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A’s: Moss’s one last at-bat dissolves a night of frustration

Brandon Moss bounced back from pop-fly central Tuesday to deliver the go-ahead hit in 7-4 win over the Astros.

Brandon Moss bounced back from pop-fly central Tuesday to deliver the go-ahead hit in 7-4 win over the Astros.

Brandon Moss didn’t believe he could get much more frustrated in one game than he did in the first eight innings Tuesday.

The A’s right field flew out to left field four times. And the words “flew out’’ scarcely describe the at-bats.

“It had been a pretty frustrating day for me so far; I hit four straight weak, weak popups to the left,’’ Moss said. “ Two of them should have been to the shortstop. It hadn’t been a very good day until the last at-bat.’’

Moss had a career-best 10-game hitting streak come to an end Sunday. Since the single that got him to double digits, he’d gone hitless in 14 consecutive at-bats before coming up in the ninth. He was given the chance because Yoenis Cespedes’ single to right fell in to tie the game.

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A’s: Looking at options 48 hours out from trade deadline

It’s closing in on 48 hours before the trade deadline hits (1 p.m. PDT Thursday), and just where do the A’s stand?

For one thing, they’re in a position where they don’t need to make a trade, although they continue to explore second base options. And while they don’t need an outfielder long term, they could use one until they know that Craig Gentry (disabled list, broken right hand) and Coco Crisp (neck) are healthy.

With the July 4 trade for starters Jeff Samardzija (pitching tonight in Houston) and Jason Hammel (pitching the series finale Wednesday), the A’s addressed their most pressing need going forward. On the other hand, you can never have too much pitching, so there’s that.

But the trade deadline is not to be trifled with, so let’s have a look as A’s possibilities:

 

–Second base: Probably the best option for the A’s is the Rays’ Ben Zobrist (.269, 8 homers, 29 RBIs). He was an All-Star last year, and at 33 is something like perfect for the we’re-all-about-versatility A’s because he can play second, third and the outfield, although he hasn’t been in center field since last year. He’s under club control through 2015, which would fit nicely into the Oakland narrative, too.

The Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera (.249, 9 homers, 40 RBIs) has been strictly a shortstop since 2010, but he came up as a second baseman/shortstop and if the A’s were convinced he could give them the defense they need, he could be a nice bit of 28-year-old adrenalin for the A’s lineup.

Then there’s Aaron Hill. The Diamondbacks’ second baseman is, at 32, having the worst year of his career (.255, 8 homers, 49 RBIs), but it was just last year that he hit .291 and two years back he hit .302 with 26 homers, and a change of scene could do the right-handed hitter well. He’s owed a lot of money, though, $24 million over the next two seasons and the A’s wouldn’t take that on without getting a bucket of money back from Arizona.

Talk about adding Nick Franklin from the Mariners has happened, but it’s tough seeing Franklin a fix for this year. He’s never played a full season in the big leagues and has spent most of this year in the minors after the addition of Robinson Cano. His defense is unproven, but he’s been a consistent .300 hitter the last two years at Triple-A Tacoma, even if he’s hit just .128 in 17 games for Seattle this year.

 

–Center field: Marcell Ozuna (.272, 16 homers, 57 RBIs) is someone who probably shouldn’t be mentioned, because why would the Marlins trade a 24-year-old who might be an impact player? Well, the Marlins have approached the A’s about starting pitcher Tommy Milone, and if the A’s are going to entertain thoughts of trading Milone, who was 6-0 over an 11-game stretch before getting bumped to the minor leagues by the arrival of Hammel, Oakland may as well ask for someone they could really use over the long term knowing that the Marlins seem to have available center field options in their minor league system.

The A’s couldn’t hold on to left-handed hitting center fielder Sam Fuld because there was no room on the roster after early April, but Fuld, now with the Twins, would seem to be just what the A’s need – a defensive whiz with the ability to play off the bench. He’s done a decent job (.272, 1 homer, 17 RBIs in 51 games) for Minnesota, but he’s probably available.

