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Oakland A’s: Grades for Every Player in August

A month that began with the A’s scuffling and ultimately losing their lead in the American League West ended with a 5-1 flourish that enabled the team to record its ninth straight winning month at 14-13. And don’t be fooled, that record is indicative of how the A’s played in the month of August: up and down and all around. 

Even the nice finish was dulled a bit by the three-run lead lost in Detroit on the 29th as the A’s let a chance at a rare four-game sweep against the Tigers slip away. But as of this writing, the A’s have put themselves in prime position for another fantastic September finish by pulling back to within two games of the front-running Texas Rangers.

So like the month of July, the grades for the club will begin with the pitching staff. 

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Oakland A’s: Predicting What Oakland’S Starting Lineup Will Look Like Next Year

Even as the Oakland A’s fight for their second consecutive American West League Championship over the last six weeks of the Major League Baseball season, there is a truth that should hearten fans in the East Bay and everywhere else: This team is built to last. They are young and—although inconsistent at times—this team’s core is full of talent. 

With that said, even as this team fights to secure a spot in the postseason, they will likely be underdogs to capture the team’s first title in 24 years. However, with the nucleus likely in tact, it isn’t too early to project how the team’s starting lineup might look in 2014. Here is my highly unofficial look at that lineup, but first and just for fun, here was a projection NBC Sports baseball writer Matthew Pouliot had in February 2012.

2B Jemile Weeks
CF Grant Green
1B Daric Barton
RF Yoenis Cespedes
DH Seth Smith
3B Scott Sizemore
LF Michael Choice
C Derek Norris
SS Cliff Pennington

Obviously Pouliot could not account for trades and other factors but look at that lineup. Two players are no longer with the club (Green and Pennington), two have fallen so far that they can’t get playing time in Oakland (Weeks and Barton), and two lost their jobs due to either injury (Sizemore) or lack of production (Norris). 

As a matter of fact, the only player you can say will be on this team in 2014 is Yoenis Cespedes. And you know what?

That is not a bad thing.

Billy Beane converted a middling roster on the fly into a potential back to back division champion. So anyone who projected Oakland’s lineup for next year would be inaccurate.

So, what will that lineup look like in 2014? Here is my take:


2B Jed Lowrie

Lowrie is not a conventional lead-off hitter, but with Coco Crisp turning 34 and hitting free agency, I have a feeling the A’s will need a new bat at the top of the lineup. Lowrie has been steady, if not spectacular, at the plate and that is the kind of player the A’s need leading off.


DH Seth Smith

I have a feeling that 2013 was more of a fluke for Smith even though, for the second year in a row, his batting average has paled in comparison to his production in Colorado. Who doesn’t struggle when compared to time spent at Coors Field? I expect to see the power return and Smith is a solid number two guy initially.


CF Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes will move to his natural centerfield with the departure of Crisp. My lofty predictions might have to wait a year, but I think Cespedes will have a big year in 2014. 


RF Josh Reddick

Much like fellow neo-Bash Brother Cespedes, Reddick has had a largely underwhelming 2013. Is he as bad as he has been this year? No. Is he as good as he was in his 32 home run, Gold-Glove-winning 2012? Maybe not. But something in between would be a nice improvement for the A’s at this spot.

3B Josh Donaldson

Donaldson’s year has not been a fluke. While ultimately this position will be filled by phenom Addison Russell, for now Donaldson is entrenched at the hot corner for the A’s. 

1B Brandon Moss

Moss was destined for a fall off after a pretty remarkable burst in 2012 (.291/.358/.596 splits) which saw him smash 21 home runs in 84 games. So even though he is hitting under .240 and has few home runs after 110+ games than he did in all of 2012, Moss is still the man at this spot. He may alternate time with— 


LF Michael Choice

The curveball comes with prospect Michael Choice. Scouted as an all-or-nothing type power-hitter, Choice has displayed an improved eye in 2013 and, while his power numbers have dipped, he looks like a better hitter. Choice impressed in the spring and probably would have been the first guy from Triple-A in the outfield if the A’s weren’t so deep at that spot. He gets his chance in 2014.


