Results tagged ‘ Chris Carter ’

A’s Swap Spare Parts For Second Shortstop!

Jed Lowrie: From worst to first?

Jed Lowrie: From worst to first?

As we pointed out in our analysis of the John Jaso trade just recently, the A’s are clearly in “WIN NOW” mode. And the team made another “WIN NOW” move on Monday, dealing part-time first baseman Chris Carter, minor league pitcher Brad Peacock and minor league catcher Max Stassi to the Houston Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

Lowrie is a 28-year-old former 1st-round draft pick out of Stanford. The switch-hitter hit a career-high 16 home runs in 340 at-bats with the Astros last season. He’s played primarily at shortstop in his 5-year major league career but has also spent time at third, second and first, and his versatility provides the A’s with added depth at every infield position.

Rodriguez is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who has some control issues but who also managed to strike out an average of 10 batters per 9 innings last year. The 28-year-old has a tendency to give up the long ball and posted an ERA of 5.37 in 70 1/3 innings with the Astros last season. Rodriguez will likely have to battle with Pat Neshek and Chris Resop for a spot on the right side of the A’s bullpen.

To acquire the pair, the A’s parted with three players who’ve all spent far more time in the minors than the majors: Max Stassi, the most highly rated catching prospect in the system who has been praised for his abilities behind the plate but who has also been hampered by injuries and has yet to progress beyond A ball; Brad Peacock, who was slated to be one of the top starters at Sacramento this season but who had his ups and downs last year and ended up posting a 6.01 ERA with the River Cats; and Chris Carter, who was supposed to be the right-handed half of the A’s first base platoon this year. Carter, the only one of the three who was expected to start the year on the major league roster, had formerly been a top prospect but, despite his strong power numbers in the second half last year, his September struggles strengthened the A’s doubts about his potential for long-term success.

Fernando Rodriguez: International Man Of Mystery

Fernando Rodriguez: International Man Of Mystery

About coming to A’s, the Stanford alum Lowrie was quoted as saying, “I’m excited to come to a team that won one of the better divisions in baseball last year. I’m excited to have an opportunity to come back and play baseball in the Bay Area.” He graciously neglected to mention the fact that he’s also undoubtedly excited not to be playing for the Astros, who will likely be bringing up the rear in their new division this year.

With Lowrie’s addition, the A’s infield situation suddenly becomes a bit murkier. Lowrie has played short, second, third and first. Scott Sizemore has played second and third. Hiro Nakajima can play short, and possibly even second. And then there’s also Jemile Weeks, who can play second, and Josh Donaldson, who can play third.

Being a switch-hitter, of course, only increases Lowrie’s versatility. But his left/right splits are somewhat curious. For his career, he has an OPS that’s .154 points better against lefties. But last year, he had an OPS that was .196 points better against righties. Lowrie claims that his previous struggles as a left-handed hitter were primarily related to lingering injuries, and his minor league splits do lend some credence to that claim. But it would be nice to see his splits even out a bit given the fact that he’s likely to be seeing plenty of action against both righties and lefties for the A’s this season.

But how exactly will the A’s use Lowrie this year? Well, they’ve certainly got plenty of options. But in a conference call with reporters, A’s general manager Billy Beane said that he and manager Bob Melvin had discussed their options and that they view Japanese import Hiro Nakajima as their shortstop. Beane also mentioned that he could see Lowrie as a nice right-handed complement to Brandon Moss at first base, much like Chris Carter had been.

Chris Carter: The object of the Astros' affections

Chris Carter: The object of the Astros’ affections

If we take Beane’s comments to heart, that then raises the question of where Lowrie would play against right-handers. The most obvious answer would be at second base, where there’s already a great deal of uncertainty, and where the top two current candidates, Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks, have both performed better against lefties than righties in recent times – Sizemore, who seems to be the favored candidate, even more so, which could make him a perfect platoon partner with Lowrie at second base.

Lowrie could also be available to back up both Nakajima at shortstop and Donaldson at third base if either struggles or just needs some time off. Of course, if Nakajima, whose defensive ability at shortstop is still a big question mark, spends much of the spring butchering balls at short, Lowrie could always take over the spot full-time and push Nakajima into duty at second. But wherever he plays, as long as he’s healthy – and that’s been something of an issue in the past – it looks like Lowrie will be in the lineup. So he should end up getting into a lot more games for the A’s than Chris Carter would have this year, which ought to make him a productive addition to the major league roster.

One of the biggest winners in this trade could turn out to be the A’s former first baseman Daric Barton, who now stands a decent chance of making the roster as the only true first baseman on the squad. Moss and Lowrie only have a combined 68 major league games at first base between them, and teams often like to have a little defensive certainty on the roster. Before this trade, Barton’s chances of landing a roster spot rested on something happening to either Moss or Carter – and now something has most definitely happened to Carter. Of course, it’s possible that Barton still doesn’t make the roster, but it’s certainly a whole lot more likely that he does now.

Brad Peacock:

Brad Peacock: Now standing tall for the last-place Astros

On the other side of the coin, one of the biggest losers in this deal could be infielder Adam Rosales. With his guaranteed contract and major league experience, Rosales was the favorite to land the utility infielder role. But now – with Lowrie, Nakajima, Donaldson and either Weeks or Sizemore likely to make the roster – the A’s will have at least two available options at each infield position, making another spare infielder somewhat redundant. Both Weeks and Sizemore could both be losers in this deal too since whoever wins a roster spot will undoubtedly have his at-bats at second base reduced by Lowrie’s arrival. The deal doesn’t do anything to help Eric Sogard’s and Grant Green’s prospects either as it just pushes both of them further down the infield depth chart.

