Results tagged ‘ Seth Smith ’

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…

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A’s, River Cats’ & RockHounds’ Roster Projections

Will Hiro have to be a hero in Sacramento?

Will Hiro still be smiling in Sacramento?

We’re now less than a week away from opening day, and Jemile Weeks has been optioned to Sacramento, Adam Rosales has been placed on the disabled list, and Hiro Nakajima has been struggling and is now dealing with a strained hamstring. And thanks to these recent developments, it looks like the A’s opening day roster may now be rounding into shape – and along with it, the Sacramento River Cats’ and Midland RockHounds’ rosters too. Of course, plenty can still change and nothing is etched in stone. There haven’t been any official announcements from the team yet and there probably won’t be until about 24 hours before opening day, but below are our projected opening day rosters for the A’s and their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates based on what we think we know at this point…

 

PROJECTED 2013 OAKLAND A’S ROSTER

Derek Norris

Derek Norris

–CATCHERS–

John Jaso C

Derek Norris C

–INFIELDERS–

Brandon Moss 1B

Nate Freiman 1B

Eric Sogard 2B

Scott Sizemore 2B

Jed Lowrie SS

Josh Donaldson 3B

–OUTFIELDERS–

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Coco Crisp OF

Josh Reddick OF

Chris Young OF

Seth Smith OF

Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brett Anderson LHP

Jarrod Parker RHP

Tommy Milone LHP

A.J. Griffin RHP

Dan Straily RHP

–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

 

(Bartolo Colon – SUSPENDED)

(Fernando Rodriguez – DL)

(Adam Rosales – DL)

 

PROJECTED 2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS ROSTER

Michael Choice

Michael Choice

–HITTERS–

Luke Montz C

David Freitas C

Hiro Nakajima SS

Jemile Weeks 2B

Andy Parrino SS-3B-OF

Grant Green 2B-3B-OF

Josh Horton 3B-SS-2B

Scott Moore 1B-3B-DH

Shane Peterson OF-1B

Conner Crumbliss OF-2B

Michael Choice OF

Michael Taylor OF

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Sonny Gray RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Bruce Billings RHP

Travis Banwart RHP

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Evan Scribner RHP

Mike Ekstrom RHP

James Simmons RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Hideki Okajima LHP

Jordan Norberto LHP

Pedro Figueroa LHP

Justin Thomas LHP

 

PROJECTED 2013 MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS ROSTER

Miles Head

Miles Head

–HITTERS–

Beau Taylor C

Ryan Ortiz C

Anthony Aliotti 1B-DH

Tommy Mendonca 3B-DH

Miles Head 3B-1B

Jefry Marte 3B-1B

Dusty Coleman SS

Darwin Perez 2B-SS

Tyler Ladendorf 2B-SS-OF

Jeremy Barfield OF

Chad Oberacker OF

D’Arby Myers OF

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Carlos Hernandez LHP

Murphy Smith RHP

Josh Bowman RHP

Sean Murphy RHP

Jacob Brown LHP

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Brian Gordon RHP

Carlos Fisher RHP

Kyler Newby RHP

Darren Byrd RHP

Paul Smyth RHP

Nate Long RHP

Sergio Perez RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Frank Gailey LHP

 

***UPDATE: In something of a surprise, the A’s have designated LHP Travis Blackley for assignment. This opens a spot in the A’s bullpen for either Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa, Mike Ekstrom or Hideki Okajima. Their spot in the River Cats bullpen will be filled by RHP Danny Otero, who was claimed off waivers.

 

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!

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.

 

 

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!

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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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!

A’s Major & Minor League Off-Season Transactions – Dec. 18 Update: A’s Find A Hiro To Play SS

Hiro

Hiro: Better than Godzilla?

Well, the biggest story to break for A’s fans in the weeks before the holidays was the news that A’s free agent shortstop Stephen Drew had agreed to a $9.5 million/1-year deal with the Red Sox, followed quickly by the news that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima had agreed to a $6.5 million/2-year deal (plus incentives and a $5.5 million 1-year option) with the A’s. The 30-year-old right-handed hitter has a career .310/.381/.474 slash line plus 104 home runs and 97 stolen bases over the last 6 seasons in Japan. His signing seems to settle the A’s starting shortstop question and makes arbitration-eligible Adam Rosales the likely backup at the position.