C Derek Norris

If John Jaso were to ‘win’ the battle at catcher (imagine them likely platooning next year again), you could swap Jaso and Smith at the number two and eight spots. But I think Norris gets a chance to finally put a solid season together. Ultimately, whoever is behind the plate must improve defensively as the A’s catchers have struggled in 2013.

SS Hiroyuki Nakajima

Nakajima has a giant INC for a grade next to his 2013 as his spring injury and the play of Lowrie and Eric Sogard kept him from getting up to Oakland. But the contract plus the talent (he is up to .293 at Triple-A Sacramento) will merit an opportunity for the Japanese star. At least initially.

So there you have it. I think the A’s might try to bring Chris Young back at a discounted price, but he will likely draw attention on the free agent market. Alberto Callaspo should step in for Adam Rosales as the A’s utility player du jour in 2014. That is a marked improvement. I look at Eric Sogard backing up Nakajima more in terms of money than production because quite simply, we don’t know what the Japanese star has yet. 

Ultimately, some of the major components to upgrade the roster are likely a couple years away still. This includes Russell, Renato Nunez, and not Michael Taylor. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Taylor reminds me of that line from the X-Files: I want to believe. But after all this time, it is pretty clear that in Oakland, he is a AAAA player and not the potential stud he appeared to be when acquired. 

Oakland’s offense will improve as key components improve. I’m not saying that there might not be a trade or two as well as a couple of signings. But these will likely add to depth and not supplant the core players currently on the roster. What you see is what you get. And, even though the little things drive you crazy as an A’s fan (situational hitting!), there is still enough talent to win again next year.

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Oakland A’s: Second-Half Predictions for Every Player

Entering the second half of the 2013 season, the Oakland A’s sit at a very respectable 47-34, good for second place in the American League West. The A’s are on pace to match 2012’s 94-win total in spite of some very key components either being injured (Brett Anderson) or flat out underwhelming (Josh Reddick). 

And while the performances of players such as Jed Lowrie, Grant Balfour and especially Josh Donaldson have been fantastic, the room for improvement is what should give A’s fans cautious optimism for the remainder of 2013.

So here’s how I see the Oakland A’s performing in the second half of the year individually. We begin with the reserves and bullpen.

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Oakland A’s: History Dictates That It Is Far Too Early to Panic over 2013 Start

After their first 40 games, the Oakland A’s are 20-20 in the 2013 season.

Remember 2012? The A’s started 20-20 as well. In 2006, The A’s—led by Frank Thomas—rode a five-game winning streak to get to 21-19 after 40 games. 

Historically, the A’s have tended to be a slow-starting team. Under manager Bob Geren, the club never started better than 23-17 through 40 games (2008) and started as slowly as 15-25 (2009) while opening 20-20 three times. 

Go back to the Moneyball era when the A’s opened 21-19 (2000), 18-22 (2001) and 19-21 (2002) after 40 games. Oakland went on to win 91, 102, and 103 games those three seasons, respectively.

In many ways, the 12-4 start that the Athletics have raced out to this season was a bit of fool’s gold. Eleven of those 12 wins came at the expense of AL West foes Seattle, Los Angeles (Angels) and Houston. Those teams sit a combined 31 games under .500 heading into Tuesday, May 14.

Once the torrid starts by guys like Jed Lowrie and Seth Smith died down, so did the early offense. Add to those laws of averages the injuries to Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker as reality dragged the A’s back down to earth.

The only thing is that this is still a very talented team. WIth a quarter of the season gone, the projected Oakland lineup has played less than 15 total games together. Even if the A’s don’t duplicate their wins from 2012, there is no way that Anderson and Parker continue to post ERA’s of 6.21 and 6.86,  respectively. 

