Tag Archive for Ryan Cook

Friday, April 10th: Chad Pinder’s HR Is All Hounds Need while Ryan Cook Earns the Win in Barry Zito’s First Start for Nashville

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Chad Pinder (Home Run / 3 RBIs)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Midland RockHounds Shortstop Chad Pinder (Home Run / 3 RBI)

 

TEXAS LEAGUE  (Double-A)

NW Arkansas Naturals   2

Midland RockHounds   3

WP – Jensen 1-0 / 3.00

HR – Pinder (2)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Shortstop Chad Pinder

(Home Run / 3 RBIs)

Shortstop Chad Pinder provided all the offense the RockHounds would need when he hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 1st inning on Friday night in Midland. It was Pinder’s second home run in as many games to start the season. The Hounds had just 4 other hits on the night. Outfielder Bobby Crocker doubled to lead off the game, while first baseman Matt Olson walked, and both came in to score on Pinder’s round-tripper. Outfielder Chad Oberacker, third baseman Ryon Healy and second baseman Colin Walsh each singled in the game. Starter Chris Jensen turned in a solid outing, allowing 2 runs on just 3 hits over 6 innings to earn the win, while RHP Nate Long struck out 4 in 2 perfect innings of relief, and RHP Bobby Wahl tossed a scoreless 9th to earn his 1st save for the RockHounds.

Click here for more on Nashville, Stockton & Beloit…

A’s Trade Triple-A RHP Matt Buschmann to Tampa Bay to Make Way for Possible Addition of Barry Zito to Nashville Rotation

Could Barry Zito be Nashville bound?

Could Barry Zito be Nashville bound?

The A’s traded Triple-A RHP Matt Buschmann to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash on Thursday. We’€™ve also learned that, though no final decision has been made yet, the A’€™s front office thinks it’s likely that non-roster pitcher Barry Zito will agree to join the Triple-A Nashville Sounds to start the season. And if that is indeed the case, then the Buschmann deal would serve to open up a spot in Nashville’s starting rotation for Zito.

If Zito does agree to accept the Triple-A assignment, then the Sounds would open the season with a starting staff consisting of LHPs Zito, Brad Mills and Rudy Owens as well as RHPs Chris Bassitt and Arnold Leon. The team’s bullpen would likely include 8 of the following 10 relievers: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

In other news, the A’€™s released three more minor leaguers on Thursday. Outfielder Zeke DeVoss and RHPs Tyler Vail and Joseph Michaud were all given their releases. They join hurlers Paul Smyth, Murphy Smith, Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese, as well as first baseman Ryan Huck, who were all released earlier this week.

DeVoss was a light-hitting 24-year-old outfielder who’€™s appeared in just two dozen games above Class-A in his career and played primarily at Stockton last season. The 23-year-old Michaud was drafted in the 33rd round in 2013 and looked good at Vermont early last season but had a tough time after being promoted to Beloit. Also 23, Vail has mostly struggled since being selected by the A’€™s in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. He posted a career 4.56 ERA over 290 innings in the A’s minor league system.

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’s Farm’€™s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Release More Minor League Hurlers on Wednesday

Murphy Smith: One of the latest minor league hurlers to be released by the A's.

Murphy Smith: One of the latest minor league hurlers to be released by the A’s.

Hot on the heels of the releases of minor league hurlers Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese earlier this week, the A’s also released RHPs Murphy Smith and Paul Smyth on Wednesday.

After being moved to the bullpen last year, Smith posted a 4.73 ERA in 85 2/3 innings at Double-A Midland. Smyth, despite posting a 3.05 ERA in 59 relief innings at Triple-A Sacramento last year, was told earlier in the week that he would likely be sent back to Double-A this season. The reliever then requested his release and it was eventually granted by the organization on Wednesday.

In other news, it looks like RHP Nate Long, who was one of Midland’s top starters last year, will open the season on the disabled list or at extended spring training in Arizona. That means that, in addition to Zach Neal and Chris Jensen, Midland’s starting rotation is likely to include 3 of the following 4 hurlers: Chris Lamb, Jake Sanchez, Tim Atherton and Tanner Peters. Meanwhile, with Smith and Smyth’€™s release, the top candidates for Midland’s bullpen now appear to be Jeff Urlaub, Seth Frankoff, Tucker Healy, Ryan Dull, Ryan Doolittle, Kris Hall, Jonathan Joseph and Andres Avila.

As we mentioned yesterday, the Triple-A Nashville rotation appears to be set for the moment with RHPs Chris Bassitt, Arnold Leon and Matt Buschmann as well as LHPs Brad Mills and Rudy Owens. And there are currently 10 arms available for 8 slots in the Nashville bullpen: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

As we reported yesterday, there are whispers that the A’s have been talking to other teams about recently-demoted RHP Ryan Cook. And with the recent news that outfielder Coco Crisp may miss as much as the first two months of the season due to elbow surgery, it certainly wouldn’€™t be surprising to see the A’s package a couple of experienced bullpen arms like Cook and possibly Fernando Rodriguez for someone who could help provide the team with a little more depth in the outfield.

