If you need a baseball fix (outside of the playoffs) during October or November, the Arizona Fall League is a pretty nice option. It’s a developmental league featuring some of the major leagues’ best young prospects, and runs from Oct. 13-Nov. 6. Games are held at spring training ballparks all over the Phoenix area, and single-game tickets cost no more than $6. Check out rosters here.
The A’s have seven players suiting up for the Phoenix Desert Dogs — second baseman Jemile Weeks; outfielders Corey Brown and Grant Desme; and pitchers James Simmons, Sam Demel, Mickey Storey and Justin Friend. Also playing for the Desert Dogs — pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 draft and probably the most hyped draft pick ever. AFL games typically don’t draw much of a crowd, but I’m guessing more fans will show up to see Strasburg.
–A brief update that didn’t make my A’s season wrap-up story: Pitching prospect Michael Ynoa has been doing well in throwing sessions during instructional league in Phoenix, but he won’t throw in any games there. Another right-hander, Fautino De Los Santos, has had complications in his comeback from ligament replacement surgery on his elbow. The A’s were having him undergo more tests this week …
–I’ll be updating the blog throughout the winter, so check back often!!
Boxes were scattered everywhere in the A’s clubhouse this morning and players were shaking hands all around — there’s no hiding it’s the last day of the season.
A’s manager Bob Geren decided to pitch all relievers today, w/Brad Kilby starting. So expect lots of pitching changes. “Honestly, I think it gives us the best chance to win, and that’s been the goal since spring training,” Geren said. Edgar Gonzalez had been the previously announced starter. But Gonzalez is a known quantity to the A’s, and emptying the bullpen gives Geren one last chance to see a lot of relievers.
Here’s today’s lineups, featuring two players likely playing their final game in an A’s uniform — third baseman Bobby Crosby and DH Nomar Garciaparra:
Matthews Jr. RF
Leftover tidbits from tonight’s game:
–The A’s have lost four straight and finished an ugly 5-14 against Seattle this season. They went 1-8 at Safeco Field. Going back further, the A’s have lost 16 of their past 22 to the Mariners and are 20-37 since the start of 2007.
–The A’s finished their 2009 road schedule at 35-46. They’re 40-38 at home, and wrap up the regular season with a three-game series against the Angels at the Coliseum starting tonight. They’ve finished with a losing record at home just once in the past 11 seasons (2007).
–What exactly is going on with the A’s defense? They’ve committed 19 errors in the past 12 games. Their 104 errors on the season is their highest total since they had 107 in 2003. Third baseman Adam Kennedy had tonight’s error, misplaying a short-hop grounder in the fifth that led to three unearned runs off Brett Anderson. Kennedy has committed a career-high 20 errors this season, but they’ve come in bunches in the past couple of weeks.
“I’ve just been having a hard time with, like, the depth of the ball straight at me,” said Kennedy, who converted from second to third base about midway through this season. “In the middle infield, you don’t have that. You can always move to get the ball where you want it. Lately, on balls right at me, I’m not knowing how hard they’re hit, or getting the right steps (down to field them).”
Kennedy, a free agent this offseason, added that he wouldn’t be opposed to playing third again next year. And he thinks his problems are correctable with more time there.
–Brett Anderson finished his rookie season 11-11. He went five innings Thursday and just one of his four runs allowed was earned. His overall take on his first season:
“You don’t really know what to expect. I couldn’t have told you that I thought I was gonna throw a complete-game shutout in Boston in my first start there. That was probably the highlight of the season. But I also wouldn’t have said I’d give up a double to Matt Cain either. So there’s low points and high points throughout the season. You just gotta kind of roll with it.”
It’s a slow news day as the A’s prepare for their final road game of 2009. Seattle has not been kind to them, as they’ve gone just 1-7 in the Mariners’ home park. Brett Anderson takes the hill for his final start of the season. He’s 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA — pretty solid rookie season no matter how you slice it.
It’s looking likely that outfielder Ryan Sweeney’s season is done. A’s manager Bob Geren maintains that he’d play Sweeney if his knees felt better, but I can’t believe the A’s would run him out there even if he improved physically. What’s the point? They have a chance to get a last look at guys like Travis Buck and Matt Carson. Buck starts in right tonight, but Geren said Carson would probably play Saturday and Sunday against the Angels, who throw lefties those days.
Another A’s outfielder is ailing as the season winds down. Right fielder Ryan Sweeney’s knees are bothering him, particularly his left one. He’s not in the lineup tonight, and manager Bob Geren said he’d know tomorrow whether Sweeney will miss the final four games. Sweeney joins Scott Hairston on the injured list (Hairston has been shut down with quad, hip and back injuries). Sweeney’s knees have been an issue for much of the season, but aside from one DL stint in June, he’s played through the pain. His absence means playing time for Travis Buck, who draws just his second start since being recalled Sept. 19.
A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Patterson LF; Buck RF;Pennington SS; Mortensen RHP.
