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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2017-11-21T09:41:29-08:00

 



Elephant Rumblings: Rule 5 Draft Preview, Ballpark Site Opponents’ Poll, A’s New Batting Practice Cap

2017-11-21T09:41:29-08:00

A’s Coverage: Oakland A’s acquire outfield prospect Ramon Laureano from Astros... A’s finalize 40-man roster; add prospects Heath Fillmyer, Lou Trivino... The new (old?) batting practice cap is out and it is sharp... Laney College site opponents release poll that shows four in five voters want A’s to stay at Coliseum site... Oakland Athletics 2018 top-50 prospects: Anthony Churlin, OF... Oakland Athletics 2018 top-50 prospects: Oscar Tovar, RHP... MLB News: MLB, players union, NPB push back deadline on Ohtani posting agreement... Joe Morgan wrote a letter asking Hall of Fame voters not to support PED users... Who to watch for in the Rule 5 Draft... Baseball Interest Stories: The 17 most contentious names on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot... Rethinking the Win Curve... Five ‘bargain’ players Dave Cameron would sign if he were running a contender... Jackie Robinson Dodgers jersey from rookie year sold for $2.05 million... Today in Baseball History: 1934 - The Yankees purchase Joe DiMaggio from San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. The son of Italian immigrants will be one of three DiMaggio brothers to play in the major leagues. Dom and Vince are the others. 2002 - MLB announces the Montreal Expos may play approximately twenty-five percent of their home games (22 of 81) in San Juan, Puerto Rico next season. Away "home games" are not unprecedented as the Brooklyn Dodgers played seven games in Newark, NJ in 1956 and 1957, and the Chicago White Sox, filling a void when the Braves left, played nine games in Milwaukee, WI in 1968 and another 11 in 1969. Best of Twitter: Whoa. MLB Pipeline’s #38 prospect... Braves ruling expected today. Kevin Maitan will be freed ($4.2M signing, infielder). Others may be too.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 21, 2017 “[Umpire Mike Everitt] said that it had already been handled, and I guess if I thought it had been handled already I wouldn’t have said anything. If it had been handled [Graterol] wouldn’t have been continually staring at us still while we’re getting into the box.” Yup, those are the words of a team captain. The A’s are in a state of transition, having shed most of the long-time fan favorites and recent clubhouse leaders, and from the fan perspective it looks like Chapman is a prime candidate to take the reins on the budding young squad. According to runner-up Khris Davis, regarding Chapman’s leadership: “He may be a rookie but he's a natural at it." Nico’s ballot: Stubing, Tennille, Korach Dammit Nico. The voting Player 1st 2nd 3rd Points Chapman 5 0 4 19 Khrush 0 4 3 11 Lowrie 2 1 1 9 Vogt 1 1 0 5 Semien 1 1 0 5 Healy 1 0 0 3 Doolittle 1 0 0 3 Alonso 0 1 0 2 C. Smith 0 1 0 2 All-time winners We started voting on these awards in 2012, so here’s a look back at AN Awards history. Full disclosure: We didn’t get around to it in 2014-15, so I went back and retroactively filled those in to make this table. Also, in 2016 I picked the winners myself instead of a staff vote, because making everyone relive that season would have been cruel. Award 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 MVP Cespedes Donaldson Donaldson Reddick Khrush Khrush Cy Young Parker Colon Sonny Sonny Graveman Manaea ROTY Cespedes Sonny N/A* Burns Manaea Chapman Gold Glove Reddick Reddick Donaldson Fuld Alonso Chapman Captain Gomes Coco Doolittle Reddick Vogt Chapman * Note: There were actually no rookies in 2014 except a couple brief cameos. Billy Burns and catcher Bryan Anderson combined for seven plate appearances, and that was it. And Burns won the ne[...]



