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A’s Eager to Deal Prospects to Win Now!

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Billy Beane’s been a busy boy!

A’s general manager Billy Beane has had a busy week – and it ain’t over yet! On Monday, the team signed free agent left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two-year $22 million deal. And later that same day, the A’s acquired right-handed closer Jim Johnson from Baltimore in return for second baseman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.

Then on Tuesday, the team traded two of its top minor league prospects, outfielder Michael Choice and second baseman Chris Bostick, to Texas for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed starter Josh Lindblom. The A’s then followed that up just hours later by sending outfielder Seth Smith to San Diego for right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson.

Just the previous week, the team dealt minor league outfielder John Wooten to Washington for left-handed reliever Fernando Abad. And two weeks prior to that, the A’s signed utility infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.

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Craig “Kitten Face” Gentry

The A’s new outfielder, Craig Gentry – who was nicknamed “Kitten Face” in Texas – is a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He brings excellent defense and speed and hits lefties well, so he figures to take Chris Young’s place as a right-handed platoon player and fourth outfielder who could take over full time in center field for the A’s when Coco Crisp becomes a free agent after next season.

In order to acquire Gentry, the A’s gave up their top outfield prospect, who also happened to be the team’s top major-league-ready hitting prospect, former 1st-round draft pick Michael Choice. After hitting .302 at Triple-A Sacramento in 2013, many had hoped that Choice would be given the chance to fill Young’s role on the A’s roster in 2014. But instead, he’ll get the chance to battle for a starting spot in the Rangers’ outfield this season.

Top talent evaluators are divided on Choice’s chances for success as a major league slugger. But the A’s have a history of undervaluing and trading away talented young outfielders who’ve gone on to become successful major league hitters elsewhere. And A’s fans have to hope that Choice doesn’t turn out to be the next Andre Ethier, Nelson Cruz or Carlos Gonzalez in Texas.

With Choice now gone, Shane Peterson and Michael Taylor are now the most major-league-ready outfielders at the upper levels of the A’s minor league system, while 20-year-old B.J. Boyd and 19-year-old Billy McKinney are the team’s top outfield prospects at the lower levels of the system.

The A’s also traded away their top second base prospect, Chris Bostick, in the deal. And it looks increasingly likely that shortstop Daniel Robertson might have to try to make the move to second base to provide a future double play partner for top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. With fellow second baseman Jemile Weeks now gone as well, Sacramento’s 2014 infield could be comprised of Daric Barton or Anthony Aliotti at first base, minor league free agent signee Jose Martinez at second base, Andy Parrino at shortstop, Hiro Nakajima at third base and Dusty Coleman as the utility infielder filling in at second, short and third.

Meanwhile, RHP Josh Lindblom is likely to start the season in Sacramento’s starting rotation, along with River Cats returnees Arnold Leon and Andrew Werner as well as recent minor league free agent signees Phil Humber and Matt Buschmann.

Scott Kazmir - the $22 million dollar man

Scott Kazmir – the $22 million dollar man

At the major league level, new acquisitions Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson are clearly intended to take the place of free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour on the A’s pitching staff. With Kazmir guaranteed $11 million this season, Johnson expected to net $10-11 million in arbitration and seven starting pitchers currently on the staff, the A’s second-highest-paid starter, Brett Anderson at $8 million, is expected to be the A’s most appetizing bit of a trade bait to be dangled at next week’s Winter Meetings. And rumors already have the Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, Yankees, Indians and Mariners licking their lips over the left-hander.

Assuming the A’s are able to complete a deal for Anderson, the team’s 2014 rotation would then be comprised of five of the following six starters: Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Sonny Gray. Given the general health of starting pitchers, it wouldn’t be surprising if one out of any group of six starters wasn’t 100% healthy to start the season, so I wouldn’t bother spending too much time worrying about which five of the six will end up making the opening day cut – it’ll surely sort itself out by the end of spring.

As far as the A’s bullpen goes, new closer Jim Johnson, who has saved at least 50 games in each of the last two seasons, and new RHP Luke Gregerson, who has been one of the best setup men in the National League over the past couple of years, are set to join LHPs Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins and RHPs Ryan Cook and Jesse Chavez, who is out options and whom the A’s value as a long man and spot starter.

Since the team typically likes to carry seven relievers, there’s room for one more arm in the A’s pen, and RHP Dan Otero is clearly the most deserving candidate for the final spot. But since Fernando Abad, Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa and Fernando Rodriguez are all out of options, it’s possible that Otero could start the season being stashed at Sacramento, waiting for someone to hit the DL while one of the others is given a shot.

Over the past week and a half, the A’s farm system has suffered the loss of outfielder Michael Choice, second baseman Jemile Weeks, second baseman Chris Bostick and outfielder John Wooten. And in the last six months, the team lost its 2007 #1 draft pick James Simmons as a minor league free agent and traded away 2008’s #1 pick Jemile Weeks, 2009’s #1 pick Grant Green and 2010’s #1 pick Michael Choice. 2011’s #1 pick Sonny Gray has already made it to the majors, while 2012’s #1 pick Addison Russell should be starting the season at Double-A Midland and 2013’s #1 pick Billy McKinney is expected to start the year at Class-A Beloit.

