Monthly Archives: January 2012

A’s Designate Adrian Cardenas For Assignment

Adrian Cardenas: Where's old clubhouse barber Rajai Davis when ya need him?

In order to make room for newly-signed free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes on the roster, the A’s have designated prospect Adrian Cardenas for assignment. The A’s now have ten days to either trade or release Cardenas– unless he clears waivers, in which case the A’s can then send him to the minors.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser tweeted that the A’s are hoping that Cardenas clears waivers so that they can hold on to him by assigning him to Sacramento, just as they recently did with Landon Powell.

Cardenas was considered a top infield prospect when he was acquired by the A’s, along with pitcher Josh Outman and outfielder Matt Spencer, from Philadelphia in exchange for Joe Blanton. The Miami native has a career minor league slash line of .303/.368/.413 and hit .314/.374/.418 in his first full season at AAA last year. But the A’s have had a hard time finding a position they feel is right for Cardenas.

In his first three seasons in the minors,Cardenas served exclusively as a middle infielder, playing all his games at second base and shortstop. In 2009, the A’s started getting him in a few games at third base. Then in the 2010 season, the A’s played him exclusively at second and third and eliminated shortstop from his repertoire altogether. Last season though, the A’s chose to have Cardenas start the majority of his games in left field, with most of the rest of his starts coming at third. Clearly, the A’s have been a bit uncertain about what exactly to do with Mr. Cardenas, whose defensive abilities Baseball America has referred to as “fringy.”

Cardenas is a solid contact hitter who hits for a good average but doesn’t draw an above-average number of walks and hasn’t hit more than five home runs in any of his last four seasons. Combined with his lack of defensive prowess, it’s obvious that the A’s brass have come to view him as a bit of a one-dimensional player. On the other hand, his ability to consistently put the bat on the ball and play a number of different positions (even if he doesn’t impress at any of them), could make him a suitable utility player in the future. And considering that he only turned 24 just a few months ago, one can assume he’s still got a few years of potential improvement ahead of him.

If he remains with the organization, then Cardenas should be the leading second base candidate for the Rivercats in 2012. If he ends up being traded or claimed on waivers though, then Wes Timmons probably steps into that role, with Eric Sogard or Adam Rosales (whichever one doesn’t make the major league roster) likely ending up at shortstop for Sacramento. Some had been hoping that Cardenas would be in the mix for the A’s utility infielder role this season, but now it looks like Cardenas fans will be lucky if he’s still in the organization come opening day of 2012!

 

 

Moneyball Grabs 6 Oscar Nominations Including Best Picture and Best Actor

It was announced today that Moneyball has received 6 Academy Award nominations, including nods for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best actor for Brad Pitt‘s portrayal of Billy Beane and best supporting actor for Jonah Hill‘s portrayal of Paul DePodesta (aka Peter Brand).
Not only has the film grossed over $100 million worldwide, but it’s received the most nominations of any baseball-themed film since The Pride of the Yankees garnered 11 in 1943 (yes we’re still trying to catch the Yankees!) – easily out-distancing the Oscar nods for other baseball-themed films like The Natural, Field Of Dreams and Bull Durham.
This year’s Academy Awards will be handed out February 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood – just a few blocks from the home-base of this humble blog. You can read my original review of the Moneyball book for ChinMusic! from 2003 here – ChinMusic!-Moneyball

Could A’s Grab Gomes, Dump Allen, And Turn Oakland Into Manny-land?

Jonny Gomes: Could his 707 swag be giving Dallas Braden's 209 swag a run for its money?

As we speculated in the last edition of this blog, the A’s have reportedly come to terms with Petaluma-born outfielder Jonny Gomes on a one-year deal worth approximately $1.1 million. Since the deal comes hot on the heels of the Seth Smith trade and both players have strong lefty/righty platoon splits, popular speculation has it that the right-handed hitting Gomes will primarily serve as a left field platoon partner for the left-handed hitting Smith, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gomes picking up some at bats in the designated hitter slot as well.

The signing of Gomes follows rumors that the A’s have been actively shopping first baseman Brandon Allen. So it could be safe to assume that a Brandon Allen trade could soon be the next shoe to drop and that Gomes will essentially end up taking over Allen’s roster spot. That would likely leave Chris Carter as the A’s leading designated hitter candidate – that is, unless the other recent rumor is true!

