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A’s minor league recap: Cardenas moved to third; Weeks stays hot

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Tacoma (Mariners) 6, RiverCats 4: Story l Boxscore

Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jay Marshall gave up five runs in the final two innings as the RiverCats failed to protect a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez walked two batters and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Brad Nelson. Marshall permitted the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.

James Simmons was in line for the win after working five innings and allowing just four hits and one run. Jerry Blevins then added two scoreless innings with four strikeouts before Sacramento’s troubles began.

Travis Buck homered and drove in two runs as his rehab seems to be going well. Danny Putnam had a two-run homer, his third in 111 at-bats for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 5, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

Adrian Cardenas, who has played mostly at second base and some at shortstop this season, has spent the last two games at third base for the RockHounds, who suffered their second straight setback. Cardenas, who booted an eighth-inning grounder Thursday night, would seem to have a much clearer path to Oakland as a third baseman. Especially with Jemile Weeks playing second base at Stockton and seemingly Oakland-bound within a couple of years. The A’s obviously figure on finding room in their lineup one day soon for both Cardenas and Weeks.

Tommy Everidge had played third for Midland for most of the year, but he was promoted to Sacramento. Alex Valdez, who arrived from Stockton, is also a third baseman.

Bobby Cramer struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, but took the loss after allowing two runs. Matt Spencer and Archie Gilbert had two of the Hounds’ five hits, and Cardenas had the other.

Jose Valverde, the Astros’ closer who’s on a rehab assignment, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Corpus Christi.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports lost their eighth in a row as they were swept in Modesto. On the bright side, Jemile Weeks continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Weeks, who has hit in every game since joining Stockton from extended spring training on May 27, is now batting .370.

Christian Vitters had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Ports.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

The Cougars scored three times in the first on a two-run single by Steve Kleen and an RBI double by Grant Desme, but Wisconsin countered with four runs in the bottom of the first off Shawn Haviland on its way to victory.

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Blackburn taming A’s

Quick update from the Coliseum. The Twins lead 3-0 through five innings, as the A’s have mustered just two hits and grounded into two double plays against Nick Blackburn. Trevor Cahill allowed a three-run homer to Joe Crede in the fourth. Until that blast, seven of the nine homers Cahill had allowed this year were solo jobs …

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Holliday is playing; A’s draft another Crosby

Slow morning in the A’s clubhouse. … Matt Holliday is back in left field today after getting drilled in the left knee by a pitch last night. Jason Giambi returns to the lineup at DH, with Daric Barton playing first. …

The A’s wrapped up the third and final day of the draft this morning. Among their picks: 42nd round selection Blake Crosby, first baseman from Sacramento State and younger brother of Bobby Crosby. Here’s his stats this season w/the Hornets …

And here are today’s lineups:

A’s
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Powell C
Barton 1B
Davis CF
Hannahan 3B

Cahill P

Twins
Tolbert 2B
Harris SS
Mauer C
Morneau DH
Kubel RF
Crede 3B
Cuddyer CF
Buscher 1B
Young LF

Blackburn P

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A’s minor league recap: A lost day on the farm

A rough day for the A’s minor leaguers as all three teams in action suffered losses, including one on a walkoff homer.

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Wednesday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The RiverCats had an off day on Wednesday and send James Simmons to the mound Thursday night as they begin a four-game series against Tacoma (Mariners).

Sacramento got hot-hitting Tommy Everidge from Double-A Midland to replace Daric Barton, who was promoted to the A’s. Everidge, who hit .306 with eight homers and 53 RBI for Midland, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his RiverCats’ debut Tuesday night.

Travis Buck is 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and two strikeouts while on rehab assignment the past two games for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 8, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

The RockHounds couldn’t handle Hooks’ lefty Polin Trinidad, who pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and retired the last 20 batters he faced in picking up his second straight win over Midland. Trinidad’s batterymate was former Castro Valley High and Stanford star Jason Castro, who made his Double-A debut by going 1-for-4. Castro was the Astros’ No. 1 pick last June, the 10th overall selection.

Jason Fernandez (6-5) took the loss for the ‘Hounds. He allowed just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings.

Josh Horton had two of Midland’s three hits, including his third homer of the season, and is hitting .303. Chris Carter had the only other Midland hit.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports’ June Swoon continued as Modesto handed Stockton its ninth consecutive defeat, which dropped the Ports to 1-10 this month.

Scott Hodsdon was hit hard by the Nuts, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hodsdon fell to 2-6 and his ERA dropped to 6.64. In contrast, Modesto’s Christian Friedrich, the Rockies’ No. 1 pick last year, pitching seven strong innings to pick up the win.

