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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2017-03-27T17:24:10-07:00

 



Spring Game #30: Home Runs a Royal Pain

2017-03-27T17:24:10-07:00

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Triggs is probably incredibly thankful that he is getting out of the hot desert air. The right-hander officially has a spot in the starting five to begin the season, beating out Jesse Hahn, who, like Triggs had a strong first half of the spring but faltered greatly in the second half, but he didn’t so much earn the spot as much as he was the beneficiary of injuries to other teammates and competition that beat itself. Triggs’ spring troubles would continue once again today, as the Royals were able to take Triggs deep three times in under four innings en route to a 10-3 defeat for Oakland.

***Click Here to Revisit the Game Thread***

Triggs is a pitcher that lives and dies by his deceptiveness and movement on his breaking balls, and today he had none of it. The Royals were on the basepaths early and often in this one, putting extra pressure on Triggs and Vogt by stealing two bases and highlighting the speed the team is renowned for. But while the Royals did do damage with their feet, as they are wont to do, most of the damage against Triggs occurred when the Royals flexed their power.

In the third, with the game tied at one, Mike Moustakas broke the tie with a solo home run to center field. After a single and stolen base, Paulo Orlando stroked a home run to left field to further increase the Royals’ lead. Triggs was then unable to keep the wheels from completely falling off and only worked out of the inning after five runs had scored. Triggs, still trying to get stretched out for his guaranteed starter’s job (at season’s start), would return for the fourth, but not for long. After issuing his second walk of the game (and it should be noted that he also had a hit batsman and a wild pitch) to Lorenzo Cain, old friend Brandon Moss would end Triggs’ outing with a scorched home run on a fly ball to right field after 3.2 total innings pitched.

With the game well out of hand, Daniel Coulombe blurred the line between his perceived status of a LOOGY who would face one or two batters a game and that of a long reliever by pitching three strong innings. While he didn’t strike anyone out and would walk the first batter he faced, Coulombe would follow the walk up with a double play ground ball, and then seven more consecutive ground balls just like it, needing to only face the minimum in his long relief outing. Coulombe is one of the few A’s still battling for a roster spot, and if he is capable of expanding his role from a mere (still valuable) LOOGY pitcher to a pitcher who can pitch in most any role, he very well may wind up sticking on the roster for a long time.

The A’s offense was quiet all game, scoring a single run in the first, the fifth, and the ninth innings. The run in the first inning came on an RBI groundout following a Rajai Davis triple to kick the bottom of the first off. The really exciting bit of offense came in the fifth when everyone’s favorite third baseman Matt Chapman hit his third home run of the spring to center field. It was far too little too late at that stage of the game for the big hit to have any impact on the end results of the game, but it was a pleasant burst of excitement for the A’s fans in the stands or tuning in to know that Chapman is very close to big-league ready.

Hohokam’s gates are closing for the final time this spring training, as the final two A’s spring training games are on the road. Opening Day is just a week away.




Oakland A’s spring training 2017: Alejandro De Aza released, outfield picture clarifies