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’€™s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’€™s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Abundance of Arms Affecting A’s Minor League Pitching Prospects

Drew Granier: No longer in the A's plans.

Drew Granier: No longer in the A’s plans.

When the A’€™s signed 7 minor league free agents pitchers, re-signed 2 of their own minor league free agent hurlers, and acquired a number of other young arms in trades this offseason, it was inevitable that there was going to be a bit of a roster crunch at the upper levels of the minor league system once spring training began to wrap up. And that’€™s exactly what’s happening now.

It appears that the pitching staff at the A’s new Triple-A Nashville affiliate will consist entirely of pitchers currently on the 40-man roster and minor league free agent signees, plus a pair of fairly experienced arms in Fernando Rodriguez and Angel Castro. So if you’re a pitcher not on the 40-man roster or a minor league free agent signee, then it’s likely that you’€™re bound to wind up at the Double-A level or below.

Another effect of this roster crunch has been the release of a number of arms in the past week, including Andrew Werner, Drew Granier, Deck McGuire, Brandon “€œBranch”€ Kloess and Dakota Freese. And this week, we heard that RHPs Nate Long, Ryan Doolittle, Paul Smyth and Seth Frankoff were all being ticketed for Midland barring any last-minute trades.

With Nashville’€™s Triple-A rotation already full, it looks like RHP Zach Neal will be sent down to anchor Midland’s rotation, while RHPs Nate Long and Chris Jensen, both of whom had solid seasons at Double-A last year, will be returning to the RockHounds rotation once again. Other potential candidates for Midland’s starting staff include Chris Lamb, Jake Sanchez, Tim Atherton and Tanner Peters. RHP Sean Murphy, who spent most of last season in the RockHounds rotation, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and will sit out the season.

Meanwhile, at Nashville, the starting rotation should consist of RHPs Chris Bassitt, Arnold Leon and Matt Buschmann as well as LHPs Brad Mills and Rudy Owens. LHP Sean Nolin will likely join the Nashville rotation once he’€™s fully recovered from sports hernia surgery. The Nashville bullpen is still a little crowded with 10 arms currently available to fill 8 slots: Ryan Cook, Eury De La Rosa, Fernando Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Brock Huntzinger, Kevin Whelan, Ryan Verdugo, Jim Fuller, Chad Smith and Angel Castro.

It’€™s expected that the A’s may make a couple of deals before opening day to help clear the pitching logjam at the upper levels of the system. And to that end, it’s been whispered that the A’s have been talking to other teams about recently-demoted RHP Ryan Cook. But even if the A’€™s were to trade Cook, that might not be the last deal involving a young hurler that the team will end up making before opening day arrives.

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Oakland A’s & Nashville Sounds 2015 Roster Outlook

It was another busy offseason for A's GM Billy Beane

A’s GM Billy Beane was a busy boy this winter

For the moment, as we sit here perched on the precipice of February, let’s go out on a limb and assume that the majority of the A’s offseason work is now finally done – which is never an entirely safe bet with general manager Billy Beane at the helm. But considering the massive amount of roster turnover and the vast number of new players the team has acquired, the shape of the A’s major league roster actually appears to be fairly clear at this point. While little has changed in the A’s outfield, the rest of the roster will look plenty different from the team that took the field to start 2014…

 

2015 OAKLAND A’S

While last year’s team started out with the tandem of John Jaso and Derek Norris behind the plate, the 2015 model figures to count on a catching platoon of fan-favorite Stephen Vogt and newly-acquired Josh Phegley, who arrived from the White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade.

The A’s 2015 starting infield looks to be entirely different from 2014, with Eric Sogard likely to be the only returning infielder on the roster, but this time in a utility role. 25-year-old Brett Lawrie will take over for Josh Donaldson at the hot corner, while Berkeley native Marcus Semien has been annointed as the team’s new shortstop. He’ll be mentored up the middle by former All-Star Ben Zobrist, who is set to be the team’s primary second baseman. Slugger Ike Davis should be stationed at first base against right-handers with free-agent catch Billy Butler as the designated hitter, while Butler should take over at first against lefties with Rule-5 pick Mark Canha serving in the DH spot as a sort of new-fangled Nate Freiman. With Zobrist taking over at second, last year’s primary second baseman and the almost-face-of-MLB, Eric Sogard, will likely serve in a utility role, backing up Zobrist at second, Semien at short and Lawrie at third. Sogard has experience at all three positions in both the majors and the minors.

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A's fans forget Josh Donaldson?

Brett Lawrie: Can he make A’s fans forget Josh Donaldson?

As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of new faces in the A’s outfield in 2015. Josh Reddick returns as the team’s rifle-armed right fielder, while Coco Crisp will man center field, as long as his health allows – and A’s fans better hope and pray that’s a lot – and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry should share duties in left field. Of course, the 2015 version of the A’s does possess similar versatility to last year’s model. If needed, Zobrist is perfectly capable of playing in the outfield, with Sogard slotting in at second. Canha can also do time in the outfield if needed and, like Sogard, Semien has played all over the infield with the exception of first base.