It is still a marathon in the game of baseball and right now, the A’s have run roughly 6.5 of the 26.2-mile 2013 race. They’re just getting warmed up.

Relax and hope that players like Daric Barton can hold the fort down when called upon until all of the gang gets back. When they do, the A’s will take off like they traditionally do when the talent takes the field in Oakland. 

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MLB: Selecting the AL West’s Quarter-Pole All-Star Team

As the 2013 Major League Baseball season race reaches the quarter pole, it becomes time to take stock of where teams and players are in terms of production. 

In the American League West, the Texas Rangers have taken their customary position of being the front runner, largely due to tremendous pitching and consistent power in the lineup. The A’s and Mariners have both been largely inconsistent, with the A’s scuffling back to .500 since starting the year 12-4. 

However, the biggest story has been the lack of success in Anaheim as the Los Angeles Angels are not fighting for an expected spot at the top, but trying to keep clear of division newcomers the Houston Astros. In the basement.

There have been solid performances from individuals on all five teams. But sometimes, overlapping positions keep deserving players from receiving deserved accolades. This will likely be no exception. 

So instead of lamenting who is not, we shall spotlight who is. Starting with catcher and ending a pitching rotation (relievers included), here is the AL West’s Quarter-Pole All-Star Team.

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Oakland A’s: Ranking the 10 Greatest Pitching Performances in Team History

Since the team moved from Kansas City to Oakland 45 years ago, the A’s have largely been a team built on great pitching. Whether it was Charley Finley’s Mustache Gang, the 1981 “Billyball” club, the Walter Haas owned/Tony LaRussa run team from 1988 to 1992 or Billy Beane’s Moneyball teams, Oakland has always won with great pitching.

As such, there have been great pitching performances—some in the regular season, others in the playoffs or even the World Series. Finding the 10 best is a matter of circumstance and history. It is also highly subjective. Having followed this franchise since 1985, I have seen good, bad and ugly. But it has almost always been interesting. 

With that said, here’s a nice look back in to time. Here’s my list for the 10 greatest pitching performances in Oakland A’s team history. 


*Stats are courtesy of “ unless noted otherwise.

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Oakland A’s: Athletics Will Still Beat out Big Spending Rangers, Angels

Say what you will, but Billy Beane is not averse to making decisive moves. Adding guys like John Jaso and Jed Lowrie may not be as sexy as Josh Hamilton, but the Oakland Athletics have further addressed offseason deficiencies with their moves. 

With Lowrie in the fold, the A’s now have someone with real Major League pop to fill in voids all over the infield. That means players like Eric Sogard and Adam “Skolnick” Rosales have less at-bats in meaningful situations. I like them both, but neither should be hitting more than 70 times a year in the big leagues. 

The reality is, the A’s were not far away last year and the two biggest holes in the lineup have been addressed with a trio of potentially big time upgrades in Jaso, Lowrie, and Hiro Nakajima. Yes, losing Chris Carter has the potential to take home runs away from the lineup. As a matter of fact, I anticipate that happening

However, you sometimes have to pull from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. There is no guarantee what Nakajima will give the A’s.

Lowrie would be a fantastic alternative at shortstop. He also fits at second, third, and first base as well. Scott Sizemore hasn’t played second base in the Major Leagues with any consistency. In other words, having a player with a real pedigree in waiting can only help this infield.

But the separation Oakland has from both Texas and Los Angeles, er Anaheim, is in the starting pitching. One to five, no team in the AL West is better than the A’s in terms of pitching. The Angels tried to address their deficiencies with outsiders Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, and Joe Blanton. Good luck. They aren’t on the level of the departed Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. 

Meanwhile, Texas has issues with a lack of starting pitching and the potential issues with Nelson Cruz being implicated in the most recent PED scandal in baseball. The reality is, Oakland’s status quo is still the best in the division until proven otherwise. No team has the depth of pitching combined with a solid lineup one through nine in the division. Oakland doesn’t have a Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, or any other marquee name (though Yoenis Cespedes is darn close) yet.