2017-03-27T14:00:31-07:00

The Oakland A’s released outfielder Alejandro De Aza on Monday, the team announced. De Aza had an opt-out clause in his contract and had decided to use it, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. He is now a free agent, but Slusser notes that the A’s could re-sign him if no other club shows interest. De Aza had appeared to be a leading candidate for a bench role on the Opening Day squad, so this somewhat surprising move brings a bit of clarity to the situation. The A’s have four outfielders (Khris, Rajai, Joyce, Canha) and one more open roster spot, and it might be a good idea to use that vacancy on a fifth outfielder (preferably a lefty hitter) who can properly back up CF behind the 36-year-old Rajai. De Aza would have met all the requirements. With De Aza out of the picture for now, though, there are two likely outcomes: either Jaff Decker will get that fifth outfield spot, or the A’s will roll with an eighth reliever instead. Decker checks all the same boxes as De Aza (lefty, can play CF, has a pulse) and the two have posted eerily identical batting lines this spring, but De Aza carries far more successful MLB experience while Decker is six years younger (33 to 27 this season). Meanwhile, Tim Eckert-Fong argues that carrying an eighth reliever is a dumb idea, and I agree — especially now that Raul Alcantara is in the rotation and doesn’t need to be shoehorned into the bullpen. In other words, we still don’t know exactly how things will shake out, but where there were once three likely options (De Aza, Decker, 8th reliever) there are now only two. Hot take: I don’t get it. Granted, we’re talking about a guy who was available as a minor league free agent this winter, but he seemed like a decent fit for now at an area of immediate need. He’s a veteran stopgap capable of being average on both sides of the ball, and as we saw last year you can do much worse than that. As Bob Melvin said, via Slusser’s article linked above: He knew how to lead off, swung the bat well for us. ... For an organization that’s a little thin in outfielders, I think he did a pretty good job. I mean, yeah, exactly. So why is he gone? We don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but you’d have to imagine a guaranteed roster spot would have kept him from opting out (NOTE: pure speculation). Considering the (lack of) other options, if that was the case then I would have given him that bench spot hands down. Sure, Decker is intriguing too, but why not keep both? Injuries do happen, after all. This is a minor move regarding the 25th spot on the team, so the stakes are low. But I would have kept the extra depth, and in the role of reliable backup CF I would have given the first nod to the guy with an actual MLB track record. On the bright side, losing De Aza means that Jaycob Brugman is one step closer to the top of the depth chart. * * * The team began spring training with 70 players in MLB camp but they’re now down to 36, though that doesn’t necessarily mean much for game purposes because extras are often borrowed from minor league camp. For example, on Sunday against Brewers the A’s starter at 2B was Max Schrock, a Double-A prospect who is “assigned to [the] Oakland Athletics” according to the team’s transaction logs (along with a couple dozen other prospects) but doesn’t count toward that total of 36. And remember, four of the 36 remaining players are out of the picture due to long-term injury, so really there are only 7 cuts left to be made in order to take this group down to a 25-man unit for April. Also see: 1st round of cuts | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | 5th | 6th Here’s the full spring training squad. Players in italics are non-roster invitees. Players in strikethrough have been reassigned to minor league camp. Players with **asterisks will miss the start of the season to injury. (Note that some of the injured players could wind up on the 60-day DL, which would make room to add replacements to the 40-man roster.) Pitchers Hitters Star[...]



Spring Game Thread #30: A’s vs Royals

2017-03-27T12:41:01-07:00

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On the same day that the Raiders have been officially approved to leave Oakland, yet again, in order to try their luck in Las Vegas, the A’s begin their final week in Arizona before returning home to the city that has supported them for half a century. The A’s have had a long-standing tradition of winning in Oakland, and has had its identity shaped again and again by the fans of the east bay, no matter who was wearing the uniform. With the Raiders now committing to Las Vegas and the Warriors planning on jumping across the bay, the A’s soon stand to be the lone professional sports team in Oakland proper, and all signs are pointing towards the A’s and Oakland staying together for quite a bit longer.

It wasn’t all too long ago that the A’s were perpetually rumored to be on the move somewhere, be it Fremont or San Jose, or even Las Vegas, while under the ownership of Lew Wolff, and others. With Wolff’s obsession with getting the A’s a new stadium done his way, and perpetually disparaging the city of Oakland in the process, for a while there was a divide between the city, fans, and the team. Attendance completely bottomed out as the A’s played mediocre ball in an old, decrepit coliseum, with no real direction or positive future outlook. A miracle season that saw the emergence of hometown stars like Jonny Gomes in 2012 helped a bit, but the biggest boon for the A’s was Wolff, and his stadium vision, stepping down and David Kaval, and his stadium vision, stepping in. Since Kaval’s takeover the A’s have made it clear that Oakland is their home. The threat of the team leaving one day is gone, and instead of treading water the team is looking poised to build a youthful, sustainable roster that will soon be playing under the lights of a new ballpark in Oakland.

The Raiders moving means the A’s have no more obstacles to building a new stadium in Oakland, and can immediately start working with the city to finalize new ballpark plans.

But for today, the A’s will simply being playing one of their final spring training game, against the Royals.

