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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2017-08-17T18:30:02-07:00

 



Off day conversation: The AL Wild Card race

2017-08-17T18:30:02-07:00

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There are approximately 100 teams in the mix.

If being out of playoff contention isn’t depressing enough, take a gander at the current Wild Card standings and realize that any team that is exactly not-trash is in the mix for the second slot.

The A’s are trash (for now).

So with the season winding down, we have to watch the playoff race from afar. Fortunately, thanks to years of competition leading to rivalries and a sense of dislike that will just never leave, we’re still left with rooting interests. Even if they’re not quite as fun.

Who to root for?

Unfortunately, the teams in the mix at this point aren’t going to please most A’s fans. The Yankees own a relatively large three game lead at the moment, likely to lock down at least one of those two spots provided they don’t blow it or go on a wild run to take the division. Gross.

The second slot is wide open, with the dreaded Angels, behind the greatest player of our generation and potentially all time and another more surprising superstar commanding the lead. The good news is that they’re only up by a meager half game and there seven teams within legitimate striking distance. The bad news is that the next team out is the Royals. The freaking Royals.

(image) Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Excuse me if I’m conflicted on which of those nightmare inducing teams to root for.

Behind them are the Mariners (eh), Twins (sure!), Rangers (nah), Rays (sure!), Orioles (eh) and Blue Jays (sure!).

I think for most A’s fans, the ideal would be for both the Royals and Angels to metaphorically soil themselves, crapping away the season in painful manner. We’ve earned the right to wish a sad October for both.

The list of teams is a bit more interesting from there. In spite of never achieving anything and being mostly sad, I still don’t think I want to see a division rival in the playoffs. That takes the Mariners of my list of acceptable teams, and the Rangers are out too. The Twins and Rays are probably the two most palatable teams, with Josh Donaldson’s Jays a close third.

Who are you rooting for as we go down the stretch?




Elephant Rumblings: Long Games, Four-Man Outfields, and Encouraging Farm News

2017-08-17T08:06:16-07:00

Sorry for the intermittent rumblings this week. We will be back on a normal schedule next week! Prospect Watch: A nice day on the farm for Grant Holmes as he lowered his second-half ERA below 4... Melissa Lockard talked to A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman; here’s part one and here’s part two... ICYMI: A’s fight until end; fall to Royals 7-6... Each MLB team’s most likely next retired number... From Tuesday; A’s trade for Chris Hatcher... The biggest waiver-wire deals in MLB history... Sam Miller: Why, on average, are MLB games five-minutes longer this season? Mets rotate infielders 22 times to hide out-of-position catcher... Twitter etiquette aside, Alex Bregman has been the ‘stros unsung hero... Wil Myers’s three-steal inning the first since 2011... Ian Kinsler and Angel Hernandez shook hands and made up before Wednesday’s game... The growing analytics chasm between front offices and MLB agents... A sign of the future? Why the Chicago’s four-man outfield matters... Today in Baseball History: 1891 - Cincinnati’s American Association franchise folds and Milwaukee is chosen to take its place. The American Assocation’s problems continue, and the AA is absorbed by the National League in the winter. 1933 - Lou Gehrig plays his 1,308th consecutive game to break Everett Scott’s mark. He would play in the next 822 games as well. Best of Twitter: He’s fast... Mateo goes from first to third on a 5-3 ground out (yes that happened), but he is stranded at third.— Midland RockHounds (@RockHounds) August 17, 2017 Moll has spent his 2017 in AAA, pitching for the Albuquerque Isotopes. He’s posted a 4.18 ERA in 47.1 innings, inducing 39 strikeouts. He’s never been particularly impressive in his professional career, though his numbers have been decent. He was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft, suggesting he’s shown solid stuff. It just hasn’t quite materialized to make him anything more than a fringe prospect. Trades for left handed relievers usually scream LOOGY, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. He’s been fine against lefties in his career, but not particularly effective meaning he probably doesn’t quite have the skillset for that niche role. Interestingly, Moll will require a 40-man roster spot, meaning another move is imminent. Fortunately (lol), the A’s have a plethora of options for who gets the axe. Survivor, fringe MLB island should be riveting today. There’s of course the option of a post deadline trade, a la Yonder Alonso. The roster spot could in theory come from the A’s moving a Rajai Davis or a Jed Lowrie, though the order of operations suggests that’s probably not the case. To me, the most interesting part of this trade is the black box that is a front office. How did the A’s know one Sam Moll exists? What prompted them to trade for him at this juncture, and how did those conversations get started? Why would the Rockies give up a controllable player, even if his projectability is extremely limited, give him up if another team showed any interest at all? Wouldn’t that be a signal that maybe we’re missing something, might as well keep him for almost no cost? Anyway, another move coming soon. Stay tuned! [...]



