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Game 100 wrapup: Moss doesn’t like his footwork; Jaso feeling better after being hit on the noggin; Parker no fan of `terrible fundamentals’

If position players could have wins and losses applied to their stat sheets, Brandon Moss would demand that Tuesday’s loss go on his.

There were three throw that came to first base in the course of the game that were errant in one way or another, and he felt he should have played better defense on them all.

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Game 98 wrapup: Sogard trying to make a case for staying the course; bunt, double steal open up offense a bit and Moss discovers left field

After spending two days generating virtually no offense, the A’s were in a whatever-it-takes mode Sunday against the Angels.

That included the second homer of the month from Eric Sogard, who’d come into July homerless in over a year. It included three hits to left field from dead pull hitter Brandon Moss. It included a double steal from Josh Reddick and Chris Young. And it included a sacrifice bunt from Coco Crisp that turned into a hit and more.

Sogard, who’d broken a drought with a homer in Kansas City on July 7, said he was trying to move Young from second to third by hitting behind him in the third inning. He did that, and more, elevating a pitch from Jerome Williams enough to settle it into the first few rows of the bleachers near the foul pole.

“I just wanted to hit behind the runner,’’ Sogard said. “We’d been having some trouble scoring runs. I got a fastball inside and I was able to get it up a little.’’

With the trade deadline coming up, there are suggestions that the A’s might look to upgrade at second base, a position currently shared by Sogard, the left-hander, and the right-handed Grant Green. Sogard would like to make a case for staying the course.

His homer, single and two runs scored will help, although he’s just 11-for-47 (.234) in his last 18 games. However, seven of the 11 hits are for extra bases – five doubles and two homers.

 

–In the fifth, Sogard opened with an infield single to shortstop. With third baseman Alberto Callaspo playing about even with the base, Crisp decided on his own to drop a bunt down.

He did that. Callaspo charged, fielded the ball and threw it where first baseman Mark Trumbo had no chance to catch it. Sogard scored and Crisp wound up at third, from where he would score on the second of three Moss singles.

“I wasn’t bunting for a hit,’’ Crisp said. “I mean I was, but I was more focused on getting the ball down and moving the runner over. That was the important part of getting the ball down.’’

Manager Bob Melvin called the bunt, and Callaspo’s throwing error that made it 3-0, “the key part of the game.’’

“It’s not usual that Coco will be up there where the third baseman isn’t in,’’ the manager said. “But he wasn’t as close, and Coco went out and made something happen.’’

 

–That same kind of thought process and effort was behind the double steal by Reddick and Young. The A’s had a four-run lead in the sixth before Reddick singled and Young walked on four pitches, forcing Williams out of the game in favor of Garrett Richards. Sogard struck out, then with Crisp at the plate, Reddick lit out for third and Young for second.

Catcher Chris Iannetta threw wildly past third, giving Reddick a chance to bounce up and race home. Young would score on another Angels’ throwing error later in the inning.

“When the opportunity is there, we’ll push it,’’ Melvin said. “When you’re not swinging great is a good time to push it.’’

 

–Moss hadn’t been swinging great, and he hadn’t been swinging pretty either, so he decided to do something about that Sunday.

“I’ve been in the cage a lot, and I’m still searching for it,’’ Moss said. “This morning I said to somebody I was just going to go up and try to swing pretty. At least that way I’ll look better up there. Maybe I won’t look silly.

“If I’m going to hit .230, I might as well look good doing it. I was just trying to take good, fluid swings and stayed through some balls instead of trying to do too much, trying to hit a home run on every pitch. I’m not trying to take away my power, but holy crap, at a certain point, you have to do something.’’

Moss said that he’d never had three opposite-field hits in a game and, together with a second-inning pop to shortstop, he’d never hit the ball to the left side four times “in a game in my life. Not ever.’’

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Opportunity could knock for Josh Donaldson at third base

The latest from Papago …

Josh Donaldson is a player who might factor largely in the A’s third base picture if Scott Sizemore misses significant time with a knee injury. Sizemore was scheduled for an MRI on his left knee at 9:30 a.m. (MT) Monday, and manager Bob Melvin said he wasn’t expecting results until later in the afternoon. But the A’s are preparing alternative options at third, and Donaldson, a catcher who has been getting increased time at third early in camp, has caught Melvin’s eye.

Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard – the other logical third base options – will continue working all over the infield as utility men. Donaldson will focus solely on third. “Everybody likes his actions,” Melvin said. “He worked double-time yesterday and was already doing some early work today. You can tell he’s got a little different pep in his step right now. Guys sense an opportunity and I like to see that. Yesterday just looked like a day where he sensed a hole.”

The A’s acquired Donaldson, 26, during the 2008 season from the Chicago Cubs as part of a four-player package for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. At that time, a few scouts told me they thought Donaldson might be a hidden gem in that deal. But his only big league time so far came in 2010, when he got in 14 games at catcher and hit .156 with a homer and four RBIs.

One player who won’t be playing any third right now is Grant Green, the 2009 first-round pick who the A’s converted from shortstop to center field last season. Some scouts projected Green as an eventual third baseman when he was drafted out of USC, but the A’s want him focusing solely on learning center. That makes sense to me. There’s no use throwing another major switch at the guy, although I do wonder what the addition of Yoenis Cespedes (another center field option) means for Green long-term. I think the A’s would like Green and Michael Choice to be as ready as possible to play center and then switch them to a corner spot if roster needs call for it.

More to come on Sizemore later in the day …

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A few vets, lots of prospects on display in Friday intrasquad game; some thoughts on the outfield

There wasn’t a whole lot of news coming out of A’s camp this morning, but here’s a brief rundown:

–Kurt Suzuki is behind the plate for one side in today’s intrasquad game after he got yesterday off. Center fielder Coco Crisp, right fielder David DeJesus and shortstop Cliff Pennington are also in the lineup, though Pennington won’t hit as his left shoulder is still recovering from surgery. Lots of top prospects are playing: Chris Carter (playing first, though the A’s still consider him mainly an outfielder right now), second baseman Jemile Weeks, catcher Max Stassi, left fielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Grant Green.

–Ryan Sweeney is at DH today but he’s still not playing in the field. Manager Bob Geren offered March 7 as the date Sweeney might make his exhibition debut as he comes back from right knee surgery, and Geren believes that is plenty of time to have Sweeney ready for the regular season.

–Geren talked about his outfield rotation and who might play where. Notably, he likes DeJesus as his main choice to play center when Crisp needs a day off. I envision Crisp getting a substantial amount of rest this season as the A’s try to keep him healthy. A writer who has covered DeJesus extensively told me that he’s an underrated defensive player, but that he’s lost a bit of range and therefore isn’t ideal in center anymore. I’ll be interested to see what kind of ground he still covers. I could also see Sweeney drawing the occasional start in center to spell Crisp, especially against right-handers. Conor Jackson will see time in left and right field this spring, Geren said, but Jackson is playing first base in today’s intrasquad game. He’s a backup option at first when Barton isn’t playing.

–Reliever Michael Wuertz will resume throwing Saturday or Sunday, according to Geren.

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Competition is on for A’s backup infielder spot

Position players continue to trickle into A’s camp. I saw Conor Jackson and second base prospect Adrian Cardenas this morning. Word is that Hideki Matsui will be here Saturday, but I’m not sure if he’ll be addressing the media then or wait until Sunday, which is the reporting deadline.

Adam Rosales will wear a walking boot on his right foot for two more weeks, so he won’t be hitting the field any time soon. That means there’s open competition for the backup infielder spot, and the ability to play shortstop is key for whoever claims it. Among the candidates manager Bob Geren touched on this morning:

Steve Tolleson: I’d put this guy as the front runner. He got his feet wet with 25 games in the majors last season and did a capable job. Tolleson spent more time at shortstop than any other position last season at Triple-A Sacramento, but he can also play third base, second base and left field.

Eric Sogard: The A’s like this Arizona State alum, especially for his bat. He’s also the only one of the backup infield candidates who’s already on the 40-man roster, but Geren said that wouldn’t be a factor. “The best guys will be on the team.” Sogard is more of a second baseman, though the A’s have exposed him to shortstop.

Andy LaRoche: The most intriguing name, just because he was such a highly touted prospect for the Dodgers. LaRoche didn’t pan out with the Pirates over the past two-plus seasons, and he’s never played shortstop in his professional career (third base is his main position). But Geren said LaRoche, Sogard and Tolleson will get most of the innings at short until starter Cliff Pennington is ready. Pennington is being brought along slowly after offseason surgery on his left shoulder.

