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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2017-05-27T13:25:36-07:00

 



A’s Can’t Overcome Will Little

2017-05-27T13:25:36-07:00

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***Link to the GameThread****

Cotton could have been stronger out of the gate and the A’s could have rolled over on fewer pitches, but it can be hard to win a game when the home plate umpire gives one team a strike zone three inches taller and four inches more outside than the other.

A’s lose 3-2. They will try again tomorrow morning at 10:05.




Trade Daze Episode 18: Preparation Is Key

2017-05-27T10:37:16-07:00

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How the Oakland A’s get pumped for a game

Every player has a different tactic when it comes to warming up for a game, a different set of rituals and ways to relax. Each is equally important to every individual and, in turn, to the team as a whole.

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Bring on the Yankees! We’ve got Hittles for days!




Oakland A’s place Jesse Hahn on DL, recall Jharel Cotton

2017-05-27T09:14:28-07:00

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Welcome back Cotton!

The Oakland A’s placed pitcher Jesse Hahn on the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. The injury is a triceps strain, which knocked him out of his last start on Tuesday. To replace him, the A’s recalled Jharel Cotton from Triple-A Nashville.

Hahn is in the midst of a bounce-back after a lost 2016. His ERA is only slightly better than average, but his 2.78 FIP is third-best among all MLB starters. In particular, he’s allowed just one home run in nine games. His MRI showed no structural damage (via insider Jane Lee), and the hope is he’ll return after the minimum 10-day absence (via Susan Slusser, S.F. Chronicle).

Hahn, 2017: 3.81 ERA, 49⅔ ip, 41 Ks, 18 BB, 1 HR, 2.78 FIP

Meanwhile, Cotton was sent back to Triple-A a couple weeks ago, partly because he was struggling and partly because he was the odd man out between six healthy starters. He was sharp in a pair of starts in the minors, and now he’ll already get his next chance in Oakland.

Cotton, 2017: 5.68 ERA, 38 ip, 35 Ks, 16 BB, 6 HR, 4.57 FIP

This is the 15th time the A’s have used the disabled list this season, and the 10th since Opening Day. The next one is probably coming soon, too — Kendall Graveman was scratched from his start on Friday with a flareup of his previous shoulder problem (via John Hickey, Mercury News), and the inside reporters say he might go on the DL Sunday.

10-day DL: RHP Jesse Hahn, LHP Sean Doolittle, RHP Ryan Dull, RHP Bobby Wahl

60-day DL: RHP Chris Bassitt, SS Marcus Semien, OF Jake Smolinski

Notables on AAA DL: C Bruce Maxwell

With Cotton in Oakland, the next most obvious rotation candidate in Nashville appears to be Daniel Mengden, who recently returned from the DL himself (foot surgery).

Other options include Raul Alcantara, who got rocked in MLB earlier this year; prospects Paul Blackburn and Daniel Gossett, who probably aren’t quite ready yet; and veteran fillers like Chris Smith and Michael Brady. Nashville also has Felix Doubront, who is off the DL after Tommy John recovery, but he is now a reliever. Of that group, Mengden and Blackburn are already on the 40-man roster.