Game #120: Matts Overcome Bullpen in Wild 10-8 Win

2017-08-15T22:48:19-07:00

Santiago denied Chris Smith his first career win as a starter again, but the Matts (and especially Matt Joyce) came through in a crazy 8th inning. This game really had it all. Chris Smith pitched a quality start after completely imploding in the first, the A’s defense made a couple nice plays, the rookies looked solid...oh yeah, and the two teams combined to score 11 runs in the 8th inning. That too. Fortunately Oakland came out of the melee on top against the stinky Royals, denying them the second Wild Card slot. Chris Smith’s Miraculous Recovery Chris Smith started the game about as poorly as one can start a game. Walk, stolen base, HBP vs. Lorenzo Cain. Smith fell behind Eric Hosmer in the count and then gave up a double to right field (catchable for someone faster than Joyce, so…most right fielders), making it 2-0 Royals three batters into the game. Melky Cabrera singled to make it 3-0. It was really just a total mess and felt like it was going to just be one of “those games”. But Smith righted the ship and ended up putting together a decent game...a quality start, one might even say. Granted, it was the kind of quality start that was only technically so - 3 runs in 5 1⁄3 innings pitched, hardly anything to write home about. But as Porcupine loves to remind us, it was Smith’s 4th QS in 6 starts this season. Not bad. After his disastrous 1st inning with 2 hits and 3 runs, Smith stopped the bleeding and gave up only 1 hit in his remaining 4 1⁄3 . He wasn’t overpowering anyone, and in fact he frequently wasn’t even really fooling anyone - for example, all three of his outs in the 4th inning were extremely loud outs that could have been extra base hits under other circumstances. But Smith also put together a stretch of eight batters in a row retired, so clearly he had something going. Whatever it was, he persevered and put together a decent start. Innings 1-7: Mild Matts Smith’s offense backed him up admirably, fueled primarily by the Matts. In the 1st, Matt Joyce made up for his lumbering defense in the top of the inning. He belted a home run on the second pitch he saw out to deep right field to make it 3-1. Then in the 2nd, Matt Olson turned on a pitch inside - maybe not even a strike - and hit a home run to right field which bounced off the top of the home run line. Is Olson adjusting? Should his bat speed no longer be measured in epochs? 3-2. With two outs, Boog Powell came about six inches from a home run of his own - instead he settled for getting stranded after a double. And in the 3rd, Lowrie flared a single to left field, then Khris khrushed a hanger to put the A’s on top 4-3. Quite a fast comeback! It was the third home run in three innings for Oakland. We witnessed a beautiful bunt single afterwards, but nothing else. After Daniel Coulombe and Ryan Dull got Oakland through innings 6 and 7, they entered the 8th inning up 4-3... Top of the 8th: Nightmare Fuel I wrote about Chris Smith’s first start, where Santiago Casilla crushed all of our spirits in the 9th and denied Smith his well-earned first career win. And by golly, I get to write about our pathetic “closer” doing it again. Because he can just never EVER make things easy. At least he’s predictably bad - if there is a soul he can crush (in this case Chris Smith’s, again), you know what he’s going to do. Casilla came in, and immediately the Royals get a runner (Alex Gordon) on board with a walk. Drew Butera hit a home run, because of course their other backup catcher did, and the Royals were back on top, 5-4. Lorenzo Cain singled before Melvin pulled Casilla in favor of Blake Treinen…who promptly gave up a home run to Eric Hosmer and make it 7-4 Royals. Then Moustakas absolutely annihilated a changeup dead-center to really drive it home how terrible our bullpen is. 8-4. Three home runs in the 8th inning for a team that really does not hit home runs (except Moustakas…he immediately deals heavily in dongs these days). Santiago denied Smith again. That’s[...]



Game Thread #120: A’s vs. Royals

2017-08-15T18:35:01-07:00

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There is a baseball game happening tonight.

Hello all! Today is crazy so I’m going to keep the intro short and sweet. The A’s are recovering from a tough loss last night, where the bats were largely silent and Jharel Cotton continued his decline. On the mound tonight hoping to deny the Royals their fourth consecutive win is Chris Smith, who has settled into pitching more like we thought he would since his first couple of magical first games. He’s been serving up homers on a regular basis, but maybe he can snap his streak against a Royals squad not exactly known for using the long ball. Pitching for the Royals is Jason Hammel, who has been utterly un-noteworthy one way or the other this season. So it’s basically a question of which team’s offense can break apart some mediocre pitching first.

All of our yoof are in their ideal defensive positions, so hopefully we’ll get another clean game in the E column - the A’s have gone four straight without an error.

Today's Lineups

KANSAS CITY ROYALS OAKLAND A'S
Whit Merrifield - 2B Matt Joyce - RF
Lorenzo Cain - CF Marcus Semien - SS
Eric Hosmer - 1B Jed Lowrie - 2B
Melky Cabrera - RF Khris Davis - LF
Mike Moustakas - 3B Ryon Healy - DH
Brandon Moss - DH Matt Olson - 1B
Alcides Escobar - SS Matt Chapman - 3B
Alex Gordon - LF Bruce Maxwell - C
Drew Butera - C Boog Powell - CF
Jason Hammel - RHP Chris Smith - RHP

Game time is 7:05 PT. Go A’s!