Josh Horton: A’s farm director Keith Lieppman has raved to me in the past about Horton, a 2007 second-round pick. Geren identified Horton as the strongest defensive shortstop of all the candidates based on reports he’s gotten. He said he hasn’t seen Horton much in person.

Grant Green: Finally, the name you were waiting for, right? The 2009 first-round pick enjoyed a fine offensive year with Single-A Stockton in 2010 but still has a long way to go defensively. Since Green was drafted, there’s been speculation about him moving to third base or second base. For now, he’s a shortstop. “He’s still a ways away,” Geren said. Green is expected to begin the season at Double-A Midland, and the A’s consider Double-A a good measuring stick for how close a prospect is to being big-league ready.

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Updates on some top Oakland A’s prospects

With two weeks left until spring training begins, it’s a good time for an update on some of the A’s top prospects. As I did last year, I stuck to those who were active over the offseason – either playing winter ball somewhere or participating in the Arizona Fall League or the A’s instructional league program. I sought out the team’s director of player personnel, Billy Owens, who spends much of his winter evaluating the A’s top young players. Owens offered a few of his thoughts (only after he got done scouting super prospect Bryce Harper in a junior college game. Owens has no offseason, I tell you).

Baseball America recently ranked the A’s top 10 prospects, which you can read about. The players below are listed in no particular order. I put an (*) next to those who will be in major league spring camp. You’ll notice a common thread: Most of these guys are crossing their fingers for better health in 2010 …

–*Jemile Weeks, 2B: The A’s believe Weeks can be a speedy table-setter batting from the first or second spots in the lineup. But his development with the glove probably will determine how quickly he makes the big leagues. Weeks, 23, has logged lots of hours with A’s roving infield instructor Juan Navarrete. A hip-flexor injury delayed the start of his 2009 campaign. “Defensively he made strides (during the Arizona Fall League),” Owens said. “He worked on his pivots at second base and being more aggressive. He’s going to be a catalyst down the road at the top of the order, in the same mold as Ray Durham.”

–*Corey Brown, OF: Knee and shoulder injuries sidetracked his 2009 season at Double-A, but the A’s saw the player Brown can be during the Arizona Fall League. He hit .333 with six homers and 28 RBI in 105 at-bats. A sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in 2007, Brown is a center fielder but can play all three outfield spots well. The A’s love his power and defense, but as Owens says, “His kryptonite can be strikeouts.” Brown, 24, combined for 168 strikeouts in 2008 at two levels of Single-A ball, but he also hit 30 homers that season, so A’s fans may have to take the good with the bad. Brown was extended a non-roster invitation to spring training after fellow outfielder Grant Desme retired.

Michael Ynoa, RHP: Ynoa, now 18, was supposed to make his professional debut last season, but the A’s shut him down due to elbow soreness. His fastball topped out at 94 mph during the Dominican Republic instructional League this winter. Ynoa’s English is improving rapidly, Owens said, and he’ll report for the start of minor league spring training March 7. After participating in extended spring training in April, Ynoa will join either the A’s rookie league team in Phoenix or the short-season Single-A Vancouver squad, assuming all goes well. The A’s are taking it slow with Ynoa, given a $4.25 million signing bonus in 2008.

–*Fautino De Los Santos, RHP: He’s the forgotten man in the Nick Swisher trade. The A’s obtained De Los Santos from the White Sox along with Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney in January 2008. But he missed most of 2009 following elbow ligament replacement surgery. De Los Santos, who turns 24 this month, made seven appearances in rookie ball toward the end of the season, but Owens said he was closer to full strength in November and December. “He didn’t truly dial it up until the Dominican instructional league. The results were very positive. He had a dynamite arm. It came back in full force.”

James Simmons, RHP: Simmons’ rise through the system has been slow considering he began his pro career at Double-A in 2007. A minor shoulder problem set him back last season, when he went 7-7 with a 5.72 ERA at Triple-A. He posted a 1-4 mark and 4.50 ERA in six starts during the Arizona Fall League. “He’s a kid that’s got exquisite fastball command,” Owens said. “His change-up is solid, major league average or above. He’s just been working on that third offering — a breaking pitch, whether it’s a breaking ball, slider or cutter.” Simmons was a non-roster invitee to big league camp each of the last two years, but not this spring.