 

–Pitching: As we said above, the A’s don’t really need another starting pitcher, but they’ve called the Red Sox in the last few days with left-hander Jon Lester (10-7, 2.42) available from last-place Boston.

And the Marlins have contacted the A’s about possibility of the left-handed Milone, currently pitching at Triple-A Sacramento, heading to Miami.

Sean McAdam of CSNNE first reported the A’s interest in Lester, although Oakland is far from being at the top of the heap. Toronto, St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the A’s join the Brewers and the Braves in being interested enough to see if there is room at the table.

The Red Sox are willing to move Lester, and Lester is willing to be moved, but any decision is likely to come down to the final hours leading up to the deadline. At a minimum, the A’s would have to send Milone to the Red Sox, but it’s not clear the A’s have enough in the minor leagues system to complete a deal for the veteran, who would be just a two-month addition.

Lester isn’t the only starter the A’s have asked about. They tried to get David Price from the Rays a month ago, but they moved to Samardzija and Hammel when the Rays said they weren’t ready to make a move. Since then, it seems that Price will stay put with the Rays playing better, but you never know.

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A’s: Reddick keeps putting on a defensive show in right

Josh Reddick’s up-and-down offense – it’s currently up – takes a lot of hits in social media. 

Josh Reddick wound up on his back making catch to rob Houston's Jose Altuve of a hit Monday in the seventh inning. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Josh Reddick wound up on his back making catch to rob Houston’s Jose Altuve of a hit Monday in the seventh inning. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

There are A’s fans routinely looking for his scalp. It’s in part because he hit 32 homers two seasons ago and hasn’t come close to matching that kind of production since, battling an unending series of injries.

And manager Bob Melvin said that no one on the A’s roster hits in tougher luck that his right fielder.

The thing is, Reddick’s game is more than about just offense, although he’s 8-for-25 (.320) since coming off the disabled list, and the A’s would take that kind of production during the stretch run, no questions asked.

What separates Reddick from other right fielders is his defense, which was put on display on back-to-back tests in the seventh inning in Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Houston Astros.

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A’s: Burns’ spring training trial could be ready to pay off

Billy Burns went from Double-A to the big leagues Monday, joining the A's in Houston.

Billy Burns went from Double-A to the big leagues Monday, joining the A’s in Houston.

Billy Burns was almost out the hotel door, heading to the ballpark in Frisco, Texas, where he’d be the center fielder Monday night for the Midland Rockhounds, the same as the day before and the day before that.

His manager, Aaron Nieckula, changed everything with one phone call. Pack your bags and come to the park, Nieckula said. An explanation would be awaiting.

It was, but Burns didn’t need it. Shortly after the first call he got another, this one from A’s traveling secretary Mickey Morabito, on the line to arranging a quick flight to Houston, where Burns would be joining the A’s. Oakland was down two center fielders, Coco Crisp out for at least a few days with a neck injury and Craig Gentry out possibly a couple of weeks or more with a broken right hand.

Before the night was over, Burns would go from being a .250 hitter at Double-A unhappy with the level of offense he was putting out, to being up two levels and getting his first big league at-bat. He flew out to right as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of a 7-3 loss to Houston.

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A’s: Jaso says Sogard at the heart of his sudden RBI spree

John Jaso wants to credit Eric Sogard for much of his RBI production of late.

John Jaso wants to credit Eric Sogard for much of his RBI production of late.

In his last 15 games John Jaso has driven in 13 runs, not bad for someone not generally considered an RBI threat.

Jaso knows just who to blame.

“A lot of it’s about Eric Sogard,’’ Jaso said after driving in three runs in the A’s 9-3 win over Texas Sunday night. “A lot of what I’ve been doing started when he began to get hot again.’’

