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MLB 2011 Draft: Oakland A’s Targeting UConn’s George Springer First Round Pick

It’s a little bit rare for multiple mock drafts to have a consensus pick deep into the first round, but this year that seems to be the case for the No. 18 selection of the Oakland Athletics.

Several sources have the A’s targeting University of Connecticut’s George Springer, a power-hitting outfielder with good speed.

Springer, currently a center fielder, was originally drafted in the 48th round of the 2008 draft by the Minnesota Twins (1,437th overall) out of Avon Old Farms High School in Connecticut. He chose to attend the University of Connecticut instead, a decision that has propelled him into the first round, and have him ranked as high as the 11th best player in the draft by some experts.

The Athletics used their first pick in last year’s draft to select a center fielder as well, Michael Choice, currently one of the organization’s top-five prospects.

If the Athletics select Springer, they could look to move Choice to a corner outfield position, a position several scouts speculated last season may be better suited for him in the long term.

On the other hand, Springer is a natural center fielder, with the potential to win several Gold Gloves. He has above-average speed and can cover a lot of ground. He has an accurate cannon for an arm and has reached 90 mph on his throws from the outfield. He patterns his play after Torii Hunter, and makes spectacular leaping and diving catches.

Offensively, Springer has above-average power, too, and has displayed good hand-eye coordination, hitting the ball to all fields. He has a long swing, but has shown the ability to make the adjustment to offspeed pitches. He currently projects as a 20-plus home run player, even in the spacious Oakland Coliseum. If he is able to shorten his swing and square up the ball better as he develops, he could turn into a consistent power threat and a 30-plus home run star.

On the basepaths, he has speed that has been described as “aggressive-yet-savvy”. He does not have the type of speed that makes him a constant threat to opposing batteries, yet he makes good reads and gets good jumps. He should be able to pick his spots and reach 20-30 stolen bases a year consistently. In college he stole with an 85 percent success rate.

Back in February, ESPN’s Keith Law, ranked Springer the second-best prospect in the draft, calling him:

“An athletic outfielder with an above-average arm who projects to hit and hit for power and just needs to refine his approach, especially with two strikes.”

Springer conducted an interview with’s Ben Nicholson-Smith in March. 

The two questions Nicholson-Smith asked that I enjoyed reading the most were as follows:

BNS – When you’re at your best, what might be some of the specific things that we would see from you on the field?

GS – One hundred percent – this’ll probably sound dumb – but just balls out all the time. Not playing with any fear. Not afraid to fail. I just go out and I let the game come to me – I just go out and I play as hard as I possibly can and if for some reason the game says that I have to run into a wall, I’ll run into a wall.

BNS – I’ve seen your game written up as a combination of power and speed. Do you see yourself as a power guy, or a speed guy, or somewhere in between.

GS – I see myself as a guy that can hit for power, but I don’t necessarily see myself as hitting for power [primarily]. I see myself as hitting the ball hard and however far it goes, if it stays in the ballpark, I just keep running.

If Springer does fall to the Athletics—and things can certainly change between now and Monday that could see him taken before the A’s pick at No. 18—then it is conceivable we could see an outfield of Michael Choice in left field (ETA: 2013), George Springer in center field (2014 in my opinion) and Michael Taylor in right field (2012) as soon as late 2013 or spring training 2014.

While Taylor’s power projection has dropped over the past two seasons, he was originally projected as a 20-30 homer guy. Meanwhile, Choice is showing good power with Stockton so far this season. The A’s could have three legitimate power threats in their outfield, as well as a fourth power threat in Chris Carter at either first base or the designated hitter role.

I know a lot of things can change as players start to come off the board, but if Springer does fall to Oakland with their first pick, he appears to be as close to a no-brain selection as there is in this deep field of first-round options.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow me on Twitter:      @BMcClintock_BR.

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Justin Verlander Tosses 2nd No-Hitter: How High Can He Rank in No-No History?

Justin Verlander tossed his second career no-hitter Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays, joining only 29 other pitchers in Major League Baseball history to throw two or more no-hitters in a career.

Verlander lost his bid for a perfect game in the eighth inning when he allowed a walk to J.P. Arencibia on a 12-pitch at bat with one out.

Verlander threw only 108 pitches in the game, and was still reaching 100 MPH in the ninth inning. He struck out four batters.

He threw his first no-hitter on June 12, 2007 against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out 12 Brewers while walking four.

The remarkable part of Verlander’s accomplishment is that it comes while he is still just 28 years old. To put this in full perspective, only five pitchers have ever thrown three or more no-hitters in their career; at only 28 years old and still in the prime of his career, Verlander could join that exclusive club.

From this point forward, every start Justin Verlander makes will have the potential to be a historic event for Major League Baseball.

In addition to being able to break into one of the most exclusive clubs in baseball history, Verlander also has the potential to reach the record for most no-hitters with a single team (four). While it seems like a long shot, he could reach the record for most no-hitters in the American League (six) if he can throw four more no-nos during his career (assuming he doesn’t move to the National League at some point).

Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay are the only other active pitchers with multiple no-hitters. Halladay is 33 years old, though, and Buehrle is 32. Verlander is the youngest of the three and will stand the best chance of repeatin.

Three+ No-Hitter Club

Only Cy Young (three), Larry Corcoran (three), Bob Feller (three), Sandy Koufax (four) and Nolan Ryan (seven) have more no-hitters in their career.