As far as the team’s starting rotation goes, only two members seem to be certain locks – veteran lefty Scott Kazmir and young righty Sonny Gray. General manager Billy Beane did mention in a conference call with reporters that returning lefty Drew Pomeranz and newly-acquired right-handers Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman may have “the inside track” for the remaining rotation spots. So assuming the GM’s opinion counts for something, one would have to assume that’s the group that’s most likely to make up the team’s starting five, though new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin will surely be in on the competition as well and much will clearly depend on how spring training plays out.

It appears that the team may prefer to have Jesse Chavez back in the bullpen as a reliable long man and occasional spot starter if needed. And with Sean Doolittle set to miss the start of the season with shoulder issues, former Nationals closer Tyler Clippard is likely the leading candidate to take over Doolittle’s spot as the last man on the mound for the A’s. Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty are set to be the team’s lefties out of the ‘pen, with Dan Otero and Ryan Cook available from the right side. That leaves one last bullpen spot available while Doolittle’s doing time on the DL. Since he’s out of options, it might be safe to give Evan Scribner the edge, though lefty Eury De La Rosa (acquired from Arizona) and righty R.J. Alvarez (picked up from the Padres) could also be distinct possibilities.

Of course, the team is counting on Doolittle to return at some point. And let’s not forget that A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are both working their way back from Tommy John surgery with midseason returns quite possible for the pair.

 

2015 NASHVILLE SOUNDS

With all the young players the team acquired in trades, and plenty of minor league free agent signees as well, there will be a bit of a roster crunch at the top levels of the A’s farm system in 2015. And it’s going to be particularly difficult for many players to make the move up from Midland, with the possible exception of first baseman Max Muncy with the team’s top prospect, Matt Olson, set to take over at first for Midland in 2015. As things now stand, it appears that there are about 16 position players competing for what is typically 12 roster spots and 23 pitchers competing for what is typically 13 spots on the pitching staff at the A’s Triple-A affiliate. So let’s take a look at some of the players most likely to find themselves playing in Nashville as the PCL team begins its first season as the A’s top affiliate.

The team has two very experienced minor league catchers who’ve had the chance to get their feet wet in the majors and who’ll be waiting in the wings at Nashville in 2015. 28-year-old, lefty-swinging Bryan Anderson has caught 755 minor league games and has appeared in the majors with the Cardinals and the White Sox and even managed to get one at-bat with the A’s last year, while 34-year-old switch-hitter Luke Carlin has been behind the plate for 773 minor league games and has made appearances with San Diego, Arizona and Cleveland.

One of the A’s most exciting minor leaguers, speed-burner Billy Burns, should have the chance to run around the bases and tear up the turf in center field for Nashville in 2015. He’ll likely be flanked by a pair of minor league veterans – 29-year-old Matt Angle and 31-year-old Jason Pridie, who’s appeared with the Twins, the Mets, the Phillies, the Orioles and the Rockies – along with Josh Whitaker, who split last season between Sacramento and Midland.

Nashville’s infield should be anchored up the middle by shortstop Andy Parrino, newly-acquired second baseman Joe Wendle, and Tyler Ladendorf, who split time last season between second base and shortstop and can also play a little in the outfield. The corners could be a little crowded with Alden Carrithers returning at third base, newly-acquired Rangel Ravelo set to see time at third and first, Nate Freiman likely to play first and DH, as is Max Muncy, and Anthony Aliotti, who spent time at first as well as in the outfield for Sacramento last season, is also in the mix.

Infielders Colin Walsh and Niuman Romero, who was signed as a minor league free agent, will also be battling for a spot on the Nashville roster, but it might be tough unless injuries, trades or releases unexpectedly open the door to a roster spot. Due to the roster crunch, Romero, who’s spent over 700 minor league games at shortstop and second base, may end up sharing middle infield duties with Chad Pinder at Midland, where there aren’t a lot of legitimate shortstop options with the departure of Daniel Robertson in the Ben Zobrist deal with Tampa Bay.

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

Billy Burns: Will he set a new land speed record in Nashville?

When it comes to the Sounds’ starting rotation, between all the new acquisitions, minor league free agent signees and returning players, there should be an abundance of starting pitchers available at the Triple-A level that will make it almost impossible, barring some unexpected injuries, for any starters to make the move up from Midland, including deserving candidates like Nate Long and Chris Jensen. It also means that some better known pitching prospects like former 1st-rounder Deck McGuire aren’t likely to have much of a shot at starting the season with the Sounds.

If, as speculated, Kazmir, Gray, Hahn, Pomeranz and Graveman end up comprising the A’s starting five, that would leave seven solid candidates for the Sounds’ starting rotation, six of whom will be in major league camp this spring. Three of them are currently on the A’s 40-man roster and would probably be first in line – new acquisitions Chris Bassitt and Sean Nolin along with returning righty Arnold Leon – while minor league free agent additions Brad Mills and Rudy Owens, both of whom have gotten a taste of life in the majors, and returning righty Matt Buschmann would all be solid options. Zach Neal, who was one of Sacramento’s most solid starters last season, may be at a bit of a disadvantage since he won’t be participating in the major league camp with the others. But depending on how everything shakes out, they all have a legitimate shot at starting the season in the Sounds’ starting rotation.

