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Injury updates and other pregame news from the Coliseum

After my afternoon rambling on the trade deadline, I’ll just give a quick update on team-related stuff. We did talk to A’s assistant GM David Forst, who said the team made it clear to other teams there were key young players the A’s simply weren’t going to deal. But he also said the team would stay open to waiver trade possibilities in August. Basically, if players clear waivers, they can be traded all the way until Aug. 31 and be eligible for the postseason with their new team. Forst didn’t reveal too much or give much in the way of specifics, but I’ll have more on the topic in the game story.

–Brandon McCarthy will throw another bullpen session in a couple days, and the A’s will decide then whether he’ll make another rehab start. There’s a “good chance” he will, according to manager Bob Melvin. Brett Anderson made his third rehab start this afternoon and went four innings, allowing four hits and two runs for Triple-A Sacramento. He’s coming along well, and soon the A’s will have to decide how to handle their rotation to accomodate Anderson and McCarthy (assuming both rejoin the rotation). Melvin and Forst both said they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. Melvin says a six-man rotation still hasn’t been discussed.

–Coco Crisp and Cliff Pennington both hit in the cage tonight. Crisp is still day to day, but Pennington will definitely need a rehab assignment as he returns from a left elbow injury.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Smith LF, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Carter DH, Moss 1B, Kottaras C, Hicks SS, Sogard 3B; Milone LHP.

Rays — Jennings LF,Upton CF, Zobrist 2B, Keppinger 3B, Pena 1B, Rodriguez SS, Joyce DH, Lobaton C, Fuld RF; Shields RHP.

11

And at the trade deadline, the Oakland A’s do … nada

The trade deadline has passed, and if you spent the first half of your day glued to the MLB Network (or your laptop) hoping to see the A’s swing a big trade, you ended up disappointed. The A’s stood pat as the 1 p.m. deadline passed, meaning their only acquisition during the peak of trade season was part-time catcher George Kottaras (this is assuming there’s no post-deadline announcement of a deal). Are you surprised? Did you expect this? We know the A’s were trying to acquire left side-of-the-infield help, and GM Billy Beane was outspoken in saying he wanted to improve the team offensively. Surely, he and his staff took into account this prolonged hot streak the team is riding, and weighed whether it was worth messing with a good thing. But I’ve got to think the bigger road block to a deal was the A’s unwillingness to part with the top-tier prospects that other teams would have wanted (think Triple-A pitcher Dan Straily, a player the A’s did not want to move). They spent an entire offseason making trades to upgrade their depleted farm system and build toward the future. They weren’t going to be quick to make a trade that significantly hindered that process.

But there’s lots of room for argument here, and if Oakland falters down the stretch, people can justifiably point to the A’s not making an agressive move in July to improve the club. They have quite the reservoir of young pitching depth to deal from, and teams were after that pitching. They could have pulled the trigger on a deal, looking to strike more magic during this most unlikely of seasons. You also can’t ignore the improvements that A.L. West rivals Texas and Los Angeles made. The Angels added Zack Greinke to their rotation while the Rangers swung a last-minute deal to grab starter Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs. Both are signifcant upgrades for the two teams the A’s are battling for the division championship, and perhaps that should have spurred the A’s to add somebody … anybody.

Here’s what we saw today in the A.L. West. … The Rangers have gone to the World Series two straight years and lost. Nothing short of a Series championship will be considered a success this season. The Angels spent a boatload of money in the offseason to land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. They too are under intense pressure to win this season, and standing pat simply was not an option. I think Beane and Co. believe they’re playing with house money this season. If the current team continues this amazing roll, fantastic. If it falters, it’s been a pretty great ride just to get to this point, and the plan to build for the future remains intact with a young core of stud pitchers and a hitter to build around in Yoenis Cespedes. Will this leave many fans ticked for not making a trade? You bet. I’m not justifying today’s non-action, I’m just stating the rationale that I think was employed (no one from the team has spoken publicly yet).

A couple things to keep in mind: The A’s can still swing a trade throughout August, though it’s more complicated because players must clear waivers first before they can be dealt. Secondly, although most of the focus was on the A’s adding a hitter, I think it’s just as possible the A’s will look to add veteran pitching reinforcements, whether it’s the rotation or the bullpen. And that will especially be true if the trio of Brett Anderson/Dallas Braden/Brandon McCarthy hit road blocks in their comebacks.