For the A’s: 1- R Davis, CF 2- J Lowrie, 2B 3- M Joyce, RF 4- M Semien, SS 5- S Vogt, C 6- J Phegley, DH 7- Y Alonso, 1B 8- M Chapman, 3B 9- J Decker, LF SP- A Triggs

For the Royals: 1- A Gordon, DH 2- M Mousataks, 3B 3- L Cain, CF 4- B Moss, 1B 5- P Orlando, RF 6- W Merrifield, LF 7- A Escobar, SS 8- D Butera, C 9- R Mondesi, 2B SP- J Vargas




NFL approves Raiders move to Vegas, out of Oakland Coliseum

2017-03-27T11:42:34-07:00

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The Oakland Athletics will soon be alone at the Oakland Coliseum after the NFL approved moving the Raiders to Vegas on a 31-1 vote.

National Football League owners have approved moving the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in a 31-1 vote, reports ESPN, meaning the Oakland Athletics will soon be the sole tenants of the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders are scheduled to begin playing in a new $1.9 billion domed stadium west of the Las Vegas Strip in 2020.

The Raiders will play in Oakland for the 2017-18 season, and the club holds an option to extend their lease there through the 2018-19 season. However, the Raiders do not control their own destiny in 2019-20. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is a potential alternate site for the Raiders pending the construction of the Las Vegas stadium after 2017-18.

In terms of the game experience, soon enough the A’s will not have to concern themselves with re-sodding the outfield of Rickey Henderson Field after Raiders games. The A’s could even elect to expand their stadium facilities into the football-sized locker rooms. The size and quality of Oakland’s facilities has been a problem in attracting free agents to Oakland. Any upgrades can only help the A’s if they hope to be a perennial playoff contender at the point they’re ready to move to a new facility.

At the least, there will be significant clarification on how the A’s might stage construction of a new stadium at the Coliseum site, though Howard Terminal and other locations closer to downtown Oakland remain in play. Knowing when the Raiders will leave gives the A’s more opportunities to do construction there without having to concern themselves with working around crowds for nine or 10 home Raiders weekends plus playoffs.

My best guess on what will happen is that the Raiders will exercise their option at the Coliseum for 2018-19 unless the A’s offered some incentive if it meant pushing up the construction timeline at the Coliseum site. The big test of whether the Raiders will consider decamping to Levi’s Stadium is how the Oakland Raiders fanbase reacts to the team leaving, and whether they’d draw just as well in the more modern Levi’s Stadium.