Thanks to multiple minor league free agent signings, the bullpen picture is even more crowded, with at least 16 pitchers competing for what will likely be 8 bullpen spots in Nashville. Two who were acquired in trades during the offseason, lefty Eury De La Rosa and righty R.J. Alvarez, are on the 40-man roster, as is righty Taylor Thompson, who was claimed off waivers. As long as they don’t make the major league roster, they should all be assured spots, as should righty Fernando Rodriguez, who posted a 1.97 ERA at Sacramento and allowed 1 run in 7 appearances for the A’s last season.

That leaves five veteran minor league free agent signees – righties Kevin Whelan and Brock Huntzinger, lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (yes, he throws with both arms!) – five returning players who spent all or part of last season at Sacramento – righties Angel Castro, Paul Smyth, Seth Frankoff and Tucker Healy, plus lefty Jeff Urlaub – and two solid pitching prospects who had strong seasons at Midland last year – righties Ryan Dull and Ryan Doolittle – all competing for the remaining four spots in the Sounds’ bullpen.

Of course, one never knows what unexpected injuries might sideline some arms to start the season but, regardless, a number of these names who don’t make the cut with the Sounds are bound to end up in the bullpen at Midland, where Nate Long, Chris Jensen, Sean Murphy and Drew Granier could all be returning to the RockHounds’ rotation this season, perhaps along with someone like Deck McGuire.

Speaking of the A’s Double-A affiliate, some of the team’s top prospects will be found in Midland’s infield this year, with Matt Olson at first, Renato Nunez at third, and Chad Pinder and Ryon Healy in the infield mix there as well. Top catching prospect Bruce Maxwell will be competing for a spot behind the plate with Blake Forsythe and Ryan Ortiz, as well as fellow backstops Beau Taylor and Carson Blair. Meanwhile, the outfield should primarily be comprised of returning RockHounds like Kent Matthes, Chad Oberacker and Conner Crumbliss, with the possible addition of Jaycob Brugman, who proved himself at both Beloit and Stockton last season.

But let’s clearly lay out the possible players on your 2015 Oakland A’s and Nashville Sounds opening day rosters right here (just click on each player’s name below to view their complete stats page)…

Meet Your 2015 Oakland A’s!

A's GM Billy Beane: Rebuilding or retooling for another run?

A’s GM Billy Beane: Rebuilding or retooling for another run?

 

With the A’s heart-breaking 2014 campaign now over, the A’s faithful are left wondering, “What’s next?” But before we examine the possible answers to that question, let’s first take a look at who’s set to stay and who’s set to go…

 

A’s Eligible Free Agents:

Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Luke Gregerson, Jed Lowrie, Alberto Callaspo, Geovany Soto, Jonny Gomes, Adam Dunn

 

A’s Arbitration Eligible Players:

Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, John Jaso, Eric Sogard, Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry, Kyle Blanks, Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Chavez, Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad, Fernando Rodriguez, Jarrod Parker

 

A’s Pitchers under Team Control in 2015:

Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Sean Doolittle, Fernando Abad, Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Cook, Dan Otero, Evan Scribner, Fernando Rodriguez, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Josh Lindblom

 

A’s Hitters under Team Control in 2015:

John Jaso, Stephen Vogt, Derek Norris, Eric Sogard, Nick Punto, Andy Parrino, Josh Donaldson, Nate Freiman, Kyle Blanks, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry

 

bbbilly-beane1c

Will Billy be wheelin’ and dealin’ this winter?

Assuming the A’s aren’t likely to re-sign any of the team’s potential free agents, the A’s available roster of players for the 2015 season doesn’t really look all that different from the roster of players the team started 2014 with. But with this season’s disappointment fresh in A’s fans’ hearts and minds, many have been calling for general manager Billy Beane and his staff to dismantle the current roster and begin the rebuild. If recent comments are any indication though, it looks like Beane and company aren’t ready for a rebuild quite yet and would rather retool for at least one more go-‘round with this current crop of A’s players. Beane was quoted in Bay Area media reports this week as saying that the A’s would be looking for a right-handed bat and that the shortstop position was also an area of concern for him. Those don’t exactly sound like the sentiments of a man looking to tear things down but rather of a man looking to build things back up.

When it comes to pitching, the A’s could actually be in a position to start off the 2015 season with a slightly stronger rotation than the team had in place at the start of 2014. Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz are all under team control and all performed well when given a shot in the rotation last year. The team began 2014 with Kazmir, Gray and Chavez in the rotation, along with Dan Straily and Tommy Milone. So Samardzija and Pomeranz would seem to represent something of an upgrade over Straily and Milone. Josh Lindblom should remain available at Triple-A, while A.J. Griffin could be ready to rejoin the rotation at some point during the season as he returns from Tommy John surgery. Jarrod Parker shouldn’t necessarily be counted on to rejoin the rotation though, since this is his second Tommy John surgery – only one player, Chris Capuano, has returned to a starting role after a second Tommy John surgery – but it’s possible that Parker could ultimately end up figuring into the A’s bullpen mix.