As far as position players on the major league roster go, this deal might just boil down to Lowrie and Barton replacing Carter and Rosales on the A’s 2013 roster. As far as the pitching end of things goes, Beane clearly likes Rodriguez, referring to him as “a real big arm” and saying that he was a key to getting the deal done. But the hard-throwing righty will have to compete for a roster spot with fellow right-handers Pat Neshek and Chris Resop in an already crowded A’s bullpen that’s also likely to include right-handers Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook along with left-handers Sean Doolittle, Jerry Blevins and Travis Blackley – with guys like Jordan Norberto, Pedro Figueroa, Evan Scribner, Arnold Leon and James Simmons waiting in the wings.

Max Stassi: Taking 'the tools of ignorance' to Houston

Max Stassi: Taking the ‘tools of ignorance’ to Houston

Another beneficiary of the deal could be former 1st-round draft pick Sonny Gray, who will no longer have to compete for attention with fellow prospect Brad Peacock at Sacramento this season. If he pitches well at Triple-A this year, the odds of Gray getting the opportunity to see some time in Oakland before the season’s through have just greatly increased with Peacock out of the equation.

Vying for time with Gray in the River Cats rotation this year will be last year’s phenom Dan Straily, new acquisition Andrew Werner, veteran lefty Garrett Olson, and long-time minor leaguers Jesse Chavez, Bruce Billings and Travis Banwart. It’s my guess that Straily will end up in the major league rotation before long, like most 6th starters do, due to injury, and Banwart will start the season in the Sacramento bullpen, leaving the River Cats with a rotation of Gray, Werner, Olson, Chavez and Billings.

But this deal clearly wasn’t about the minor league roster; it was all about the major league roster – increasing the A’s infield depth and versatility and having a solid backup plan in place just in case Nakajima doesn’t pan out at short, Donaldson regresses at third, or nothing else works out at second. It’s clearly a “WIN NOW” move, just like it was with the Jaso deal. Peacock, Cole and Treinen represent a lot of young arms to give up – not to mention Carter and Stassi – in the two deals. But the A’s focus is clearly on winning now while the window of contention is open. And Beane admitted as much in his conference call with reporters, saying “Given where the club finished last year and where we see it having a chance to compete this year, we wanted to do everything we could to help ourselves right now.”

And for the A’s, the future is clearly NOW!

 

 

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What Did We Learn From A’s FanFest?

There were lots of interesting quotes to come out of last weekend’s FanFest in Oakland. And based on what was said by A’s management, coaches and players, here are a few things that I think we can safely surmise…

cccoco-crisp.6* Coco Crisp will be the A’s primary center fielder and leadoff hitter.

* Chris Young will be in the lineup against lefties, give other starters regular days off against righties, and will move around in the lineup and see time at every spot in the outfield.

* Seth Smith will get most of the at-bats at DH.

* The Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon will remain in effect at first base.

* Something will have to happen to Brandon Moss or Chris Carter for Daric Barton to make the roster.

* The A’s have a lot more confidence in Hiro Nakajima‘s bat than they do in his glove and his arm.

Oakland Athletics vs Los Angeles Angels* Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore will be in direct competition for the second base job in spring training.

* Shooty Babbitt really isn’t a big fan of Jemile Weeks.

* Barring injuries, the A’s starting rotation will consist of Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin and Bartolo Colon (after missing his first start while serving out his suspension).

* If the starting rotation is healthy, Dan Straily will be at Sacramento until he’s needed in Oakland.

* After Dan Straily, the next go-to guys at Sacramento if needed will likely be Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray.

* Top prospect Michael Choice will start the season at Sacramento.

* Billy Beane loves John Jaso, almost as much as he loved Erubiel Durazo.

DSC02363b* Everybody loves Addison Russell, and the 19-year-old will be invited to attend the major league camp in spring training.

* Josh Reddick didn’t bother wasting any money on razors this off-season.

* Coco Crisp is committed to upholding Oscar Gamble‘s ‘fro-tastic legacy.

* Chris Young is still in the early stages of his Bernie Lean lessons.

 

 

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A’s Manager Bob Melvin On The Team’s New SS, Who’ll Start At 2B, And Daric Barton’s Chances Of Making The Roster

Bob Melvin: Jemile Weeks or Scott Sizemore? What the hell, let's just flip a coin!

Bob Melvin: Jemile Weeks or Scott Sizemore? What the hell, let’s just flip a coin!

As part of A’s FanFest this past weekend, a few members of the A’s staff took some time out to attend a bloggers-only press conference in the bowels of the Oracle Arena. A’s manager Bob Melvin was kind enough to stop by between his various autograph sessions and photo ops to field a few questions. And A’s Farm was particularly eager to get the skipper’s take on the A’s current situation at second base…

 

On Jemile Weeks, Scott Sizemore and the competition at second base…

Well, first and foremost, I like that we have some competition there. And I think that for both those guys, in spring training, it’s important because they’re playing for their job right there. And you want to see what kind of shape somebody comes in, what kind of desire, what kind of attitude they’re going to take towards that. Now they’re not the only two guys. Certainly Adam Rosales can play everywhere. It almost works against Rosie some that he is so versatile and can play other positions. And then we’re also going to look at Grant Green who’s going to get some at-bats over there, as well as Eric Sogard. So we have some options there. As we sit here right now, probably the two most prominent options are Weeks and Sizemore. I think it’s nice that we have some competition. And the versatility plays into our club as well, in that Scotty can play third and we can move some guys around to try to get our best lineup on a particular day. But both those guys will be in a competition type mode in spring training…In the case of Scotty, who played a full year at third, got hurt, and now he’s going back to second base, you want to make sure he gets comfortable over there first. And you don’t start evaluating right away on him, because you know it’s going to take some time for him to be comfortable. You know, it’s not uncommon for a guy who has a rookie year like Jemile had to not have as good a year the next year. And I think, even though it was difficult for him last year, he’ll probably benefit from that going forward, with his mindset each and every day coming to second base. It’s easy to read your press clippings – you know “I’m the untouchable guy,” “I’m the guy that’s the leadoff guy,” “I have the second base job.” And it’s not his fault – a lot of younger players have to go through that. That can be dangerous. But I know, I’ve talked to him here recently, and he is really looking forward and knows that he still has an opportunity and is grateful for that. I think you’ll see a different Jemile Weeks this spring…But there’s no limitations on Scotty. He’s a hard-working kid, and he put himself in the position of going to spring training this year to have no limitations based on the way he rehabbed and worked. It’s going to take probably a little time. It’s a completely different angle over at second base. The balls are on you a little bit later. You have different things that you have to do. He has experience doing it before. But there’s still going to be a learning curve for him, turning double plays and just learning the angles and the position again. And, therefore, we’ll give him some time to be comfortable before we really start evaluating him more objectively. But as far as the rehab goes, he’s 100% and looking forward to getting out there and contributing however he can.

