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A’s, Holliday both in better places since 2009 union

Matt Holliday was supposed to change the way things were done in Oakland.

An outfielder with a big bat, big RBI potential and a big salary, Holliday was the A’s foray into big-money baseball.

That lasted for less than a full season. Oakland general manager Billy Beane acquired Holliday for a hefty price – letting a proven reliever, Huston Street, and a would-be star, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, go to Colorado.

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What’s the future hold for A’s offense?

The weather here at the Coliseum was unusually warm last night. Different story tonight, as the wind is already kicking up. It’ll definitely be more chilly. And speaking of chilly, the A’s have certainly cooled off at the plate. What happened to that offensive revival? They’ve scored just 13 runs over the past six games, and haven’t topped three runs in any one of them. Adam Kennedy, who’s been such a catalyst for this team since he was acquired, is hitting just .176 (6-for-34) over his last eight games. And remember, five of those hits came in one game last week against the White Sox.

As encouraging as it’s been recently to see the A’s run wild on the bases, and see players like Rajai Davis, Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki take turns getting key hits, let’s not forget that this is still a pretty flawed team offensively when you look ahead to next season. As things stand, I don’t see the A’s being good enough offensively in 2010 to support the young pitchers that are obviously going to be the team’s strength. And as team owner Lew Wolff told Bay Area News Group in this story, he’s not crazy about the A’s bringing in more power hitters from the outside as they tried this year with Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday. Problem is, I don’t know if their best hitting prospects (Chris Carter, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Wallace and Co.) will be ready by next season.

My question for you, A’s fans: When it comes to improving this offense, would you rather see the A’s go out and try to obtain another slugger or two as they tried to do this season, or should they abandon the search for power and build a more speed and run-oriented offense, as they’ve shown signs of doing since the All-Star break?

–Not much pregame news today: Dallas Braden’s left ankle is showing no signs of improvement, according to manager Bob Geren, and you have to wonder if we’ll see him on the mound again this season. At this point, it might be better to shut him down and make sure he’s healthy to start spring training.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Daric Barton playing first for the A’s for the second straight night:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Guillen LF
Cabrera 1B
Huff DH
Thomas RF
Inge 3B
AVila C
Santiago SS

Galarraga RHP

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Eric Patterson starting in CF — a sign of things to come

Take a look at today’s post-Matt Holliday lineup, and I’d say it gives you a window into the A’s thinking for the rest of this season. Eric Patterson was called up, and he’s starting in center field. He’ll be seeing lots of time there, according to Bob Geren. The A’s definitely see this guy as an outfielder — long term — rather than an infielder.

Scott Hairston is starting in left w/Ryan Sweeney in right. Hmmm … looks like a potential starting 2010 outfield to me — if Patterson blossoms. Still not sold on this guy? I’m not either based on what I’ve seen in the bigs so far. But he’s tearing it up at Triple-A, and the A’s seem determined to give him a long look to see what he’s got. Where does this leave Travis Buck? Great question … Geren said Rajai Davis would keep drawing some starts against left-handed pitchers.

–Head out to San Jose Municipal Stadium on Sunday and you’ll get to see Justin Duchscherer pitch against the San Jose Giants. He’s scheduled to make his first rehab appearance that day for Single-A Stockton. Don’t show up late. He’ll probably start, and probably throw just two innings. The A’s will build his pitch count up gradually. As always, plans are subject to change. But Geren was more definitive about this plan than he was yesterday.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston LF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Sweeney RF
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson CF

Anderson LHP

Yanks
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Posada C
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
M. Cabrera CF

Chamberlain RHP

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More Yankee Stadium rain, of course

Well, the tarp is on the field and the rain is coming down pretty good at Yankee Stadium. We’re about 30 minutes from the scheduled first pitch, and weather.com lists the chances of continued rain at 95-100% through 10 p.m. local time. A 100% chance of rain? Does that mean Mother Nature has dictated rain WILL FALL, no questions asked???? Dallas Braden came into the clubhouse drenched after running out on the field and doing a “tarp dive” (Andrew Bailey captured footage on his cell phone). Right now, tarp diving looks like the only activity that might be taking place on this field tonight. The A’s just can’t catch a break here. Tonight’s game is a makeup from their last trip to the Bronx, when they had an April 20 contest rained out. If they don’t play tonight, they’ll probably play a doubleheader at some point this weekend. We haven’t gotten any word on a Plan B yet.

–You’ve probably seen this report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who has a source saying there’s a 50-50 chance the A’s and Cardinals swing a deal for Matt Holliday. No surprise that the A’s might be zeroing in on St. Louis third base prospect Brett Wallace, who was a heavy consideration for them during the 2008 draft.