All just food for thought …

1

A’s 12th walkoff win is their wildest: 21 strikeouts, 8 shutout by bullpen, a hero who’d been 0-for-7, 15 innings and 5 hours, 9 minutes

In for Joe Stiglich …

Don’t bother going out your driveway to find out about last night’s A’s game. You won’t get the final result there. In the weirdest, wildest game of the year, the A’s claimed their 12th walk-off victory 4-3 over Tampa Bay at 12:17 a.m. Fortunately, in the digital age, you still get a full recap on a game that lasted so long with plenty of player reaction, albeit in a different manner. It’ll be up on our website before you wake up, but if you’re an insomniac like me, you can read it here first with the game story I ultimately filed at 1:49 a.m.

A couple of things to note that aren’t in the game story. First, Oakland mayor Jean Quan apparently stuck out the entire game sitting in the bleachers, and she deserves full kudos for that. Maybe Lew Wolff will actually give her a call and congratulate her. Second, this game was destined to end quickly, even if the A’s hadn’t scored in the bottom of the 15th. After going through eight pitchers, the Rays were warming up their designated hitter, former Giant Jeff Keppinger, to pitch the bottom of the 16th.

Fortunately, the A’s saved Tampa the embarrassment by winning sooner.

Those who read this blog faithfully deserve this reward. I had a full blog post before the game that completely disappeared as I was typing the last sentence of it due to the wireless going out in the Coliseum press box. I should have known it was going to be that kind of night, but pretty much everything that was in that blog is in the final story (except the starting lineups).

Anyway, here’s the full, final story about a long but amazing game. — Carl

 

By Carl Steward

csteward@bayareanewsgroup.com

 

    OAKLAND – The A’s turned in some heavy overtime to get their 12th walk-off win of the year, but it was worth the 5 hour, 9 minute wait.

    Jemile Weeks’ sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 15th inning put a sweet cap on a night of amazing numbers as Oakland beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in a marathon at the Coliseum.

     The A’s struck out a franchise record 21 times against eight Rays pitchers,  but got eight shutout innings from their bullpen to allow Weeks, who was 0 for 7 heading into the final at-bat, to walk off the hero at 12:17 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Continue Reading

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A’s trade reliever Fautino De Los Santos to Brewers for catcher George Kottaras

The A’s acquired catcher George Kottaras from the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday for reliever Fautino De Los Santos.

Kottaras, 29, will report to Oakland on Monday, when the A’s will make their corresponding roster move.
News surfaced Saturday that the wheels were in motion on a trade. That the A’s dealt De Los Santos, a hard-throwing right-hander who was in the mix to be their closer during spring training, speaks to the depth of young relievers they have.

De Los Santos, 26, impressed in his big league time last season. He made this year’s opening day roster but was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on April 25. He struggled with the River Cats, posting a 7.25 ERA in 28 games, and with the emergence of rookies Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle in the bullpen, not to mention Jordan Norberto and Jerry Blevins taking on bigger roles, De Los Santos dropped on the bullpen totem pole.

Kottaras hit .209 with three homers and 12 RBIs in part-time duty for Milwaukee before being designated for assignment Thursday. Unless veteran Kurt Suzuki is dealt in a trade by Monday, it’s likely that rookie catcher Derek Norris will be sent down. Kottaras is a left-handed hitter who could offer a platoon behind the plate if the A’s desire.

0

Melvin likes what he sees at plate from Jemile Weeks

It’s getaway day in Baltimore, as the A’s try to cap an impressive road trip with a sweep. …

Jemile Weeks’ three-hit game got a bit lost in the shuffle Saturday night, but the switch hitter delivered in a return to the No. 2 spot. With Coco Crisp out today because of a sore hamstring, Weeks gets a start as the leadoff hitter. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he’s been impressed with Weeks’ approach lately.

“You see him maybe cutting down on his swing a little bit, hit a few balls on the ground,” Melvin said. “He hit the ball the other way a couple times the last two nights, and I think that’s important for him. Boy, it would be terrific if he got going here. It’d be another facet of our offense that could contribute in different ways. Right now it’s more of the power game we’re playing.”