 

Hiro Nakajima: Mr. Personality!

Hiro Nakajima: Mr. Personality!

On new shortstop Hiro Nakajima

Well, I think it’s tougher to get a handle on an international player probably more so defensively than offensively. We do know that he has a lot of leadership qualities – that he likes to be the guy. He seems to have a great personality. And I’ve said before, it seems like the guys who were leaders in Japan seem to have the best chance of succeeding over here – whether it’s a Matsui, whether it’s an Ichiro – and we feel like he falls into that category. We’re excited about it. But until you get your hands on him and watch him on a day-to-day basis, you’re not 100% sure if your evaluation is right, certainly on the defensive end of it.

 

On what he’s looking for in the leadoff spot…

Coco Crisp: Bob Melvin's main man

Coco Crisp: Bob Melvin’s main man

Well, I think Coco Crisp does a good job at that. Granted, you look at it and you look at on-base percentage and Coco’s not a .380 on-base guy, but he’s there when you need him. We do have some other guys on days that he doesn’t play. Chris Young has led off against left-handed pitchers before. Look at his numbers against lefties. He hit a bunch of homers for me in his rookie year, and he understands leading off as well. You know, John Jaso is a guy who has led off. And you look at the on-base and you look at what he does, not only his patience but batting average with balls in play, there are a lot of things that would suggest this guy can hit up in the lineup, based on his on-base and the way he handles the bat. So whether he’s hitting in the two-hole one day, or if I have some guys off, it’s not totally out of the question that he could potentially lead off too. He gives us a lot of flexibility where he can hit in the lineup. And based on some increased power last year too, we feel like he can kind of go to a different level as far as that goes and could be a production guy later in the order.

 

Daric Barton: Maybe if I look like Jonny Gomes, they won't cut me

Daric Barton: Maybe if I look like Jonny Gomes, they won’t cut me

On former first baseman Daric Barton’s chances of making the roster…

Well, you know what, you make your chances. And he did years before to put himself in the position to play every day. And that’s the way he has to look at it again. I don’t want him coming in thinking, “I have no chance to make the team here.” If you look at it, defensively, he’s the only true defender at the position. And he’s a good defender at the position – very good. So we felt like it was important to keep him. I mean, if Brandon Moss goes down, it’s obviously a natural for Daric Barton to take over that position. Chris Carter plays over there some too. So coming into camp, he’s going to be fighting to make a 25-man roster again. And I know he’s appreciative of another opportunity for him. So as quickly as it can change, it can flip back the other way as well. 

 

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Is the A’s Roster Set? And the River Cats Roster Too?

Will Hiro have A's fans smiling too?

Will Hiro have A’s fans smiling too?

On Monday, we unofficially learned that shortstop Stephen Drew had agreed to a deal with the Red Sox and would not be returning to the A’s, and we also unofficially learned that the A’s would be filling the hole at shortstop by signing Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima. It was announced on Tuesday, after our last A’s Off-Season Transactions Update, not only that the Nakajima signing was official but also that, to clear room on the roster for their new shortstop, the A’s had traded outfielder Collin Cowgill to the Mets for Double-A third baseman Jefry Marte.

With the A’s new shortstop in the fold, it looks like their work is essentially done for the off-season and that the major league roster, barring any unforeseen (yet inevitable) injuries, is pretty much set. But it also seems that the Triple-A roster at Sacramento may be pretty much set at this point too. This really shows a remarkable level of certainty for an organization that’s typically had any number of question marks remaining at this time of year.

Below you’ll find a complete listing of the anticipated A’s and River Cats opening day rosters, barring any unexpected deals or injuries, as of this point in time almost 3 ½ months before opening day. Any changes should be minor, especially where the major league roster is concerned. I’d expect any changes to most likely come from potential moves involving some of the minor league pitchers or infielders. Following the roster lists below, we’ll go around the horn and discuss where things stand at every position for both the A’s and the River Cats…

 

Brandon Moss

Brandon Moss

2013 OAKLAND A’S

–CATCHERS–

Derek Norris C

George Kottaras C

–INFIELDERS–

Brandon Moss 1B

Chris Carter 1B

Jemile Weeks 2B

Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Josh Donaldson 3B

Adam Rosales IF 

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

–OUTFIELDERS–

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Josh Reddick OF

Coco Crisp OF

Seth Smith OF

Chris Young OF

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brett Anderson LHP

Jarrod Parker RHP

Tom Milone LHP

A.J. Griffin RHP

Dan Straily RHP

Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Grant Balfour RHP

Ryan Cook RHP

Pat Neshek RHP

Chris Resop RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Sean Doolittle LHP

Jerry Blevins LHP

Travis Blackley LHP

–SUSPENDED FOR 5 GAMES–

Bartolo Colon

 

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

Michael Choice

Michael Choice

–HITTERS–

Luke Montz C

Steven Hill C

Daric Barton IF

Scott Sizemore IF

Andy Parrino IF

Eric Sogard IF

Stephen Parker IF

Scott Moore IF-OF

Grant Green IF-OF

Shane Peterson OF

Michael Choice OF

Michael Taylor OF

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brad Peacock RHP

Sonny Gray RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

(+2 of the following 4 in the rotation with 1 in the bullpen & 1 traded or released)

Garrett Olson LHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Bruce Billings RHP

Travis Banwart RHP

James Simmons

James Simmons

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Evan Scribner RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

James Simmons RHP

Mike Ekstrom RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Jordan Norberto LHP

Pedro Figueroa LHP

Justin Thomas LHP

 

2013 OAKLAND A’S

Derek Norris: Catcher of the future or lumberjack in training?