What will Doo do in 2015?

What will Doo do in 2015?

Sean Doolittle should return to the closer role, with Ryan Cook, Dan Otero, Fernando Abad and Eric O’Flaherty all coming back in supporting roles. With Luke Gregerson likely to depart via free agency and Jesse Chavez looking to return to the rotation, Evan Scribner and Fernando Rodriguez should have a good shot at stepping into their roles, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see the A’s pick up a couple of affordable arms with high upside (a la Fernando Abad) to add to the competition for the final bullpen spots. But other than that, there really isn’t that much work for the A’s front office to have to do on the pitching side of things this offseason.

When it comes to the team’s position players, while many names remain the same, there could be a couple of notable holes to try to fill. Catchers Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso are all under team control. While Vogt should be ready to get back behind the plate again after offseason foot surgery, Jaso’s catching days could be coming to an end and his days as a designated hitter may be about to begin. With Jed Lowrie set to test the free agent waters, the A’s middle infielder corps currently consists of Eric Sogard, Nick Punto and Andy Parrino, which clearly will not suffice. Brandon Moss should return to platoon at first base with Kyle Blanks if he’s healthy, or Nate Freiman if he’s not. And in the outfield, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry all remain under the A’s control for 2015.

So if the A’s front office is looking to retool for 2015, Beane’s comments this week about a right-handed bat and a shortstop being among the team’s areas of need make perfect sense. A productive right-handed hitting outfielder who could fill the role of the departed Yoenis Cespedes would be a big step towards getting the A’s offense back on track. Any number of players due to hit the free agent market or available on the trade market could fill that role. Finding a credible shortstop to take Lowrie’s place could be a little more challenging – especially since former shortstop-of-the-future Addison Russell was dealt away to the Cubs and new shortstop-of-the-future Daniel Robertson is just 20 and still likely a couple of years away – but it might not be quite as challenging as some might think.

Would Stew do a deal with the A's?

Would Stew do a deal with the A’s?

Though some of them will surely be beyond the A’s budget, shortstops such as Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew, Clint Barmes, Mike Aviles and Rafael Furcal are all expected to hit the free agent market this offseason. But there could also be some interesting opportunities to be found with one the A’s most frequent trade partners. The Arizona Diamondbacks, now run by former A’s and long-time Beane acquaintances Dave Stewart and Tony LaRussa, currently control four credible shortstops, three of whom – Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and, yes, Cliff Pennington – all had better WARs this season than Jed Lowrie according to Baseball-Reference, while the fourth, Nick Ahmed, is a former 2nd-round draft pick who turned in a solid .312/.373/.425 slash line at Triple-A in 2014.

So while many disappointed A’s fans might be calling for a rebuild, the A’s front office looks like it may be planning on retooling for another run in 2015. With staff ace Jeff Samardzija now firmly atop the A’s starting rotation – and last year’s goat Jim Johnson nowhere to be found around the bullpen – if Beane and company can manage to come up with a credible shortstop to replace Lowrie and a solid right-handed bat to fill Cespedes’ role in the lineup, then the A’s could very well end up heading into the 2015 season with a slightly stronger roster than they had when they kicked off the 2014 campaign. The ball is now in Billy’s court – let the offseason wheeling and dealing begin!

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Saturday, May 31st: Buschmann & Atherton Pitch Cats & Ports to Victory while Snappers Win in Extras and Hounds Fall

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Matt Buschmann (7 IP / 7 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

A’s Farmhand Of The Day: Sacramento River Cats Pitcher Matt Buschmann (7 IP / 7 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  12

Fresno Grizzlies                    3

WP – Buschmann 4-0 / 4.28

HR – Taylor (5), Vogt (3), Barton (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Pitcher Matt Buschmann

(7 IP / 7 H / 2 ER / 0 BB / 9 K / Win)

RHP Matt Buschmann delivered an impressive start for Sacramento on Saturday, allowing 3 runs, just 2 earned, while walking none and striking out 9 over 7 innings of work to earn his 4th win for the Cats. Catcher Stephen Vogt continued his hot hitting, notching a double along with a 3-run homer, while outfielder Michael Taylor homered and drove in 3, and first baseman Daric Barton belted his 1st home run for the River Cats. With Saturday’s victory, Sacramento has now won 10 of its last 11 games.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Saturday, April 5th: Taylor Homers to Lead Cats to Victory while Ports Win, Hounds Lose & Snappers Split Twinbill

 

A’s Farmhand Of The Day

Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Michael Taylor (Home Run / Double / 3 RBIs)

Sacramento River Cats Outfielder Michael Taylor (HR / Double / 3 RBIs)

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE  (Triple-A)

Sacramento River Cats  12

Salt Lake Bees                    7

WP – Blanton 1-0 / 9.00

HR – Taylor (1)

Farmhand Of The Game:

Outfielder Michael Taylor

(Home Run / Double / 3 RBIs)

River Cats’ all-time hit-leader Michael Taylor tagged a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to give Sacramento the lead, and the team never looked back, tacking on ten more runs before the night was through. Taylor doubled in another run, while shortstop Tyler Ladendorf singled, doubled and drove in 3, outfielder Jake Goebbert tripled, doubled and drove in 2, and third baseman Alden Carrithers collected 3 hits and drove in a pair. Joe Blanton, making his first start since returning to the A’s organization, allowed 6 runs, 5 earned, on 9 hits over 5 innings of work to pick up the win for the Cats.