Two+ No-Hitter Club

Justin Verlander 2007 2011          
Al Atkinson 1884 1886
Ted Breitenstein 1891 1898
Mark Buehrle 2007 2009
Jim Bunning 1956 1959
Steve Busby 1973 1974
Larry Corcoran 1880 1882 1884
Carl Erskine 1952 1956
Bob Feller 1940 1946 1951
Bob Forsch 1978 1983
Pud Galvin 1880 1884
Roy Halladay 2010 2010
Ken Holtzman 1969 1971
Randy Johnson 1990 2004
Addie Joss 1908 1910
Sandy Koufax 1962 1963 1964 1965
Dutch Leonard 1916 1918
Jim Maloney 1965 1969
Christy Mathewson 1901 1905
Hideo Nomo 1996 2001
Allie Reynolds 1951 1951
Nolan Ryan 1973 1973 1974 1975 1981 1990 1991
Frank Smith 1905 1908
Warren Spahn 1960 1961
Bill Stoneman 1969 1972
Adonis Terry 1886 1888
Virgil Trucks 1952 1952
Johnny Vandermeer 1938 1938
Don Wilson 1967 1969
Cy Young 1897 1904 1908


Brandon McClintock covers Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:  @BMcClintock_BR.

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MLB Trade Speculation: Would Jose Bautista Be a Fit for the Oakland Athletics?

In a recent Bleacher Report assignment I listed 15 potential sluggers that Oakland could add for a playoff push. Some of the sluggers on the list definitely fell into the “wishful thinking” category, a point I made clear in the descriptions of each player.

I intentionally left Jose Bautista out of that piece for a number of reasons. After looking at the season Bautista is having though, and the overall status of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, I have given it a lot more thought and come to the conclusion it is not as far-fetched of an idea as I had originally determined it to be.

While researching the Blue Jays needs to see if a potential match-up could be made between the A’s and Jays, I came across a blog posting from’s Mat Germain discussing this very scenario.

Germain writes:

“I’ll examine one particular team that may or may not be interested in Jose Bautista‘s services in 2011 (my most likely trade partner evaluated for the Jays in such a team – for now) and could make a deal happen with the Jays as a result, I don’t expect that we can predict when a deal could happen, if it ever does happen. Only Alex Anthopoulos knows when he’ll feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger on such a deal, but we can at least take a stab at where that deal may come from, whether it happens in the pre-season or during the season…

The Oakland Athletics… Their lineup definitely lacks pop and needs someone with Jose Bautista‘s power to help drive in runs on a regular basis. With their young and impressive rotation, a slugger like Bautista could be the missing link between them and the playoffs. The A’s and Jays have made a few deals since Alex Anthopoulos took over… Lines of communication are definitely strong between these two franchises…

The most important part here is that they are ready to compete in their division in 2011, while the Jays are still another year away. So, this deal allows the A’s to make the absolute best push possible for a playoff spot while increasing the chances that the Jays will do the same in 2012 and beyond…”

Okay, obviously I only cut excerpts of the entire blog posting there to give you an idea of the rationale behind Germain’s thinking that a deal could be completed between the two sides. For the whole blog-post, definitely check out the link above, it is worth a read.

Perhaps the most important part of the whole posting though is the last line I posted. The Jays are not ready to compete in the American League East against the Yankees and Red Sox in 2011, while the A’s are expected to contend down to the very end of the season for the division title in the American League West.


Bautista’s contract extension would actually be a benefit for the A’s

While I initially viewed the extension Bautista signed with the Blue Jays this past offseason as a main reason the A’s would not be able to trade for him, I have now changed my mind.

His extension is for an annual salary of $14 million per year through 2015, with a $14 million team option for 2016. Bautista will be 35 years old upon completion of this deal, assuming his club option is exercised.

The Athletics offered Adrian Beltre a contract worth just slightly less on an annual basis this past offseason. The length of the contract offered to Beltre was five years, the same length of time Bautista’s current deal runs, and Bautista is a younger player.

Adding Bautista would ensure we retain the rights to his services for four and a half seasons, providing plenty of runs to our young pitching staff as they continue to develop and perform while also under club control.

His contract would allow the A’s to shop him around to other contending teams during the offseason or at the trade deadline each of the following few seasons if they fall out of contention.

To put it simply, he provides a boost to the A’s offense now, and can be flipped for prospects later if they choose to trade him again.


Versatility allows him to play multiple positions for Oakland

Bautista fits the Athletics position needs as well. He has spent time the past few seasons in the outfield as well as playing occasionally at third base (48 games in 2010, 28 games in 2009).

Oakland could plug Bautista into multiple roles, depending on what they give up in return for him in a trade. Bautista could take over the everyday role at third base for the remainder of this season and then switch back to the outfield when a position opens up this offseason (Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus are all free agents). Bautista could also fill one of the corner outfield positions allowing the A’s to trade one of the current outfielders to replenish the farm system after completing a trade with Toronto.

Bautista could also see time at the designated hitter position to allow Bob Geren to continue utilizing the roster depth to give adequate playing time to keep everyone fresh.


2010 was apparently not a fluke

Prior to 2010 Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season. Last year he broke out in a major way with a Major League leading 54 home runs.

This season he is off to a fast start with nine home runs and 16 RBI while only playing in 25 games so far. He is currently batting .357 with a 1.292 OPS and a league leading 30 base-on-balls.