Derek Norris: Catcher of the future or lumberjack in training?

As far as the 2013 A’s go, catcher and first base are two positions that are pretty clearly set. Right-handed hitter Derek Norris and left-handed hitter George Kottaras will make up the A’s catching tandem. This likely won’t be a strict platoon though, as the A’s view Norris as their catcher of the future. I’d expect Norris to get between 350-400 at-bats, with Kottaras getting somewhere between 200-250 at-bats – of course, performance on the field could have a big effect on playing time behind the plate. The first base platoon of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter will remain in place in 2013. This should be a pretty strict left/right platoon, unless Moss regresses and Carter starts coming on strong, in which case the big right-hander could end up stealing some at-bats from Moss.

Second base may represent the biggest question mark on the A’s roster. Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore both stand a decent chance of claiming the starting job, while prospect Grant Green appears to be a long shot. It’s my feeling that, as long as he can show in the spring that he’s ready to put it together, the edge will go to former #1 draft pick Weeks. But if Weeks looks like he hasn’t learned anything, then Sizemore should be ready to step in – though we do have to remember that he is coming back from an injury that sidelined him for a solid year and will be competing at a position that he hasn’t played much over the past two years. Whichever one of these guys doesn’t claim the major league job will probably end up at Sacramento with Green. At this point, my guess is that Weeks opens the season with the A’s, while Sizemore ends up at Sacramento waiting for a chance to come back and take over in the event that Weeks or Donaldson struggles – but that could very easily change based on what happens in the spring.

Your 2013 starting shortstop will be Hiro Nakajima, with Adam Rosales likely serving as his backup – as well as the backup at second at third. If Nakajima proves to be more of a “zero” than a “Hiro,” then Rosales will step in and start getting more at-bats at short. Josh Donaldson will be the starting third baseman unless and until he proves that his second-half surge last season was just a fluke. If that happens, then Sizemore is the most likely candidate to step in at third.

Josh Reddick: The undisputed champion of the "Bernie Lean" dance competition

Josh Reddick: The undisputed champion of the ‘Bernie Lean’ dance competition

In the outfield, the A’s have five players (Cespedes, Reddick, Crisp, Smith and Young) to fill the three outfield spots as well as the designated hitter spot in the lineup. Those four positions should offer up about 2400 at-bats, which would mean there’s close to 500 at-bats to go around for each of them – that’s if they’re all healthy. Of course, they won’t all be healthy. I’d guess that at just about any point in the season, one of them will be dinged up enough to, if not warrant a stint on the DL, at least warrant a little time out of the lineup. So I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about who plays where and when. I suspect it’ll work itself out one way or another and we’ll end up seeing plenty of all of them in the starting lineup.

As for the starting rotation, it’s important to remember that Bartolo Colon will be suspended for the first five games of the season and the A’s will play the first seven games of the season without a day off. That means that, barring injury, Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily will open the season as the A’s starting five. Of course, there’s a reasonable chance that one of those pitchers could have some nagging injury to start the season. In that case, Colon could be ready to step into the rotation after the first week. If, miracle of miracles, all five starting pitchers are fully healthy and functioning to start the season, then Colon could always kill time in the bullpen until one of them is sidelined with a balky elbow, shoulder, rib cage or back.

The A’s bullpen will be a crowded place though. Aside from Colon, there will be nine or ten legitimate contenders for the seven bullpen spots. On the right-handed side of things, Grant Balfour will be the closer and Ryan Cook will be the primary right-handed set-up man, while Pat Neshek will surely have a spot after signing a guaranteed contract, and Chris Resop is bound to get a spot after the A’s made a concerted effort to acquire him from the Pirates. That would push Evan Scribner to Sacramento.

On the left-handed side of things, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins appear to be assured spots after their consistent performances throughout 2012, and Travis Blackley seems to be locked in as the long-man in the ‘pen. That would push Jordan Norberto and Pedro Figueroa to Sacramento. Of course, the odds that one of those seven relievers starts the season with some kind of injury is fairly high, which would open the door to one of those spots.

 

Daric Barton: Don't worry, A's fans - only in case of emergency!

Daric Barton: Don’t worry, A’s fans – only in case of emergency!

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

If we make the preceding assumptions about the major league roster, and take into account the fact that the Triple-A roster rarely includes more than 12 hitters and rarely has any fewer than 13 pitchers, then the River Cats roster starts to fall pretty clearly into place.

The A’s acquired two experienced minor league catchers – 29-year-old Luke Montz and 27-year-old Steven Hill – who should share the catching duties at Sacramento this year. Meanwhile, veteran Daric Barton will be standing in at first base, waiting for his chance should anything happen with Moss or Carter.

If Jemile Weeks doesn’t make the roster in Oakland, then he’ll surely be the starting second baseman at Sacramento. But if Scott Sizemore is the one to get sent down, as I suspect, then I’d expect him to get the majority of the starts at second base in Sacramento, preparing himself in case Weeks again struggles. Andy Parrino, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross trade, is bound to be Sacramento’s primary starting shortstop this year. I’d expect to see the versatile Eric Sogard getting most of his starts at third base this year, while also picking up a few other starts around the infield. When Sogard’s not starting at third, then fading prospect Stephen Parker is likely to get some starts at the hot corner as well.

