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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans



Updated: 2018-02-17T19:57:21-08:00

 



Musing As Itchers and Scratchers Report

2018-02-17T19:57:21-08:00

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This past off-season has been so instructive in so many ways. I have learned that if someone shows up at my front door with food and I don’t remember ordering any food, I probably did order the food. And I have learned that when nobody is willing to pay mediocre workers millions of dollars a year for many, many years, that’s called “collusion”.

Spring training brings with it more questions than answers. If the “free agent” minor league camp played exhibition games against the actual teams, could it win the championship? Or would the team just have too many players? (“Players” is a crude term more technically known as “Scott Boras clients”.) If a preposition dangles in the forest and no one is there to correct it, who does it make a sound at?

Anyhoo...Pitchers and catchers have reported (or in the case of the free agent camp, bitchers and kvetchers), and Opening Day is a mere 40 days away. One of the reasons I’ve been anxious for the A’s to use remaining payroll flexibility to add a veteran RH batting catcher and shore up the rotation with a SP is that I think the lineup is poised to surprise people with its capabilities.

Oakland has recently fallen into an OBP abyss, barely exceeding the dreaded .300 mark, but in 2018 the A’s will feature lineups able to provide potentially strong OBP and SLG up and down the lineup. Here’s a snapshot, cherry-picking the type of stat because cherries are quite delicious:

vs. RHPs

Joyce - LF (career .352 OBP vs. RHP)
Lowrie - 2B (.363 OBP vs. RHP in 2017)
K. Davis - DH (career .511 SLG, virtually no platoon splits)
Olson - 1B (career .367 OBP so far against RHPs)
Chapman - 3B (career .472 SLG so far)
Fowler - CF (.450 career SLG in the minors)
Piscotty - RF (.346 career OBP so far)
Semien - SS (9.8% BB rate in 2017)
Maxwell - C (currently not in jail)

vs. LHPs

Piscotty - RF (.287/.390/.493 career so far against LHPs)
Lowrie - 2B (career .346 OBP against LHPs)
Chapman - 3B (career .472 SLG so far)
K. Davis - DH (career .511 SLG, virtually no platoon splits)
Pinder - LF (career .257/.323/.434 so far against LHPs, solid 8.7% BB rate)
Semien - SS (career .275/.323/.468 so far against LHPs)
Olson - 1B (has at least maintained a promising 8.9% BB rate against LHPs so far)
Phegley - C (seems like a nice guy)
Fowler - CF (hit .286/.350/.549 vs. LHPs in AAA in 2017, .305/.340/.580 in AA in 2016)

* This does not even include Smolinski, who is .299/.371/.507 career against LHPs.

I really do think this team will score its fair share of runs in 2018 — and really all they need to do is to pick up where they left off the second half of 2017, when they were among the elite in the AL. Defensively, it looks to be around average in most places and elite on the infield corners.

All of which is to say, add a solid SP for depth, and a RH catcher to take pressure off of Maxwell on the depth chart, to this currently <$60M crew and I don’t see why the wild card is out of reach even in this transitional year. Amirite?