Oakland A’s spring training 2017: Starting rotation appears set, for now

2017-03-27T07:06:06-07:00

The Oakland A’s starting rotation was arguably the biggest unknown entering spring training, but it appears the puzzle was solved on Sunday — for now, at least. The A’s sent Jesse Hahn back to Triple-A, leaving the following five beginning Opening Day (via Susan Slusser, S.F. Chronicle): Kendall Graveman, RHP Sean Manaea, LHP Jharel Cotton, RHP Andrew Triggs, RHP Raul Alcantara, RHP That’s a rebuilding rotation if there ever was one — a relative innings-eater at the top, then a couple impact youngsters, then a reliever experimenting in a starting role, and then finally a fringe prospect whose chief trait is that he’s out of minor league options. The A’s have some playing time available to try out a couple lotto tickets, and they’re making the most of it. Of course, that arrangement is more of a snapshot than a finished product. Sonny Gray could be back in April, and there are more reinforcements on the way after that. Underneath the surface, the rest of the iceberg looks something like this: Jesse Hahn, RHP DL (mid-April): Sonny Gray, RHP Daniel Gossett, RHP Paul Blackburn, RHP DL (midseason): Daniel Mengden, RHP DL (midseason): Chris Bassitt, RHP DL (midseason): Felix Doubront, LHP If something happens in the next week and the A’s need another replacement, then you’d have to imagine Hahn would get that call. Otherwise, Sonny isn’t expected to be out long, and his return should restore some breathing room on the depth chart. The rest of the list will require slight patience, but all are feasible possibilities in the first half of the season. Gossett and Blackburn have combined for two career starts in Triple-A so they still have some development to do, though Gossett in particular might be close to getting his chance. Mengden will spend another few weeks in extended spring training, rehabbing his foot injury, and Bassitt and Doubront are about 11-12 months removed from Tommy John surgery. That long depth list could come in handy even if everyone is pitching well, though, considering that Sonny is the only one on the list who has ever thrown 200 innings in a season. When your rotation is half rookies and converted relievers, it’s nice to know there are fresh arms scheduled to arrive midyear. * * * This rotation isn’t necessarily good or bad, but rather exactly what it should be: Unproven, interesting, and worthwhile. Graveman is miscast as an Opening Day starter, but no one is expecting him to be the ace — he’s simply the one with the most experience right now, filling in for Sonny in a pinch. Let’s not judge the group based on his emergency placement at the top. Manaea and Cotton are the anchors here. The former showed top-of-the-rotation ability as a rookie last year, backing up the high-ceiling profile he’d arrived with. The latter had a briefer audition last summer but still an electric one, good enough to garner some national attention on Top 100 prospect lists over the winter. If the rotation is a strength this year, there’s a good chance the resurgence is being led by one or both of these guys. Meanwhile, Triggs and Alcantara are exactly the types of players the A’s should be trying out in April. They each bring promise in their own way — Triggs because of his successful audition last summer, and Alcantara because of his solid prospect status. But neither is a critical part of the rotation’s future, making it a bonus if one pans out and merely a write-off if they both bust. Oakland gets a free look at them until Sonny is ready to tap back in for whoever emerges as the weakest link, at which point the odd man out becomes as a quality bullpen option. All five starters in the season-opening rotation are pitchers with upside whom I’m interested in following. There is no Eric Surkamp or Ross Detwiler in here, merely filling space and biding time. That doesn’t mean they’ll all turn out well, but at least they’re here for good reasons. And then, wit[...]



Farm Report: Talking Prospects with Feinstein & Fuson

2017-03-27T07:00:04-07:00

While in Mesa last week, I took the opportunity to talk with A’s assistant general manager Dan Feinstein as well as special assistant Grady Fuson about some of the team’s top prospects for my Athletics Farm site. As we all know, the A’s currently have a number of prospects potentially on the verge of breaking through in the very near future. And I know that lots of Athletics Nation readers are eager to learn as much as possible about some of these promising young players. So I’ve included a portion of these recent conversations below for your perusal. If you’d like to read the full interviews on my site, as well as some recent interviews I did with prospects Matt Chapman, Daniel Gossett and Bruce Maxwell, you can find them all here… Dan Feinstein Interview Grady Fuson Interview Chapman/Gossett/Maxwell Interviews Assistant general manager Dan Feinstein returned to Oakland to begin his second stint with the A’s just prior to the 2012 season and was promoted to serve as one of the team’s trio of assistant general managers in late 2015. I had the chance to talk with him a little over a week ago at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa about top prospects Franklin Barreto, Matt Chapman, A.J. Puk, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas. His comments on Barreto and Chapman are included here… AF: Well, at the top of just about everyone’s A’s prospects list this year is infielder Franklin Barreto. He had a great spring in the big league camp before gettng sent over to the minor league complex, and he’s obviously getting very close to being in the major leagues. What excites you most about him, and what does he still need to work on to get his game where it needs to be? DF: Well, one thing we’ll talk about with a few of these guys…is that, even though he’s been with us for a little while now, he’s still just barely 21 years old – he turned 21 during this spring training. So it’s something we have to be mindful of, just how young he is, and how above his age he’s played at virtually every level he’s been at. He’s a fairly quiet kid but extremely confident. He’s a very advanced hitter for his age, excellent hand-eye coordination and bat speed. He has the ability to drive the ball to all fields. He’s a really talented young bat. AF: Should we expect to be seeing him getting time at both shortstop and second base this year at Nashville? DF: Yeah, we certainly think he has enough arm and range to stay at shortstop but, for the immediate future, he’ll probably be able to make the biggest impact at second base. He has very good hands. He’s still learning the nuances of playing the middle of the diamond. I know he’s spent a good deal of time this spring training just making sure that he has the proper footwork and that he’s getting in a strong position to throw. We certainly see him as a shortstop in the future, but he may have his biggest impact at second base this season. AF: So would you say that the primary focus for him in terms of improvement this season is more on his defense than on his offense then? DF: Yeah, I think that’s probably the case. AF: Okay, let’s move on to #2 on our list, and that’s third baseman Matt Chapman. First of all, we know his power is real since he managed to keep his power numbers up at Midland last year, which very few guys seem to be able to do. But he maybe needs to make a little more consistent contact. So what do you like about what you’ve been seeing out of Chapman at this point and what do you need to see out of him at Nashville this season to feel that he’s really major-league ready? DF: Matt is a really underrated athlete. He plays a really stellar third base. He’s kind of emerged as one of the best defensive third baseman in all of the minor leagues. He could probably play anywhere on the field if you let him. AF: Well, he did used to pitch in college too, right? DF: Yeah, and he thre[...]