Grant Green: Still looking for a home

Grant Green: Still looking for a home

Scott Moore, who has been the A’s most promising minor league free agent signing this off-season, can play third base, as well as first base, second base and the outfield, but will probably end up seeing a lot of at-bats as the designated hitter for the River Cats. Sacramento’s starting outfield should be made up of on-base machine Shane Peterson in left, top prospect Michael Choice in center and former top prospect Michael Taylor in right. That just leaves our old friend Grant Green, whom the organization could make the River Cats’ regular second baseman, but I’m guessing that, when it’s all said and done, they’ll end up utilizing his versatility and giving him starts all over the field – preparing him for his most likely future role with the A’s as a versatile utility man.

There are three pitchers who, as long as they’re healthy, are sure to make Sacramento’s starting rotation – top prospects Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray, along with left-hander Andrew Werner, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross deal. The rest of the River Cats’ rotation will be filled out by two of the following four hurlers – right-handers Jesse Chavez, Bruce Billings and Travis Banwart, as well as major league veteran and minor league free agent signee Garrett Olson. Of the two who don’t make the rotation, one will likely end up as the long-man in the River Cats’ bullpen with the other either DL’d, traded or released.

Sacramento’s 2013 bullpen ought to boast an impressive array of arms who could be ready to step in and help at the major league level at a moment’s notice. If all the major league bullpen arms are healthy, then the River Cats’ ‘pen should include names like Evan Scribner, Arnold Leon, James Simmons and minor league free agent signee Mike Ekstrom from the right side and Jordan Norberto, Pedro Figueroa and minor league free agent signee Justin Thomas from the left side.

On the whole, it looks like a River Cats roster that ought to be more than ready to defend its division title and, hopefully, so should the 2013 A’s!

 

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Down On The Farm with Farhan

Yesterday we brought you a complete rundown of manager Bob Melvin’s bloggers-only press conference from last week at the Coliseum. Well, after the skipper did his duty, the A’s director of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, joined us to address a number of player personnel queries. A trained economist in his 8th year with the A’s, Farhan is deeply involved in the critical analyses that the team does on players both inside and outside the organization, so his insights are invaluable. Rather than provide a complete rundown of every subject that Farhan took the time to touch on, below are his insights on some of the more intriguing young players to make their marks in the majors and minors for the A’s organization this year. Once again, A’s Farm, kicked off the questioning – this time by asking for Farhan’s take on one of the A’s top prospects whom folks are always eager to find out more about…

 

On the future of former 1st-round draft pick Grant Green

“If you look at what Grant did this year, he cut his strikeouts down a lot. And his numbers were up across the board. And I think that was more in line with what we were expecting out of him than what we saw from him last year. We’re just trying to figure out defensively maybe where he can be an asset to the team and where we can fit him into our defense. There’s two different levels of prospects – there’s guys at a lower level where you just want them to be where they’re most comfortable or where their value is maximized, and then you have older guys where you’re maybe starting to have to look at your big league depth chart and you’re starting to say, ‘Where can this guy play?’ And with Grant, he’s a guy who I think next year will have a chance to make the team. So right now I couldn’t tell you what position he’s going to play or how he fits in, but I think he’s really given us a lot of options, which is always a good thing.”

 

On the newfound success of former farmhands Chris Carter and Josh Donaldson

“You try to give guys as much rope as possible, because this transition from Triple-A to the big leagues is so tough. And if I guy has a good game when he comes up, he just kind of builds off that momentum and goes from there. But if he goes 0 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts, he can get in a downward spiral. And if you look at those guys and look at that first game after they came up, they started succeeding and then building off of that. And I don’t mean to reduce it to such a simple thing, but that’s how it is sometimes. Sometimes it’s a matter of just getting some level of confidence for these guys.”

 

On the rapid rise of right-hander Dan Straily

“I really think the year that he got on the radar for us as an organization was 2011 with the year that he had in the California League where, if you look at those numbers and adjust for the league and environment, that was a really impressive performance. And I think, before that, I would have said, ‘He’s kind of a good organizational guy.’ He had a good year in the Midwest League. But last year, to do what he did in the California League, he started showing some plus stuff, some plus velocity. He was a guy we started thinking could be a part of the plan going forward. Now look, he wasn’t in big league camp, so don’t give us too much credit. But he was a guy I would have said at the beginning of the year that I could see him spending most of the year in Double-A and if he had a similarly good year, move up to Triple-A, and then sort of really be on the radar. So a little bit like Parker, I think the most impressive thing about what he’s done is just the speed and sort of really forcing the issue – being so good in Double-A that we had to move him up, and being so good in Triple-A that, when the opportunity presented itself, we brought him up here. I wouldn’t say it was totally out of the blue, but obviously he’s totally blown by everyone’s expectations.”

 

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up with all the news down on the farm!

Mr. Melvin Meets The Bloggers

Bob Melvin: Hit me with your best shot!

With Oakland right in the thick of a heated pennant race, A’s manager Bob Melvin took some time out just prior to a mid-September night game versus the dreaded Orioles to attend a bloggers-only press conference at the Coliseum. Melvin was his usual friendly and cordial self as he addressed an array of topics over the course of about 10 minutes and, upon his exit, even made a point of complimenting his interrogators on their rapid-fire questions. The first subjects, raised by A’s Farm, concerned a couple of players who’ve spent some time with both the A’s and the River Cats this year, and Melvin went on to offer his take on a variety of different subjects from there…

 

On third baseman Josh Donaldson’s improvement in his second stint with the A’s this year…

“Well, I think as far as Donaldson goes, it was just a matter of getting here and having some success. The ability’s always been there. If you look at the minor league numbers, he’s been able to hit and hit for power. He’s a great athlete – he can play multiple positions. I think it was just important – similar to a Chris Carter situation – that he came here and had some success. And he did early on, and he’s just been riding on that and more or less believes in himself as a big leaguer now.”

