip, 72 Ks, 24 BB, 6 HR, 3.40 FIPCahill, 2017 KC (3 starts, 7 relief): 8.22 ERA, 23 ip, 15 Ks, 21 BB, 10 HR, 10.24 FIP Now 30 years old, it’s not yet clear what Cahill’s role will be in the early going. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, Lee opines that Cahill likely “[won’t] be ready to start when the regular season opens, but he could potentially work out of the bullpen and be a starting option down the road.” Hot takes Sure, why not? The A’s clearly needed to add a pitcher. They really should have signed a cheap veteran stopgap starter earlier in the offseason, because there clearly wasn’t going to be enough depth in the rotation. Now they’ve finally done so, though you have to wonder what superior opportunities they might have missed by not doing this in December. Either way, I’m happy they opted for a relatively minor pickup as opposed to overspending (money and/or draft picks) on a more premium arm during this likely non-contending season. Although we don’t yet know for sure, given the timing and context surrounding this signing you’d have to figure that the goal is for Cahill to either join the rotation at some point or stay prepared to do so in a pinch. On Friday Lee mentioned that the A’s expect to have an eight-man pen including a “true long man,” so it’s logistically possible for him to begin in relief while stretching himself out with an eye toward longer outings. It’s worth noting that Cahill hasn’t thrown 100 innings in a season since 2014. Entering the day, Oakland had six candidates for five rotation spots (Graveman, Manaea, Mengden, Triggs, Blackburn, Gossett). There could be more help coming during the summer, especially in the form of top prospect A.J. Puk, but the addition of a veteran swingman should help soak up some innings. Welcome home, Trevor! [...]