Click here for more on Midland, Stockton & Beloit…

Unexpected Injuries & Surprising Spring Performances Could Change the Face of the A’s Opening Day Roster

Bob Melvin

A’s manager Bob Melvin might end up with a few tricky decisions to have to make.

This was originally expected to be a rare spring where most of the A’s roster was pretty much set, with very few roster questions left to be answered. Possibly the biggest question when camp opened was – who would be the 13th position player to make the squad?

For much of the offseason, there was some uncertainty surrounding John Jaso’s physical status and manager Bob Melvin frequently mentioned his name as a likely candidate to get lots of at-bats as the team’s designated hitter. So it was expected the A’s would probably need to carry three catchers, meaning that lefty-swinging backstop Stephen Vogt, who ably filled in for Jaso when he went down last season, would likely make the team.

Once games got going though, it started to look like Jaso was ready to reclaim his spot behind the plate and it seemed that first baseman Daric Barton, who is out of options, was emerging as the favorite to claim the final roster spot. That wasn’t the only new development to shake up the A’s roster picture though.

Reliever Ryan Cook reported to camp with a sore shoulder that kept him off the mound, newly-acquired outfielder Craig Gentry arrived in Arizona with a strained back that kept him out of the lineup and, just this weekend, first baseman Barton had to be pulled from Saturday’s contest against Colorado after straining his left hamstring – and as we all know, hamstring issues can be notoriously tricky.

Prior to tweaking his hamstring though, Barton had been garnering attention as one of the A’s hottest hitters in the early spring, posting a .444/.643/.667 slash line in his first 7 games. But a number of other players had also been busy putting themselves on the map by coming out of the box with strong spring performances, including Barton’s chief competitor for the final roster spot, catcher Stephen Vogt, along with a trio of outfielders – veteran Sam Fuld, former top prospect Michael Taylor and young speed-burner Billy Burns – while right-handed reliever Evan Scribner was also doing his best to impress out of the bullpen.

Clearly, between some unexpected injuries and some surprising early spring performances, there could be a few changes to the face of the A’s opening day roster. So let’s take at how things are shaping up with a little over three weeks to go until opening day…

THE INJURED

Ryan Cook

rc77-19452-JCounted on as one of the A’s key setup men, Cook arrived in camp with a sore shoulder and, more than three weeks after pitchers first reported, he still hasn’t faced live batters. Even if the right-hander is able to get into a game in the next week, and doesn’t suffer any setbacks, he’s clearly behind schedule. And it’s entirely possible that Cook could end up needing a little extra time in extended spring training before the team feels he’s totally game-ready.

Craig Gentry

cg849bb723307cc864df6eb3f99430e6f4bOne of the A’s key offseason acquisitions, the team is expecting Gentry  to be a force in the lineup against left-handed starters and to do a better job filling in for the A’s starting outfielders than Chris Young did in that role last year. But the player who was known as “Kitten Face” in Texas reported to camp with a lower back strain and, after a week and a half’s worth of games, he still hasn’t been cleared to make an appearance in the field. The A’s are counting on Gentry to lend a dynamic presence to the lineup but, if his back is still bugging him in a couple of weeks, then he might just end up starting the season on the sidelines.

Daric Barton

dbimagesA long-serving presence in the A’s picture, the team’s on-again/off-again first baseman appeared to be on-again after a strong early spring performance and Jaso’s seeming return to normal behind the plate, minimizing the need for the team to carry three catchers and enabling the A’s to avoid having to expose Barton to waivers. But after this weekend’s hamstring strain, he could very well be off-again. There’s no report yet on the severity of the strain, but hamstrings are always a tricky issue, and it’s rarely wise to expect a quick or smooth road to recovery.

THE OPPORTUNISTS

Evan Scribner

es1275311bScribner started the spring as essentially the 8th man in a 7-man bullpen. Manager Bob Melvin has all but said that Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero, Jesse Chavez, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook are set. But with only one left-hander in that group and one of the team’s most promising left-handers, Fernando Abad, out of options, it’s been expected that Scribner, who is also out of options, would be the odd man out. But probably the only pitchers who’ve been more effective than Scribner so far this spring would be Chavez, Doolittle and possibly right-hander Arnold Leon. With Doolittle and Chavez already locks and Leon slated to start the season in the River Cats rotation, if Cook is unable to be in the A’s bullpen on opening day, then Scribner is obviously the A’s go-to guy. His strong performance so far this spring and the fact that he’s out of options should make the choice an easy one.