I still have my doubts that he will be able to maintain his current level of dominance of American League pitching, but he seems to be proving that he is indeed able to match his 2010 campaign.

He is definitely the threat the A’s need in the middle of their lineup.


What would the A’s have to give up to acquire Bautista?

This is the part of a trade for Bautista that scares me. His 2010 season and fast start in 2011 sky-rocketed his trade value for the Blue Jays, and it has yet to be proven that he can be counted on for this level of production annually.

Germain suggested the following names in his post as trade targets for Toronto: Grant Green, Chris Carter, Jemile Weeks, Tyson Ross, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Michael Taylor, Adrian Cardenas, Michael Choice, Ian Krol and Fautino De Los Santos.

He was not suggesting it would take all of these names of course, he was just pointing out players that would be of interest to the Blue Jays.

My thought is that a trade of either Jemile Weeks or Adrian Cardenas, paired with Chris Carter or Daric Barton and either Fautino De Los Santos or Joey Devine would be enough to get the deal done.

Germain also suggested Kevin Kouzmanoff could be a throw-in to the deal to provide a stop-gap for the Jays at third base. If it saves one of the above mentioned players from needing to be included, then I am 100 percent behind that idea.

What concerns me though about trading a package of prospects for Bautista though is his sudden increase in production. I’m certainly not speculating that he cheated in any way, but I would like to see him sustain this level of production for more than just the first month of this season before I would part with any of the key prospects we expect to be contributors in Oakland for the next several years.

Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez would be my untouchables, as would Grant Green and Michael Choice. I’d be reluctant to include Tyson Ross in any deal either, unless the A’s top scouts and front office feel confident that he will be able to sustain his current level of offensive production.

Obviously, Jose Bautista will not come cheap though, so A’s fans would need to accept losing some of our top minor league names and perhaps a major league ready guy as well to plug Bautista into the middle of the lineup.


Why would this deal work for the Blue Jays?

The Jays could add three pieces that will help them to compete in the next three to four seasons at the latest, about the same time Bautista’s deal would be running out and his level of play likely declining.

The competition in the AL East suggests this is around the same time the Blue Jays could reasonably compete for the division title without major free-agent spending, using their farm system as the basis for building a contender.

It would not be a popular trade in Toronto, losing a star player never is, but it would fit the model Alex Anthopoulos seems to be trying to build his team around.



I’m still in favor of the A’s trading for a player with a more proven past than Jose Bautista. A trade for David Wright from the Mets still feels like the safer trade, and probably better fit for the Athletics.

Assuming that trade can’t be pulled off though, which many indications suggest it won’t, then rolling the dice on Jose Bautista would provide Oakland with a feared hitter that is proving he is a true difference maker.

The fact that Bautista would be under club control through at least 2015 and would have trade value for at least the next two seasons gives Oakland enough reasons to take a chance on Bautista and give up a few prospects to compete this season and build their lineup around him for the next three seasons as well.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter: @BMcClintock_BR.

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Bob Geren: Should the Oakland Athletics Manager Be on the Hot Seat?

The greatest compliment you can pay a manager is that you can’t imagine their team performing any better year after year. Unfortunately this can’t be said of A’s manager Bob Geren since his tenure began in 2007, and the trend has carried over into 2011.

Ask any Oakland fan what the top reasons they feel their beloved A’s have failed to compete over the past few seasons and you are bound to hear the same answers: low payrolls which prohibit signing impact players, injuries and game management.

Fortunately for Oakland’s current manager, the first two excuses have earned him a free pass with the team’s front office through his first first four seasons as Oakland’s manager.

Geren became manager in 2007, following an impressive run to the American League Championship Series by his predecessor, Ken Macha. The decision to hire Geren was a controversial decision as many A’s fans felt the position should rightfully belong to long-time third base coach Ron Washington.

Through his first four complete seasons, Geren compiled a record of 307-340, with 2010 being his only non-losing season at 81-81.

A’s fans are aware of the injury situation which has decimated the roster the past four seasons. A lack of depth on the roster gave Geren limited resources with which to work to achieve a record better than his sub .500 mark.

This season was supposed to be different, and if Geren is to retain his post beyond this season, it better be.

The Athletics had the best pitching staff in baseball in 2010, and they have managed to improve in the early part of this season.

The lineup was upgraded over the offseason to support the young pitching and provide them the run-support necessary to improve on their 81-81 mark last year.

The bullpen was strengthened to account for the injury histories of Andrew Bailey, Jerry Blevins, Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz (Bailey, Blevins and Breslow were all recovering from offseason surgeries).

So far the signings of Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes have paid off with both Bailey and Wuertz spending time on the disabled list.

Overall the roster has the talent and depth to make a run at the division title, the experts all seemed to agree.

So why is the team currently sitting at 9-10, and unable to play with any semblance of consistency?

It’s time for the front office to move past their love-affair with their manager and start to take a deeper look at how Geren’s management of the team has effected their rank in the standings since his tenure began.

A quick look at Geren’s managerial statistics on give you an idea of the impact Bob Geren has had on the Oakland Athletics.

In 2007 the Athletics finished with a 76-86 record. According to the Pythagorean W-L evaluation that Oakland team should have finished with a 79-83 record. Hardly a difference worth firing a manager over—after all the Athletics were not playoff bound in 2007 with their abundance of injuries. Geren was an underachiever by three games though.

In 2008 the team finished with a 75-87 record, and the Pythagorean formula suggests that they should have been one game better with a 76-88 record. Again, Geren likely deserves a pass on this difference due to the injuries that decimated his roster. Unfortunately you can see a pattern forming though.