The Weekly Bernie, 3/27/16: Hahn, Maxwell optioned as Oakland A’s Opening Day roster takes shape

2017-03-27T06:00:05-07:00

After a pair of minor league options and a pair of contract opt-outs, the A’s 2017 roster is becoming more and more clear, among other news. Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more! On Sunday, the A’s officially optioned both righty Jesse Hahn and catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A. Hahn gave up seven runs (five earned) over 3.1 innings in his start on Saturday against the Dodgers. He walked two, struck out four, and gave up two home runs. Overall, his spring ERA sat at 8.80 over 15.1 innings pitched. Hahn has been nothing short of frustrating during his time with the Athletics, as his potential is obvious but he lacks any consistency. However, he seems determined and might be just a small adjustment away this time. Maxwell was demoted following his best game of the spring, in which he smacked two home runs, raising his slash line for the spring to .282/.364/.513. However, it was very clearly a numbers game with the roster. Maxwell, a left-handed hitter, would have a hard time splitting playing time with All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt, also a lefty. Thus, the 26-year-old will start the season down in Triple-A for more seasoning, but could be one of the first bats called back up. His glove and bat both seem ready and he could be at least an average catcher right now. Outfielder Alejandro De Aza, in A’s camp on a minor league deal, is expected to opt out of his deal today, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. This is somewhat surprising, given that De Aza had a decent chance of winning the fifth outfielder spot and making the club. Now, the door is wide open for fellow spring invite Jaff Decker, who will soon be returning from a minor oblique injury. In addition, lefty Ross Detwiler opted out of his minor league deal with the A’s, as he was not going to make the team. The 31-year-old posted an ERA over six with the club down the stretch last year, and the team (correctly) sees him as nothing more than a depth arm. The A’s rotation, barring injury, appears to be set. The first three spots will be held by Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman, followed by youngsters Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton. On Sunday, it was announced that the intriguing Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara will round out the rotation. The A’s picked up Triggs, 28, off of waivers last spring and he posted very good peripherals both in the rotation and the bullpen. It will be an interesting experiment to see if he succeeds in a full-time role as a starter. Alcantara, on the other hand, is out of options and needs to succeed to survive with the A’s. Once one of the A’s top pitching prospects, he needs to either miss more bats or show better control if he wants to succeed at the major league level. It seems to be a competition between the Alcantara and Triggs to see who will get to remain in the rotation when Sonny Gray is ready to come off of the disabled list. Two of the most likely candidates for the remaining bullpen spot are flamethrower Frankie Montas or southpaw Daniel Coulombe. The Oakland A’s Spirit Week kicks off today. Events include a mural unveiling, BART takeover, and cap trade-ins throughout the week. For more information, check out the A’s official page here. As part of Spirit Week, you can trade in a Giants hat for a new Oakland A’s hat! The A’s went 5-3 this past week. Check out all of the recaps here: Arizona; Seattle; White Sox; Milwaukee; White Sox; Cincinnati; Dodgers; Milwaukee. This was a very busy week for contract extensions around the MLB. The Tampa Bay Rays locked up star centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier to a six-year, $53.5 million deal with a club option. Kiermaier is arguably the best defensive outfielder on the planet, and even with just a league average bat he can be a star. Turning 27 in April, he has plenty of room to grow as a hitter. Kiermaier, a[...]



