0

Can new kids on the block relocate A’s from the cellar?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A's newcomers lead an escape from last place?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A’s newcomers lead an escape from last place?

It won’t mean much outside the West Coast if the A’s were to do an about-face in the final four weeks of the season and pass the Angels in the standings.

Both teams have had miserable years. The A’s finished dead last in the AL last year, and while a repeat of that is unlikely with the Twins having nine more losses than the A’s to this point, they are last in the AL West with a 59-79 record.

The Angels have trailed the A’s much of a yo-yo season, but a recent surge had moved the Anaheim crew four games up on the A’s in battle to avoid cellar rental. If the Angels would have won Tuesday’s game to stretch that lead to five games, the A’s would have had few answers as to how to take the Angels down.

But coming into Wednesday, the A’s are only three back, and a win Wednesday would not only give the A’s a series win by a realistic chance of finishing out of last place.

And when vacating last place is all there is for a baseball team, it matters quite a bit, regardless of what outsiders might believe.

Do the A’s have enough in the tank to escape the cellar? Not unless they get some unexpected help. But they got some Tuesday night from a pair of rookies, Ryon Healy and Joey Wendle, who drove in all of the Oakland runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2 win that stole a seemingly easy victory from the Angels.

But there are new faces here, and more on the way. Jharel Cotton, the Virgin Islands native who came over in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade with the Dodgers on Aug. 1, gets his first Major League game in a start Wednesday.

Raul Alcantara, who stumbled through his MLB debut Monday, will, manager Bob Melvin believes, be better now that he’s had a game to get his nerves under control.

And then there are some minor league hitters, including first baseman Matt Olson and center fielder Jaycob Brugman could get looks, as could slugger Renato Nunez, who doesn’t have a regular position but who hit 23 homers and drove in 75 runs while bouncing between left field and third base.

Could they make the difference between last place and fourth place for the A’s?

That’s what the next four weeks are all about.

 

0

Jharel Cotton’s long trip from Virgin Islands to join A’s starting rotation plus a double dose of Alcantara

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A's in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A’s in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

When Jharel Cotton was 7 and hanging around his house in the Virgin Islands watching TV, he said his stepdad told him he needed to get outside

He did as told, ran into a local baseball game, liked what he saw and said he wanted to play, too. On Wednesday, 17 years later, he makes his Major League debut as the starting pitcher for the A’s in the series finale against the Angels.

The 5-11, 195-pound right-hander moved to the Virginia when he was 16 in order to play a higher level of high school baseball and eventually made it to East Carolina University where the Dodgers made him a 20th-round pick in the 2012 draft.

He was making some progress toward to Dodgers rotation this year when he got word that changed everything.

Continue Reading

0

Daniel Mengden will get Saturday’s start for A’s, who will spend weekend playing on turf cut up by two NFL games

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A's to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A’s to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden made the trip from Nashville to Oakland will make Saturday’s start against the Red sox.

Manager Bob Melvin said Mengden, who will be activated before the game, has pitched better that his 1-5 record and 5.73 ERA with Oakland would suggest.

The club likes his assortment of pitches and when they sent him down the last time, it was because they saw signs of midseason weariness in him. He was 8-2 with a 1.67 in his time with Triple-A Nashville.

Continue Reading

4

Coco Crisp finds diminished playing time suspicious

Coco Crisp is finding too many days off on his schedule.

Coco Crisp is finding too many days off on his schedule.

Coco Crisp was back in the A’s lineup Tuesday in Arlington, Texas, starting in center field after sitting out Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

That’s 94 games this season for the A’s outfielder, which puts him on a pace to play in 127 games by season’s end. And that’s sort of an important number for Crisp, because it means his A’s career may be over come October.

Crisp is concerned that the pattern of his days off is deliberately designed to keep him from reaching 130 games. That’s the number stipulated in his contract that will trigger an automatic $13 million contract with Oakland for 2017. By playing in 129 or fewer games, he would become a free agent.