In 2009 the A’s matched their 2008 record at 75-87. Here is where Geren took a massive nose-dive in team management though; according to Baseball-Reference’s Pythagorean evaluation the A’s should have had a 81-81 record, a difference of six games in the standings.

Last season’s team finished at .500 with a 81-81 record, but again the Pythagorean formula shows underachievement. According to its analysis, the A’s were deserving of a record of 85-77, another four-game disappointment.

So far this season the A’s are 9-10, while the formula suggests they should be 10-9. Add another game to the total.

Simply following that formula, Geren has underachieved by 15 games in his four-plus years as Oakland manager.

What has caused Geren to underachieve to this level though?


Game Management Decisions:

Where the statistic fails to tell the whole story though is that it only determines the amount of wins a team should have based on their total number of runs allowed compared with runs scored.

This does take into consideration injured players, however it fails to take into consideration mismanagement that may have led a high number of runs allowed.

For example, say taking out Grant Balfour in favor of the left-handed Brian Fuentes to face the right-handed power hitter, Miguel Cabrera.

Let’s just pretend that Cabrera then hits a home run to tie a game that the A’s may have otherwise won and the opposing team then goes on to score seven more runs in extra innings to win the game. I know, such an unrealistic scenario, right? Oops, forgot that this actually happened just last week.

In this scenario though, those seven runs mess up the evaluation of the Pythagorean evaluation and don’t credit the A’s with the win they deserved based on their own offensive comeback, and stellar pitching prior to the ninth and tenth innings.

Geren’s tenure is filled with questionable managerial decisions similar to this; need I remind you of the decision to intentionally walk a very ill Justin Morneau last season? That decision wound up costing Oakland the win also.

The current series against the Seattle Mariners illustrated missed opportunities with pinch hitters available. Felix Hernandez was dominant, but the A’s left runners on the bases repeatedly when the bullpen took over for King Felix.

It was unacceptable to have the game end with Hideki Matsui on-deck, having not received an at-bat throughout the 1-0 game.

Further, and I must admit this is the most irking of his tendencies for me personally, are the decisions to sit players after a good performance in the previous game. Last season Geren sat Rajai Davis in a game against Toronto in favor of the newly acquired Conor Jackson. Davis was coming off a 4-5 performance the previous day though, and was deserving of the follow-up start.

This season Daric Barton was victim of the same illogical lineup decision. Barton did enter the game in the late innings and helped spark an A’s win.

It’s called playing the hot-hand Bob, learn it!

The in-game decisions that Geren consistently mismanages have unarguably cost Oakland more games than are represented by Baseball-Reference’s Pythagorean analysis. How many games?

Honestly I did not have the heart to go through game summaries of 4+ seasons to figure this out, I felt it would be too disheartening for me as an A’s fan.

This season though, I can safely say the A’s are at least three wins better than their record suggests.


Player Communication:

There is an argument to be made that the majority of a manager’s job is not seen by the fans on a daily basis.

Fans only witness the game-time decisions, which is an obvious short coming of Geren’s. The more important aspect of the manager’s job is communication and management of players.

We know this was a major shortcoming of Geren’s predecessor, Ken Macha. Following Macha’s dismissal several players spoke out about their discontent with Macha’s communication skills and management of the clubhouse.

We have not heard anything similar to this about Geren. In fact, I would argue that Geren’s optimistic personality lends to an overall strength in his case to remain the manager of a young team in need of positive reinforcement as they learn to play at the Major League level.


Player Handling:

This actually falls into the communication category, but since Geren does one well and the other poorly, I decided to separate them for the purpose of evaluation here.

The manager is responsible for identifying problems with the players on his roster, mechanically as well as mentally. The objective being to get the players to play to their utmost abilities.

The image of the rah rah manager may be a bit cliche, but the message it is meant to send is a manager capable of motivating his team to perform at their best.

Geren fails in this regard. Productive players come to Oakland and fade, only to regain their form when they ultimately depart. Is this due to improper preparation? Is it a result of off-field issues effecting their play?

A good manager is able of controlling his clubhouse and getting his players to compartmentalize well enough to still perform between the lines.

If the player is not capable of this for a period of time, then the manager’s job is to identify another player to handle the position until the regular player fixes their problem.

The current handling of Kevin Kouzmanoff actually shows some progress in Geren’s development in this area. He was willing to step away from Kouzmanoff and allow LaRoche to take over.

Overall though, you have to look at the lack of preparation the defense has displayed this season, as well as the across-the-board regression of the A’s lineup.


Is a change necessary?

From a fan’s perspective, I believe the decision was made long ago that a change is necessary at the manager’s position.

I’m not saying at all that Geren is a bad baseball person, or even a bad coach. I actually think that he makes a good bench coach, and has a place on a coaching staff in Major League Baseball.

I want to be clear that I am also not making any judgements about Bob Geren the man. From everything I have heard about him, and from all accounts from former and current players, Geren is well liked. I have no doubt he is a great person. I am growing tired of watching the A’s underachieve under his reign though.

It is doubtful that Billy Beane would fire the best man from his wedding during the season. He is in the final year of his contract though, and the A’s have not offered him an extension.

In the past they have been quick to defend Geren, so far this season no statements assuring him of his job have been made.

