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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2018-01-20T10:53:40-08:00


Makeup Issues: Who Is Jorge Mateo?


Cindi really wanted to write this piece until I explained that I wasn’t talking about the type of makeup issues she is passionate about. Still, “super-medium hottie George Tomato” is one of her new favorite players and I had to hide her phone in order to stop her from weighing in. You can thank me later. Opinions differ on whether the A’s should be concerned, or how concerned they should be, around the “makeup issues” that have followed Jorge Mateo’s profile since “Poutgate” emerged while he was with the Yankees. In case you’ve been sleeping in a cave, or perhaps sleeping with Jake Cave, the concerns stem from a single incidence — a 2 week suspension levied by the Yankees — in July of 2016. Supposedly Mateo mouthed off, frustrated that he was not promoted from single-A to AA, though depending on what you read it is not clear whether this was the central issue or is perhaps there were deeper issues that the team chose to keep private. Mateo, who has a June birthday, had recently turned 21 at the time of the suspension. In analyzing the situation, I will open by saying that in the continuum of prospect and player analysts I tend to put a bit more stock in “makeup/character” issues just because they often intersect with areas I consider to be key: work ethic, coachability, the ability to handle adversity and make adjustments. So I do not take “makeup concerns” lightly, as they can predict whether a player will or will not follow the path that maximizes his potential — and this is what separates big league players from failed prospects, as all have potential but only some reach or approach it. That being said, Mateo’s issues don’t sound too many alarm bells for me. At 21 he was still very young when he acted perhaps in poor judgment. If he mouthed off unwisely or maybe broke a team rule (e.g., arriving late), hopefully the Yankees’ willingness to call him on it sent a constructive message that forced Mateo to mature. Certainly he responded in the very best way a player can: assault AA pitching and prove that you do belong at the higher level. Just yesterday, in my work as a middle school guidance counselor, I had an all-too typical conversation with a 7th grader who asked to talk to me because he was feeling guilty and remorseful over a dumb thing he just done. He had responded to a classmate’s dare that he didn’t have the guts to pick up the classroom phone and dial 9-1-1 by doing just that. When the first responders arrived, and students were informed that this cost the school money and the first responders valuable time, the student realized he had royally messed up. To his credit this student asked me if we could go find the principal so he could own up to being the one who made the call, and apologize to her for what he had done. To me that shows a lot of character, but he was having trouble not beating himself up for making the initial mistake. I pointed out to him that middle school kids are famous for doing dumb things; some learn from their mistakes, do the right thing to right to restore things any way they can, and come out wiser, while others repeat mistakes because they lack the character to own up, learn, and move on. 21 year olds are not middle school age, but they are still somewhat in that “young and dumb” stage of life -- they will look back on some of their choices and wonder what the heck they were thinking, or if they were thinking at all. To my knowledge Mateo has not mouthed off, broken any rules, or dogged it on the base paths, since he returned from the 2-week suspension. That’s a good sign. He has certainly played well and appears, from a baseball point of view, to be ahead of his peers in entering his age 22/23 season already having thrived at AA (.300/.381 /.525 in 30 games with the Yankees, .292 /.333/.518 in 30 games with Oakland). A promotion to AAA from the outset, to play along side Franklin Barreto at Nashville, is not out of the question and would put Mateo on a timeline to debut in the big leagues before his 24th birthday. I[...]

Oakland A’s 2018 Community Prospect List #5: Sean Murphy is elite behind the plate