–Surely there’s a large group of Vin Mazzaro fans who hope tonight’s game gets played. Mazzaro, from nearby Rutherford, N.J., is scheduled to make his first start in Yankee Stadium. He’ll have plenty of people cheering him on, as Andrew Bailey did during the last series here. Jack Cust is the A’s third New Jersey native.

–Some details if this game does get played: Adam Kennedy gets a rare day off, as Bob Geren said he’s trying to budget some time off for his everyday players during this 28-day stretch of consecutive games. Rajai Davis is leading off and playing right field. Bobby Crosby (7-for-23 with a HR lifetime against Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia) is playing third base. Cust is the only left-handed hitter in the A’s lineup.

–Justin Duchscherer update: His first rehab outing might come Sunday for Single-A Stockton against the San Jose Giants in San Jose. Geren said that was a possibility instead of Duchscherer throwing Monday in an Arizona Rookie League game. Hold tight on that for now. We’ll probably know more tomorrow. …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis RF
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 1B
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Crosby 3B
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro RHP

Yankees
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Hinske RF
Gardner CF

Sabathia LHP

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Rehashing Monday night’s chaos

Last night’s game is still the talk at the ballpark this afternoon. Michael Wuertz had a crowd of reporters around him picking his brain about the final out at home plate. From what I’m told, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire still had plenty to say about the play. Something tells me his version of events and Wuertz’s probably clash a bit, huh?

Anyway, looking back on last night’s craziness, I have to think Matt Holliday’s performance made an impression on any teams considering him as a trade target. Scouts from several teams are watching this series — Yankees, Giants, Tigers, just to name a few. All three of those teams are believed to have at least some degree of interest in Holliday. Consider these 10 days left until the trading deadline a showcase for Holliday to convince a team to make a run at him.

In other news, A’s manager Bob Geren said he would wait to see how Andrew Bailey felt in his pregame throwing before determining if his closer was available tonight. Bailey is battling a sore left knee, but it’s not thought to be serious.

Justin Duchscherer threw a 20-pitch simulated game today and came out of it well, Geren said. He’ll pitch in his first minor league game Monday, not Sunday, as was originally announced. There’s no game scheduled in Phoenix on Sunday for Duke to pitch in.

Today’s lineup:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B

Braden LHP

Twins
Gomez CF
Mauer C
Morneau 1B
Cuddyer RF
Kubel DH
Crede 3B
Young LF
Punto SS
Casilla 2B

Swarzak RHP

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Back from break — A’s pregame update

Well, I’d call the A’s chances of erasing a 12-game deficit in the AL West remote at best. But if they’re going to make any sort of move, it probably has to start with this four-game series against the Angels. … I was just watching batting practice, and it continues to amaze me what a stud Matt Holliday is in BP for a guy who’s showing zero power in games. Kind of like a guy who hits 50 free throws in a row during shootaround, then shoots 60 percent from the line during games. But the way the ball jumps off Holliday’s bat (even if it’s just BP) is different from other hitters …

Checked in w/Brett Anderson before the game, and his back is doing much better. He threw a bullpen session today and said his velocity is back. He’s on schedule to start Sunday. …

Anybody out there remember a pitcher by the name of Justin Duchscherer? He’s still working his way back. Bob Geren watched a video of his throwing session today in Phoenix, and he’s coming along well. Remember, it’s a back problem that’s set him back most recently. All indications are his recovery from elbow surgery in March is on track. He’s scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday, and pitch in his first minor league game July 26 (2 innings, probably in AZ). The A’s have a plan mapped out that would have him go 100 pitches in a minor league game by Aug. 8. And you would think if he can do that, he’d be activated sometime around then. To start or not to start? That is the question. But he’ll surely be stretched out enough to be a starter …

Geren reiterated what he said last week: He plans to play Nomar Garciaparra at first base once a series, giving Jason Giambi a little time off. Giambi is hitting seventh again today, BTW … As for the rest of the lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Giambi 1B
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B

Braden LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Rivera DH
Napoli C
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Matthews Jr. CF
Quinlan LF

Santana RHP

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Awaiting the All-Star word

We won’t know until around first pitch this afternoon (1:05 p.m. in Cleveland) who makes the All-Star team from the A’s. But I’d be shocked if it’s anybody but catcher Kurt Suzuki. He’s really been their most consistent hitter, and I think he’s done very well handling a starting rotation where the average age is just 22 years old. He’s also garnered a lot of respect around the majors for the improvement he’s shown behind the plate. We’ll find out in a little less than an hour …

Jason Giambi is not in this afternoon’s lineup. His average is back down to .197 after last night’s 0-for-4. “He’s definitely in need of (a day off) today,” manager Bob Geren said this morning, adding Giambi could use the rest both from a physical and mental standpoint. Matt Holliday has been batting third, but with Giambi out, he slides into the cleanup spot and Suzuki (today’s DH) hits third. With switch-hitter Landon Powell catching, the A’s have seven right-handed bats in the lineup against lefty Cliff Lee.