I don’t see Oakland parting ways with him until the end of the season though, no matter how tempting it may be. After all, it is well documented that Beane does not attribute the manager as being too connected to the team’s successes or failures.

I find it hard to ignore the example of the 2009 Colorado Rockies though. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle was fired with his team currently 10 games below .500. His replacement, Jim Tracy, managed to turn the team completely around to 10 games above .500 and a postseason contender.

I often find myself wondering if a different manager would be able to extract better results from the current roster (the rotation is the best in baseball, but the offense is anemic).

We’re only 20 games into the season, giving Geren 142 more games to turn this around and save his job. Nothing short of playoff contention should be enough though for him to return as manager in 2012, and it may take more than that to win back some A’s fans.

This 2011 Oakland Athletics team is talented and deep enough to contend in the American League West this season. Our manager needs to lead the team there, not be a detriment to their success.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:   @BMcClintock_BR.

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Aroldis Chapman and the 15 Fastest Pitches Ever Recorded

Monday night Aroldis Chapman reached back and threw a pitch to Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. The pitch wound up being high and tight, not a location necessarily to be proud of, and yet he received a standing ovation.

Why the standing ovation, you may ask? The stadium radar reading displayed a velocity of 106 MPH, a speed that has only been topped twice since baseball started recording pitch velocities.

So who else goes down in history for having a rocket for an arm?

Begin Slideshow

MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Oakland Athletics Trade for David Wright?

After spending the entire offseason upgrading every portion of the Athletics roster, it’s time for Billy Beane to work the phones and finish the one loose end he failed to tie up.

The Athletics offense has been inconsistent so far this season with one of the biggest disappointments being the man who Beane tried to replace repeatedly during the offseason, Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Beane pursued Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion and Chone Figgins as potential replacements for Kouzmanoff.

Kouzmanoff said all of the right things following the A’s pursuit of seemingly every available replacement on the market. He entered spring training with a chip on his shoulder, and came into the regular season boasting one of the best spring performances on the A’s roster.

Unfortunately he has not carried his Cactus League performance into the regular season.

The answer to the A’s third base and offensive struggles is currently playing for Billy Beane’s early-career mentor, new Mets‘ general manager Sandy Alderson.

The best and most obvious answer to Oakland’s one remaining problem is a trade for New York’s David Wright.

(To the best of my knowledge no talks have taken place between the Mets and A’s at this point. This is just my opinion based on speculation of the two teams situations and needs).

Wright, at 28 years old, possesses a career batting line of .305/.383/.516 (.899 OPS) with 171 career home runs. Last season Wright batted .283 with 29 home runs and 103 RBI. So far this season Wright is batting .311 with two home runs.

In previous seasons Wright was considered an untouchable, the face of the New York Mets and the unofficial captain of the team. The fallout from the Bernie Madoff scandal and the Wilpon ownership has removed the “untouchable” label from every Met, Wright included.

“If you’re going to listen to the new GM and he’s going to tell you [it will] bring back five pieces or something, then I guess you have to listen. I’m not saying we’re going to do it, but you’d have to listen,” Wilpon told ESPN’s Adam Rupin back in October.

Wright wishes to stay in New York and be a part of the solution rather than for a trade to a contender, but with the Mets in a total state of disarray any number of potential suitors will come calling this summer for his services, why shouldn’t Oakland be one of them?

The Wilpons appear determined to retain ownership of the Mets, which will require them to cut payroll reportedly in half down to the $70 million range. Wright is set to earn $14 million this season, $15 million in 2012 and the Mets have a team option for $16 million in 2013. Oakland can afford to instantly pick up the option as a sign of good-faith to Wright. Yordy Cabrera, the A’s second round draft pick in 2010 and top third base prospect, is at least three years away from reaching Oakland anyway.

If they are to cut their payroll and rebuild to become competitive again in the near future then they will need to shed Wright’s hefty price tag in exchange for lower cost prospects with upside that will help the Mets in near future while remaining affordable and under team control for several years.

Oakland, meanwhile, has the financial flexibility to take on such a cost and also has several pieces the Mets could use moving forward.

While I am only speculating who Alderson may ask in return for Wright, I believe the conversation obviously will start with pitching, and include position player prospects as well.

Would a package of Tyson Ross, James Simmons, Adrian Cardenas, Ryan Sweeney and a mid-level prospect get it done? Would it at least be a starting point? Would Michael Taylor still have enough value to make an impact on such a deal? Perhaps Max Stassi would impact the Mets decision if he were a “toss-in” to the deal?

Would A’s fans be willing to part with one of the young starters currently in the rotation in exchange for a bat? If so, which one is expendable: Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson?

The bullpen also has expendable players this season, giving Oakland several options to put together a package that could sway the Mets into a deal.

I don’t see Oakland trading Chris Carter, Michael Choice, Grant Green, Jemile Weeks or Mychael Ynoa; beyond them though I don’t see any untouchables in the A’s system.

The A’s can afford to make a few moves this season without completely depleting their farm system.

Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Mark Ellis and Hideki Matsui are all free agents at the end of the season who should come with at minimum Type-B status, giving Oakland several compensatory picks in the 2012 draft should they fail to re-sign any of these players.  The A’s could also decide to trade any of these players to contenders if they are unable to make up ground to the Rangers and Angels by the trade deadline and pick up additional prospects right away.

As previously mentioned, the Mets new general manager is familiar with Billy Beane, as is the Mets assistant general manager, J.P. Riccardi.

