Barry Zito’s winter spent with pitching guru Ron Wolforth has resulted in an invitation to A’s spring training camp.
Ron Wolforth won’t throw an inning in the big leagues this year, but he could have a huge impact on the A’s starting rotation.
It was Wolforth, something of a pitching guru working out of Houston, who resuscitated Scott Kazmir’s career a couple of years back. Kazmir, a 15-game winner and an All-Star last year, is the No. 2 man in the Oakland rotation behind Sonny Gray.
And Monday came the news that another Wolforth reclamation case, Barry Zito, has signed with the A’s. Zito will be on a minor league contract, but if the left-hander does as well as Wolforth seems to believe he will, the one-time Cy Young Award winner could easily fit into the A’s rotation.
Jarrod Parker lost in salary arbitration Saturday and will earn $850,000 this season.
The A’s have just one salary arbitration case remaining in front of them after Oakland won its case with right-handed starter Jarrod Parker Saturday.
Tyler Clippard, acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar on Jan 14, is seeking $8.85 million while the A’s are offering $7.775 million.
Parker will earn $850,000 instead of his requested $1.7 million after having missed all of 2014 following a second Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his right arm.
Parker, 26, is expected to be healthy enough to rejoin the A’s deep into the season as he comes back from surgery. He was 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA in 2013 and came to camp in 2014 as one of Oakland’s five starters, but he needed mid-March surgery.
Coco Crisp will try and rein in his aggressive tendency this season in an effort to stay healthy.
Coco Crisp is going to try to take it a little bit easier in 2015 as the A’s center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Crisp can’t imagine not playing hard. His all-out style of play is what defines him.
After a year in which collisions with outfield walls led to neck pain and a dropoff in productivity, Crisp tells me it’s important to be on the field more this season, and if that means easing off the accelerator a little, so be it.
“I’m going to try and rein in my aggressive game,’’ Crisp said. The outfielder, who will be with his new (and some of his old) teammates at the Coliseum and Arena Sunday for the A’s annual FanFest, doesn’t like to talk about health issues. After a long off-season of rehab to get his neck problems under control, however, he waived that prerogative and opened up on the subject.
A’s catcher Stephen Vogt has been cleared to run after spending 9.5 weeks in a surgical boot following foot surgery.
Stephen Vogt has sore feet, but the A’s catcher isn’t complaining.
He spent 9½ weeks in a boot following surgery on his right foot Oct. 14, and the soreness is just a matter of getting acclimated to not having his foot encased in a boot for all that time.
His surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Jung, cleared him to start running last week and Vogt says he expects to be good to go when spring training starts in Mesa, Ariz. in a month’s time.
“There is soreness, but there is no pain, so that’s a huge improvement for me,’’ Vogt said. “I played in pain for the last three months of the year, and that’s gone. So even with the soreness, I’m feeling good physically.
Hector Olivera, at the plate in 2010 for Team Cuba, could be a good fit for A’s.
In the aftermath of the A’s season-ending loss to the Royals in Kansas City, I mentioned that in looking forward, Oakland might want to take a close look at Cuban free agent second baseman Hector Olivera.
A dozen weeks later, with the calendar ready to morph from 2014 to 2015, it’s time to revisit that hypothesis and expand on it.
The A’s have made wholesale changes and will have an almost entirely different infield going forward than the one that served them the last three seasons or so. The exception is at second base, where Eric Sogard, a good defender coming off a miserable offensive season, returns.
That’s if the roster doesn’t have any more turnover. However, the A’s have both a history of post-Christmas trades and money to address deficiencies thanks to their three-month spree in which the Oakland roster has gotten both younger and less expensive.
The trade of Derek Norris brings two good arms into the A’s camp and leaves open more possible moves.
You have to wonder what’s next for the A’s.
Billy Beane & Co. have spent the last six weeks stocking up on young talent, most of it pitching, including right-handed starter Jesse Hahn and right-handed reliever J.R. Alvarez who are the newest additions with Derek Norris having been traded to the Padres Thursday night.
Already five of the seven players the A’s had at the All-Star Game this season are off the roster, and as Norris told me Thursday night, it seems like the A’s “are looking to rebuild’’ heading into 2015.
Norris may be right about that, but it seems more than a little possible that Beane is loading up for one big swing between now and the start of spring training. With Matt Kemp off the block now, the biggest bats known to be available are outfielder Justin Upton of the Braves and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies.
It was a small move the A’s made Thursday, if only because the newest left-hander in the bullpen is Eury De La Rosa, all 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds of him.
The Dominican product isn’t overpowering with a low- to mid-90-mph fastball, but he has a nasty slider that right-handed hitters find particularly difficult. And despite his mid-range velocity and small stature, he has 48 strikeouts in 51.1 innings in parts of the last two seasons pitching with Arizona.
The 24-year-old has shown decent control (19 walks) in those 51 big league innings, but as a minor leaguer his control was above average (17 walks in 63.1 innings) at Double-A in 2012.
Eric Sogard is the only remaining member of the 2014 A’s infield still with the team after free agency Jed Lowrie signed Sunday with Houston.
In trading Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija this off-season, the A’s have made it very clear that they are going younger in 2015. And, as a byproduct, they are seeing their payroll obligations much reduced.
But they A’s were willing to chase at least one expensive free agent, Padres’ third baseman Chase Headley, this time around. I wrote about the possibility when the Donaldson trade went down. And when the third baseman signed a four-year $52-million deal Monday with the Yankees, Ken Rosenthal of Fox confirmed via Twitter that Oakland had indeed made a competitive offer for Headley early on.
While no one now will get from the A’s as much as they were willing to offer Headley, the A’s still have money to spend in free agency.
But despite the rumors that persist on the internet, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will not be one on the Oakland shopping list. Kang was posted Monday, but at the winter meetings, A’s general manager Billy Beane made it clear the A’s were not interested.
Mark Canha, who went from Bellarmine High to Cal, is mostly a left fielder and first baseman, but he can play some third, and A’s may well give him that chance in 2015.
The smart money says the A’s aren’t done with their tri-annual roster remake, but as we await those, there are some intriguing possibilities put forward by the moves the club already has made since the end of the season.
For me, one of the more compelling is the addition of Rule 5 slugger Mark Canha, the Cal product who is mostly a first baseman and left fielder.
He also plays third base, and has a Triple-A slash line good enough – .303/.384/.505 – that the A’s traded a young pitcher they liked, Austin House, Thursday morning to make sure they could emerge from the Rule 5 draft with Canha, the owner of 68 career minor league homers, in the fold.
Mark Canha, who went from Bellarmine High to Cal, will get every chance to stick with A’s in 2015.
Oakland had one more trick up its sleeve before leaving town at the end of the Winter Meetings Thursday, trading with the Colorado Rockies for infielder/outfielder Mark Canha.
The A’s sent minor league pitcher Austin House and cash to the Rockies, who had just minutes earlier taken Canha off the roster of the Miami Marlins as the second pick in the Rule 5 draft. To make room on the big league roster, the A’s designated Shane Peterson for assignment.
Under baseball rules, Canha was drafted at a cost of $50,000 and must remain on the A’s 25-man roster all year or be offered back to the Marlins for $25,000.