CPL #23: Casey Meisner finally reaches upper minors

2018-02-17T14:04:20-08:00

The tall righty stalled in High-A but finally reached Double-A last summer. Our Community Prospect List added another trade acquisition, but this one was from a few summers ago. 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%) Jesus Luzardo, LHP (+37%) Austin Beck, OF (+14%) James Kaprielian, RHP (+2%) Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+41%) Grant Holmes, RHP (+18%) Sheldon Neuse, 3B (+68%) Greg Deichmann, OF (+17%) Logan Shore, RHP (+2%) Kevin Merrell, SS (+8%) Renato Nunez, DH (+7%) Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+9%) Nick Allen, SS (+24%) Ramon Laureano, OF (+44%) Tyler Ramirez, OF (+33%) Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+2%) Nolan Blackwood, RHP (+6%) Dalton Sawyer, LHP (+1%) Casey Meisner, RHP (+22%) The Oakland A’s acquired Casey Meisner from the Mets at the 2015 trade deadline, in exchange for impending free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. At the time it was a good return for a setup man who’d been faking it as a closer on a bad team, and the next winter Meisner earned the No. 9 spot on our CPL. Unfortunately, since that point Meisner’s development has not gone the way anyone had hoped. He spent 2016 struggling with his mechanics at High-A Stockton, which affected both his velocity and his command. He even lost his rotation spot for a while, and after the lost season he dropped down to No. 28 on the next CPL. Meisner began digging out of his hole in 2017. He made his adjustments in Stockton and posted significantly improved numbers, including four strikeouts per walk. By the end of June he finally got the call to the upper minors, after two full calendar years stuck in High-A dating back to before his trade from the Mets. His numbers went back in the tank in Double-A, especially his K/BB rate (down to 1.4), but the important thing was that he made the jump at all and began working on his next challenge up the minor league ladder. After all of that, Meisner will still turn only 23 this season. He’s younger than Logan Shore and Dalton Sawyer, and he’s less than a year older than Grant Holmes. Between being a high school draftee and an exceptionally tall pitcher at 6’7, a long-term project should always have been expected here, but at least he’s gradually making progress and has resumed his rise up the system. That’s enough to keep him on the CPL, and he’s the kind of toolsy prospect who could suddenly put it all together and blast back up this list — or even all the way to Oakland. 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 nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec’ing his comment. The player with the most Rec’s earns the nomination. If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space. If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should rank. * * * The new nominee is Lou Tr[...]



CPL #22: Dalton Sawyer adds lefty pitching depth

2018-02-16T13:12:39-08:00

Another tall lefty emerges from the 2016 draft class. Our Community Prospect List now features seven members of Oakland’s 2016 draft class. 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%) Jesus Luzardo, LHP (+37%) Austin Beck, OF (+14%) James Kaprielian, RHP (+2%) Lazaro Armenteros, OF (+41%) Grant Holmes, RHP (+18%) Sheldon Neuse, 3B (+68%) Greg Deichmann, OF (+17%) Logan Shore, RHP (+2%) Kevin Merrell, SS (+8%) Renato Nunez, DH (+7%) Daulton Jefferies, RHP (+9%) Nick Allen, SS (+24%) Ramon Laureano, OF (+44%) Tyler Ramirez, OF (+33%) Dakota Chalmers, RHP (+2%) Nolan Blackwood, RHP (+6%) Dalton Sawyer, LHP (+1%) The prize of the Oakland A’s 2016 draft class was No. 6 overall pick A.J. Puk, a tall lefty pitcher with top-of-the-rotation upside. However, another big southpaw has begun to emerge from the middle rounds. The A’s took Dalton Sawyer with their 9th-round selection. He spent all four years in college rather than coming out after his junior season, which means he’s been on the older side of each professional league he’s been in so far. But with that caveat in mind, he’s racked up impressive strikeout rates at each stop — in Low-A Vermont after the draft, and then in Single-A Beloit and High-A Stockton last summer. Like many pitchers who are working their way up the lower minors, it’s not yet clear whether Sawyer will stick as a starter or move to the bullpen. Melissa Lockard at Oakland Clubhouse suggests the development of his breaking ball will be the linchpin in that decision, and his velocity is good enough for either role — up to 92 as a starter, or 94 as a reliever. If he does end up in the bullpen then he could be a powerful weapon against lefties, whose mere .329 OPS against him last year is intriguing even in a tiny sample size. If there’s one thing the A’s are good at doing, it’s developing sleeper/fringe pitching prospects into solid contributors. This big southpaw doesn’t get Randy Johnson comps like his more highly touted teammates Puk and Sean Manaea, but he’s still a left-handed drink of water in a desert of righty hurlers throughout the farm. We’ll learn a lot more about him this summer when he reaches Double-A and faces upper-minors competition, but what he’s done so far is impressive enough to get him on our CPL. 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 nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec’ing his comment. The player with the most Rec’s earns the nomination. If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space. If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should rank. * * * The new nominee is Will Toffey. He was the A’s 4th-round pick last summer, signing for exactly slot value. H[...]