Alderson was the GM of the Oakland A’s when Billy Beane was hired by the A’s front office. Alderson mentored the younger Beane and helped shape his approach to evaluating talent and building the A’s teams of the early 2000s. Riccardi served as Beane’s assistant until he was eventually given a gm-opportunity of his own with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Both Alderson and Riccardi have worked with Beane on trades in the past years, with the Padres and Blue Jays respectively.

The biggest question mark in the whole deal would be how Wright would respond to a trade from his hometown Mets. David Wright is “Mr. Met” after all, the player who was drafted by the team he grew up rooting for, and who has spent his entire career with.

There would be an adjustment period, Wright would need to adjust to playing on the West Coast rather than the East Coast. He would need to adjust to playing in the American League compared to the National League. He would need to acquaint himself with players that he only has had experiences with in interleague play.

Imagine the benefit to the A’s lineup short and long-term though. If a trade could be pulled off without losing any of the current A’s position players you now have the following lineup:

CF: Coco Crisp
RF: David DeJesus
3B: David Wright
LF: Josh Willingham
DH: Hideki Matsui
1B: Daric Barton
C: Kurt Suzuki
2B: Mark Ellis
SS: Cliff Pennington

There’s your instant boost to the offense, and given the defensive struggles Kouzmanoff has had at third base this season, your defense as well.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:  @BMcClintock_BR.

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Oakland A’s Radio Flagship Changes Format, Finally Equal Media Coverage for A’s

It appears that for once the statement “all things happen for a reason” has some validity in regards to the Oakland Athletics.

The A’s attempted to buy their former radio flagship KTRB 860am, finally ending negotiations the final week of spring training.

The failed bid to purchase the station briefly put regular season broadcasting in question for the Athletics, drawing criticism for A’s owner Lew Wolff.

Thankfully 95.7FM, The Wolf, stepped up and signed a broadcasting contract with the Oakland Athletics to become their new radio flagship for the next four years.

Today, Entercom, the company that owns 95.7FM, announced they were changing their formatting and  switching to an all-sports radio format. Entercom is also the broadcast partner of the San Jose Sharks.

The new “SportsRadio” 95.7FM launched today playing a loop of bay area sports highlights along with some sports-themed music.

Dwight Walker, Entercom’s vice president and marketing manager, told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, “We’ll be talking A’s and Sharks, two winning franchises that aren’t getting as much attention as they could.”

For Athletics fans this should come as welcome news. The Bay Area powerhouse in media coverage has always been KNBR 680/1050 in San Fransisco. KNBR is also a partial owner of the San Francisco Giants and their flagship station however, limiting the amount of coverage given to the A’s.

The first immediate difference I noticed was that Chris Townsend’s pre-game show returned to it’s prior extended-coverage format. Hopefully the post-game coverage returns to normal length as well, rather than the condensed version that became necessary to fit into the prior country music programming of The Wolf.

No announcements have been made yet about regular programming on the station, although several possibilities come to mind including A’s broadcasters receiving similar coverage provided to the Giants broadcasters on KNBR.

Slusser’s shared her hope for the new formatting of 95.7 FM:

“If this truly is to be a station that does right by the A’s, I’d love to see Townsend get an even more high-profile daily spot, too. Wouldn’t drive time go nicely with merging right into the pre-game show? Maybe a regular morning hit with Ken Korach, the way KNBR provides extra formats for the Giants’ broadcasters?

Here’s someone else I’d like to see with a regular outlet of some sort, or even a behind the scenes role: David Feldman, who knows more A’s facts and stats than anyone around. He’s the person I turn to for bits of info, facts about A’s history, and he also knows the broadcasting industry well, having done lots of TV work (producing, stats, you name it) and some radio.”

I couldn’t agree more with her suggestions.

It remains to be seen how Entercom will handle the programming and coverage of the A’s, as well as other local teams, but it is a promising step towards equality for A’s fans who have been deprived of equal media coverage in the Bay Area.

I know for sure that I will be tuning in more frequently to 95.7 throughout the day and away from KNBR and the daily overload of Giants talk.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:

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Texas Rangers: Does Hot Start Prove 2011 Team Better Than World Series Team?

After the final out of the fifth game of the World Series last season, it was hard to imagine that the 2011 version of the Texas Rangers could possibly repeat the miraculous run that saw them reach baseball’s promised land for the first time in franchise history.

Texas figured to be competitive and still the popular pick to win the American League West, but another run through baseball’s powerhouse teams in the playoffs seemed unlikely.

The Rangers lost their public courtship of star pitcher Cliff Lee; he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. They failed to retain Vladimir Guerrero; he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Long-time Ranger Michael Young publicly asked for a trade following the signing of Adrian Beltre.

There were just too many questions surrounding the team, and the competition in the division had improved and closed the talent gap.

Ten games into the regular season and all doubts are out the window. The Rangers have come roaring out of the gate and currently boast a Major League-best 9-1 record to start the season.

On their way to the best start in baseball, the Rangers have swept the early AL favorite Boston Red Sox and taken two out of three games from the current AL East leader, the Baltimore Orioles. Texas also swept the AL West division rival Seattle Mariners.

Critics of the team will be quick to claim that the Rangers will fall back to earth and are not capable of maintaining this hot streak throughout the season. To a degree, they are right, there is not a team in the Majors capable of maintaining a .900 winning percentage. The Rangers, however, are out to prove that last season was no fluke.

Is it possible though that this year’s team is better than last season’s World Series team?



