Beane And Melvin On A’s Top Prospects, Who’ll Play Second Base, And The Team’s Biggest Challenge In 2013

DSC02345cOver the past few days, we’ve brought you coverage of the bloggers-only press conference with various members of the A’s staff that took place last weekend at A’s FanFest. But there were a few question-and-answer sessions with the general public that provided some illuminating insights as well.

The most interesting of these panels featured A’s general manager Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin sharing a stage with outfielders Chris Young and Josh Reddick. While Young’s dancing and Reddick’s beard provided the entertainment, Beane and Melvin provided some interesting observations on the team.

Melvin, the AL’s reigning Manager of the Year, said that the big challenge for the team this season was going to be “keeping our edge,” but that he hoped to “build off the momentum from last year.” The A’s skipper added that he planned to have the team work even harder this spring, but that he feels like “we’re a better team going into spring training” this year.

DSC02362bAs for the competition at second base between Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore, Beane commented, “If Jemile could have a bounce-back year, that’d be great.” But he also noted that second base was Sizemore’s original position and that “he showed a lot the half-season he was with us…he could be a factor as well.” He then added that second base would be one of the few spots that Melvin and his staff would have to take a close look at this spring.

As for last year’s playoff experience against Detroit, Melvin noted that “Verlander probably had a bigger strike zone than we would have liked to have seen.” And Beane, while confessing to squirming too much to be able to watch many regular season games, admitted, “I do watch the playoffs. At that point, it’s all house money.”

DSC02363bWhen it comes to the A’s top prospects, Beane noted, “The kid who was really impressive last year was (1st-round draft pick) Addison Russell.” He said that the A’s scouts had done a great job evaluating the high school shortstop and that he’s had “as good a year as an 18-year-old could have.” And when asked about former top pitching prospect Michael Ynoa, Beane commented, “He appears to be healthy…we hope that he moves quickly at this point.”

Overall, one got the sense that the manager and the GM were very much in sync when it came to their confidence in the depth and versatility of the current roster. And it sounded as if they and the team were all more than ready to get going in their defense of the AL West championship title in 2013.


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2 comments for “Beane And Melvin On A’s Top Prospects, Who’ll Play Second Base, And The Team’s Biggest Challenge In 2013

  1. Joy
    March 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    (Blu-ray) Every year, I get wary of the inevitable film set in a snoitrpg arena where an underdog player or team must triumph against adversity to become unlikely heroes. As accomplished or heartwarming as many of these films can be, they never seem to be able to break free of the conventions that we’ve all seen a hundred times. While I can’t say that Moneyball isn’t inspired by the genre, I will say that it looks at the phenomenon from a decidedly different angle. Based on Michael Lewis’s non-fiction account of the same name, this is actually an intriguing story ruled by the business of baseball as opposed to the emotions the game elicits. As such, it seems like something entirely new. Director Bennett Miller (Oscar nominee for Capote), along with heavyweight screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, has created one of the brainiest and least sentimental baseball films you’re likely to see. Moneyball tells the true story of how the Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane rebuilt the team for the 2002 season with enormous financial constraints using computer analysis and statistics. While admittedly, this might not sound like a particularly sexy plot it was a pivotal moment in snoitrpg history well worth documenting. And despite knowing the outcome, the film is never less than fascinating. Moneyball refers to the inherent unfairness in the sport as teams with deep pockets can rule the game by outspending their smaller competitors when selecting the top tier players. When Oakland lost its powerhouse line-up, the team was left scrambling for replacements. Eschewing traditional recruitment methods, Beane (Brad Pitt) placed his trust in a new assistant (Jonah Hill) that had a new way of looking at statistics to determine the game’s most undervalued players. Against all advice, he assembled a team of misfits that no one thought could succeed including his own manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who constantly challenged and opposed Beane. What happens at the start of the season only cements the team as a league (and national) laughingstock and has the country thirsting for Beane’s sacrificial blood. But against all odds, things start to gel and history is made.Pitt plays Beane with a world-weary grace. It may, in fact, be his most grounded performance to date. Aloof at first, we see how he thaws to his own superstitions to become an invaluable part of the club. Through flashbacks and interludes with his daughter, we see different sides of a man who has dedicated his life to the sport. Jonah Hill plays it straight as the assistant who is instrumental to the team’s new direction. Hill is surprisingly good, deadpan even, and he and Pitt develop a chemistry that is as unlikely as it is effective. Hoffman has a small, but vital, role and is spot-on. The actors that comprise the team all turn in solid work as well, but fundamentally this is Pitt’s picture from start to finish. And understatement is the name of the game. A smart screenplay, an interesting topic, effective performances it’s all handled with a refreshing minimum of schmaltz (a key element in many sport’s films). By tackling the back office side of baseball, Moneyball sets itself apart as a true original. A film that doesn’t just love the game, but really understands it (foibles and all). A rarity and a surprisingly adult entertainment, about 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 12/11.

  2. March 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

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