A’s are defeated, but don’t feel defeatist; that’s a plus

Danny Valencia sees A's playing winning baseball, even after a walkoff loss to the Rangers.

Danny Valencia sees A’s playing winning baseball, even after a walkoff loss to the Rangers.

There was the predictable silence in the A’s clubhouse after Monday’s game ended with Adrian Beltre taking Ryan Madson deep for a game-winning two-run homer.

There wasn’t any of the predictable woe-is-me that often befits teams in fourth place and not even within periscope range of first place.

Instead the A’s talked about having playing well in the recent past, about having played well on this night and about there being no reason they can’t continue to play well in the future.

It’s sort of like the ghosts visiting Ebenezer Scrooge six months early, but with bats and balls.

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A’s trying to fend off Dream Crushing Texas to make playoffs

Stephen Vogt says A's focus remains on fact that the team remains in excellent shape to reach the post-season.

Stephen Vogt says A’s focus remains on fact that the team remains in excellent shape to reach the post-season.

Written on the whiteboard in the Texas Rangers clubhouse Thursday were two words that sum up the final four days of 2014 for the Rangers:

“Dream Crushers’’ it read.

The dream belongs not to the Rangers but to the A’s, who are scrambling to find a way to resuscitate in the final week of the season, claw their way back into the playoffs and then let the chips fall.

The A’s have lost seven of 10, haven’t played well for six weeks and yet still have a decent chance to get to the post-season.

Oakland stranded runners all over the place Thursday – they had a man reach base in every inning but the eighth – then lost when Adrian Beltre hit a walkoff homer in the ninth.

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Game 148 wrapup: Moss, A’s impressed by Darvish; Magic number at 10; Rangers accomplish none of their goals so far; Balfour says all credit to Bartolo

Brandon Moss homered in the first inning the last time he faced Yu Darvish, a two-run shot that led to what would become an 11-4 A’s win back on Sept. 4.

So perhaps it should have been no surprise that when Moss faced the Rangers’ ace in the first inning Saturday, he’d unload with a run-scoring double.

The difference this time was that there would be no scoring on either side, and the A’s would claim a 1-0 win that would move Oakland to 5½ games in front of Texas in the American League West. The A’s magic number to win the West — any combination of 10 A’s wins or Rangers losses would give Oakland the title.

It never occurred to Moss that his hit would produce the game’s only run.

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After the Twins, Rangers series looms large for A’s

It will be interesting to see how the A’s play the final game of their series in Target Field.

They are coming off their biggest blowout of the season, an 18-3 win over the Twins Wednesday. And on Friday they start their final series of the season against their competition in the American League West, the Texas Rangers, in Arlington.

With those kinds of bookends, a day game like this could get lost in the shuffle.

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Rangers (at least some of them) face A’s in first spring matchup

The Texas Rangers roll into town today to play their first exhibition against the A’s, but it won’t be a real accurate representation of the squad the A’s will see in the regular season. Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre (who’s hurt) are not making the trip. But ace C.J. Wilson is on the mound.

The lineups:

DeJesus RF
Suzuki C
Jackson 1B
Matsui DH
Kouzmanoff 3B
Carson CF
Carter LF
Tolleson SS
Weeks 2B

Braden LHP.

Borbon CF
German 2B
Moreland 1B
Barden DH
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Deeds RF
Engel Beltre LF
Andres Blanco SS

Wilson LHP

–A’s manager Bob Geren said he sees David DeJesus as a good leadoff candidate when Coco Crisp doesn’t play. DeJesus has lots of experience atop the order from his time with the Royals. Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington could also fill the role, according to Geren, but DeJesus is the most natural fit.

–Under-the-radar Athletic who is having a nice camp so far: Matt Carson. He homered yesterday and made a great catch slamming into the right field wall against the Brewers. He’s getting a start in center today.

–Outfielder Ryan Sweeney thinks about three weeks is needed for him to get his timing at the plate and be ready for the regular season. He’s scheduled to play in his first game Wednesday – he’s been brought along slowly while he recovers from knee surgery – and that would give him three weeks before the April 1 opener. “In batting practice, everything feels great. It’s just the timing in games,” he said. Sweeney was scheduled to face Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow this morning in batting practice. He said he’s been shagging flies and his knee feels good.

–Reliever Joey Devine reached the 92-93 mph range in his last outing Wednesday, and Geren said his slider was sharp too. That’s a good sign for the A’s, obviously, and if Devine continues to round into form in Cactus League games, one of the seven bullpen spots surely is his. Speaking of relievers, Michael Wuertz threw 30 pitches yesterday off the mound and his shoulder came out of it fine. He’ll throw off the mound at least one more time before facing hitters. “He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t need 10 to 12 outings,” Geren said. “It could be five or six and he’ll be ready to go.”

–Rich Harden (side muscle injury) played catch at 80 feet today, but there’s no word on when he’ll get back on the mound.


Apologetic Crisp addresses reporters over DUI arrest

Thought I’d provide you a full block of Coco Crisp’s quotes that pretty much sum up his feelings on his DUI arrest. I’ll leave my original post below in case you haven’t read that …

“I can’t really go into too much details right now, I guess those will come out later. I guess I can just pretty much say how I feel about the whole situation. Obviously, embarrassment is one of the main feelings. My family has called me. A lot of people look up to me. This is obviously a decision that wasn’t the right decision. One thing that I don’t want to ever be that I am right now, I feel like I’m a distraction. And the sooner that this can get out of the clubhouse, the better. I’ll deal with it myself.