–*Grant Green, SS: The A’s will get a close-up look at their 2009 first-round pick during spring training. He appeared in five games with Single-A Stockton after signing last summer, then took part in the A’s instructional league after the season. Owens compares Green to the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young, a hitter who can “go gap-to-gap with authority.” The question marks may come on defense, where some think Green might project more as a third baseman.

–*Max Stassi, C: Just eight months after graduating from Yuba City High School, Stassi will report to major league spring camp. It’s likely the A’s just want to give him a taste of big league life. But there’s serious hype around Stassi, whose $1.5 million signing bonus was a record for a fourth-round pick. His father, Jim, was his high school coach, and Owens said it’s obvious Stassi comes from a baseball family. “He’s a student of the game. He has an amazing maturity level for a teenager, from what he showed in instructional league. He was born to catch.”

NOTE: Chris Carter played winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League, but his stint was very short due to illness, so I didn’t include him. Besides, you’ll be reading plenty about Carter come spring training!

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A’s sign fourth-round pick Max Stassi

The A’s just announced they have agreed to terms with catcher Max Stassi, their fourth round draft choice out of Yuba City High. He got a $1.5 million bonus, his agent Greg Genske confirmed. That’s the largest bonus ever given to a fourth-round pick.

That leaves shortstop Grant Green (first round) and left-hander Ian Krol (seventh round) as the top picks the A’s still hope to get under contract by tonight’s 9 p.m. deadline. Major league teams lose the rights to 2009 draft picks after that.

You could argue Stassi was an even tougher player to sign than Green, just because Stassi had a scholarship waiting to UCLA, giving him some negotiating leverage. It was assumed it would take a seven-figure bonus to sign him. Stassi was rated as one of the elite prep catchers in the nation, and if he lives up to the hype, he’ll be worth the money …

–Also from the A’s, second baseman Mark Ellis has been named American League Player of the Week …

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Draft analysis

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog from my end, but laptop issues got in the way the last couple days. So withour further ado …

It’s never too early to have some instant, who-cares-in-five-years-if-we-were-right analysis on the players who were picked in the opening day of baseball’s draft. But the buzz seems to be that the A’s did well yesterday. I always take a wait-and-see approach. I’ve seen too many can’t-miss kids do exactly that (Todd Van Poppel anyone?), and plenty of can’t-make-it guys do exactly the opposite (Jose Canseco went in the 15th round).

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A’s pick USC shortstop Grant Green

Just a quick post here on the A’s first round draft pick: They took USC shortstop Grant Green at No. 13. I think it was a smart pick, I just wasn’t sure they’d pull the trigger on him, mostly because Scott Boras is advising him, and Boras is known to drive a hard bargain w/teams. Since 2002, the A’s hadn’t picked a Boras player in the draft, though one club official told me that hasn’t necessarily been by design.

At any rate, the A’s couldn’t have gone wrong taking a third baseman or shortstop when you look at their organizational needs. And Green was definitely the best shortstop in the draft. In fact, heading into this season, he was seen as possibly the best hitter in the draft. But his stock fell significantly after he got off to a slow start offensively. He warmed up and finished at .374 with 19 doubles, five triples, four homers and 32 RBI in 54 games. Check out his USC bio here:

We haven’t got a chance to talk to Green yet, but I talked with USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter. His take on Green:

“(The A’s) are gonna get an exciting young shortstop who can really run. Once he grows into his body, he’s a guy that’s gonna hit for power. He’s 6-3, 180-185 pounds right now. He should grow into that body and hit 15-20 homers and hit for a high average.”

Kreuter compared him to former Detroit Tigers shortstop Travis Fryman, particularly in terms of body type. Fryman eventually converted to third base, but Kreuter thinks Green would fit best at shortstop early in his career because of his quickness and range. ….

You might remember Kreuter was a catcher w/Detroit, so perhaps it’s not a surprise he’d compare Green to a former teammate. But he was pretty honest in saying that Green was aware of the hype surrounding him this season and put too much pressure on himself. It’ll be interesting to hear what Green says about that …

The first round is just coming to an end, and the A’s don’t pick again until the third round (No. 92). …