Continue Reading

0

Sonny Gray starts strengthening exercises; no throwing yet

Sonny Gray remains optimistic he'll pitch for A's again this year, but for now, he's just starting strengthening exercises on his right forearm.

Sonny Gray remains optimistic he’ll pitch for A’s again this year, but for now, he’s just starting strengthening exercises on his right forearm.

Starter Sonny Gray remains hopeful that he will be back on the mound for the A’s as a starter in September, but progress is coming along more slowly than he would like.

There is still inflammation in his right forearm, and as long as that’s the case he won’t be able to throw a baseball even to play catch on the side.

Gray did, however, stars a series of shoulder-strengthening exercises on Friday while waiting for the inflammation to subside.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Gray said. “But I’m still hoping I’ll be back out there again this year. That’s the plan.”

Manager Bob Melvin said replacing Gray isn’t done easily.

“He’s shown that he’s one of the elite pitchers in the league,” Melvin said. “He’s had a little bit of a tough time this season, but I don’t think that deters from how we feel about him and about how the rest of the league looks at him.”

Gray’s absence due to injury has led the A’s to scramble for starting pitching. When the club turned to Sean Manaea to start Friday’s series-opener against Seattle it brought an end a string of eight consecutive games with different starting pitchers – Jesse Hahn, Dillon Overton, Gray, Manaea, Kendall Graveman, Zach Neal, Ross Detwiler and Andrew Triggs.

That’s two thirds of the 12 different starters the A’s have used this year – Rich Hill, Daniel Mengden, Eric Surkamp and Chris Bassitt being the others.

And there may be more when August turns into September. Hahn is due off the disabled list in a week or so, but manager Bob Melvin named three minor leaguers Friday who were candidates to get a start in Seattle before the year is over – Mengden, Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara.

Cotton came within one out of a perfect game his last time out in just his second start since joining the organization as part of the deal that sent Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1. And Alcantara, who started the season at Double-A Midland (5-6, 4.80) has blossomed since joining Triple-A Nashville (3-0, 0.70 in four starts).

“We don’t want to see that again,” Melvin said of the A’s setting an Oakland record by having used different starters in eight straight games. “We’re probably status quo with the rotation the next time around. Then we’ll see when Jesse comes back. We still have Mengden, Cotton, Alcantara; they may be a little big later in coming.”

 

–Sean Doolittle threw a 20-pitch bullpen to hitters Tyler Ladendorf and Max Muncy Friday afternoon and could so be pitching in a game after having been on the disabled list since June with a left shoulder strain.

Doolittle threw all his pitches and came out of it fine, Melvin said.

The plan for the left-handed reliever is to either throw another set again hitters or have him head out on an injury rehabilitation assignment. That will depend on how he feels when he reports to the Coliseum Saturday.

Melvin said the A’s have been trying to be cautious with Doolittle, who began the year as the closer but who has been on the disabled list since June 25 and who has missed about seven weeks’ worth of games.

“We’ve been pretty conservation with him for obvious reasons,” Melvin said of the staff ace. “He’s a big part of what we do here. We want to make sure he comes back strong. So we’re not pushing the envelope too quickly.

“Knock wood. Everything looked really good today. The ball came out of his hand nicely and he was able to throw all of his pitches.”

 

NOTES

–Hahn (right shoulder strain) is down to throw a bullpen session Saturday. If all goes well, he’ll head out after that for an injury rehabilitation assignment and could be back with the A’s by next weekend or shortly thereafter.

–Second baseman Jed Lowrie, on the disabled list with a bunion on his left foot that has him walking gingerly will be seeing yet another specialist about what to do next. He’s talked with the A’s doctors and one outside specialist so far and has gotten conflicting information on what to do next. He’d like to avoid season-ending surgery.

–The Mariners originally planned on starting lefty Ariel Miranda Friday, but he pitched in relief in a 15-inning game Tuesday, so the club called up right-hander Joe Wieland to make his third big league start. The first two were with the Dodgers, both last season.