The Rangers lost Vladimir Guerrero during the offseason, but gained Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli. The Beltre signing essentially matches Guerrero’s production if he can come close to matching his season totals from 2010 while playing with Boston.

Napoli, who is being used in a utility role, should produce better than the Rangers’ 2010 backstop combination of Taylor Teagarden, Benji Molina and Jarrod Saltalamachia while Yorvit Torrealba handles the bulk of the catching responsibilities.

Through the first ten games of the season, reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton is batting .316 with six RBI. He has yet to hit a home run, but there is little doubt that those will come with increasing frequency as the season progresses.

Nelson Cruz currently leads the Rangers with five home runs, one more than the entire team total of the division rival Oakland Athletics. Ian Kinsler has collected four long balls, and Napoli and Beltre each have three as well.

Young, who the Rangers decided not to trade, is currently hitting .293 for Texas in the designated hitter’s role.

The Rangers currently lead the American League in home runs, triples, slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging (OPS). They rank second in runs scored and total bases, and are fifth in team batting average.

The Rangers actually quietly put together a more balanced offense in 2011 than they possessed last season.



It’s easy to see why the pitching was subject to questions entering the season. They lost Cliff Lee. The man signed to replace Lee, Brandon Webb, has a recent history of injuries and did not make it through spring training healthy. The remainder of last season’s rotation was unproven before their surprising 2010 effort, and it was uncertain if they could repeat their stellar performance again.

So far, all those concerns have been answered and erased.

Among the Rangers starters, only Colby Lewis has an ERA above 3.00. Lewis has split his two decisions this season for a 1-1 record with a 5.25 ERA.

Matt Harrison has a 1.29 ERA and 11 strikeouts to back up his 2-0 record. Alexi Ogando has a perfect 0.00 ERA and eight strikeouts on the way to his 2-0 record. CJ Wilson is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA, and Derek Holland has a 2.25 ERA to go along with his 2-0 record and 11 strikeouts.

Neftali Feliz has converted all four of his save opportunities without allowing a run so far this season.

Prior to Monday’s shutout of the Detroit Tigers, the Texas Rangers already had an AL-best 2.48 team ERA. The Rangers also lead the AL in hits and runs allowed.


Strength of division

Coming into the regular season, the AL West looked like it was shaping up to be a three-team race. While this could still end up being the situation, early on the Rangers look like they have the clear edge on their opponents.

The Oakland Athletics have put together impressive pitching in practically every game but have failed to score runs consistently.

The Los Angeles Angels have had better success than Oakland with the bat, but have seen less than consistent pitching performances.

The Seattle Mariners… well, we knew this was only supposed to be a three-team race, anyway.

Only the Rangers have put together every aspect of their game to translate it into wins.


Can the Rangers go back-to-back as American League Champions?

One-hundred and 62 games is a long stretch to maintain this high-level of play, but there has not appeared to be another team in the American League capable of putting together the complete game that the Rangers have proven they are capable of putting together.

The Red Sox? They have the offense, but lack the pitching dominance the Rangers have exhibited.

The Yankees? Same answer as the Red Sox, but with worse pitching.

The White Sox or Twins? Both good teams capable of scoring runs, but not on the same level as the Rangers offense. Even if their pitching matches up with the Rangers, Texas wins the slugfest.

A’s or Angels? Both teams have the pitching, and you can make an argument that Oakland actually has better pitching over the long haul, but neither team has the offense to match up with Texas.

The Rangers have put together a balanced roster that barring any major injuries matches up well against any opponent they will face throughout the regular season and in the postseason.

I realize there are still 152 games left and anything can happen, but this 2011 version of the Rangers has already changed my early season picks of which American League team has the best chance of playing in the 2011 World Series.


Brandon McClintock covers Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:  @BMcClintock_BR.

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Series Preview: Oakland Athletics Open 3 Game Series in Minnesota Against Twins

The Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins enter this weekend’s three-game series with identical 2-4 records. Both teams are currently tied for last in their respective divisions (the A’s are tied with Seattle and Minnesota is tied with Detroit).

The Athletics salvaged one game of their three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon with a 2-1 victory behind a solid pitching performance by Trevor Cahill.

Cahill was outstanding in his eight innings of work, allowing only one run on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

Cahill handed over his masterpiece to stand-in-closer, Brian Fuentes, who earned his first save as an Oakland Athletic.

The A’s scored their first of two runs on a wild-pitch strikeout by Coco Crisp that allowed Andy LaRoche to come home with the A’s first run and Coco Crisp to reach first base. Crisp then proceeded to steal second and third base, and came home to score on a line drive single by Conor Jackson.

The A’s played their second errorless game of the season, an accomplishment for a team that has seen defense cost them a pair of victories already this season.

Fuentes proved his last outing was nothing for A’s fans to concern themselves with as he allowed only one hit in his inning of work. Fuentes needed just 10 pitches to shut down the Blue Jays on Thursday.

The Minnesota Twins lost two out of their past three games to the New York Yankees.

In Thursday’s game the Twins’ rookie second baseman, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, fractured his leg on a slide by former Athletic Nick Swisher. The Twins will recall Luke Hughes to take Nishioka’s spot on the roster.

The series opener is also the home opener for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Target Field is considered a pitcher’s park, yielding only 118 home runs last season. The A’s have not hit many home runs this season, so don’t expect that to change over the weekend.

Thankfully, the park also plays to the A’s pitching strength. Expect three close, low-scoring games.