Let that last sentence digest for a moment. When was the last time an A’s offense was TOO reliant on the home run??? It makes the head spin …

–Injury update: Cliff Pennington took swings off a tee Saturday to test his left elbow. He seems to slowly be moving in the right direction, but figure he’s still at least a week away from returning. Melvin praised the contributions of Eric Sogard and Brandon Hicks at shortstop, but will the A’s add another shortstop before Tuesday’s trade deadline? There’s no doubt they’re still working the phones exploring the options …

Today’s lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Smith LF, Hicks SS; Blackley LHP.

O’s — Markakis RF, Hardy SS, Jones CF, Wieters C, Ford LF, Reynolds 1B, Davis DH, Betemit 3B, Quintanilla 2B; Chen LHP.

2

A’s on verge of acquiring catcher George Kottaras

There was talk of rain affecting tonight’s game, but the skies are clear right now. Fingers crossed.

The day’s news so far …

–The A’s are trying to complete a trade for Milwaukee Brewers catcher George Kottaras, but it’s my understanding that no deal will be completed for a day or two as the clubs try to hash out who the A’s will send to Milwaukee in return. Kottaras was designated for assignment Thursday, and he hit just .209 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 58 games before that. So obviously, this isn’t the kind of major move that some have been anticipating for this team. There may still be other moves to come before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The assumption is that Kottaras will join the big league roster (the A’s would have to send him through waivers first before he could be optioned to the minors). So it seems either A) Derek Norris will be sent to the minors, or B) a trade involving Kurt Suzuki might be brewing. Suzuki’s name has been in trade rumors in recent weeks, but much less recently as the trade deadline approaches. I’d expect Norris to go down, and that this trade won’t have a major impact one way or another. It will just give the A’s a little more experience behind the plate.

–Josh Reddick said he thinks he was OK to play tonight, but the A’s held him out of the lineup with an upper back contusion after last night’s crash into the right field wall. A’s manager Bob Melvin expected Reddick to be available to pinch hit assuming he came out of batting practice OK. Reddick said he felt as if a “shock went up my back” when he hit the wall making a game-ending catch. He got the wind knocked out of him but regained his breath quickly while laying on the warning track. It was pointed out to Reddick that he’s had an eventful road trip in right field. In Toronto, he made that terrific catch where he climbed the chain link fence and held on to catch the ball. “I wish that had been a chain-link fence (Friday night), I know that,” Reddick said. “I’ll take a chain-link fence over a concrete pad any day. I’ll be back out there tomorrow. I’d do it again if I have to catch the ball.”

In a nod to his catch in Toronto, someone brought a SpiderMan costume to the clubhouse Saturday, and Reddick was spotted wearing it around before batting practice.

–Jemile Weeks is hitting second tonight, but Melvin indicated the switch hitter is likely to return to the ninth spot when Reddick returns. Melvin likes what Weeks is doing at the bottom of the order. Seth Smith is hitting third tonight, but if Reddick were playing, Melvin acknowleged that Smith might have been his man in the No. 2 spot.

–Brandon McCarthy will make a rehab start Monday for Triple-A Sacramento in Reno, and Brett Anderson will pitch the next night. Pretty nice back-to-back attraction for the price of a minor league ticket. …

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Weeks 2B, Smith RF, Cespedes LF, Carter DH, Moss 1B, Inge 3B, Suzuki C, Sogard SS; Colon RHP.

O’s — Markakis RF, Hardy SS, Davis DH, JOnes CF, Betemit 3B, Chavez LF, Reynolds 1B, Quintanilla 2B, Teagarden C; Hunter RHP.

5

A’s and Orioles open an important series at Camden Yards … no, seriously

I took the 20-minute walk from my hotel to Camden Yards today, and now I know what a melting ice cream cone feels like. It was very hot and humid, but as we approach first pitch tonight, it’s safe to say the weather could be a lot worse. I’m told yesterday was much worse heat in Baltimore. So we have pretty nice conditions for the opener of this A’s-Orioles series. And who would have thought back in April that this series would be so meaningful? Baltimore sits just 1 1/2 games behind the A’s for the second wild card spot.

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Hicks SS, Weeks 2B; Parker RHP.

O’s — Markakis RF, Hardy SS, Thome DH, Jones CF, Davis LF, Betemit 3B, Reynolds 1B, Quintanilla 2B, Teagarden C; Britton LHP.