A’s free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy also decided to leave the team for a $15.5 million/2-year deal with Arizona. It doesn’t look like the A’s are planning on signing a major league pitcher to replace McCarthy, but will instead count on a full season of availability from major-league ready RHP Dan Straily to make up for McCarthy’s loss.

On the minor league front, since our last update, the A’s traded RHP Graham Godfrey to the Red Sox as the player to be named in the deal to acquire RHP Sandy Rosario, who was later designated for assignment by the A’s and re-claimed by the Red Sox who then designated him for assignment again. So the A’s basically gave Godfrey to the Red Sox for the privilege of having Rosario on the roster for a few days. Minor league outfielder Jermaine Mitchell, who cleared waivers and elected free agency, ended up signing a minor league deal with the Phillies.

The most significant minor league addition the A’s made since our last update was the acquisition of 27-year-old minor league free agent catcher/first baseman Steven Hill, who’s played in 10 major league games for the Cardinals and spent most of last season at Triple-A Memphis, where he had a .266/.326/.488 slash line. The right-handed hitter figures to share the catching duties at Sacramento in 2013 with fellow minor league free agent signee Luke Montz.

You’ll find all new transactions since our last update noted below with italics and an asterisk. Any players who’ve recently been taking up space on the 40-man roster are listed below under Major League transactions, while all other players are listed under Minor League transactions. For all the minor league players, I’ve listed their primary positions as well as the level they spent the most time at in 2012. Just click on any player’s name to see their Baseball-Reference stats page…

 

MAJOR LEAGUE CHANGES

-Jonny Gomes OF / +Chris Young OF

-Pennington/Drew SS / +Hiroyuki Nakajima SS *

-Brandon Hicks IF / +Andy Parrino IF

-Brandon McCarthy RHP / +NONE *

-Jim Miller RHP / +Chris Resop RHP

-Tyson Ross RHP / +Andrew Werner LHP

 

Hiroyuki Nakajima

Hiroyuki Nakajima

+ MAJOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Chris Young OF (traded from AZ)

Hiroyuki Nakajima SS (signed from Japan) *

Andy Parrino IF (traded from SD)

Chris Resop RHP (traded from PITT)

Andrew Werner LHP (traded from SD)

 

- MAJOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Jonny Gomes OF (FA signed with BOS)

Stephen Drew SS (FA signed with BOS) *

Cliff Pennington SS (traded to AZ)

Brandon Hicks IF (traded to NYM)

Brandon McCarthy RHP (FA signed with AZ) *

Jim Miller RHP (claimed by NYY)

Tyson Ross RHP (traded to SD)

 

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

+ MINOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Scott Moore 3B-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Luke Montz C-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Steven Hill C-1B AAA (minor league Rule 5 draftee) *

Tom Mendonca 3B AA (minor league rule 5 draftee) *

Darwin Perez SS-2B AA (minor league FA)

D’Arby Myers OF AA (minor league FA) *

Garrett Olson LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Thomas LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Mike Ekstrom RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Kyler Newby RHP AA (minor league FA)

Yeiper Castillo RHP A (minor league FA) *

 

Jermaine Mitchell

Jermaine Mitchell

- MINOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Kila Ka’aihue 1B AAA (minor league FA signed with AZ)

Jermaine Mitchell OF AAA (minor league FA signed with PHI) *

Blake Lalli C AAA (minor league FA signed with MIL)

Jason Jaramillo C AAA (minor league FA)

Wes Timmons IF AAA (minor league FA)

Matt Rizzotti 1B AA (minor league FA)

Leonardo Gil 3B AA (minor league FA)

A.J. Kirby-Jones 1B A (traded to SD)

Yordy Cabrera SS A (traded to MIA)

Michael Gilmartin SS-2B A (minor league Rule 5 draftee by CIN) *

Eliezer Mesa OF A (minor league Rule 5 draftee by DET) *

Graham Godfrey RHP AAA (traded to BOS) *

Rich Thompson RHP AAA (minor league FA signed with TOR) *

Jeremy Accardo RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Merkin Valdez RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Souza RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Fabio Castro LHP AA (minor league FA)