–Lefty reliever Patrick Schuster, put on waivers earlier in the week by Oakland, was claimed Friday by the Phillies.

 

0

Don’t look now, but Billy Butler’s no average hitter

Billy Butler is looking for more playing time worthy of his recent surge of hits.

Billy Butler is looking for more playing time worthy of his recent surge of hits.

It’s easy enough to think of Billy Butler as an afterthought in the Oakland lineup.

He doesn’t play every day. He seldom plays defense. For much of the year, he didn’t hit.

The most that could be said about Butler is that he made a lot of money. He signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Oakland before last season as a free agent.

It didn’t look like much of a deal last year when he hit just .251 with 15 homers. And when he got off to a .242 start through the first three months of the 2016 season, it seemed as if the .240-.250 range was his new home.

Continue Reading

0

A’s scrambling in rotation with Sonny Gray sidelined

Sonny Gray landed on the disabled list Sunday with a forearm strain, leaving the A's scrambling for starting pitching.

Sonny Gray landed on the disabled list Sunday with a forearm strain, leaving the A’s scrambling for starting pitching.

The A’s have lost another starting pitcher to the disabled list, ace Sonny Gray landing there Sunday morning with the A’s calling up right-handed pitcher Chris Smith from Triple-A Nashville.

Gray came out of Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Cubs after five innings in which he’d allowed two runs on five hits with what was diagnosed as a strained right forearm. It’s the second time on the disabled list this year for the right-hander, who had a flexor injury earlier in what has been his worst season – 5-11 with a Major League-worst 5.74 ERA.

Continue Reading

0

Have the A’s seen the last of starter Rich Hill?

Have the A's seen the last of Rich Hill in the rotation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Have the A’s seen the last of Rich Hill in the rotation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Rich Hill will be making his first start as a Dodger this weekend in Los Angeles, so what he does has no impact on the A’s, his former team.

Except that it might. The left-handed starter is a free agent at the end of the year, and he said Thursday he expects the A’s will be one of the teams calling on him come autumn.

More than that, he will be listening. He and his family enjoyed living in the Bay Area and could see living there again.

“You look at the record there and maybe you don’t see what I see and a lot of people in the game see,’’ Hill said. “The A’s are a team that has a lot of good young talent. I like what they have there. I think they’re going to be good real soon if they can stay healthy.

Continue Reading

0

Hill-Reddick trade gets decent support in Twitter poll

A's executive VP Billy Beane (above) and GM David Forst got considerable support in an online poll for the trades of Josh Reddick and (in particular) Rich Hill.

A’s executive VP Billy Beane (above) and GM David Forst got considerable support in an online poll for the trades of Josh Reddick and (in particular) Rich Hill.

The A’s in general and executive vice president Billy Beane in particular always will catch flak at any trade deadline move that sees Major League talent leaving and minor league talent coming in.

And so it was Monday and Tuesday in the wake of the decision by Beane and general manager David Forst to trade away right fielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill for three minor league pitchers from the Dodgers organization that most A’s fans had never heard of – Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes. All three are right-handed and all three could wind up in the A’s rotation if the Beane/Forst calculations are correct.

When (if) those calculations are proved out, all will be forgiven, presumably. In the immediate aftermath of the deal, however, there were any number of suggestions on Twitter that Beane and Forst are the ones who should be traded, and more than a few willing to package managing owner Lew Wolff with them.

Continue Reading

2

Bob Melvin, A’s deal with baseball after Reddick/Hill trade

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A's played themselves into this kind of move.

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A’s played themselves into this kind of move.

Josh Reddick was the A’s best overall player this season, which made it tough for manager Bob Melvin to see the club trade him Monday to Los Angeles.

Rich Hill was the A’s best starting pitcher, and Melvin saw him go, too, packaged with Reddick for minor league pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Suffice it to say Monday wasn’t a great day for Melvin who was able to talk to Reddick but could only exchange texts with Hill as the two men scrambled to join the Dodgers for a flight to Colorado.

Continue Reading