“To all my fans, obviously there’s two different types: Ones that love to razz me because of my name and those ones that love to cheer me on. I apologize to all of them — the team, Major League Baseball. I just want to get this behind me. I guarantee that this will never happen again. I’ve just got to make better decisions moving forward.”


A’s center fielder Coco Crisp addressed the media before the team took the field Thursday morning and apologized for his DUI arrest. He said he couldn’t share details about the incident, but I have to say his words came across sincere. “A lot of people look up to me,” he said, speaking quietly with reporters gathered around his locker. “This is obviously a decision that wasn’t the right decision. The sooner I can get this out of the clubhouse, the better.” What he’s most sorry for, he said, was that the story became a distraction in the clubhouse for his teammates. “I can guarantee you this will never happen again.”

Crisp hasn’t addressed his teammates about the situation. He said he would be willing to talk to everyone as a group if the front office asked him to, but it sounds as if he won’t take the initiative himself to do that. Manager Bob Geren penciled Crisp into today’s starting lineup against the Brewers but otherwise declined to address Crisp’s arrest. Crisp said he received some words of advice from team management. Perhaps that had to do with what to say to the media, or perhaps it had to do with life choices and how to make sure the same mistake never happens again. All I know is this news shook up what was an otherwise tranquil and non-eventful A’s camp to this point. Aside from a few minor injuries, things have proceeded according to the team’s plan. I don’t expect Crisp’s arrest to have a lingering effect on the team as a whole. But the state of Arizona tends to be very tough on DUI infractions, so we don’t know what’s in store for Crisp from a legal standpoint …

–Here’s the lineup against Milwaukee:

Crisp CF
Barton 1B
Willingham LF
Jackson DH
LaRoche 3B
Carson RF
Timmons 2B
Donaldson C
Sogard SS

Cahill RHP

–In other AL West news, defending division champion Texas will be without third baseman Adrian Beltre for longer than expected due to his calf injury, according to an espn.com story. The Rangers expect him to still be OK for opening day, but that’s an issue worth keeping an eye on.


Scratch Adrian Beltre off A’s list of third base candidates

47 days and counting until A’s pitchers and catchers report … Here’s a few baseball tidbits in case you’re suffering bowl-game overload …

–Numerous outlets have reported details of Adrian Beltre’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. Looks like he’s getting a one-year contract for $9 million, with a $5 million player option for 2011. I don’t think he was a realistic option for the A’s at that price, but regardless, that’s one less free agent third baseman available. The A’s still want to find an insurance plan at third in case Eric Chavez isn’t healthy. What would you like to see them do? Dip into their past and sign Miguel Tejada, as they did last winter w/Jason Giambi? Give prospect Adrian Cardenas a crack at third? See if Adam Kennedy, still unsigned, would re-consider playing third again? None of the above?

–Speaking of former Athletics: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Mark Mulder is close to signing with the Brewers.

–Speaking of a much lower-profile former Athletic: right-hander Colby Lewis is looking for a major league job after two fine seasons as a starter for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. You might remember Lewis’ time with Oakland in 2007. He got hammered for 10 earned runs in his first appearance — and only start — against the White Sox, then worked out of the bullpen much of the season. Even with Justin Duchscherer back in the fold, I could see the A’s bringing another veteran to spring training, to at least provide some competition for a rotation spot. Lewis seems like a decent, low-cost option to me, although the above story quotes Lewis’ agent as saying six teams are “aggressively bidding” for him.

Check back w/you soon …


Adrian Beltre-to-A’s speculation heats up

Think back to the winter meetings, when there wasn’t a trickle of concrete news to report from the A’s camp. I kept getting the same questions from writers and scouts: “What’s going on with the A’s? Are they doing anything?” The meetings finished a little more than two weeks ago, and obviously, that was the calm before the storm. The A’s have been swift to act since then – trading third baseman Brett Wallace for outfielder Michael Taylor, signing outfielder Coco Crisp and bringing back free agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer. Now, speculation is heating up that Oakland is perhaps the front-runner to sign free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, according to ESPN. Here’s a few thoughts on that situation. Feel free to chime in with your own:

Beltre is a logical fit for the A’s considering their need at third base (you’ve got to operate as if Eric Chavez won’t be available until he proves he can stay in the lineup). I can tell you Beltre has been in the A’s thoughts since the offseason began, but I don’t see them shelling out $10 million per season for him. The above ESPN piece lists the A’s as his only serious suitor right now, but it mentions a good point: If Beltre drops his asking price, other teams are sure to join the pursuit (including the Giants). I expect the A’s and other teams to play the waiting game with Beltre. That paid off for teams last winter, when the price tag dropped on free agents as the season drew closer.

–The A’s obviously aren’t viewing Jake Fox – acquired from the Cubs shortly before the winter meetings – as a full-time third baseman. If they were, Beltre wouldn’t even be a consideration. The A’s like Fox for his hitting ability – they’ll find a spot that suits him in the field. If Beltre is signed, I see Fox possibly playing a lot of first base (though the A’s already have depth there) or logging lots of at-bats at DH.

–What happens if Beltre becomes an Athletic, and – work with me on this one – Chavez puts together a healthy season? Surely the A’s would want to squeeze all they can out of Chavez, who makes $12 million in the final year of a six-year contract. It would make sense for Beltre (a Gold Glover like Chavy) to play third and Chavez to DH simply to ease the burden on Chavez’s back. But then where does Fox fit in? The options would be first base or the outfield, and the A’s are fairly crowded at both spots. GM Billy Beane likes to point out that having too many healthy players hasn’t been a problem for the A’s recently, so maybe injuries will sort out who plays where.

Would you like to see Beltre signed? How would you handle the playing rotation?