Enrique Rosas of ESPN Deportes has been reporting that the A’s are very interested in signing Manny Ramirez as a designated hitter. That would spell trouble for Chris Carter, and likely land him back at Sacramento. The only hitch with Manny is that he would likely have to serve a 50-game suspension for drug violations before he could play for the A’s.

In addition to the Smith and Gomes deals, trading Allen and signing Manny could really serve to shake up the A’s outfield/first base/designated hitter picture. Right now, if Allen is indeed dealt, it looks like the A’s would plan on starting the season with Daric Barton at first, Carter as the primary designated hitter and back up first baseman, and five outfielders on the roster – Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes and Collin Cowgill.

That would put Kila Ka’aihue at first base in Sacramento, and five outfielders in the four outfield and designated hitter spots – Grant Green, Michael Taylor, Brandon Moss, Jason Pridie and Jeff Fiorentino. And if the A’s did end up adding Manny, then that might land Chris Carter back in the first base/designated hitter mix at Sacramento as well. Till the next time, stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Oakland A’s roster roulette…

Brandon Allen

Chris Carter

Manny Ramirez

A’s Deal Moscoso & Outman to Rockies for Outfielder Seth Smith: The Door’s Wide Open for A’s Young Pitching Prospects

Instead of the Rocky Mountains, Seth Smith will now be casting his eyes on scenic Mt. Davis (Photo by Elaine Thompson/AP)

A day after reports emerged that the A’s had agreed to sign free agent pitcher Bartolo Colon, we learned that the team has completed a deal to send pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman to the Colorado Rockies in return for outfielder Seth Smith.

With a career OPS of .833, Smith immediately becomes the best hitter on an A’s team severely lacking in punch. His 2011 OBP of .348 and SLG of .483 outpaced all A’s regulars in both categories last season. And the 29-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder can be expected to play left-field and hit in the 3-4 slot in the 2012 A’s lineup.

Smith’s career home/away splits have been noted by many, but in 2011, he had an .848 OPS at Coors Field compared to an .814 OPS on the road. The main difference in Smith’s performance at home and on the road over his career has primarily been in his home run hitting proficiency, hitting 1 home run every 20 at bats at Coors Field compared to 1 home run every 34 at bats everywhere else – and it’d certainly be no surprise to see Smith’s overall home run production decline playing half his games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum compared to the hitter-friendly Coors Field. He’s also been a better first half player over his career, hitting 26 points higher in the first half.

By far the most significant split though comes in Smith’s performance against right-handed and left-handed pitching. He has a career OPS a whopping 293 points higher against right-handers than against left-handers. Here again, the biggest difference can be found in his power potential, hitting 1 home run every 23 at bats against right-handed pitchers compared to 1 home run every 53 at bats against left-handed pitchers.

Jonny Gomes: Roundin' third...could he be headed for home? (Photo by Evan Habeeb/US Presswire)

Whatever else the A’s brass may say publicly on the subject, it’d be safe to assume that Smith might be watching a lot of left-handed starters from the safety of the A’s dugout in 2012. And multiple sources have already been reporting that the A’s are still in the market for a right-handed hitting free agent outfielder – someone like Cody Ross or Petaluma’s own Jonny Gomes – presumably to serve as a possible platoon partner for Smith as well as a fourth outfielder and a potential designated hitter. As far as the rest of the outfield picture goes, Coco Crisp is expected to man center with new acquisition Josh Reddick roaming the field in right.

The greater impact of this deal though may be on the A’s pitching plans. After it was announced that the A’s had reached a deal with Colon, the assumption was that the A’s were planning to take their time with their talented young pitching prospects. But with the news of this deal, it now looks like the A’s are ready to swing the major league doors open wide to their eager horde of young pitchers.

With Moscoso and Outman now out of the picture, and Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden not expected to be ready to start the season, the only A’s starters with more than 100 innings of major league experience under their belts are Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon (who has a lot more under his belt than that!). Behind that duo are five pitchers who, combined, have less than 150 innings of major league experience: Tyson Ross with 75 1/3, Graham Godfrey with 25, Tom Milone with 26, Brad Peacock with 12, and Jarrod Parker with 5 2/3.