Catcher Yusuf Carter was named the Ports’ lone California League All-Star representative earlier in the week.

Jemile Weeks went 1-for-3 while hitting in the third spot and is now batting .340.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 4: Story l Boxscore

Wisconsin’s Brock Kjeldgaard hit a three-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to snap the Cougars’ three-game winning streak.

Grant Desme (2nd round, ’07) homered for the second straight game and now has 11. Desme is hitting .350 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last 10 games.

Catcher Petey Paramore, last year’s third-round pick, went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and is hitting .290.

Anthony Capra had a decent start, allowing just three hits and two runs in five innings. However, he did walk five.

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Holliday’s status up in the air

Yikes, more performances like that from the A’s bullpen, and thoughts of contending in the AL West will remain a fantasy. But the most significant development from Wednesday’s 6-3 A’s loss could be the seriousness of Matt Holliday’s knee injury. He was nailed in the left knee by a Francisco Liriano fastball in the second inning but stayed in the game. The pain was written on his face for the next couple innings afterward.

A’s manager Bob Geren said the team would have more clarity on Holliday’s condition when Holliday gets to the clubhouse Thursday morning. “It could be completely fine, or get worse overnight,” Geren said.

Not only would a significant Holliday injury throw a monkey wrench in the A’s chances, it would probably drive off potential suitors before the July 31 trade deadline …

Check in w/you in the morning …

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A’s pregame update: Wednesday

Lots of baby stories out at the Coliseum today. Bobby Crosby is in the lineup at first base, his first start since returning to the team after the birth of his son, Tyler, on Monday. Crosby played a couple of innings last night, then returned to San Ramon Regional Medical Center and found that teammate Landon Powell’s wife, Allyson, was in the room next to his wife, Gina. The Powells had their first baby, a boy, just after midnight last night. Powell is expected to arrive at the park before first pitch and be available if needed. …

–Today’s pre-game scene resembled the early days of spring training in February, as pitchers were put through bunt defense practice. The A’s run through such fundamental drills on occasion, and with interleague play coming up in National League parks, the A’s will be seeing lots of opposing pitchers laying down bunts.

–Jason Giambi is out of today’s lineup — just a needed day of rest, according to manager Bob Geren. Aaron Cunningham is back in there at right field after getting hit in the head with a pitch Monday and suffering a concussion. “I feel good,” Cunningham said. “Yesterday I had a little headache, but with a day off, it got me feeling pretty good.”

–Injury roundup: Nomar Garciaparra is getting an MRI tonight on his right calf, which isn’t getting better even with prolonged rest on the DL. … Justin Duchscherer, rehabbing in Phoenix, has thrown twice at 120 feet, but no word yet on when he’ll get back on the mound. … Reliever Dan Giese’s Tommy John surgery went well yesterday, according to Geren.

And now your lineups for tonight:

A’s:
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Cust DH
Holliday LF
Suzuki C
Crosby 1B
Cunningham RF
Davis CF
Hannahan 3B

Braden P

Twins:
Gomez CF
Harris SS
Mauer DH
Morneau 1B
Crede 3B
Cuddyer RF
Young LF
Redmond C
Tolbert 2B

Liriano P

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Draft analysis

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog from my end, but laptop issues got in the way the last couple days. So withour further ado …

It’s never too early to have some instant, who-cares-in-five-years-if-we-were-right analysis on the players who were picked in the opening day of baseball’s draft. But the buzz seems to be that the A’s did well yesterday. I always take a wait-and-see approach. I’ve seen too many can’t-miss kids do exactly that (Todd Van Poppel anyone?), and plenty of can’t-make-it guys do exactly the opposite (Jose Canseco went in the 15th round).

Continue Reading

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A little more on A’s draft

I’m not covering tonight’s A’s game, just showed up to write draft stuff. By now, I planned on being gone. But with this wacky bottom of the ninth still in progress, I’m afraid I’ll miss one of the greatest comebacks in A’s history if I leave. So while I’m still here …

–The A’s did a lot of talk about not using the draft to fill needs, then managed to fill a pretty big need by drafting a shortstop in the first round. That’s a position where they lack an absolute stud in the farm system, and Grant Green has the potential to be an impact player. As for the other shortstops in the system, the A’s are pretty high on Josh Horton, who’s currently in Double-A. He was a 2007 second-round pick out of North Carolina.

(Final out just made. Twins win 10-5, snapping A’s seven-game win streak).

Dusty Coleman, playing for low Single-A Kane County, is another player to keep an eye on. He was a 28th round pick last year out of Wichita State. He was one of seven Cougars named to the Midwest League All-Star Game.