Game #47: Manaea Twirls a Gem; Wins Pitchers' Duel as A's Survive Ninth

2017-05-26T19:25:28-07:00

Despite an admittedly strong performance by Masahiro Tanaka, who rebounded from his recent troubles to strike out 13 A's hitters in his 7.1 innings, Sean Manaea hung in there pitch for pitch, finishing seven innings of his own, striking out 8 Yankees while allowing just four hits. The A's rallied in both the eighth and ninth innings, and they'd need the entire cushion, as Santiago Casilla made things wildly interesting in the ninth. (tips head back, drains entire glass of wine) Well, that was fun! It was no walk-off, but I'll take it. It's a win! It's a WIN! The A's beat the Yankees in Yankee Stadium tonight by the score of 4-1, in a game that was a whole lot closer than the score would lead one to believe. Manaea and Tanaka were aces through their seven innings of work, striking out a combined 21 batters, before the A's broke through. Singles by Lowrie and Khris Davis plated two in the eighth to set up Manaea for the win, and a huge home run (both in distance and in-game situation, after just missing one earlier in the night) by Stephen Vogt gave the A's the 4-0 lead, of which Casilla would test to the very tying run. If you were to lay a bet on tonight's game, I'd wager that you'd have bet the Yankees, the best home team against the worst road team in a game in which the A's starter was scratched earlier in the day and replaced by an inconsistent starter in the form of Sean Manaea, making his start tonight instead of tomorrow. However, you'd have lost the best, and been pretty happy about it, since Manaea was absolutely nails tonight in his seven innings, keeping the game scoreless as the A's hitters struck out every single at-bat (well, more than half of their outs anyway), until they finally pulled together a rally in the eighth inning, after it seemed they'd be turned away yet again. At one point in the game, Jed Lowrie hit 7-7 in his last 7 at-bats; he's on a tear. Tanaka started his game by striking out the side of Athletics, mixed around a Lowrie double. Manaea struck out two after his lead-off walk; in what would turn out to be his only walk of the game, and from there, we were off. The A's struck out twice in the second; the Yankees once. The A's struck out twice again in the third; the Yankees stranded a double. Sandwiched between two more strikeouts in the fourth, the A's made their opening move: one-out singles by Lowrie and Davis put two on, but a flyout by Healy and the closing strikeout by Plouffe ended the threat. Meanwhile, after striking out two more Yankees, Manaea allowed a single to Aaron Judge with two outs in the fourth, but he immediately picked off the runner to end the inning. In what had to be a record, the A's didn't strike out once in the fifth, but no one could move Mark Canha after his double. Manaea struck out two Yankees' batters in the fifth to keep things rolling into the second half of the game, and Tanaka answered in the sixth with two strikeouts of his own. Manaea allowed a single in his half of the sixth, but struck out Matt Holliday to the inning. Stephen Vogt put a charge into a ball in the seventh, but it was caught at the wall to end the A's threat. And then added a little bit of catcher's interference just for fun. Reddick, is that you? The A's closed the inning--and Manaea's night--strong for the kid with a nifty double-play to end the inning, and Tanaka followed two batters later; ending his night in the eighth with a strikeout for good measure, and a seemingly-harmless one-out single to Adam Rosales. Enter our old friend Tyler Clippard, who immediately helped his old team with a botched pick-off attempt; instead of getting Rosales at first, he threw the ball down the line to allow him to race around to third, firmly planted there with one out. But because A's, Rajai Davis weakly grounded out to third while Rosales took off, and he was thrown out at the plate for the A's second out. I would have sent him too; in a 0-0 tie, you have to take a chance at the score, and if anyone is to [...]