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Brett Anderson – next up on the trading block?

As previously mentioned, LHP Brett Anderson is the most likely member of the A’s roster to be the next one to find himself on Billy Beane’s trading block, with infielder Alberto Callaspo not far behind. With six other starters on the staff, a long injury history and an $8 million salary attached to his name, Anderson is clearly expendable. And with a salary close to $5 million and no definite spot in the A’s lineup, Callaspo seems to just be taking up roster and salary space at this point.

Outfielders Seth Smith, Chris Young and Michael Choice have all recently departed, with Craig Gentry being the only outfielder the A’s have acquired to take their place. So it certainly seems like there could be room for one more big OF/DH bat to be added to the A’s lineup to help boost the team’s offensive output, possibly as the result of an Anderson deal.

It’s also been reported that the A’s have been inquiring about middle infielders and catchers in trade talks for Anderson. So the team could be looking for a second baseman to take the place of Eric Sogard, or a shortstop who would then enable Jed Lowrie to make the move to second, or possibly a catcher who would allow John Jaso to take over for Seth Smith in the designated hitter role.

The A’s major league roster currently shapes up with Jaso and Norris as the catching platoon, Donaldson, Lowrie, Sogard, Punto, Moss and Freiman serving around the infield, and Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick and Gentry making up the outfield. Since the team typically likes to carry thirteen position players, that leaves one last roster spot open. At this point, it would most likely be filled by Callaspo. But if he ends up being traded, then it would be Barton, unless, of course, the A’s acquire another big bat who would end up pushing Barton back to Sacramento.

With all the current question marks, one thing seems certain – Beane and company aren’t done dealing just yet, and the A’s roster is far from set. There are surely more changes to come. But for the time being, here’s how things are shaping up for the 2014 A’s and River Cats, assuming everyone who’s out of options can clear waivers.

Click here to see the possible 2014 A’s and River Cats rosters…

Friday, August 30th: Smith Pitches Hounds to Victory while Cats & Ports Fall as Russell Heads to Sacramento

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Midland RockHounds Pitcher Murphy Smith (7 IP / 8 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

Midland RockHounds RHP Murphy Smith (7 IP / 8 H / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  1

Tacoma Rainiers               7

LP – Hernandez 1-3 / 5.85

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Michael Choice

(1 for 3 / Walk)

 

LHP Carlos Hernandez allowed 3 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings of work to take his 3rd loss on Friday. The River Cats managed just 5 hits in the game. Outfielder Michael Choice singled and walked, while second baseman Jemile Weeks singled and doubled but also committed a pair of errors in the field, and third baseman Dusty Coleman went 0 for 4 in the game and is now 0 for 14 since joining the River Cats. In other news, shortstop Addison Russell is scheduled to join Sacramento on Saturday to help the Cats in their playoff run.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Tuesday, August 20th: Olson’s HR Helps Snappers Win, while Cats, Hounds & Ports All Come Up Short

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Beloit Snappers First Baseman Matt Olson (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Tucson Padres                  7

Sacramento River Cats  6

LP – Billings 13-6 / 4.21

HR – Peterson (12), Goebbert (2)

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Shane Peterson

(Home Run / 2 Walks / 2 Runs)

 

Starter Bruce Billings had a rough outing for the River Cats, allowing 7 runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings to take his 6th loss on Tuesday. Outfielder Shane Peterson hit his 12th home run, walked twice and scored twice, while designated hitter Jake Goebbert slugged his 2nd home run for Sacramento, and first baseman Anthony Aliotti had 2 hits and drove in a pair of runs for the River Cats. With Derek Norris breaking his toe in Oakland on Tuesday night, it’s possible that one of Sacramento’s catchers, David Freitas or Ryan Ortiz, could soon be seeing time in Oakland.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Monday, July 22nd: Rickles’ Slam Puts Snappers over the Top while Cats & Hounds Win and Ports Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Designated Hitter Nick Rickles (Grand Slam)

Beloit Snappers Designated Hitter            Nick Rickles (Grand Slam / GWRBI)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Colorado Springs Sky Sox   2

Sacramento River Cats  10

WP – Hall 1-0 / 0.00

HR – Taylor (14), Parrino (4), Weeks (3)

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Michael Taylor

(Grand Slam)

 

Outfielder Michael Taylor continued his recent power surge on Monday, slugging a grand slam in the 2nd inning for Sacramento, and he’s now hit 3 home runs in his last 4 games. Center fielder Jemile Weeks had 2 doubles and a home run and drove in a pair of runs for the River Cats. Starter Darren Byrd struck out 4 over 3 scoreless innings of work, while LHP Shaeffer Hall, who was just promoted from Stockton, contributed 3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win in his River Cats debut.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Thursday, July 11th: Muncy Hits 21st HR in Ports Win while Snappers Come Out On Top and Cats & Hounds Fall Short