A’s May Be In Position To Rewrite Bullpen Norms

2017-11-18T07:00:05-08:00

Once upon a time there were 9-inning SPs and 3-inning closers, until — prepare for deep and thoughtful analysis here — there weren’t. Tony LaRussa once took a two-time 20 game winner, with a no-hitter on his ledger, and turned him into the league’s most dominant “one inning closer”. Since then many teams have followed suit, spinning their failed SPs into plus relievers. Every era (not ERA) has its understood “way we do things” and with baseball tending to be old school, change tends to evolve slowly. Yet eventually change still occurs because once someone not only says “launch angle!!!!!” but then also backs it up by doubling his HR total, people begin to listen. One minute contact is all the range and the next minute it’s all about “grip it and rip it,” then it’s all about developing a young core until it’s all about building a deep bullpen of power arms until it’s all about...let’s see, what did the most recently successful team/organization do? Bullpens are tricky because they are inherently volatile. Relievers’ performances tend to vary from year to year, game to game, inning to inning. Perhaps that’s why they’re making their living in the bullpen instead of in the rotation, or maybe it’s just the karma relievers bring to the baseball table. Whatever it is, the trend of SPs not getting as deep into games, attention to platoons and matchups, and the lean towards power arms good for about 20 pitches, have caused the daily parade of 4-5 relievers on so many nights. Relievers more often pitch less than a full inning than they extend beyond one inning. As a result, the game is oft decided by which team puts in a reliever who is having a bad day, because if you try enough guys you will probably find a klunker and boy can one klunker do a lot of harm in little time. Case in point: Brandon Morrow, pitching on what I believe was his 47th consecutive day, coughing up 4 runs in the blink of an eye in the World Series. Meanwhile, here are the A’s with an opportunity to piece together an unusual bullpen indeed. The good news is that if they play their cards right, it can be both unusual and also very talented and effective. I imagine the A’s will add a quality LH reliever before the season (Jake McGee, anyone?), but since we don’t know if or who, for now that slot goes to the lone lefty, Daniel Coulombe. As for the crew of RH relievers? In the late innings, Oakland will not be lacking for stuff having complemented the 98MPH sinkerball stylings of Blake Treinen with another quality power reliever in Emilio “high spin rate” Pagan (50.1 IP, 39 hits, 8 BB, 56 K). Here’s what I would like to see behind those two “high leverage beasts”: a slew of relievers whose stuff plays up in 2 IP stints, who can actually be used to get 6 outs as often as 3. Exit the flurry of inconsistent one-inning relievers whose good stuff belies the fact that you don’t ever know what you are going to get, just that you will not get it for very long. That means bidding a tearful (not) farewell to Chris Hatcher (who can be non-tendered) and Santiago Casilla (who should be the latest contract to be eaten Billy Butler style). Enter Andrew Triggs, whose yeoman’s efforts as a SP hide the reality that he is probably going to be most durable, and most effective, in the pen. But unlike many relievers, Triggs is far from a “one-inning guy”. Enter Chris Bassitt, coming back from a TJS in which he was initially ahead of schedule and then hit a wall. Perhaps Bassitt has a future as a SP, but in 2018 he is likely best served building back his arm strength and innings as a reliever, where he could hit mid-90s in 1-2 IP stints and be stretched out well beyond an inning on days where he is dealing. Enter Frankie Montas, whom the A’s have “seen as a SP” but who can’t stay on the field long enough to build up innings, and whose repertoire still remains that of a reliever. Air it out for 2 innings, though, and at 99MPH with a swing-and-miss slider, Montas still has th[...]



Oakland A’s name Matt Williams as 3rd base coach

2017-11-17T16:47:40-08:00

Resume includes All-Star playing career, WS ring, and Manager Of The Year award. The Oakland A’s have hired Matt Williams to be their new 3rd base coach, the team announced Friday. He will replace Chip Hale, who was slotted to take that role before leaving to become the Nationals bench coach. Williams has spent the last several years coaching for two different teams: Arizona and Washington. He spent 2010-13 with the D’Backs, initially as 1B coach but later as 3B coach, then left to be the Nationals manager from 2014-15. After a quick boot from that job, he returned to Arizona for another year at 3B before making the lateral move to Oakland. The highlight of that resume is Williams’ managerial experience, which brought mixed results. His debut 2014 season resulted in 96 wins, a division title, and a Manager Of The Year award. However, he followed that up with a disappointing 83-win campaign and was dismissed. Our Nats blog, Federal Baseball, was not a fan of his work, both as an in-game tactician and clubhouse leader. (Sample headline: “Matt Williams is out of excuses”) One specific complaint was his over-reliance on reliever Blake Treinen, who now happens to be on the A’s. That said, Williams won’t be skippering the A’s, so perhaps more relevant is his history coaching at the hot corner. Here’s a comment thread from AZ Snake Pit, our D’Backs blog, referring to him as “The Windmill” due to his aggressiveness in sending runners. That said, they also mention that he’s similar to Chip Hale in that regard, for what that’s worth. Building on that last sentence, Williams and Hale seem to be following each other around the league. Hale had coached in Arizona until 2009 but left when Williams arrived. A year after Williams left the D’Backs to manage Washington, Hale returned and took Arizona’s managerial job. Williams finally worked under Hale for most of 2016 before Hale was let go and returned to Oakland. Now Hale is gone to Washington, where Williams recently left, and Williams has Hale’s old job in Oakland. Aaaand breathe. Year Hale Williams 2007 ARZ 3B - 2008 ARZ 3B - 2009 ARZ 3B - 2010 NYM 3B ARZ 1B 2011 NYM 3B ARZ 3B 2012 OAK Bench ARZ 3B 2013 OAK Bench ARZ 3B 2014 OAK Bench WAS Manager 2015 ARZ Manager WAS Manager 2016 ARZ Manager ARZ 3B 2017 OAK 3B - 2018 WAS Bench OAK 3B As a player, Williams spent a decade starring at 3B for the Giants, then netted them an up-and-coming Jeff Kent in a trade with Cleveland. After one year with the Indians, he joined the expansion D’Backs for their inaugural season in 1998 and was their starting 3B for their first and only World Series title in 2001. After his retirement, he admitted to PED use (specifically HGH). The A’s 2018 coaching staff now looks like this: Manager: Bob MelvinBench: Ryan Christenson1st base: Mike Aldrete3rd base: Matt WilliamsPitching: Scott EmersonBullpen: vacant for nowHitting: Darren BushAsst Hitting: Marcus JensenQuality Control?: Mark Kotsay Oakland still needs a bullpen coach, after losing Garvin Alston to Minnesota (now Twins pitching coach). Hot takes: I don’t have a lot of insight in how to judge coaches, but honestly I’m not stoked on this hiring. First off he’s a longtime high-profile Giant, which, gross. Second, fans of his previous teams seem generally disappointed with his work in most areas. All that said, Williams did win four Gold Gloves at the hot corner, and the 3B coach often doubles as the infield coach (as did Wash, Gallego, Hale, etc.). If this means he’s going to work with Matt Chapman, then that could be a plus and a task within his true wheelhouse of expertise. And above that, I generally trust Bob Melvin when it comes to filling out his staff. Melvin coached Williams when the latter[...]