Beau Jones LHP AA (minor league FA)

Matt McSwain RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jonathan Ortiz RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jose Guzman RHP AA (minor league FA)

Zach Thornton RHP A (traded to PITT)

 

Adam Rosales

Adam Rosales

RETURNING FREE AGENTS/ARB ELIGIBLES/OPTIONS

Daric Barton 1B (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Adam Rosales IF (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Pat Neshek RHP (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Bartolo Colon RHP (Free Agent Re-Signed)

Grant Balfour RHP (Option Renewed)

 

RETURNING ARB ELIGIBLES

Seth Smith OF (Arb Eligible)

Brandon Moss 1B (Arb Eligible)

George Kottaras C (Arb Eligible)

Jerry Blevins LHP (Arb Eligible)

Chris Resop RHP (Arb Eligible)

 

UNSIGNED MLB FREE AGENTS

Brandon Inge 3B (MLB Free Agent)

Dallas Braden LHP (MLB Free Agent)

Joey Devine RHP (MLB Free Agent)

 

COMING & GOING

Sandy Rosario RHP (traded from BOS – designated for assignment)

 

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!

A’s Major & Minor League Off-Season Transactions – Dec. 1 Update

Jonny Gomes - All dressed up, with somewhere to go

Jonny Gomes: All dressed up, with somewhere to go.

With a flurry of activity on Friday just ahead of Major League Baseball’s non-tender deadline and with the Winter Meetings starting on Monday in Nashville, it seems like a good time to recap all the A’s major and minor league transactions from the end of the season through the non-tender deadline of November 30th. The most significant changes to affect the major league roster so far this off-season have been Jonny Gomes signing with Boston, the Chris Young/Cliff Pennington trade with Arizona, as well as the Tyson Ross trade with San Diego. These deals, along with a few other minor moves, have basically resulted in Chris Young replacing Jonny Gomes in the lineup and Chris Resop replacing Jim Miller in the bullpen, with Andy Parrino replacing Brandon Hicks and Andrew Werner replacing Tyson Ross as guys who’ll probably end up spending most of their time at Sacramento while filling in in Oakland as needed.

The biggest remaining question mark for the A’s is who will replace Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew as the team’s starting shortstop in 2013. The two combined to start 129 games at shortstop for the A’s in 2012. Right now, with Pennington having been traded to Arizona and Drew a free agent, the position’s a bit of a black hole. But the assumption is that the A’s will either make a deal for a shortstop (possibly at the Winter Meetings), sign one on the free agent market (Marco Scutaro, Ronny Cedeno, Cesar Izturis, Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez), or possibly even re-sign Drew if the market for him doesn’t end up getting too hot.

Of course, the team has already picked up closer Grant Balfour’s option, re-signed free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon, and re-signed arbitration eligible players Pat Neshek, Adam Rosales and Daric Barton. For those about to panic, don’t worry, Barton’s contract is not guaranteed, so he can be cut anytime and the A’s won’t owe him another dime. As of Friday night, there was no official word as to whether or not the team had offered contracts to their five remaining arbitration eligible players – outfielder Seth Smith, first baseman Brandon Moss, catcher George Kottaras, left-hander Jerry Blevins and recently-acquired right-hander Chris Resop – but the assumption is that no news is good news and the fact that we didn’t hear anything probably means that the A’s made offers to all these players and thus will retain the rights to them all.

Brandon McCarthy - To leave or not to leave, that is the question

Brandon McCarthy: To leave or not to leave, that is the question.

Of the team’s five remaining major league free agents, two – third baseman Brandon Inge and right-hander Joey Devine – can be expected to move on, while the jury is still out on the remaining three. As mentioned, shortstop Stephen Drew could return if he doesn’t find too many other tempting offers out there. There seems to be some mutual interest in a return engagement for Brandon McCarthy, but other teams are said to be sniffing around the right-hander as well. Oft-injured left-hander Dallas Braden is also on the market, and it’s possible that the northern California boy could sign an incentive-laden deal to stick around the old neighborhood.

