1

New music, same results for the A’s Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A's Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A’s Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

For most of his big league career, Sean Doolittle has come out of the A’s bullpen to the sounds of Metallica playing “For Whom The Bell Tolls.’’

No more.

When he return to the A’s by walking from the bullpen to the mound to start the seventh inning Monday, it was still Metallica, but this time the song was “Disposable Heroes.’’

None of which seemed to matter to a crowd of 18,149 who’ve been waiting since June to see Doolittle, the one-time A’s closer, on the mound again.

Continue Reading

0

A’s and Indians make it official, Oakland getting minor league lefty Colt Hynes as Cleveland adds Coco Crisp

It's official. A's have traded Coco Crisp to the Indians for minor league LHP Colt Hynes.

It’s official. A’s have traded Coco Crisp to the Indians for minor league LHP Colt Hynes.

The A’s and the Cleveland Indians have made official Wednesday morning what was reported here Tuesday night, that Oakland has traded veteran outfielder Coco Crisp back to the Indians.

Cleveland is the team with which Crisp got to the Major Leagues in 2002 and for which he played the first four seasons of his career. He’s been one of the faces of the A’s since 2010, but that ended when Crisp waived his 10-and-5 rights to not be traded (10 years in the MLB, the last five with the same team) in order to accept the deal.

The A’s, who will also ship cash to the Indians, will get left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes from Cleveland. Hynes, 31, started the year with in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before being traded to the Indians. He has a 3-1 record, two saves and a 3.99 ERA while bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A in both organizations

The money the A’s are sending will be to help defray the Indians’ costs with Crisp owed a little less than $2 million for the rest of the year and a $750,000 buyout of his 2017 contract.

Even with the money being included in the deal, the A’s are now in no danger of having a massive $13 million Crisp contract on their books for next year. He’d played in 102 games at the time of the deal, and the $13 million in 2017 would vest if he would have reached 130 games played.

The big payout now is a remote possibility – the Indians have 31 games left on the schedule, but Crisp isn’t expected to play every day for Cleveland but rather to be part of the solution as the Tribe attempts to fill in for Michael Brantley, who is on the disabled list.

Crisp was unhappy that his playing time had been cut by the A’s to the point where it became unlikely that he would be able to get to the 130-game mark, and came out mid-August to say “I know some strings are being pulled’’ to keep him only a semi-regular, adding “it all seems a little suspect.’’

He’d been limited to just 44 games last year by head and neck injuries, and even this year needed to alter his daily game preparation to be able to be ready, including the use of pain-killers.

“I haven’t felt this good in a couple of years,’’ Crisp said at the time.

And it showed. The A’s have used the disabled list a club record 27 times in 2016, but Crisp didn’t appear on it.

With Crisp traded, Oakland has contracts with just five players for 2017. DH Billy Butler, second baseman Jed Lowrie and relievers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Sean Doolittle are locked in for next season for a total of $32.1 million.

Crisp’s now former A’s teammates were uniformly unhappy to see him go but delighted at the same time that the 36-year-old switch-hitter was getting a chance to play in a pennant race, the Indians attempting to hold off the Tigers and the Royals in the American League Central.

“It’s tough so see him go,’’ left fielder Khris Davis said. “But I’m glad for him to have a chance to go back home where it started and be in the race. It’s what we all want to do at some point, to get a chance to play for a winner.’’

The A’s are bringing up second baseman Joey Wendle to fill Crisp’s spot on the roster, with Wendle and fellow rookie Chad Pinder likely to share time at second base. The time in the outfield will be spread out among Danny Valencia, Jake Smolinski and Brett Eibner, with Eibner likely to get the bulk of the freed-up playing time.

As far as the top of the Oakland lineup goes, the A’s, who already traded Billy Burns, don’t have a true leadoff hitter now. Shortstop Marcus Semien and center fielder Jake Smolinski are the only players on the current roster to have led off for Oakland this year, Semien having done it seven times and Smolinski three times.

 

0

Hill likely back on Sunday, but A’s still a starter short with Daniel Mengden sent down; Dillon Overton could go Saturday

Rich Hill is optimistic he will start Sunday, but with Daniel Mengden sent down, A's still need Saturday starter.

Rich Hill is optimistic he will start Sunday, but with Daniel Mengden sent down, A’s still need Saturday starter.

The A’s have sent their scheduled starter for Saturday, Daniel Mengden, to the minor leagues, leaving couple of open spots in the rotation for this weekend in Cleveland.

Rich Hill, Oakland’s winningest pitcher at 9-3, 2.25, hopes he’ll start Sunday against the Indians. After making 20 throws from 60 feet without a bandage covering his blistered left middle finger and 50 throws in a regular bullpen session with the blister covered, Hill said “I do think it’s real possible I can pitch on Sunday.’’

There is, always, the chance that Hill could be traded between now and then, but he doesn’t want to go and the A’s don’t seem in any hurry to pull the trigger on a deal. Sunday could be big, because it’s the day before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

Continue Reading

0

Rich Hill isn’t pulling a Scott Kazmir, at least not yet

It was 51 weeks ago that Scott Kazmir reported to the Coliseum ready to start for the A's only to learn that he'd been traded to Houston.

It was 51 weeks ago that Scott Kazmir reported to the Coliseum ready to start for the A’s only to learn that he’d been traded to Houston.

It was 51 weeks ago on a Thursday afternoon that media coming into the A’s clubhouse before an afternoon game against the Blue Jays were treated to the odd sight of Scott Kazmir sitting in street clothes in the office of A’s manager Bob Melvin.

Kazmir, who’d rebuilt his career with the A’s, was supposed to be Oakland’s starting pitcher that day. Instead, the A’s traded him to Houston in a deal that netted the A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.