Stephen Vogt

sv9147When camp opened, the assumption was that Vogt was likely to claim the A’s final roster spot. With manager Bob Melvin repeatedly mentioning that John Jaso might be getting a lot of at-bats as the team’s designated hitter this year, the need for the team to carry a third catcher seemed obvious. And Vogt did a great job of endearing himself to A’s fans and staff alike when he filled in for Jaso late last season and in the playoffs, where he started every game and came up with the key hit for the A’s in their Game #2 victory. But as spring games got going and Jaso seemed ready to re-establish himself behind the plate and Daric Barton was busy getting on base about two-thirds of the time, carrying a third catcher seem to decrease in importance and protecting Barton from waivers seemed to increase in importance, leaving Vogt destined for a spot behind the plate in Sacramento. But if Barton’s strained hamstring keeps him out of action for a few weeks, then Vogt, who’s been one of the team’s best hitters early this spring, posting a .467/.529/.667 slash line, could have a shot at reclaiming his roster spot with the A’s.

Sam Fuld

sfSamSigned fairly late in the game to a minor-league contract, there originally didn’t appear to be much opportunity for Fuld to make the team. The outfield was set with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and John Reddick, with Craig Gentry as the fourth outfielder and first baseman Brandon Moss also available to fill in in the outfield. But Fuld has been one of the team’s hottest hitters so far this spring, with a .304/.360/.565 slash line, and has impressed manager Bob Melvin and his staff with his play in the field. And if either Gentry or Barton isn’t ready to go by opening day, Fuld is well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunity. Like Barton, he’s a left-handed hitter and, like Gentry, he can also play center field if needed. So if the A’s end up needing a replacement for either of those two players, Fuld is well-suited to fill the bill. His hot spring and the fact that he has an opt-out clause that he can exercise if he doesn’t make the opening day roster, don’t hurt his chances either.

Michael Taylor

mtMichael+Taylor+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+dBTGnNudkqnlThe A’s former top prospect and the River Cats’ all-time hit leader, Taylor appeared to be nearing a dead end with the A’s this spring as he was out of options and seemingly without a major league roster spot available to shoot for. But after a heart-to-heart talk with manager Bob Melvin early this spring, he suddenly started looking like a new man in the batter’s box. And Taylor has been one of the A’s most productive hitters thus far, posting a .333/.379/.556 slash line while playing every day this spring. With Fuld’s ability to play center field though, it might take both Barton and Gentry being unavailable on opening day for Taylor to have a shot at making the roster. But if both of them are out and Fuld claims one of the available spots, then Taylor might make the most logical replacement for Gentry’s right-handed bat against left-handers, while the A’s put off exposing the former top prospect to waivers and give him one last shot to show what he can do.

Nate Freiman

nfNate+Freiman+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+CFUGtYuCl4Ll2The right-handed half of the A’s first-base platoon in 2013, it’s been assumed that Freiman was ticketed for Sacramento in 2014. But could he have the chance to hang on to his roster spot if fellow first baseman Barton starts the season on the shelf? It’s possible, but the problem with Freiman is that he’s essentially a one-trick pony. He can only play first base and he can only hit left-handed pitching, so he’s basically cut out to be the right-handed half of a first base platoon. But with the team seemingly intent on installing Alberto Callaspo in that position at this point, there’s really not much room for Freiman on the roster. Besides, his .167/.286/.333 slash line so far this spring hasn’t been particularly impressive. And even if both Barton and Gentry aren’t ready to go on opening day, and the team wants to fill one of those spots with a right-handed bat to replace Gentry’s, why wouldn’t they go with Taylor, who’s out of options, while they can stash Freiman at Sacramento? Freiman’s best shot at making the roster would most likely come not as a result of injury but rather as the result of a trade, namely of the man who’s most likely to take his job – Mr. Callaspo.

Billy Burns

bbu1275322bThe player who baseball columnist Ken Rosenthal called “the most intriguing player in the A’s camp” could be the wild card in all this. Acquired from the Nationals in the Jerry Blevins deal, Burns has excited A’s fans and staff alike this spring with his ability to get on base and his blazing speed. After a week and a half’s worth of spring games, he sports a .406 OBP. And at one point, his 7 stolen bases not only led all players but led all teams in the Cactus League. Burns has clearly generated a lot of excitement and impressed a lot of the right people this spring, but it’s important to remember that the young switch-hitter is still relatively inexperienced, having played just 30 games above Class-A in his career. So while he undoubtedly has the skills to impress and excite, the stars might really have to be aligned perfectly for Burns to get his shot at this point.

Stay tuned for our on-the-scene reports from spring training next week!

*          *          *

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league updates e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s & River Cats Roster Outlook

Scott Kazmir - the A's $22 million dollar man

Scott Kazmir – the $22 million dollar man

It appears that most of the A’s off-season work is done. The team has found capable replacements for departing free agents Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour and Chris Young and filled a few other holes as well. It’s possible that someone like Alberto Callaspo, who’s set to earn close to $5 million and doesn’t have a full-time position, could still end up being traded before spring training is through. It’s possible that a few younger players with major league experience who are out of options like outfielder Michael Taylor or reliever Evan Scribner could be dealt as well. But for the most part, barring any unforeseen injury issues, it looks like the A’s are now holding most of the cards they’ll be playing to start the 2014 season. And it’s becoming increasingly clear who most of the players are that Sacramento River Cats fans can expect to be seeing at Raley Field in 2014 as well.