The A’s are again being linked to Padres third baseman Chase Headley with the trade deadline just four days away. This ESPN report says the A’s, Orioles, Pirates and Indians all are in on Headley, but that Oakland and Baltimore seem the most aggressive. So perhaps these teams are competing on more than one level this weekend. It’s also worth noting that Omar Minaya, the Padres’ senior vice president of baseball operations, is at Camden Yards tonight.

I’m still of the belief that shortstop remains the A’s top priority for upgrading. Third baseman Brandon Inge is hitting just .211, but he’s contributed 46 RBIs in 59 games since being signed by the A’s on April 30. He’s also a steady defender, and I can tell you that whatever good clubhouse chemistry the A’s have right now — and there’s lots of it — Inge has played a big part in. Figure that the A’s are weighing all of this as they consider whether to acquire a third baseman …

2

Random notes as A’s go for a sweep

The roof is closed for today’s matinee finale between the A’s and Blue Jays. Bob Melvin’s pregame media session is always a bit slow the morning after a night game. There’s just not a lot that happens from the time the team leaves the night before to when they get back to the park several hours later. Melvin saw highlights of Josh Reddick’s catch in right field Wednesday night and reiterated how impressed he was. He also is very encouraged about Chris Carter’s at-bats, and he says the walks he’s taking feed the slugger’s confidence. Carter walked in his first plate appearance last night, had some good swings in his next couple of at-bats and then homered in the sixth. “I think those walks, confidence-wise, are as important as home runs,” Melvin said.

–The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes RF, Reddick DH, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Suzuki C, Hicks SS, Weeks 2B; Milone LHP.

Jays — Davis RF, Rasmus CF, Lawrie 3B, Encarnacion DH, Snider LF, Gomes 1B, Johnson 2B, Mathis C, Vizquel SS; Laffey LHP.

–Here’s a couple links to A’s stories from my co-workers:

Tim Kawakami talked to GM Billy Beane, who reiterated he is looking to aid Oakland’s postseason push with a trade.

Mark Emmons wrote about Chris Carter and how different he looks in this go-round in the majors.

And in case you didn’t catch my game story from last night’s 16-0 rout

5

Pregame notes from Toronto as A’s try to continue hot streak

A’s manager Bob Melvin is running out the same batting order that produced seven runs in Tuesday’s series-opening victory. The only change is Yoenis Cespedes getting the start at DH and Jonny Gomes playing left field. There’s not a whole lot else to report from pregame here at Rogers Center. We’ll see if A.J. Griffin can continue the impressive start to his big league career. The Blue Jays counter with lefty Ricky Romero, who is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in six career starts against Oakland. However, Romero has lost his past five starts. Which history will repeat itself?

The lineups:
A’s: Crisp CF, Gomes LF, Reddick RF, Cespedes DH, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Hicks SS, Weeks 2B; Griffin RHP.

Jays: Lawrie 3B, Rasmus CF, Encarnacion 1B, Lind DH, Arencibia C, Johnson 2B, Snider LF, Vizquel SS, Gose RF; Romero LHP.

6

A’s must look elsewhere with Hanley Ramirez off the board

So much for the A’s efforts at landing Hanley Ramirez, after the Dodgers swung a four-player trade to acquire the infielder from the Miami Marlins. It’s not surprising to see Ramirez go to a deep-pocketed team. Los Angeles is reportedly taking on all of the $38 million remaining on Ramirez’s contract, certainly something that the A’s would not have done. Where do the A’s look next? I know they have interest in Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar, and as I wrote in last night’s game story, Escobar is much more affordable than Ramirez. He’s making $5 million this season and next, with $5 million club options for 2014 and 2015. It’s my understanding that the Blue Jays are very high on Brett Anderson, and I’m told the clubs have even discussed Anderson at some point this season. I don’t know when that might have occurred, and that has not been confirmed with anyone from the A’s. But it’s something to keep in mind.

Who else might teams be targeting from the A’s? Surely Triple-A right-hander Dan Straily, who has a 0.96 ERA in seven starts with Sacramento. For the season, Straily has an eye-popping 171 strikeouts in 132 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. The A’s have to decide whether they are willing to part with this guy as a potential centerpiece in a deal.

With the A’s rolling along and climbing up the standings, there’s always the option that they do nothing before Tuesday’s trade deadline and see just how good of a push their current group can make. But I expect them to definitely pursue the left-side infield trade options now that Ramirez is off the market. They appear to be eyeing shortstop more than third base for an upgrade.

Would you rather see the A’s make at least one trade or stand pat?