 

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Stockton Ports First Baseman Max Muncy (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Stockton Ports First Baseman Max Muncy (Home Runs / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Fresno Grizzlies                 3

Sacramento River Cats  2

LP – Figueroa 2-2 / 4.61

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Second Baseman Hiro Nakajima

(Double / 2 RBIs)

 

Starter Bruce Billings allowed 2 runs over 6 innings of work and left with the game tied, but LHP Pedro Figueroa took the loss after the winning run scored in the 9th inning. Second baseman Hiro Nakajima doubled to drive in the River Cats’ only 2 runs of the game.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Saturday, July 6th: Ports Win Behind Dixon’s Blast while Cats, Hounds & Snappers All Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Stockton Ports Outfielder Rashun Dixon (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Stockton Ports Outfielder Rashun Dixon (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  2

Fresno Grizzlies                 5

LP – Figueroa 2-1 / 4.62

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Bruce Billings

(5 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 6 K)

 

Starter Bruce Billings had a solid outing for Sacramento on Saturday, allowing 2 runs and striking out 6 over 5 innings of work, while LHP Pedro Figueroa gave up a run in the 6th inning to take the loss, and RHP Kyler Newby surrendered 2 more runs in the 7th. Outfielder Shane Peterson had a pair of hits and drove in both the River Cats’ runs on the night.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Sunday, June 30th: Streich’s Stellar Outing Leads Snappers to Victory while Cats & Hounds Win and Ports Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

 Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich      (6 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Reno Aces                         3

Sacramento River Cats  5

WP – Figueroa 2-0 / 4.75

HR – Barton (5)

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Bruce Billings

(7 IP / 4 H / 2 ER / 1 BB / 5 K)

 

Starter Bruce Billings had a strong outing for Sacramento on Sunday, allowing 2 runs on just 4 hits while striking out 5 over 7 innings of work and left the game with a 1-run lead. LHP Pedro Figueroa gave up the tying run in the top of the 8th inning, but first baseman Daric Barton homered in the bottom of the 8th to give the River Cats the lead and hand Figueroa his 2nd win. RHP Brian Gordon got the final 3 outs for his 5th save, while Jemile Weeks made his second straight start in center field.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Tuesday, June 25th: Streich Stars Again for Snappers while Ports Win and Cats Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich (6 1/3 IP / 7 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 7 K)

 Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich      (6 1/3 IP / 7 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 7 K)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Colorado Springs Sky Sox  5

Sacramento River Cats   3

LP – Banwart 4-4 / 4.75

HR – Green (9)

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Second Baseman Grant Green

(Home Run / Double / 2 RBIs)

 

Starter Travis Banwart had a rocky outing for the River Cats on Tuesday, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits over just 4 1/3 innings to take his 4th loss. Second baseman Grant Green continued his hot hitting of late, collecting his 22nd double and his 9th home run and driving in a pair of runs for the River Cats.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Thursday, June 20th: Streich Pitches Snappers to Victory while Hounds Win, Cats & Ports Fall and Top Draft Picks McKinney & Pinder Impress

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / Win)

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Seth Streich      (7 IP / 4 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  4

Salt Lake Bees                  8

LP – Banwart 4-3 / 4.50

HR – Barton (4), Nakajima (3)

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Farmhand Of The Game:

First Baseman Daric Barton

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

 

RHP Travis Banwart had a rocky outing for the River Cats, allowing 5 runs over 6 innings to take his 3rd loss on Thursday. With Sacramento down by 5 runs in the top of the 7th inning, first baseman Daric Barton belted a 3-run homer to bring the River Cats within 2, and third baseman Hiro Nakajima followed with a solo shot to bring them within a run, but that was as close as the Cats would get. RHP Paul Smyth and LHP Pedro Figueroa combined to give up 3 runs in 2 innings of relief.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton, Beloit, Vermont & AZL A’s…

Thursday, June 13th: Ynoa Helps Snappers Clinch Playoff Spot while Ports Win Behind Russell’s Big Bat and Cats Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Michael Ynoa (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

Beloit Snappers Pitcher Michael Ynoa (5 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 1 BB / 5 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  1

Reno Aces                         3

LP – Billings 8-3 / 3.92

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Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Bruce Billings

(5 2/3 IP / 6 H / 2 ER / 5 BB / 4 K)

 

Starter Bruce Billings took the loss on Thursday despite doing a good job for the River Cats. He did allow 11 baserunners over 5 2/3 innings of work, but he held Reno to just 2 runs. Unfortunately, the River Cats managed just 6 hits in the game, with their only run coming when outfielder Shane Peterson singled in first baseman Daric Barton in the 7th inning.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…