Ross, the most experienced of the bunch, has struggled mightily while trying to return from his latest injury, posting an ERA of 7.61 at Triple-A Sacramento and an ERA of 5.94 in the Arizona Fall League. With that in mind, the best bet might be to give Godfrey, Milone and Peacock the first shots at cracking the rotation. That would give Ross a little more time to piece things back together and Parker, the youngest and probably most talented of the batch, a little more time to develop at Sacramento. The Rivercats’ could then open the season with a starting rotation featuring Tyson Ross, Jarrod Parker, Travis Banwart, Carlos Hernandez and Edgar Gonzalez.

Whatever happens, it looks to be a very interesting spring in the desert this year. Bob Melvin won’t even know the players without a scorecard!

A’s Rotation Roundup: Colon In, Who’s Out?

Bartolo Colon: Just squint your eyes and the pinstripes will go away (Photo by Robert Sabo/NY Daily News)

Well, the A’s have finally stolen one away from the Yankees! The team has reportedly come to terms with veteran starting pitcher Bartolo Colon on a one-year deal worth $2 million, pending a physical. The 38-year-old Colon got off to a great start for the Yanks in 2011, turning in a 3.20 ERA in the first half. He finished the year with a 4.00 ERA and demonstrated great control throughout the season, walking only 40 batters in 164 1/3 innings. Colon also has a career ERA of 2.14 in the spacious Coliseum.

The portly Dominican Republican will surely provide a veteran presence on an inexperienced A’s staff that, for the most part, has barely started shaving. The old graybeard of the A’s starters, Brandon McCarthy at 28, is a full ten years younger than Colon.

The former AL Cy Young winner also comes relatively cheap, at a reported salary below the major league average. And with the A’s not likely to be in contention for anything in 2012 other than the league’s lowest attendance trophy, once the July trading deadline rolls around, the experienced veteran is likely to be flipped to a desperate contender for another hot young prospect to toss onto the A’s rebuild bonfire.

Even more importantly though, Colon’s addition will allow the A’s to let their recently acquired prized pitching prospects to take a little time to develop at Triple-A and will further delay their arbitration/free agency clocks. These young pitchers will surely be the core of any future A’s contending teams, and there’s absolutely no reason to rush them before the team is ready to contend just to fill up roster spots.

That said, I’d like to see the A’s start the season without any of their new young pitching acquisitions in the major league rotation. I’d prefer to see Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and Tom Milone all getting their Triple-A innings in at Sacramento for the first half of the season, until either they force their way onto the big league roster or trades or injuries open up slots for them in the summer.

If the season were to begin today, assuming Dallas Braden wasn’t ready to go, I’d like to see a major league rotation consisting of Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, Bartolo Colon, Josh Outman and Graham Godfrey – with Braden squeezing out Godfrey as soon as he was ready. That would likely leave a rotation at Sacramento consisting of Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker, Tyson Ross and Travis Banwart.

I think most observers expect to see McCarthy, Moscoso,Colon and Outman given the first shot to start the season in the A’s rotation. But who would you like to see open the season as the A’s fifth starter if, as we expect, Braden isn’t ready to go? You can check out all the contenders’ minor league stats at the links below…

Graham Godfrey Stats

Tom Milone Stats

Brad Peacock Stats

Jarrod Parker Stats

Tyson Ross Stats

Graham Godfrey

Tom Milone

Brad Peacock

Jarrod Parker

Tyson Ross

Landon Powell Back In The Fold: So Who’s The A’s Back-Up Catcher?

Landon Powell - go ahead, send me back to Sacramento, I dare ya! (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Catcher Landon Powell cleared waivers and has reportedly gotten over any hurt feelings and decided to accept his assignment to Triple-A Sacramento, with an invitation to spring training. That means that, besides starting catcher Kurt Suzuki, the A’s will have three catchers with some degree of major league experience in camp this spring, all fighting it out for the chance to be Suzuki’s seldom-used back-up.

The 29-year-old Powell has served as the A’s primary back-up catcher for the past three years, averaging just 121 at-bats per season, with a career slash line of .207/.284/.328. 28-year-old backstop Anthony Recker’s line was .176/.333/.235 in just 17 at-bats with the A’s last year. And 26-year-old catcher Josh Donaldson got 32 at-bats with the A’s in 2010, with a .156/.206/.281 line. Recker had an OPS of .889 at Sacramento in 2011, while Donaldson’s Sacramento OPS was .783.