Getting overly excited about Mark Canha

2017-05-26T12:29:43-07:00

The dude has been amazing in a small sample, and there’s reason to think that might stick. In Mark Canha’s 2015 rookie campaign, we fans got excited. On a team that could barely hit, couldn’t field, and employed a bullpen of unclutch potatoes, fans grasped onto whatever they could. That was Mark Canha. The truth was, there were reasons to be skeptical of Canha. Reasons to be excited to be sure, but reasons to think his game needed work in order for him to succeed. That was fine - he was a rookie after all. Then Canha lost nearly the entire 2016 campaign, a bummer for a guy in need of reps. He came back in early 2017, struggling mightily to almost no one’s surprise. Playing baseball is hard, playing big league ball after missing an entire season is a recipe for struggle. After a short AAA stint, Mark Canha is back. He’s destroying the ball at a nearly unprecedented rate, and there’s reason to think he’s here to stay. He’s making better choices and therefore more contact The phrase easy power has often been thrown around in regards to Mark Canha but truth is, it’s a little misleading. Easy power refers to the ability to get the ball out of the yard with little effort, and yes, Canha certainly possesses that ability. But Mark Canha never put in little effort. He always swung from his rear, trying to put the ball over Mt. Davis and therefore struggling some to put the ball in play. His strikeout rate wasn’t exorbitant, but more contact is always better. Since Canha has returned from AAA, his k-rate has plummeted. He’s striking out in just 16% of his at bats, down from 22% the rest of his career. Now 22% is not really bad, particularly for a guy who swings with such force and possesses so much power, but increasing contact can only be a good thing. Even better is the fact that he’s not losing power to do so. Since he’s come back, Canha has crushed three monster dongs in just 31 plate appearances. He’s hitting line drives at a remarkable rate (29%), hitting balls hard at an even more remarkable rate (41.7%), and is pulling the ball more than ever before. That’s from a tiny sample of 31 plate appearances. These numbers can change quickly but there are numbers that stabilize faster than others. Those typically have to do with plate discipline, and that’s where we have the best news - Canha looks like a new man. He’s swinging at the same number of pitches as he has for the rest of his career but he’s decreased the pitches he’s swinging at outside the zone (25.7% vs. 33.8%). He’s swinging way more at pitches in the zone (71.4% vs. 62.9%) too, another great sign. To the eyeball, he looks more comfortable at the plate and in total control of the zone. So while his standard stats are a small sample, they’re supported by slightly more telling stats that are also in a small sample. A reason to get excited. So why get overly excited This is all from a tiny sample, one that you should definitely be wary of (he writes after trying to get you stoked about said sample). Ah, but swing changes. That’s why I’m bullish on Canha’s fine return. You’re probably a bit tired of hearing about swing changes, but here we go down that avenue. Fortunately, this potential change we’re about to address is different than the normal swing up and for the fences one that’s swept across the league. Back to Canha’s easy power. There’s no doubt Canha has got well above average power. It was called easy by many, but truth is, easy power isn’t really tenable when you swing with everything you have. Easy power refers to getting the ball out of the yard without max effort, something Canha is imminently capable of but something he hasn’t done. Until now, maybe. src="https://gfycat.com/ifr/EachDeliciousLacewing" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen=""> Okay, the difference here is subtle. On the left is Canha the newfound destroyer, wrecking a fa[...]



Athletics at Yankees: Judgement Week

2017-05-26T06:24:36-07:00

The A’s are embarking on a seven game road trip that will be the team’s toughest test of the first two months of the season. The last two road trips the A’s took didn’t go so well, the team only securing three victories in fifteen total games, and those road trips were primarily against division rivals who haven’t exactly been lighting this season on fire (Astros notwithstanding). The A’s are a mere 6-15 on the road, still the worst in the American League, and those struggles are the difference between the A’s being in second place in the division and fourth, where they are now. · Houston: 32-16 · Anaheim: 25-25 · Texas: 24-24 · Oakland: 21-25 · Seattle: 21-27 The Astros are winning two out of every three games and have the best record in all of baseball, but the team also has mostly beaten up on a very disappointing AL West. Texas and Anaheim have both fallen back to Earth after their individual surges and are back at a .500 record and marred in losing streaks, and Seattle’s offense-first roster isn’t producing enough offense for the team to stay afloat. The A’s are just two games out of second place in the division, which, along with a dollar, can buy a candy bar. But while second place would be ultimately meaningless, it could serve as a moral victory on the season if this roster can hang around in the top half of the AL West when just about every sports news outlet had Oakland (perhaps rightfully) pegged for last. But there is also the strong chance that the A’s fall further out of it over the next week, because over the next seven games they will be taking on two favorites to reach the World Series- the Yankees and the Indians. The storied Yankees franchise has hit a road bump the last few seasons, winning more often than losing but expensive and aging and worsening veterans and underachieving prospects prevented the Yankees from being a feared opponent and it’s been a long time since the Yankees have been thought of as serious World Series contenders. Attendance, while still strong, has been waning as the franchise hasn’t played up to the lofty expectations it has year in and year out. However, this year has witnessed the resurgence of the team’s veterans, as though they all simultaneously aged in reverse over the offseason, and the rookies they’ve entrusted have loudly burst onto the MLB scene with authority, and suddenly the team no longer looks tired and underpowered. Who’s Hot/Not Everyone is talking about Aaron Judge, and with good reason. The behemoth of a rookie has been on fire since earning the starting job in right field out of spring training for New York, effortlessly blasting monster home runs already fifteen times on this young season. Judge is playing so well, in fact, that the Yankees have installed a special section in right field called the "Judge’s Chambers" to honor him and make him the face of the youth movement in New York after just two months of play. It is clear that the Yankees believe strongly in Judge, and more than likely he will wind up in pinstripes for a long, long time. Michael Pineda, this year, has done his part to make the Pineda for Jesus Montero trade less sad on both sides, as he is finally the anchor to the starting rotation the Yankees hoped he’d be. In 53 innings pitched he’s gotten over sixty strike outs, and has a WHIP of 1.04. On the other hand, expected ace of the staff Masahiro Tanaka has been getting knocked around of late. His normally deceptive offerings are not fooling any hitters, and too many breaking pitches have been left floating up in the zone, and in his last two starts he has given up fourteen runs and seven home runs. The Matchups Friday, 5/26 @ 4:05 PM: Graveman (2-2) vs Tanaka (5-3) Saturday, 5/27 @ 10:05 AM: Sean Manaea (2-3) vs TBD Sunday, 5/28 @ 10:05 AM: Andrew Triggs (5-3) vs TBD All games are on NBCSCA. Saturday’s game [...]