As for the A’s minor league transactions, the most significant loss has probably been the signing of minor league free agent first baseman Kila Ka’aihue by Arizona. The most significant minor league addition by the A’s so far has probably been the signing of third baseman/first baseman Scott Moore who signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. The left-handed hitter made it into 72 games with the Astros in 2012, playing mainly at third base and first base, but he also got in some time at second base and in the outfield. The A’s are likely to make many more minor league signings as the off-season unfolds, though re-signing any of their own remaining minor league free agents is probably unlikely.

Any players who’ve recently been taking up space on the 40-man roster are listed below under Major League transactions, while all other players are listed under Minor League transactions. For all the minor league players, I’ve listed their primary positions as well as the level they spent the most time at in 2012. Just click on any player’s name to see their Baseball-Reference stats page…

 

Cliff Pennington

Cliff Pennington

MAJOR LEAGUE CHANGES

-Jonny Gomes OF / +Chris Young OF

-Cliff Pennington SS / +TBD SS

-Brandon Hicks IF / +Andy Parrino IF

-Jim Miller RHP / +Chris Resop RHP

-Tyson Ross RHP / +Andrew Werner LHP

 

Chris Young

Chris Young

+ MAJOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Chris Young OF (traded from AZ)

Andy Parrino IF (traded from SD)

Chris Resop RHP (traded from PITT)

Andrew Werner LHP (traded from SD)

 

- MAJOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes OF (FA signed with BOS)

Cliff Pennington SS (traded to AZ)

Brandon Hicks IF (traded to NYM)

Jim Miller RHP (claimed by NYY)

Tyson Ross RHP (traded to SD)

 

+ MINOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Scott Moore

Scott Moore

Scott Moore 3B-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Luke Montz C-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Darwin Perez SS-2B AA (minor league FA)

Garrett Olson LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Thomas LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Mike Ekstrom RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Kyler Newby RHP AA (minor league FA)

 

- MINOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Kila Ka'aihue

Kila Ka’aihue

Kila Ka’aihue 1B AAA (minor league FA signed with AZ)

Jermaine Mitchell OF AAA (minor league FA)

Wes Timmons IF AAA (minor league FA)

Jason Jaramillo C AAA (minor league FA)

Blake Lalli C AAA (minor league FA signed with MIL)

Matt Rizzotti 1B AA (minor league FA)

Leonardo Gil 3B AA (minor league FA)

A.J. Kirby-Jones 1B A (traded to SD)

Yordy Cabrera SS A (traded to MIA)

Yordy Cabrera

Yordy Cabrera

Jeremy Accardo RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Rich Thompson RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Merkin Valdez RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Souza RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Fabio Castro LHP AA (minor league FA)

Beau Jones LHP AA (minor league FA)

Matt McSwain RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jonathan Ortiz RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jose Guzman RHP AA (minor league FA)

Zach Thornton RHP A (traded to PITT)

Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour

 

RETURNING FREE AGENTS/ARB ELIGIBLES/OPTIONS

Daric Barton 1B (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Adam Rosales IF (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Pat Neshek RHP (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Bartolo Colon RHP (Free Agent Re-Signed)

Grant Balfour RHP (Option Renewed)

 

Seth Smith

Seth Smith

LIKELY RETURNING ARB ELIGIBLES

Seth Smith OF (Arb Eligible)

Brandon Moss 1B (Arb Eligible)

George Kottaras C (Arb Eligible)

Jerry Blevins LHP (Arb Eligible)

Chris Resop RHP (Arb Eligible)

 

UNSIGNED MLB FREE AGENTS

Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew SS (MLB Free Agent)

Brandon Inge 3B (MLB Free Agent)

Brandon McCarthy RHP (MLB Free Agent)

Dallas Braden LHP (MLB Free Agent)

Joey Devine RHP (MLB Free Agent)

 

COMING & GOING

Sandy Rosario RHP (traded from BOS – designated for assignment)

 

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!

A’s Sign Cespedes, Manny to Follow: Bad News for Taylor, Carter & Cowgill

Yoenis Cespedes: As Chico Escuela might say, "Baseball been berry berry good to him!"