 

On second baseman Jemile Weeks’ struggles this season…

Jemile Weeks: Let’s see, am I supposed to be in Oakland or Sacramento today?

“As far as Jemile, you talk about sophomore slumps and so forth, and he’s a tough kid who can be hard on himself, and I think he got into a little bit of a slump where he couldn’t quite get out of it. You look up there – and you have some pride – and you look at your average after hitting .300 for basically a full season, then not being able to repeat that, you try a little too hard sometimes as opposed to just letting your ability take over. And I think it was just a little bit of a change of scenery – he went down there (to Sacramento) and instantly hit. And I don’t think this is going to effect where his career is going forward.”

 

On the adjustments Jemile Weeks needs to make…

“I think mainly just keeping the ball out of the air a little bit. I think, this year, he hit a couple of home runs early on. He will tell you that had nothing to do with swinging a little bigger. I think he just felt more comfortable with his swing that he could drive some balls. And last year, he just wasn’t trying to do too much. He was just putting it in play, and putting it in play on the ground. So it’s just a matter of finding a happy medium for him, and he will do that.”

 

On the special challenges of working with a younger team…

“Well, I think basically, with where we are in the season, we try to keep the distractions to a minimum and just – I know it’s very cliché – keep all our efforts focused on a particular day. We are playing some match-ups in the second half – whether it’s a Moss/Carter type of thing. And I think keeping them aware of when they’re playing is important so they know and can do their homework on potential pitchers they’re going to face – whether it’s Kottaras and Norris, and we’ve run a little bit of a platoon with Pennington and Rosales at second. So I think they benefit by knowing what days they’re playing. And then I think with younger players, you try to be consistent in giving them good feedback, because the one thing about being a younger player coming to the big league level that you always have to get over is that awe factor and ‘do I belong here in the big leagues?’ And we’ve, as an organization, put a lot of stock in our younger players and getting them to the big leagues. We put them in prominent roles, and I think we’ve done that across the board this year, whether it’s the pitching end of it, whether it’s the position player end of it, and we’ve been rewarded with good performances.”

 

On traditional bullpen roles…

“It’s always a Catch-22, because you want to get the hot hand out there, you want to get the guys that are the best match-ups. Yet relievers are a little different breed. When that phone rings, the guy wants to have a pretty good idea when he’s coming in the game. If we have to change the role for a period of time, I think we’re more apt to do that than just consistently trying to match up. It’s a little different with call-ups when you have more options. But I think if you look at our late guys, our plus-game guys, they know when they’re coming in the game, and that I think is a comfort to them…confidence-wise for them, it helps them to prepare and feel good about what they’re doing, even though just looking at it statistically, it can be more of a match-up thing. So I think it’s a double-edged sword as far as that goes. I do like defining roles, but I’m not afraid to change them if we need to change them.”

 

On team chemistry and when it started to click…

“I don’t know if there was a particular time. I felt good about the players we had in spring training. And when you look at a big league roster, a 25-man roster, I think ours was more like 32 – we were bringing guys back and forth depending on how they were playing at a certain time. And I think, once we kind of defined what roles certain guys had…I think the timing might have been middle to late June…I think we’ve been pretty consistent, especially offensively. And once we started to play better offensively, hit some home runs and so forth, the team started to find an identity within itself. We always felt like we were a scrappy-type team, a team that played well and focused later on in games and played hard and that type of thing. But I think once we started to hit the ball out of the ballpark, we kind of gained a lot more confidence because of that. And we have the guys here to do that now.”

 

Josh Reddick: Who needs an MVP when I’ve got one of these!

On the team’s MVP this year…

“It’s a tough one. You know, the guys that we count on the most are Coco, Reddick and Cespedes. And I think at different parts of the season, they would each be considered the MVP at the time. I couldn’t put my finger on just one. But from an offensive standpoint, those three probably stand out the most.”

 

On the team’s perspective down the stretch…

“We’re trying not to look at the finish line. We’re trying to take it more day-to-day, and let’s count ‘em up at the end. We know the schedule – we know we’re playing a lot of games on the road. We’ve been fortunate enough to win some games on the road. But if you start thinking about this match-up, that match-up, who’s pitching in this series, those are just distractions you don’t need, especially for a younger group. So we’re trying to remain in the moment and put all our focus on today’s game.  I know it’s very cliché, but I think it really has worked for us to this point this year, and that’s the way we’ll remain doing it.”

 

On how his past managerial experiences have prepared him for the challenges of this job…

“Well, first of all, I don’t think you ever get comfortable and say ‘Okay, I’ve had all the experiences, and this is the way I’m going to do things.’ I try to learn from our players. And it’s more about me acclimating to the players than the players acclimating to me. I have to work the personnel that we have in the fashion that we’re best-suited to do it. If we’ve got a bunch of guys that run, you’re not going to sit around and play for a three-run homer. If we have a bunch of guys that hit home runs, you’re not going to run into outs. And this team has kind of morphed into that type of team. We were running quite a bit early on, but we’re not running quite as much now because we don’t want to run into outs because we’re hitting some balls out of the ballpark. I think keeping guys accountable more so now, and communicating. There are certain times you don’t want to communicate, whether it’s your mood or whatever, but you have to stay consistent in what you’re doing as a manager. I like to be a positive guy, especially with the whole group. I will take guys individually if there’s something I want to do on the negative side. But I think it’s staying consistent, whether you’re winning or losing, and staying consistent in my approach to the players – that’s probably the thing that stands out the most for me.”

 

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After Bob Melvin’s press conference, long-time A’s broadcaster Ray Fosse took some time to chat on the field during batting practice and offered up some interesting takes on the A’s current manager…

 

Ray Fosse: I love Bob Melvin this much!