Trade Market Suddenly A Gray Area Again

2017-05-25T18:36:24-07:00

I know treatments have side effects, but the nurses didn’t warn me that AN’s fonts might look different. However, so far the keyboard appears to be in the same general arrangement on my laptop so I think I can still write about Sonny Gray. It’s amazing how one brilliant start can move a pitcher from "hasn’t had it for 2 years" to "We’re gettin’ a HAUL!!!!" Sonny Gray was his vintage self Wednesday afternoon, and the way A’s fans know how to enjoy top performances is to immediately begin constructing trade proposals. Not so fast, folks. But also, not so slow. If Gray continues to resemble his 2013-15 self, there will certainly be a hot market for him as the trade deadline approaches. With 2.5 years left on his contract the potential return in a Gray trade is hot, and if the A’s are seeking to be at their most competitive 2-3 years from now you have to think that dealing Gray is at least on the table if and when the timing is right. However, whether Gray is traded this season and if so when, is unknown because it is unknowable. Just last month he was an injured pitcher coming off of a dreadful season. Just a couple weeks ago he debuted by serving up 3 HRs. Yesterday he was phenomenal but how will he be next time out? So for openers, remember that it’s late May and not late July and that the heart of trading season is still 2 months away, which also means that needle on Gray’s value and status has a chance to keep moving. Imagine what teams might offer if Sonny has 6 more starts comparable to yesterday’s and what the market might be if Sonny reverts back to the "good stuff, ok results" of his first 3 starts this season. The fact is no one, including every potential suitor, has any idea what to expect from Gray going forward. Whether the A’s trade him at all probably depends most on whether the best offer for him is the type of return he warranted at the end of 2015, the type of return he warranted an April, 2017, or somewhere in between. There may be a team that, by the trading deadline, is willing to part with the kind of talent you would offer for an ace — which Gray was in 2015, as he finished 3rd in the Cy Young award balloting. If that’s the case you have to think the A’s will pull the trigger, considering how uncertain Gray’s future performance is in light of his recent struggles and injuries. Then again, where Gray now stands you could easily see a scenario where he is more valuable to the A’s than what he garners in trade. His stock has fallen from 2015 to 2016 to 2017, and even if he rebounds he does it with less and less contract control. In trade you get only the value of a risky, if talented, stock, whereas if you keep him you might get the excellent FOTR pitcher if one is still there. If I am trying to compare Gray, now, to another pitcher the one who pops to mind is someone the A’s have both recently acquired and recently dealt: Jeff Samardzija. There is no question about Samardzija’s stuff, yet some years the stuff has strangely not played. Samardzija, when dealt, had more than the usual 2 months left on his contract — the A’s acquired him with 1.5 years remaining and then traded him in the off-season with 1 year left. Samardzija has always been a tough pitcher to predict going forward, with ace stuff that sometimes yields great results and sometimes yields poor results. Two key differences between Gray now and Samardzija recently would be that Gray has 2.5 years left on his contract, not 1 or 1.5, and he has battled injury recently. I don’t know if Samardzija’s markets in summer, 2014 and winter, 2014 tell you a blame thing about Gray’s market now, but if Gray’s suitors were to dangle talent along the lines of Addison Russell, Marcus Semien and Chris Bassitt, you have to think the A’s would be intently listening. Usually, 2-3 starts won’t move the needle that much on a pitcher’s va[...]