 

2014 OAKLAND A’S

One area that seems to be most clearly set for the team is the outfield, with Josh Reddick in right, Coco Crisp in center, Yoenis Cespedes in left and newcomer Craig Gentry serving as the fourth outfielder. The left side of the infield will also remain in place for the A’s, with the team’s most valuable player in 2014, Josh Donaldson, manning the hot corner and the team’s best-hitting shortstop in recent memory, Jed Lowrie, returning to shortstop.

The other four positions in the lineup – second base, first base, catcher and designated hitter – are the areas where the A’s will deploy their patented platoons. Free agent infielder Nick Punto is likely to take over for Adam Rosales and Callaspo as Eric Sogard’s platoon partner at second base. And based on manager Bob Melvin’s comments, it seems like that might push Callaspo into the role of Brandon Moss’s platoon partner at first base, which would then push Nate Freiman to Sacramento along with fellow first baseman Daric Barton.

Craig "Kitten Face" Gentry

Craig “Kitten Face” Gentry

Melvin’s recent comments also make it sound like John Jaso is likely to get most of the DH at-bats, replacing the departed Seth Smith in that position, while against left-handers, Craig Gentry would join the lineup in left field with Yoenis Cespedes moving into the DH spot. With Jaso getting most of the DH at-bats, that requires the A’s to carry a third catcher, and that’s most likely to be Stephen Vogt, who got plenty of valuable experience last year down the stretch and in the postseason for the A’s. And his left-handed bat is the perfect complement to righty-swinging backstop Derek Norris, who hit just .149 against right-handed pitching last year.

Basically, Vogt would be replacing Jaso in the catching platoon, just as he did late last year, with Jaso moving out from behind the plate to replace Seth Smith in the DH platoon, while Punto replaces Callaspo in the second base platoon, Callaspo replaces Freiman in the first place platoon and Craig Gentry takes Chris Young’s place in the lineup against left-handers.

As far as the pitching staff goes, the plan seems pretty clear. Free agent lefty Scott Kazmir will take over for Bartolo Colon as the veteran presence in the team’s starting rotation, while young righty Sonny Gray appears set to take lefty Tommy Milone’s spot in the rotation, just as he did late last season, with Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily rounding out the starting five.

Meanwhile, in the bullpen, Jim Johnson will take over for Grant Balfour as the team’s closer, while top-notch setup man Luke Gregerson will take the roster spot that Pat Neshek occupied most of last season and lefty Fernando Abad is likely to take Jerry Blevins’ spot on the left side of the bullpen, with fellow lefty Sean Doolittle and righties Ryan Cook, Jesse Chavez and Dan Otero rounding out the rest of the A’s bullpen – though it’s possible that, since he’s out of options, the team could also decide to have Evan Scribner take Otero’s spot to start the season. The A’s will also likely start the season with two relievers who are both recovering from Tommy John surgery on the disabled list – recently-signed free agent lefty Eric O’Flaherty and righty Fernando Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Astros in the Jed Lowrie deal.

 

2014 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

If we make the preceding assumptions about the major league roster, then the River Cats roster starts to fall pretty clearly into place. Of course, there are a few players who are out of options, and it’s quite possible that at least one of them won’t end up clearing waivers.

Daric Barton: Back in River City?

Daric Barton: Back in River City?

The A’s have two veteran minor league catchers to handle the River Cats pitching staff, returning backstop Luke Montz along with Chris Gimenez, who was recently claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the team looks to be overloaded with first basemen, with Daric Barton, Nate Freiman and Anthony Aliotti all looking for playing time – unless the A’s end up trading Callaspo and opening up a roster spot for Freiman as Brandon Moss’s platoon partner. If not, there could still be plenty of playing time to be found for all three between the first base and the designated hitter spot.

Returning River Cat Andy Parrino appears to be set at shortstop. Hiro Nakajima is likely to get the majority of starts at third base while also picking up at-bats at other positions around the infield, while free agent signees Jose Martinez and Alden Carrithers should get most of the playing time at second base. Shane Peterson is set to return to Sacramento’s outfield, along with Jake Goebbert and, if they clear waivers, veteran minor leaguers Michael Taylor and Corey Brown (who was recently designated for assignment).

The River Cats should have plenty of worthy contenders for their starting rotation. If the A’s other five starters are all healthy to start the season, then Tommy Milone is likely to anchor Sacramento’s starting five, along with recently-acquired righty Josh Lindblom and lefty Drew Pomeranz. Returning River Cats Andrew Werner and Arnold Leon will also be competing for a spot as well as free agent signees Phil Humber and Matt Buschmann, with those don’t make the rotation starting the season in the River Cats bullpen. If he clears waivers, they’re likely to be joined there by Evan Scribner, along with returning River Cats Paul Smyth and Fernando Nieve and free agent signees Deryk Hooker and Jose Flores as well as Triple-A Rule 5 draftee Tim Atherton.

So that’s how things seem to be shaping up for both the A’s and the River Cats, assuming everyone clears waivers and Billy Beane doesn’t have any last-minute surprises up his sleeve!

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