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A new spot for all of your A’s coverage

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As many of you have already noticed, we have made some changes to the way you receive your A’s coverage, but not the coverage itself.

The Bay Area News Group recently launched a new and improved website that functions much better across all platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet) and increases our ability to get the latest news out to you as fast as possible.

With that launch, the Oakland Athletics blog will no longer be populated. The blog site will still be here in an archived form, but we won’t be adding new content and all our new A’s coverage will be posted at http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/oakland-athletics.

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Mengden joins the clubbed club as Red Sox hammer A’s by double digits yet again

On Jose Canseco Bobblehead Night, the A’s once again got bashed by the Boston Red Sox.

After delivering a 16-2 bludgeoning in the series opener, the Red Sox followed up with a 17-hit onslaught en route to a 11-2 victory over Oakland Saturday night at the Coliseum, the fifth straight game this year Boston has scored double-digit runs against the beleaguered A’s, who lost their fifth straight before a crowd of 30,045.

Oakland starter Daniel Mengden (1-6) gave up seven runs over the first 2 2/3 innings on eight Red Sox hits, including a two-run double by Mookie Betts in the first inning that got things rolling.

Boston broke things open with a seven-run third, and did it all after two out and nobody on. Hanley Ramirez hit his 20th home run to start the scoring parade, followed by four subsequent doubles in the inning by Sandy Leon, rookie Yoan Moncada (the Cuban top prospect’s first major-league hit), Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz, who had three hits in the game including a pair of doubles.
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A’s focus turns to 2017 as calendar turns to September

First baseman Matt Olson could be one of many to get a look with the A's this month.

First baseman Matt Olson could be one of many to get a look with the A’s this month.

Welcome to 2017.

While most of baseball is concentrating on finishing up business regarding the 2016, the A’s will be one of a minority of Major League teams whose prime focus will be the future.

“It’s fair to say a lot of September will be about evaluating players for next year and beyond,’’ A’s general manager David Forst said Thursday. “Some of the players we’re talking about are already here.’’

More will be coming with the expansion of rosters MLB goes through every September, going from 25 roster spots to as many as 40.

The elevation of Ryon Healy to the starting third base job after the All-Star break was the beginning. The promotions in the last month of outfielder Brett Eibner and infielders Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle added fuel to the blaze.

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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.

 

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Billy Butler making Bob Melvin, A’s take notice of production

Billy Butler keeps hammering the ball against right-handers, and it's getting him more playing time.

Billy Butler keeps hammering the ball against right-handers, and it’s getting him more playing time.

Billy Butler has seemingly come out of nowhere to be the A’s hottest hitter.

The prize free agent plucked from Kansas City two winters ago struggled in his first year with Oakland, hitting 40 points under his career batting average, just .251, with just 15 homers.

It wasn’t want he or the A’s were looking for after agreeing on a three-year, $30 million deal designed to give the A’s more right-handed oomph.

Things got so bad in the first month of this season that Butler became relegated to being a part-time player, starting against left-handed pitchers but having to check the lineup card every day to see if he might be getting a start against a right-hander.

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Coco Crisp has empathy for neck issue that likely will end Prince Fielder’s career

Coco Crisp goes through a little bit of hell every day just to continue playing baseball, but it could be worse. He could have opted for surgery to try and correct bulging disk issues in his neck, the same kind of surgery that apparently will prematurely end the career of Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder.

Fielder had cervical fusion surgery in May of 2014 between two disks in his neck and required the same surgery again on July 29 just above the previous surgical area. Fielder, who is signed through 2020 and still owed a ton of money, hasn’t announced his retirement but it appears he will not be able to receive clearance from doctors to play again. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, to clarify Fielder’s future.

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Sonny Gray very relieved arm injury isn’t serious, hopes to pitch again before season ends

Sonny Gray was back in the A’s clubhouse Tuesday looking like a very, very relieved man. He got the MRI news on his strained right forearm late Monday night and was ecstatic to learn the test revealed no structural damage. The injury that landed him on the disabled list Sunday is merely inflammation and fluid buildup that should heal on its own with down time.

“Yeah, there’s definitely relief after not knowing for a couple of days what the issue was,” Gray said. “But once you get the news, you can start to put a plan in motion and hopefully it won’t be a significant thing.”

Gray’s just glad the horror stories he’s heard about how elbow injuries requiring surgery often manifest themselves didn’t apply to him.

“I’ve always heard people say you feel something on one pitch and I never had felt that until the other day,” he said. I had no news until last night around 8 p.m. I knew how I felt, but I didn’t know what all the tests were going to say.”
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Coco Crisp shows he can do a little bit of everything

Coco Crisp turned in a complete game Thursday, throwing out a runner, stealing a homer and clubbing a tie-breaking double.

Coco Crisp turned in a complete game Thursday, throwing out a runner, stealing a homer and clubbing a tie-breaking double.

A year ago, Coco Crisp was in the midst of losing his job as a starter with the A’s, a neck injury making him just a fraction of the player he had been.

2016 has been something of a redemption for Crisp. And Thursday’s game in Anaheim had him showing that all his facets are in play.

He singlehandedly shut down the Angels offense in the fifth inning, then put the A’s ahead in the seventh. Although the Angels would rally to force extra innings on an error later, the A’s 8-6 10-inning win wouldn’t have been Oakland’s without Crisp, a player that first baseman Yonder Alonso called “The Natural.’’

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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.

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Unhappy Butler expresses displeasure about role following winning homer that saves Hahn effort

For a guy who hit the game-winning home run and averted the anguish of a ruined Jesse Hahn pitching performance, Billy Butler didn’t sound like a very happy man following Sunday’s 3-2 A’s victory over Tampa Bay.

Butler is laboring through his worst major-league season by far. He’s been so unproductive –- two home runs and 22 RBIs as he entered Game No. 99 — the A’s have ignored the fact he is their third highest-paid player and made him a part-time employee who is only generally in the lineup against left-handed pitching.

The veteran designated hitter thinks that’s wrong, and hitting an eighth-inning center field blast off right-handed reliever, Erasmo Ramirez, to preserve Oakland’s seventh win in 10 games since the All-Star break finally gave him the platform to say so.
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