Why I’m a fan of the Oakland A’s

2017-05-25T09:00:02-07:00

Welcome to the refreshed Athletics Nation! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us! ______ Why I’m a fan of the Oakland A’s Anytime someone catches wind that I’m a fan of the Oakland A’s, I catch some flack. People just don’t understand how anyone could love a team that’s light on recent success, lighter on attendance, yet overflowing with sewage. But the Oakland A’s will always be my sports love, my childish obsession. Here’s why. The first game The first game I ever attended was against the Yankees which is basically cheating. Could anyone go to a Yankees away game and not instantly fall for the other team? No. The Yankees are insufferable and many of their fans are trash-humans. But I digress. That game in the late 90’s got me hooked on the pro-game. I loved the thrill of watching the best in the world play in the only sport that seemed to matter at the time. But I didn’t really become A’s obsessed until... The Rick Peterson ball In an early season game in 2001, the A’s were playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Prior to the game, I went down just behind the A’s bullpen to watch starter Corey Lidle throw his warm up tosses. I waited and waited and waited with hopes that he would be generous enough to toss me a ball. I missed the one he threw just a few seats to my right, absolutely dejected by just missing a souvenir. Rick Peterson, pitcher whisperer and apparently very kind human being saw that sadness and walked right up to me, handing me a ball I have to this day. I’ll never forget that moment, that feeling, and from then on, I knew I was attached to the Oakland A’s. I love a bargain I’d be lying if I said my choice of team wasn’t somewhat financially motivated. I grew up a baseball lover and was always fortunate to have two teams within spitting distance, two teams to take my baseball heart. I went with the more affordable option. People love to drop a pretty penny on the Giants, paying for the chance to sit in a wind-box cause it’s got decent proximity to the largest body of water on earth, braving seagull droppings to watch a team in pumpkin barf jerseys. Not my style. Okay, AT&T is a pretty great stadium and the Giants are doing just fine. However the Coliseum is the best deal in baseball. You can snag a month’s worth of games for 20 measly dollars, park for free if you’re savvy, eat a questionable meat sandwich for a dollar, and get a souvenir t-shirt on the Bart bridge from a young entrepreneur for five bucks. There’s no better deal in sports. Baseball is supposed to be fun, not a financial stressor, and the A’s are one of the last frontiers in pro sports where you can have a nice family outing without breaking the bank. Some argue that the Coliseum isn’t a nice stadium, and it’s true. It’s not an ideal place to go if you want comfort or functioning plumbing. It is, rather counterintuitively, one of the best experiences in baseball. Fans who haven’t been complain that the foul territory makes it ugly and takes you away from the game. But anyone who has spent a cold Tuesday night watching the green and gold can tell you there’s no more intimate spot to watch the game. It’s rare to be able to hear the game with such clarity or to interact with players behind the plate or in the pen, and yet that’s something you can do nightly at the Coliseum. Speaking of the Coliseum... Coliseum hijinx I’ve been to 12 major league stadiums and have entertaining st[...]