Probable Pitchers (All games on CSNCA and 95.7FM):

Friday, April 8, 1:10 p.m.:
Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.70 ERA)

Saturday, April 9, 4:10 p.m.:
Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-0, 1.59 ERA)

Sunday, April 10, 11:10 a.m.:
Brandon McCarthy (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (0-1, 6.00 ERA)


Athletics: Rich Harden (15-day disabled list), Andrew Bailey (15-day disabled list), Michael Wuertz (15-day disabled list), Adam Rosales (60-day disabled list)

Twins: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg, will be placed on 60-day DL), Kevin Slowey (Day-to-Day)


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:   @BMcClintock_BR.

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Poor Defense and Pitching Cost Oakland Athletics in Opening Day Loss to Mariners

The offseason buildup and hype surrounding the 2011 Athletics mostly centered on the improved offense that would support the teams solid pitching and defense.

Thankfully, the baseball season consists of 162 games, because after the Opening Day loss to the Seattle Mariners, that offseason assessment of this team took a major hit.

Newly-acquired Josh Willingham got the Athletics on the board first with his two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning with two outs. Coco Crisp, who singled to open the inning, scored on Willingham’s two-out blast. Unfortunately for the A’s, that would be the final positive for their offense against Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez only allowed three additional hits after Willingham’s home run, along the way to striking out five Athletics.

For the A’s, Trevor Cahill had a respectable performance as he worked his way out of two bases-loaded situations. Cahill struck out eight Mariners through 4.2 innings. Cahill’s only run allowed came in the top of the third inning.

Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins both singled, followed by a walk to Milton Bradley to load the bases. Former Athletic, Jack Cust, then walked to force in the only run Cahill would allow.

The Athletics bullpen, which has been hyped as one of the best in baseball, had an off-night in relief of Cahill. Jerry Blevins lasted only 0.2 innings and allowed a run. Craig Breslow entered in relief of Blevins and allowed three runs in 0.2 innings, including a home run to left field by Figgins.

The Athletics defense also failed them on Opening Night. The A’s committed five errors in their first game of 2011. Kevin Kouzmanoff made errors on back-to-back plays in the top of the fourth inning (the first two-error game of his career). Daric Barton, Brad Ziegler and Cliff Pennington each had one error as well.

“Just a poor night all the way around. Too many walks, too many errors,” manager Bob Geren said in his post-game media interview (as seen on CSNBayArea). “You’re not going to see that from this club very often. That’s not the recipe that we need to win.”

Felix Hernandez cruised through his outing. The only blemish on his night was the first-inning home run. Hernandez briefly found himself in trouble in the bottom of the eighth inning after hits to Landon Powell and Mark Ellis.

Hernandez would get Kouzmanoff to ground out to third. Ryan Sweeney, pinch hitting for Cliff Pennington, would then ground into a double play to bail out King Felix.

Hernandez would return to pitch the ninth inning and finish his Opening Day complete game, the 14th of his career, as he looks to carry over his Cy Young performance from 2010 into the new season.

The A’s and Mariners will play the second game of their three-game opening series tomorrow evening at 6:05 p.m. Brett Anderson will start for the Athletics on Saturday night.



  • Willingham’s home run made him the 10th player in club history to homer in his first at-bat as an Oakland Athletic. The most recent player to accomplish this feat was Frank Thomas in 2010.
  • Cahill’s eight strikeouts are the most by an A’s pitcher on Opening Day since Mark Mulder in 2002 (also eight strikeouts).
  • Kurt Suzuki was injured in a collision at the plate with Seattle’s Miguel Olivo. Olivo landed on Suzuki’s left ankle. Suzuki stayed in the game to finish the inning, but was replaced in the bottom half of the inning by backup catcher Landon Powell. Following the game, Geren said Suzuki’s injury is currently classified as a sprained ankle, and that he will be listed as day-to-day and reevaluated tomorrow.
Suzuki, I, RF  4 1 2 1 1 0 4 .500
Figgins, 3B  5 1 2 1 0 2 4 .400
Bradley, LF  4 0 0 0 1 2 2 .000
Cust, DH  2 1 0 1 3 1 1 .000
Smoak, 1B  4 1 1 0 1 2 4 .250
Olivo, C  5 1 2 1 0 2 1 .400
Langerhans, CF  4 0 0 0 0 3 4 .000
Ryan, B, SS  3 1 0 1 1 0 1 .000
Wilson, J C  3 0 1 0 0 1 1 .333
Crisp, CF  3 1 1 0 0 0 0 .333
Barton, 1B  3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
DeJesus, RF  3 0 1 0 0 0 1 .333
Willingham, LF  3 1 1 2 0 1 1 .333
Matsui, DH  3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Suzuki, K, C  2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  – Powell, L, C  1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000
Ellis, 2B  3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .333
Kouzmanoff, 3B  3 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000
Pennington, SS  2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  – Sweeney, PH  1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
  – LaRoche, SS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hernandez, F (W, 1-0)  9.0  5 2 2  0  5 1  2.00
Cahill, T  4.2 3 1 1 4 8 0 1.93
Blevins, J 0.2 0 1 1 1 1 0 13.50
Breslow, C (BS, 1) (L, 0-1) 0.2 3 3 3 1 1 1 40.50
Ziegler, B 0.1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0.00
Cramer, B  1.2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Wuertz, M 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:  @BMcClintock_BR.

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