–I didn’t get to squeeze much into tomorrow’s story about the A’s third-round pick, left-hander Justin Marks out of Louisville. According to scouting director Eric Kubota, he’s got four quality pitches. But he’s not a flame-thrower, as his fastball tops out at around 92 mph. “(A’s director of player personnel) Billy Owens scouted him and really liked him,” Kubota said. “He was a guy we really hoped we had a chance to take in the third round.”

Marks was the Big East Pitcher of the Year in 2009. In 18 games (16 starts), he was 11-3 with a 3.77 ERA. He had 129 strikeouts and 35 walks in 105 innings. Over three college seasons, Marks struck out 305 batters in 300 2/3 innings. He went 29-7 with a 2.96 ERA in 55 games (48 starts).

That’s all for now …

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Cunningham feeling better, other tidbits

A few notes before tonight’s game…

Aaron Cunningham is feeling better today after getting hit on the helmet with a Anthony Swarzak curveball and suffering a concussion in the fourth inning of Monday’s game. He spent the night in a local hospital and had to be woken up every two hours. He said he remembers everything about the at-bat – what pitch it was, the count, what he was thinking before the pitch and seeing the ball come right at his head.

Cunningham is likely unavailable tonight and is officially day-to-day, A’s manager Bob Geren said. Cunningham said the plan is to be back in the lineup Wednesday, but will see how he feels.

With Cunningham out today and Daric Barton back in Oakland, the A’s recalled outfielder Chris Denorfia and optioned infielder Gregorio Petit to Sacramento. Denorfia gives the A’s a bit more depth in the outfield considering Ryan Sweeney’s injury and another right-handed bat. Denorfia was hitting .275 for the River Cats in 39 games with 14 RBI and eight stolen bases. Petit played in four games since he was called up May 30 and was 2-for-11 at the plate.

Barton is starting at first base tonight with Jason Giambi as the A’s DH and Jack Cust in right field. Geren wants to give Giambi a rest from playing first before interleague play begins this weekend. Barton is obviously happy to be back in Oakland to demonstrate that he’s a better hitter than he showed last season when he hit .226 in 140 games. He hit .245 in 55 games with Sacramento, but hit .279 in May and .345 in June.

Barton knew he didn’t much of a chance to make the A’s out of spring training considering the team added Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra. He doesn’t know how exactly he’ll be used for however long he’s up here, but he’s definitely looking forward to getting another opportunity.

The lineups:

A’s – Cabrera SS, Kennedy 2B, Cust RF, Holliday LF, Giambi DH, Suzuki C, Barton 1B, Hannahan 3B, Davis CF, Anderson P

Twins – Span CF, Tolbert 2B, Mauer C, Morneau 1B, Kubel DH, Crede 3B, Cuddyer RF, Harris SS, Young LF, Baker P.

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A’s pick USC shortstop Grant Green

Just a quick post here on the A’s first round draft pick: They took USC shortstop Grant Green at No. 13. I think it was a smart pick, I just wasn’t sure they’d pull the trigger on him, mostly because Scott Boras is advising him, and Boras is known to drive a hard bargain w/teams. Since 2002, the A’s hadn’t picked a Boras player in the draft, though one club official told me that hasn’t necessarily been by design.

At any rate, the A’s couldn’t have gone wrong taking a third baseman or shortstop when you look at their organizational needs. And Green was definitely the best shortstop in the draft. In fact, heading into this season, he was seen as possibly the best hitter in the draft. But his stock fell significantly after he got off to a slow start offensively. He warmed up and finished at .374 with 19 doubles, five triples, four homers and 32 RBI in 54 games. Check out his USC bio here:

We haven’t got a chance to talk to Green yet, but I talked with USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter. His take on Green:

“(The A’s) are gonna get an exciting young shortstop who can really run. Once he grows into his body, he’s a guy that’s gonna hit for power. He’s 6-3, 180-185 pounds right now. He should grow into that body and hit 15-20 homers and hit for a high average.”

Kreuter compared him to former Detroit Tigers shortstop Travis Fryman, particularly in terms of body type. Fryman eventually converted to third base, but Kreuter thinks Green would fit best at shortstop early in his career because of his quickness and range. ….

You might remember Kreuter was a catcher w/Detroit, so perhaps it’s not a surprise he’d compare Green to a former teammate. But he was pretty honest in saying that Green was aware of the hype surrounding him this season and put too much pressure on himself. It’ll be interesting to hear what Green says about that …

The first round is just coming to an end, and the A’s don’t pick again until the third round (No. 92). …