Fosse on Bob Melvin…

“Bob Melvin’s the greatest manager. He deserves so much credit. Nothing against the other guys, but Collin Cowgill, I just interviewed him, and he knows him from being with the Diamondbacks, and he said, ‘I’d run through that wall for the man.’ And when your players are willing to sacrifice their bodies to do whatever…Brandon Inge, when he dove for the ball and separated his shoulder, he comes in the next inning and hits a double down the line, and then he goes on the disabled list. He comes back, he does the same thing here, hits a double, drives in two runs, and then has surgery. But when he was out here, he said, ‘I’d take a bullet for the man right now. If there’s a fight, I’m defending him.’ And that’s the respect these guys have for that man.”

 

Fosse on respect…

“For the first time in the years that we’ve had the (World Series championship) reunions, when the players came in on the cars and they had the red carpet out to the mound, did you notice that every current player was lined up? Never has that been done before. Bob Melvin said, ‘We need to respect the guys who won the championships. I want my team out there shaking their hands as these guys walk by.’ Gene Tenace came on the air and he said, ‘I won’t get a chance to see Bob Melvin, but please tell him that’s the classiest act I’ve ever seen to show respect for a team of the past.’ And it was – I still get goose bumps thinking about what they did.”

 

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up with all the news down on the farm!

Saturday, June 16th: Ports and Bees Win while Cats and Hounds Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Stockton Ports First Baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

TRIPLE-A PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Tacoma Rainiers           11

Sacramento River Cats  5

(LP – De LosSantos 1-3 / 8.02)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Chris Carter

(3 for 4 / Home Run)

 

 

Worth Noting: Starter Bruce Billings allowed 2 runs over 5 innings of work, but the River Cats’ bullpen imploded, giving up 9 runs in 4 innings. The biggest culprits were Fautino De Los Santos who allowed 4 runs and Danny Farquhar who surrendered 5 runs. First baseman Chris Carter collected 3 hits, including his 11th home run, in the loss.

 

DOUBLE-A TEXAS LEAGUE

San Antonio Missions  5

Midland RockHounds   2

(LP – Haviland 4-6 / 5.62)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Conner Crumbliss

(Double / 2 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: Outfielder Conner Crumbliss doubled in 2 runs in the 3rd inning to account for all the RockHounds’ scoring on Saturday. Starter Shawn Haviland allowed 3 runs on 11 hits in just 4 innings to earn his 6th loss.

 

ADVANCED-A CALIFORNIA LEAGUE

Visalia Rawhide  3

Stockton Ports  11

(WP – Bowman 1-6 / 4.35)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: First baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones, serving as the designated hitter for the night, hit a 3-run homer in the 1st inning, and Stockton never looked back. Third baseman Miles Head and outfielders Chad Oberacker and Mitch LeVier homered as well, and starter Josh Bowman allowed just 1 run in 5 innings of work to earn his 1st win.

 

CLASS-A MIDWEST LEAGUE

Burlington Bees  11

Beloit Snappers   3

(WP – Granier 9-3 / 3.02)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Drew Granier

(7 IP / 3 ER / 7 K / Win)

 

 

Worth Noting: Starter Drew Granier allowed 3 runs while walking none and striking out 7 over 7 innings to earn his league-leading 9th win on Saturday. Third baseman B.A. Vollmuth and outfielder Bobby Crocker collected 3 hits apiece and outfielder Eliezer Mesa doubled, drove in a run, stole 3 bases and scored twice in the win.

 

Sunday’s Games:

Tacoma @ Sacramento – 1:05pm PT

(Sweeney vs. TBD)

San Antonio @ Midland – 6:00pm CT

(Sampson vs. Smith)

Burlington @ Beloit – 2:00pm CT

(Cole vs. Summers)

 

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up with all the news down on the farm!

Monday, May 28th: Miles Head Saves the Day for Ports as Hounds Win and Cats & Bees Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Stockton Ports infielder Miles Head (3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 2 RBIs)

 

TRIPLE-A PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Reno Aces                    10

Sacramento River Cats  2

(LP – Castro 2-5 / 7.15)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Chris Carter

(2 for 3 / Double / RBI)

 

 

Worth Noting: First baseman Chris Carter went 2 for 3 and doubled in a run, and Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 and singled in a run, but that would be the extent of the River Cats’ scoring on Monday night. Yoenis Cespedes went 1 for 3 in his first rehab appearance with Sacramento, and starter Fabio Castro allowed 5 runs in just 1 2/3 innings to take his 5th loss. The River Cats’ rotation will be getting a boost with the return of right-hander Graham Godfrey to the staff. Sacramento’s bullpen will be losing right-hander Neil Wagner, who was placed on waivers and claimed by San Diego, but will be gaining left-hander Sean Doolittle, who’s being promoted from Midland. The former first-round draft pick as a first baseman has struck out 40 batters in 21 1/3 innings between Midland and Stockton this season. The River Cats’ receiving corps will be fortified with the addition of catcher Anthony Recker, who’s headed down from Oakland with the return of Brandon Inge to the big club. And with Wagner’s removal from the 40-man roster, the River Cats can probably expect to lose Manny Ramirez from their lineup by Friday, when he’s likely to return to Oakland along with Cespedes.

 

DOUBLE-A TEXAS LEAGUE

Midland RockHounds  2

Tulsa Drillers              1

(WP – Leon 1-0 / 5.06)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Gary Daley

(6 IP / 1 ER / 5 K)

 

 

Worth Noting: Starter Gary Daley had a solid outing, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits over 6 innings of work, but it took 10 innings for the RockHounds to push the winning run across the plate when infielder Leonardo Gil scored on a passed ball. Right-hander Arnold Leon picked up the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and right-hander Jonathan Ortiz tossed a final scoreless frame to notch his 8th save.