The A’s shocked the baseball world on Monday when news broke that the team had signed Cuban free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The team reportedly inked the 26-year-old to a 4-year, $36 million contract that will keep him with the A’s through the 2015 season. The right-handed slugger set a single-season home run record in Cuba last year, clubbing 33 homers in 354 at bats to go along with an impressive .333/.424/.667 slash line.

The prized prospect is considered a 5-tool player, but how his talents will translate once he’s transplanted into the major leagues is anyone’s guess. But we should find out soon enough as Cespedes, who played center field in Cuba, is expected to open the season in either center or right field for the A’s. The slugger could be counted on to be the cleanup hitter that general manager Billy Beane recently said he was looking for, with recently acquired outfielder Seth Smith slotting in the #3 spot right behind outfielder Coco Crisp and second baseman Jemile Weeks, who’s expected to bat leadoff.

Cespedes’ power is clear (hitting 1 home run every 10.7 at bats in Cuba last year), and he also possesses some speed, but his plate discipline and ability to hit for average are likely to be the biggest question marks. Experts seem to be expecting something like a .250-.260 batting average from him with somewhere between 20-30 home runs per season. With those sorts of numbers, he could have a career that profiles something like Vernon Wells or, for old school A’s fans, perhaps George Hendrick.

After the Cespedes signing, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted that the A’s are still interested in signing Manny Ramirez. And the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that the A’s are likely to sign Manny and give him a shot once his 50-day suspension is over in mid-May.

Manny says: "Let Yoenis be Yoenis!"

Beyond the obvious reasons, the Cespedes signing, along with the continued talk about Manny, is also interesting for what it says about how the A’s view other players on their roster. While the team seems willing to put plenty of faith in their young pitching prospects’ ability to step up and perform in the majors this season, they clearly seem reluctant to want to put much faith in most of their young hitting prospects at this point.

Rather than giving a clear shot to young hitting prospects like Michael Taylor, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen or Collin Cowgill, the A’s have instead brought in Cespedes, Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes, re-signed Coco Crisp, and seem poised to bring in Manny Ramirez as well, virtually locking out the young hitters from any real opportunities on the major league roster.

At this point, barring a trade, the A’s will open the season with five outfielders on the major league roster – Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick, Smith and Gomes (with Smith and Gomes likely getting most of their at bats in the designated hitter spot – at least until Manny Ramirez’s potential arrival).

Assuming Suzuki, Sizemore, Pennington and Weeks will be joined on the roster by a backup catcher (Powell, Recker or Donaldson) and a utility infielder (Rosales or Sogard), that leaves two open spots on the offensive roster. And considering various comments by A’s management in recent weeks and at FanFest, it seems that Daric Barton and Brandon Allen would be favored for those last two spots.

Michael Taylor: Out in the cold, on the banks of the Sacramento river? (photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

That leaves a glut of ten potential outfielders and first basemen available for the Triple-A Rivercats roster, including Chris Carter, Kila Ka’aihue, Michael Taylor, Collin Cowgill, Grant Green, Brandon Moss, Jason Pridie, Jeff Fiorentino, Cedric Hunter and Jermaine Mitchell. Since the A’s have rarely carried more than six outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter types on the Sacramento roster at any given time, something will have to give.

Mitchell isn’t likely to be fully healthy at the start of the season, and Hunter is still young enough that he could be sent back down to Double-A. That leaves two left still to be trimmed. Spring injuries could take care of one or both of those spots, as could potential trades. But of the ten names listed above, you’d expect the A’s to give priority for Triple-A outfield at bats to Cowgill, Taylor and Green, and priority for first base and designated hitter at bats to Carter and Ka’aihue.

So it seems like minor league free agent signees Brandon Moss, Jason Pridie and Jeff Fiorentino, all of whom signed on with the A’s when the only experienced major league outfielder on the roster was Ryan Sweeney, might end up regretting their decision since they could very well wind up out in the cold. And it’s safe to assume that Cuba’s loss is bound to leave Taylor, Carter and Cowgill on the outside looking in as well.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Allen

Chris Carter

Manny Ramirez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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