One would think that, with his experience, Powell would have the edge to open the season on the major league roster. That would put Recker and Donaldson back at Sacramento once again, with new acquisition Derek Norris and Ryan Ortiz likely to be the catching duo at Double-A Midland.

What do you think? Should Powell be favored to reclaim the back-up catching job? Should Recker or Donaldson finally be given a real shot at backing up Suzuki? Or does it really even matter who rides the pine behind Suzuki? You can check out all the contestants’ major and minor league stats at the links below…

Landon Powell – Majors

Landon Powell – Minors

Anthony Recker – Majors

Anthony Recker – Minors

Josh Donaldson – Majors

Josh Donaldson – Minors

Landon Powell

Anthony Recker

Josh Donaldson

A’s grab Merkin, add mullet-man Schlichting and diminutive Dominican Republican Castro

Travis Schlichting shows off his Hall of Fame mullet (photo courtesy of Big League Stew)

The A’s have signed three minor league free agent pitchers, former Giants right-hander Merkin Valdez, former Dodgers right-hander Travis Schlichting, and former Phillies left-hander Fabio Castro, who measures in at an impressive 5’7”.

The diminutive Dominican Republican has a career ERA of 3.30 in 43 2/3 major league innings. Schlichting, best known for his Hall of Fame mullet, has a career ERA of 3.55 in 25 1/3 major league innings. And Merkin Valdez, best known for his unusual name, has a career ERA of 5.57 in 72 2/3 major league innings.

All three are expected to spend most of the 2012 season hanging out in the Sacramento bullpen, keeping one eye on the Rivercats’ starting pitchers and another eye on the latest additions to the A’s disabled list. The trio will likely be joined there by three other A’s minor league free agent signees, left-hander Erick Threets and right-handers Jim Miller and Edgar Gonzalez – all of whom are over 5’7” and none of whom are named “Merkin.”

Chico Escuela: The original diminutive Dominican Republican

A’s Outfield Shuffle: Crisp In, Miller Out, Taylor Likely Back In Sac

Coco Crisp: The A's had to throw in an extra million for hair-care products (AP Photo)

The A’s are reportedly on the verge of re-signing free agent outfielder Coco Crisp to a 2-year contract worth $13 million, with a one-year club option that could pay Crisp an additional $7.5 million or net him a $1 million buyout. The A’s also dealt outfielder Jai Miller, who spent most of the 2011 season at Triple-A Sacramento, to the Orioles for cash.

The A’s presumably wanted to have an experienced center fielder who can provide a solid line of defense in the outfield for a very young and inexperienced pitching staff, and didn’t feel comfortable putting their confidence in new A’s outfielders Collin Cowgill or Josh Reddick in center. Additionally, former A’s pitcher and CSN analyst Greg Cadaret tweeted that he thought the A’s needed to have a few veterans to provide a professional example for the younger players, noting that, “Peers have more effect than coaching staff.”

Crisp is expected to bat second behind Jemile Weeks in the A’s lineup, with the #3 and #4 holes still big question marks. With Crisp back in the fold, expect new A’s acquisitions Josh Reddick and Collin Cowgill to end up flanking Crisp in the outfield, with Reddick in right and Cowgill in left. A’s brass has told Reddick to be ready to play every day. And A’s GM Billy Beane has had his eye on Cowgill for a long time, and has said that he’d like to see A’s outfield prospect Michael Taylor show a little more consistency at the Triple-A level. So with Cowgill and Reddick seemingly favorites for starting roles, that could put Taylor in line for the fourth outfielder spot on the A’s bench.

Given Beane’s recent quotes and that, the way things are currently shaping up, the A’s could potentially end up with an all right-handed hitting bench, they’d be likely to want to give the fourth outfielder spot to one of the left-handed hitting non-roster invitees who’ll be competing for a major league spot this spring – most likely Jeff Fiorentino or Brandon Moss. That would leave the A’s with a Triple-A outfield comprised of Taylor, Cedric Hunter and Jason Pridie, along with either Moss or Fiorentino, battling for playing time at Sacramento in 2012.

 

Click players’ names below for their minor league stats:

Brandon Moss

Jeff Fiorentino

Michael Taylor

Brandon Moss

Jeff Fiorentino

Michael Taylor