Nomar Garciaparra is not one of them. It’ll be interesting to see how much Garciaparra plays in the upcoming three-game series at Boston. This will be his first trip back to Fenway Park as a visiting player (while on the active roster). I’m sure he’d like to play against his old team, but Garciaparra’s calf problems just won’t allow him to play on a regular basis, and he said this morning that serving as DH isn’t necessary less strenuous than playing defense.

As for today’s game, we’ll see how Gio Gonzalez fares in his third start. Tuesday’s five-inning effort against Detroit was a step in the right direction, so we’ll find out if he can build on it. …

Today’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Suzuki DH
Holliday LF
Cust RF
Ellis 2B
Powell C
Crosby 1B
Davis CF

Gonzalez LHP

Indians
A. Cabrera SS
Carroll 2B
Sizemore DH
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
Garko 1B
Francisco CF
Gimenez LF
Shoppach C

Lee LHP

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Tuesday update from the Coliseum

We’ve had a string of nice nights for baseball at the Coliseum. Looks like this will be another one, although the wind is whipping right now during BP. …

Let’s get the news out of the way: Josh Outman did in fact have Tommy John surgery today on his left elbow. Aside from having the ulnar collateral ligament reconstructed, he also had a bone spur removed. No official timetable for his recovery, but it’s generally anywhere from 12-18 months. That makes three A’s pitchers this season lost to Tommy John surgery. Yikes … Joey Devine and Dan Giese are the others.

In cheerier news on the pitching front, Justin Duchscherer’s back problems have improved and he’s been cleared to resume throwing in Phoenix. He’ll be following the typical routine, playing long toss from progressively longer distances. If all goes as planned, the A’s have it mapped out for him to throw in a minor league game July 26. As you know, all plans are written in pencil … Starting or relieving, you ask? The A’s don’t have a set plan for Duchscherer at this point. “There are no plans in any way other than to get him healthy and on the mound,” Bob Geren said.

–Geren touched a little bit on the A’s running game today. Matt Holliday stole a base last night, and the A’s were planning a double steal w/runners on the corners but it backfired when Kurt Suzuki got picked off third. Geren said he wants to look for opportunities to steal when the right guy is on base and the situation seems favorable.

I’m all for this. One of the few bright spots of last year’s offense was the A’s efforts to steal more. The aggression seemed to be dialed back in the early going this season, and with the A’s adding Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi to the middle of the order, I could see why they didn’t want to run themselves out of innings. But the power hasn’t come, and with the offense struggling to score, they’ve really got nothing to lose. They have some players who can swipe a bag, and it’s time to turn them loose.

Anyone w/me on this?

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Nomar Garciaparra DH’ing for the A’s, but no Travis Buck:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Ellis 2B

Gonzalez LHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Cabrera 1B
Thames DH
Raburn LF
Inge 3B
Ordonez RF
Ryan C
Everett SS

Galarraga RHP

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Carlos Gonzalez slams A’s; Carter, Weeks picked for Futures Game

A story in today’s Denver Post has a very interesting quote from former A’s prospect Carlos Gonzalez, now playing for the Colorado Rockies, who visit the Coliseum this weekend. Gonzalez, of course, was shipped to Colorado along with pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith in exchange for Matt Holliday during the offseason.

“I think we have more talented players and a better team (than Oakland),” Gonzalez told the paper. “I know what it’s like to play over there. Here we expect to win every game. I think we are going to do fine against them.”

I guess you could say the kid’s not afraid to speak his mind. Gonzalez has been good with the glove, playing mainly left field, but he’s hitting just .180 in 50 at-bats.

–You might have seen Baseball America released the rosters for the Futures Game to be played July 12 in St. Louis. The A’s will be represented by first baseman Chris Carter and second baseman Jemile Weeks. Carter is having an excellent season at the plate for Double-A Midland. Weeks has been on a tear for Single-A Stockton after injuries that delayed the start of his season …

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Holliday is playing; A’s draft another Crosby

Slow morning in the A’s clubhouse. … Matt Holliday is back in left field today after getting drilled in the left knee by a pitch last night. Jason Giambi returns to the lineup at DH, with Daric Barton playing first. …

The A’s wrapped up the third and final day of the draft this morning. Among their picks: 42nd round selection Blake Crosby, first baseman from Sacramento State and younger brother of Bobby Crosby. Here’s his stats this season w/the Hornets …

And here are today’s lineups:

A’s
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Powell C
Barton 1B
Davis CF
Hannahan 3B

Cahill P

Twins
Tolbert 2B
Harris SS
Mauer C
Morneau DH
Kubel RF
Crede 3B
Cuddyer CF
Buscher 1B
Young LF

Blackburn P