Optimistic take: He’s the Matt Chapman of catchers Our last vote on the Community Prospect list brought a rare twist, as the ballot ended in a perfect tie at the top. Sean Murphy and Jesus Luzardo each received 72 votes, which left it to me to cast the tiebreaking decision. My choice was Murphy. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between his % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up): A.J. Puk, LHP (+62%) Franklin Barreto, SS (+56%) Jorge Mateo, SS (+22%) Dustin Fowler, OF (+24%) Sean Murphy, C (+0%) Last winter, Sean Murphy ranked 25th on our CPL. He had just been selected in the 3rd round of the draft, and that distinction was enough to help him crack the bottom of the list. Now he’s in the Top 5. Murphy’s calling card is his defense. On Thursday, MLB Pipeline ranked him fourth among all catching prospects, including a mention that he is “[one] of the better defenders at any position in the Minors.” His throwing arm earns even further praise, with an elite 70-grade — two other backstops received the same grade, but with a note that “Murphy [possesses] the most consistent footwork and release.” His defense alone is enough to virtually guarantee him an MLB career. His hitting is less of a sure thing. His scouting reports suggest he has power, but it hasn’t yet shown up outside of High-A Stockton in the hitter-friendly California League. His plate discipline has been good, though, with consistently low strikeout rates at each level and more walks than Ks in the Arizona Fall League. Add all that up, and you have the makings of the catcher version of Matt Chapman — top-notch defense and a game-changing throwing arm, power potential, and the ability to take a walk. That’s a best-case, super-optimistic way of looking at it, but the tools are there if he can maximize them. And he’s already on the fast track up, having graduated from High-A to Double-A halfway through his first full season. And what about that tour of Double-A? Murphy’s bat fell flat there in 53 games, but I’m giving him a mulligan for several reasons. Foremost, it was an incredibly aggressive promotion and it’s a bonus that he even played there at all so soon after being drafted. Furthermore, Midland is notoriously a pitcher’s park, and he’s a catcher which should earn him some extra patience at the plate as he develops. He also added a pair of dingers in 35 PAs in the Texas League playoffs, for what that’s worth. And finally, he showed improvement in the AFL (albeit still with no power), making that his most recent and highest-level sample to date. If he struggles again next summer then I’ll take it more seriously, but for now I’m not moved by his initially shaky line in the upper minors. Jesus Luzardo has an exciting ceiling and belongs in our Top 10, but he’s still a teenager coming off major surgery. My pick here is the more advanced catcher who already looks like a sure thing and also has the chance to be special when he gets here. 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, the community 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 nominat[...]

Elephant Rumblings: Oakland Phenom Ready for Big Leap, Mounting Frustration with MLBPA Leadership


A’s Coverage: 15 phenoms ready to make the leap... BR: Every MLB Team’s Potential Breakout Star in 2018... Oakland Athletics 2018 top-50 prospects: Tyler Ramirez, OF... MLB News: Players and agents have ‘mounting’ frustration with Tony Clark’s MLBPA leadership... Players’ association rejects MLB’s proposal to institute 20-second pitch clocks, limits on mound visits... Mets invite Tim Tebow to major league spring training... Baseball Interest Stories: Passan: MLB’s plan on how they can make baseball games at least 10 minutes shorter... Axisa: Five ways the MLB players union can fix baseball and get young players more money... Sawchik: How the Pirates Got Here... Sullivan: What Do You Think of Your Team’s Ownership? Heyman: 4 changes I’d make to Hall of Fame voting... In Short Order: Kazuhisa Makita is the 80-mph submarining pitcher of your dreams... Today in Baseball History: 2016 - In settling a class action lawsuit filed by fans, Major League Baseball announces changes to its policy regarding the streaming of live games over the internet on MLB.TV. Fans will now be able to buy a package that covers their favorite team and that allows them to circumvent local blackouts, while the cost of the league-wide full package will be reduced by 15%. However, the settlement does not cover certain regional networks not owned by DirecTV, MLB’s principal broadcasting partner. The suit was filed because, while MLB.TV promised subscribers that they could watch all MLB games lives, local blackouts meant that in reality, fans who bought the package were often unable to follow the games of their local teams, a frustrating situation in markets where the local cable sports network is either not made available by every provider or is part of an expensive premium package. Best of Twitter: A sure sign of a slow off-season if ever there were one... The #MLB offseason has been so oppressively dull, even Jerry Dipoto has been slow to make moves. Since the #Mariners signed free agent Juan Nicasio Dec. 20, their biggest transactions came Tuesday, when they added Gordon Beckham and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on minor-league deals.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 19, 2018 [...]