 

ADVANCED-A CALIFORNIA LEAGUE

Stockton Ports              9

High Desert Mavericks  8

(WP – Walz 3-4 / 3.93)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Infielder Miles Head

(3 for 5 / 2 Home Runs / 2 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: Infielder Miles Head saved the day for Stockton once again, blasting 2 home runs, including a tie-breaking homer for the Ports in the top of the 7th inning. The 21-year-old is now hitting .378 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs on the season. Outfielder Josh Whitaker doubled and drove in 4 runs. Starter Blake Treinen had a rocky outing, allowing 8 runs, 4 earned, over 5 1/3 innings, but T.J. Walz came on to earn the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

 

CLASS-A MIDWEST LEAGUE

Clinton LumberKings  12

Burlington Bees           3

(LP – Alcantara 3-5 / 5.69)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Eliezer Mesa

(2 for 4 / Home Run / RBI)

 

Worth Noting: Outfieder Eliezer Mesaand first baseman Douglas Landaeta both had 2 hits, including a home run, but the Bees’ lineup couldn’t do much else on Monday. Pitcher Raul Alcantara, coming off 5 solid starts, had a disastrous outing for Burlington, allowing 10 runs on 12 hits over just 4 1/3 innings to earn his 5th loss.

 

Tuesday’s Games:

Fresno @ Sacramento – 7:05pm PT

(Hacker vs. TBD)

Stockton @ High Desert – 7:05pm PT

(TBD vs. Elias)

Clinton @ Burlington – 6:30pm CT

(Hidalgo vs. Cole)

 

 

Sunday, May 27th: Carter’s Slam Leads Cats to Victory as Bees Win and Hounds & Ports Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Sacramento River Cats first baseman Chris Carter (Grand Slam)

 

TRIPLE-A PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Reno Aces                     4

Sacramento River Cats  5

(WP – Peacock 6-2 / 4.91)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Chris Carter

(Grand Slam)

 

 

Worth Noting: First Baseman Chris Carter blasted a grand slam in the 3rd inning to give the River Cats the lead, which they never relinquished. Starter Brad Peacock allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, and struck out 5 over 6 innings to earn his 6th win. Manny Ramirez went 0 for 3 and is now 6 for 28 in his 8 games with the River Cats.

 

DOUBLE-A TEXAS LEAGUE

Midland RockHounds  4

Tulsa Drillers              7

(LP – Gray 1-3 / 4.17)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Michael Spina

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: First baseman Michael Spina hit a 3-run homer to account for 3 of the RockHounds’ 4 runs on Sunday, third baseman Josh Horton doubled in Midland’s only other run, and starter Sonny Gray allowed 2 runs over 5 innings to run his record to 1-3.

 

ADVANCED-A CALIFORNIA LEAGUE

Stockton Ports              5

High Desert Mavericks  6

(LP – Souza 0-1 / 3.38)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones

(Home Run / 2 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: First baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones launched a 2-run game-tying homer in the 3rd inning, and starter Josh Bowman allowed 3 runs over 5 2/3 innings of work. The Ports took a 2-run lead into the 9th, but the Mavericks tied the game with 2 runs off reliever Zach Thornton in the bottom of the 9th and then won the game with a run off reliever Justin Souza in the 10th.

 

CLASS-A MIDWEST LEAGUE

Clinton LumberKings  7

Burlington Bees         8

(WP – Macias 2-4 / 6.28)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Rashun Dixon

(Home Run / 1 RBI)

 

 

Worth Noting: Outfielder Rashun Dixon, who was recently demoted from Stockton, clubbed the game-winning homer for Burlington in the bottom of the 8th inning on Sunday. Starter Brent Powers allowed 6 runs over 5 innings, but right-hander Jose Macias came on to earn the win with 3 solid innings in relief.

 

Monday’s Games:

Reno @ Sacramento – 1:05pm PT

(TBD vs. TBD)

Midland @ Tulsa – 1:05pm CT

(Daley vs. Houston)

Stockton @ HighDesert – 3:05pm PT

(TBD vs. Hobson)

Clinton @ Burlington – 2:00pm CT

(Miller vs. Alcantara)

 

Monday’s Links:

A’s Farm’s Weekly Minor League Update on A’s Nation

Sacramento River Cats Complete Season Stats

Midland RockHounds Complete Season Stats

Stockton Ports Complete Season Stats

Burlington Bees Complete Season Stats

 

 

Tuesday, May 22nd: Ports Score 15 to Win, Peacock Gets Rocked as Cats Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Sacramento River Cats first baseman Chris Carter (Home Run / 2 RBIs)

 

TRIPLE-A PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE

Sacramento River Cats  5

Round Rock Express     11

(LP – Peacock 5-2 / 5.14)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Chris Carter

(Home Run / 2 RBIs)

 

 

Worth Noting: Starter Brad Peacock got rocked in Round Rock on Tuesday night, giving up 7 runs on 9 hits in just 3 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 5.14 and run his record to 5-2. First baseman Chris Carter blasted his 5th home run of the past week to run his season total to 9, and infielders Brandon Hicks and Wes Timmons also homered in the loss.

 

ADVANCED-A CALIFORNIA LEAGUE

San Jose Giants  3

Stockton Ports   15

(WP – Treinen 4-4 / 4.18)

 

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Blake Treinen

(6 IP / 3 ER / 6 K / Win)

 

 

Worth Noting: Starter Blake Treinen, who allowed 3 runs and struck out 6 over 6 innings, kept Stockton in the game long enough for the Ports to mount a massive comeback and win the game. After scoring just 1 run over the first 5 innings, the Ports scored 14 runs in the last 3 frames. Outfielder Chad Oberacker hit a grand slam in a 7-run 6th inning, shortstop Michael Gilmartin doubled and drove in 6 runs, and catcher Max Stassi, serving as the designated hitter for the day, doubled and drove in 3.

 

Wednesday’s Games:

Sacramento @ Round Rock – 5:05pm PT

(TBD vs. Jackson)

Midland @ NW Arkansas – 7:00pm CT

(Daley vs. Arguelles)

Burlington @ Kane County – 6:00pm CT

(Alcantara vs. TBD)

 

 

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