Jaso isn’t kidding. Of his last nine RBIs since July 20, he’s driven in Sogard four times. Sogard was 4-for-35 before turning it around beginning on the 20th. He’s 7-for-20 (.350) since then and has scored eight runs, half of the time Jaso being the man to bring him home.

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A’s: Seeing Braves head to into Hall big moment for Reddick

The A’s won’t have batting practice before their 6:05 p.m. (CDT) game with the Rangers Sunday night, so they’ll have to find other ways to fill their time.

Josh Reddick will commandeer the clubhouse television to lock in on the Hall of Fame Ceremonies coming out of Cooperstown.

Reddick grew up in Georgia and was, by his own admission, “a huge Braves fan.’’

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A’s: Jaso, Reddick could bolster offense down the stretch

John Jaso has been on a month-long tear, hitting.326 to get his overall average to .284.

John Jaso has been on a month-long tear, hitting.326 to get his overall average to .284.

It can be easy to overlook John Jaso or Josh Reddick in the A’s offense since Oakland has three players with more individual homers than the 13 combined that Jaso and Reddick have.

It can be easy. It just wouldn’t be wise.

Jaso is in the middle of a nice tear, going 17-for-45 (.378) with four doubles, two triples, a homer and 10 RBIs in his last 13 games. Over a longer stretch, he’s hitting .326 in his last 27 games.

Reddick, the man of 32 homers who has been injured much of the last year and half, is healthy now with the help of a knee brace, and with his solo homer Saturday he is 5-for-16 (313) since coming off the disabled list with three doubles, the homer and five runs scored.

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A’s: Vogt balances wanting to play, needing to rest foot

Stephen Vogt is playing on a painful right foot and producing.

Stephen Vogt is playing on a painful right foot and producing.

Stephen Vogt has spent enough of his career not playing in the big leagues that the last thing you’ll ever see him do is ask for time off.

The veteran catcher/outfielder is not asking for it now.

But when you watch him limp around the A’s clubhouse after a game, you wonder what his pain threshold is and whether time off would help. On the field as the A’s first baseman Friday night, Vogt seemed to be able to make all the plays needed.

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A’s: Second base upgrades in short supply

Before Friday’s game with the Rangers, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he didn’t see Oakland in a position where it had to trade for a second baseman for the stretch run.

Having acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on July 4, Melvin said, was good enough and the club could make do with at second. Eric Sogard has picked this week to up his game a little, and Alberto Callaspo is due off DL Sunday.

And that may be just as well, because the pool of available candidates seems to be evaporating. Six weeks ago, it seemed a sure bet the Rays would trade Ben Zobrist. Then Tampa went on a surge.

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A’s finally cut the cord on Jim Johnson, designate $10 mil reliever for assignment, plus good news on Cespedes

The A’s finally put struggling high-priced reliever Jim Johnson out of his Oakland misery Thursday, designating the right-hander for assignment after his latest in a series of mound meltdowns.

Johnson, 31, entrusted with a 9-2 Oakland lead against Houston Wednesday night, gave up four straight hits – in just 11 pitches – and was quickly removed by A’s manager Bob Melvin. All four runs eventually scored as the A’s hung on for a 9-7 victory at the Coliseum.

It was just the latest in a long list of setbacks, starting with a loss in his first A’s appearance on March 31 and a blown save in his second.

Johnson, 4-2 with a 6.92 ERA and just two saves before losing his job as the closer, was a major disappointment for the A’s this year. Signed to a $10 million one-year deal after the departure of Grant Balfour in free agency, the A’’s looked secure with a pitcher who had saved 101 games in his previous two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said it was difficult giving Johnson the bad news.

“It was very tough,” Melvin said. “There’s a human side to all this, too. The performance wasn’t great, but it’s not like he wasn’t accountable. I just couldn’t get him in a spot where he could get on a roll, and I feel awful about it, too, because it’s my job to get him in a position to succeed, and it just didn’t happen here.”
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