Kazmir is now with the Dodgers. Mengden is now in the A’s rotation. Nottingham is now with Double-A Biloxi in the Brewers’ organization while the player the A’s got from Milwaukee in trading him, Khris Davis, is the A’s current home run leader.

Continue Reading

0

Trade machine, or at least trade rumor machine, heats up

Rich Hill would like to stay with the A's, but it's likely he'll be traded in the next two weeks.

Rich Hill would like to stay with the A’s, but it’s likely he’ll be traded in the next two weeks.

The A’s will have no shortage of suitors in the next two weeks.

Whether anything comes of those inquiries or not is anybody’s guess, but there are post-season contenders with needs and the A’s have some of the goods.

And that’s before starter Sonny Gray and right fielder Josh Reddick, both of whom are highly coveted but both of whom the A’s would like to keep.

Continue Reading

0

Ryan Dull qualifies for more late-inning A’s work

Ryan Dull decided to go clean shaven after getting a save but losing a streak Saturday.

Ryan Dull decided to go clean shaven after getting a save but losing a streak Saturday.

Ryan Dull, who had pitched the entire first half while wearing a close-cropped goatee, showed up in the A’s clubhouse clean shaven Sunday morning, just hours after he’d earned his first save of the season while seeing his streak of on allowing inherited runners to score ended.

He said there was no correlation between the baseball and his facial hair.

Continue Reading

0

Apologetic Crisp takes one-game suspension in stride

Coco Crisp missed Friday's game while serving a one-game suspension he said he deserves.

Coco Crisp missed Friday’s game while serving a one-game suspension he said he deserves.

Coco Crisp took the one-game suspension he was handed by the MLB front office in stride, not only declining to appeal the suspension but saying he deserved it.

The A’s center fielder threw a bat that either hit or came very close to hitting home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in Thursday’s 3-1 Oakland win over the Astros. It was the fifth inning, the A’s were collectively unhappy with Reyburn’s definition of the strike zone and Crisp dropped his bat in the general direction of Reyburn in protest.

Continue Reading

0

A’s lefty Sean Doolittle a little weary, but he’s not hurting

Sean Doolittle has a little pain in his shoulder, but he's hoping to pitch in a day or so.

Sean Doolittle has a little pain in his shoulder, but he’s hoping to pitch in a day or so.

When A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t go to lefty Sean Doolittle Tuesday on a night when Oakland was running desperately short of help, red flags immediately went up.

After all, Doolittle missed five months last year with injury problems. His health is a matter of prime concern to an Oakland bullpen that has been getting excessive work.

Continue Reading

0

Can the A’s wait two weeks for rotation help to arrive?

Rich Hill believes he is two weeks away from returning to A's rotation.

Rich Hill believes he is two weeks away from returning to A’s rotation.

There’s a reason to believe the next two weeks are crucial for the A’s.

Not for getting back into contention, mind you. Just for getting back into competitiveness.

Contention is a way off just now with the A’s 12½ games out of first place in the American League West.

Oakland is 10 games under .500 at 27-37, and the A’s haven’t distinguished themselves in June (3-8) after a terrible May (11-17).

The 11-man disabled list – the 11th man landed there Tuesday, starting pitcher Sean Manaea – could be going on a diet. Reliever Liam Hendriks is due to come off the disabled list in the next week or so.

Continue Reading

0

A’s bullpen proves to be music to Bob Melvin’s ears, again

Fernando Rodriguez pitched two hitless, walkless innings of relief for Sunday's win.

Fernando Rodriguez (33) pitched two hitless, walkless innings of relief for Sunday’s win.

In any city in either of the big leagues, there’s never a trouble differentiating between a winner’s clubhouse and a loser’s.

The winners get to play music. The loser’s don’t. And for the first seven game of this A’s just-completed swing through Houston, Milwaukee and Cincinnati, Oakland’s clubhouse’s silence qualified for library levels.

The music finally broke out Sunday in a 6-1 victory over the Reds that at least meant Oakland could fly back to the Bay Area with the solace of having won the finale.

Everybody takes part in the silence. Interviewees talk in hushed tones. Player-on-player conversations are muted. Mostly no one finds much of a reason to talk.

But not everybody is equally at fault for the losses. Yes, all of baseball, including the A’s, takes a win-as-a-team, lose-as-a-team approach to the game, but the reality is that some parts of the team are always going to be more culpable than others.

In the case of the A’s, members of the bullpen have pitched well enough to deserve music whenever they feel up to it. On Sunday, Fernando Rodriguez threw two scoreless innings followed by one each from John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.

Despite the A’s being 10 games under .500 at 26-36, that level of success is not new. In the final five games of the road trip, A’s relievers threw a combined 13.2 innings. Not only did the relievers not give up any runs, they only allowed one hit. The pen over that stretch inherited six runners. None of them scored.

On Sunday, the relievers brought the win home, allowing just one base runner.

Asked about the music, manager Bob Melvin deadpanned, “is that what that is?’’

Melvin said it was “miserable going home every night’’ during the losing streak. But given a 4-1 lead, the relievers made sure pitching on a very warm day was no impediment to a much-needed victory.

“Fernando was a rested as anybody we have in the bullpen,’’ Melvin said. “He’s been good with men on base, he’s been good against righties and lefties. I knew I could use him for two innings, then go to our guys we feel good about winning the game with.’’

The five innings without a hit – the only base runner was a hit batter from Rodriguez – was close to the A’s norm.

“We can do that,’’ Melvin said. “Probably our biggest strength on our team right now is the bullpen, particularly when we’re ahead. We just need to get a lead. We’ve had so many games when we’ve been behind.’’

Sunday, for once, the A’s weren’t behind. The relievers made sure that didn’t change.

And that, more than anything, was music for Melvin’s ears.