M’s: Ichiro RF; Gutierrez CF; Lopez 2B; Griffey Jr. DH; Beltre 3B; Johjima C; Hannahan 1B; Wilson SS; Saunders LF; Morrow RHP.
The A’s have had pretty good luck with the weather in recent trips to Seattle. Not this time, as it’s been overcast and windy all day. We haven’t had rain yet, but the roof is closed at Safeco Field. … Mariners starter Felix Hernandez has a 1.94 ERA since Aug. 1, best among major league starters. His only start against the A’s this season came way back on April 11, and he gave up five runs in five innings. … A’s manager Bob Geren said he doesn’t anticipate changes in his lineup for the rest of this three-game series. Tonight’s has a familiar look …
Griffey Jr. DH
Just a couple tidbits before I catch a plane out of Anaheim …
–Despite failing to get the three-game sweep, the A’s are 5-0-4 in their last nine series. That’s their longest stretch without losing a series since July 27-Sept. 3, 2006.
–They need to win out in their final six games to finish at .500 and avoid their third losing season in a row. They haven’t had three straight losing seasons since they endured six straight from 1993-98.
–Today was hazing day for the rookies, who had to dress up in costumes to wear to the airport for the flight to Seattle. Among the highlights: Starting pitchers Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Clayton Mortensen all dressed up as Tele Tubbies (all you parents, pardon the punctuation and spelling if it’s wrong!). And closer Andrew Bailey, who was forced to wear a costume that resembled a part of the male anatomy that isn’t suitable for Chin Music (Bailey was supposed to change into a different costume before leaving the stadium).
True story … I was walking up to the main entry gate at Angel Stadium this morning, and two security guards were trying to corner a rooster that was running free near the will call windows(and I thought last night’s A’s victory was bizarre). But now that I think about it, catching roosters is pretty good training for stadium security personnel. … Builds quickness. At least that’s how Sylvester Stallone trained for Apollo Creed in “Rocky II.” Rocky was chasing a chicken, to be specific. And he eventually caught it. As far as today’s matchup, my money was on the rooster …
I shared that story because it’s more interesting than anything that happened in the A’s clubhouse this morning. Manager Bob Geren wasn’t lying when he said he’d give a few guys the day off. Kurt Suzuki, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust all are sitting. So we’ll see how things play out against Angels lefty Joe Saunders. Daric Barton, who’s impressed at the plate lately, hits in the No. 2 spot behind Rajai Davis.
A’s: Davis CF; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Nomar DH; Bobby Crosby 3B; Carson RF; Powell C; Patterson LF; Pennington SS; Edgar Gonzalez RHP.
Angels: Figgins 3B; Abreu RF; Hunter CF; Guerrero DH; Morales 1B; Rivera LF; Izturis 2B; Napoli C; Aybar SS; Saunders LHP.
We’ll keep it short and sweet. The A’s are sticking w/the same lineup as last night as they try to break through against John Lackey. The right-hander has allowed zero earned runs in three starts against the A’s this season. Dana Eveland pitches for the A’s, hoping for his second straight win.
Look for Matt Carson to get a start in the outfield tomorrow afternoon, with Ryan Sweeney getting the day off against Angels lefty Joe Saunders, manager Bob Geren said. Landon Powell will start behind the plate tomorrow. …
Some postgame quotes and observations following the A’s 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to start this three-game series:
–It seems there’s a switch located somewhere on Gio Gonzalez, and when the switch is “on,” we see outings like tonight’s. The lefty displayed what manager Bob Geren said was “by far his best curve ball of the year.” Gonzalez went 6 1/3 innings and got most of his seven strikeouts with the curve, but he also had his fastball and changeup working. He’s been messing with a new grip on his change-up and two-seam fastball, and he liked the results he had.
–Is there a better under-the-radar MVP candidate for the 2009 A’s than setup man Michael Wuertz? He faced six Angels hitters and struck out five of them. That gives him exactly 100 strikeouts this season, which leads American League relievers and is a career high.
According to closer Andrew Bailey (who got his 26th save), he and Wuertz have a competition going for who can top who on the mound. “Wuertz is really fun to watch,” Bailey said. “He strikes out a lot of guys. He’s been great all year, not just on the field, but off it for me. Going out there and trying to match him is a challenge.” Wuertz is arbitration-eligible this winter, and I’d say he’s making himself some money with each outing. No way the A’s don’t retain this guy.
–It wasn’t all rosy tonight. Third baseman Adam Kennedy has a pretty obvious problem throwing the ball to first base right now. I don’t know if his arm is hurting, and I haven’t asked him yet. But for the second straight game, he lobbed a routine throw that pulled Daric Barton off the bag for an error. He’s committed an error in three straight games (Wednesday’s miscue was a fielding error). What’s funny is Kennedy made a terrific play after tonight’s error, making a bare-handed grab of Juan Rivera’s grounder that ricocheted off Gio Gonzalez and throwing a strike to Barton. Go figure … In the big picture, I still think he’s done a standout job at third considering he’d never played the position in the majors before this season. And his versatility could earn him lots of interest this winter as a free agent.