Oakland A’s spring training 2017: Jesse Hahn and Ross Detwiler out, roster at 37

2017-03-26T15:33:07-07:00

Story updated at 5:00 p.m. PT to add Bruce Maxwell. The Oakland A’s roster became three players lighter on Sunday. The team began spring training with 70 players in MLB camp, but this new round of cuts brings that number down to 37 — of course, it needs to be 25 by Opening Day. Here are the three players exiting this time: RHP Jesse Hahn LHP Ross Detwiler C Bruce Maxwell Also see: 1st round of cuts | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | 5th These three moves are quite different in nature, so let’s take them one at a time. Hahn was in a legitimate competition for a spot in the starting rotation. He was looking to make a bounce-back after struggling in 2016, but simply didn’t perform well enough in the Cactus League this year. Of his six appearances this spring, two were great but at least two more were absolute disasters (maybe four, depending on your definition of disaster). Overall he averaged a run on two hits every inning, though at least he kept the walks down. Hahn says, "I think I'm really close ... I'm not going to let this one get me down." Was told by A's they need to see results.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 26, 2017 There are now 37 players in MLB camp, though that doesn’t necessarily mean much for game purposes because extras are often borrowed from minor league camp. For example, on Sunday against Brewers the the A’s starter at 2B was Max Schrock, a Double-A prospect who is “assigned to [the] Oakland Athletics” according to the team’s transaction logs (along a couple dozen other prospects) but doesn’t count toward that total of 37. Hahn is the first truly meaningful cut from spring camp, as a player who had an absolutely real chance of making the team. That means the season is getting closer! With most of the low-level prospects and fringe filler gone, just about everyone left has at least a vague outside shot of breaking camp with the team. Remember, four of the 37 remaining players are out of the picture due to long-term injury, so really there are only 8 cuts left to be made in order to take this group down to a 25-man unit for April. Here’s the full spring training squad. Players in italics are non-roster invitees. Players in strikethrough have been reassigned to minor league camp. Players with **asterisks will miss the start of the season to injury. (Note that some of the injured players could wind up on the 60-day DL, which would make room to add replacements to the 40-man roster.) Pitchers Hitters Starters **Sonny Gray (R) Sean Manaea (L) Kendall Graveman (R) Andrew Triggs (R) Jharel Cotton (R) **Daniel Mengden (R) Raul Alcantara (R) Jesse Hahn (R) **Chris Bassitt (R) Paul Blackburn (R) Ross Detwiler (L) **Felix Doubront (L) Daniel Gossett (R) Heath Fillmyer (R) A.J. Puk (L) Relievers Ryan Madson (R) Sean Doolittle (L) Ryan Dull (R) Liam Hendriks (R) Santiago Casilla (R) John Axford (R) Daniel Coulombe (L) Frankie Montas (R) Bobby Wahl (R) Michael Brady (R) Simon Castro (R) Tucker Healy (R) Aaron Kurcz (R) Zach Neal (R) Chris Smith (R) Josh Smith (R) Tyler Sturdevant (R) Cesar Valdez (R) Trey Cochran-Gill (R) Catchers Stephen Vogt (L) Josh Phegley (R) Bruce Maxwell (L) Ryan Lavarnway (R) Matt McBride (R) Sean Murphy (R) Infielders Ryon Healy (R) Trevor Plouffe (R) Yonder Alonso (L) Mark Canha (R) Matt Olson (L) Renato Nunez (R) Jed Lowrie (S) Adam Rosales (R) Joey Wendle (L) Chad Pinder (R) Marcus Semien (R) Franklin Barreto (R) Yairo Munoz (R) Matt Chapman (R) Jermaine Curtis (R) Max Muncy (L) Rangel Ravelo (R) Josh Rodriguez (R) Richie Martin (R) Max Schrock (L) Outfielders Khris Davis (R) Rajai Davis (R) Matt Joyce (L) **Jake Smolinski (R) Jaycob Brugman (L) Alejandro De Aza (L) Jaff Decker (L) Andrew Lambo (L) Chris Parmelee (L) Kenny Wilson (R) [...]