What they still have is the best overall team in the American League West.

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Oakland A’s: The 2012 Year in Review

Once again and for the last time, let’s look back at the special season that was 2012 for the Oakland A’s. From Bob Melvin to Yoenis Cespedes to Josh Reddick to Jonny Gomes to Ryan Cook to Josh Donaldson, this was a team that truly was greater than the sum of its parts. As a journalist, they were fun to cover because it brought back memories of the early 2000s.

But as a fan, I have never had more fun watching an A’s team than the one in 2012. They defied expectations, a sluggish start and more rookies than a police academy to take down the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers at the finish and win the AL West for the first time in six years.

It was a remarkable story, and while duplicating it seems daunting, we shouldn’t forget this team wasn’t even supposed to be in a position to have expectations in the first place. So watch and enjoy…a retrospective on the A’s amazing season.

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Oakland A’s: Does Re-Signing of Bartolo Colon Mean Exit of Brandon McCarthy?

To the surprise of this writer, the Oakland A’s announced the re-signing of suspended starting pitcher Bartolo Colon for a one year deal worth up to $3 million with performance bonuses. 

Don’t get me wrong, Colon was solid with the A’s in 2012 up until his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. His stat line was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts. By all accounts, he had a very good season.

However, what can the Oakland A’s reasonably expect from a 39-year-old starting pitcher whose performance was almost certainly amplified by his use of PEDs? If nothing else, he becomes a stopgap in the event of sophomore recession from Tom Milone or Jarrod Parker.

You have to wonder if Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin will have a spot in the rotation now with Colon’s return (he is slated to miss the first five games of the 2013 season to complete the 50-game suspension levied in August).

As it stands, you can reasonably assume Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker and Tom Milone are the top three starters. Colon likely slides into the fourth spot. So barring any injury, it becomes a battle between Griffin and Straily, with dark horses in the form of prospects Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray.

What that certainly means is that the A’s could part ways with Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has been a top-tier starter during his time in Oakland, but has also consistently battled injury. In that way, he reminded me of the tantalizing, but too-often-injured Justin Duchscherer. Of course, we all know he continues to recover from the frightening line drive he took off his skull against the Los Angeles Angels on September 5. 

According to Jane Lee of, Oakland general manager Billy Beane insists that it will not impact McCarthy’s return, but realistically, how can it not? Colon’s return puts in the A’s in a spot where even without McCarthy, there are eight pitchers for five spots in the rotation.

And unlike 2012, there are no guys like Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey in this mix. Granted, Oakland’s recent injury issues with starting pitching makes it a practical move.

But I have not forgotten that Lew Wolff still owns this team. Any type of excessive payroll is not going to be allowed as long as the A’s are still inhabitants of the Coliseum. So the recent history has shown that if Oakland adds, it will ultimately have to subtract. Chris Young’s return was the symbolic end of Jonny Gomes’ time. Derek Norris sped up the departure of Kurt Suzuki, etc.

In other words, Colon (who was solid while pitching in the Dominican) will have every chance to regain his spot in the rotation. Why? Because he comes with great value for a low price. Nothing in the A’s model suggests doing more than necessary at any one position. So welcome back Bartolo. And it’s likely goodbye Brandon. 

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Oakland A’s: Josh Reddick Wins Team’s First Outfield Gold Glove in 27 Years

Having accomplished so much during the regular season as a team, the Oakland A’s received an individual accolade today as Josh Reddick was named a 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove award winner. Reddick‘s award capped a great season where the unheralded right fielder emerged as a legitimate power hitter and two-way player for the AL West champion A’s.

Reddick‘s win represents the first for an Oakland outfielder since Dwayne Murphy won for his defensive play in 1985. The last Oakland defender to be recognized at any position was former third baseman Eric Chavez after the 2006 season. 

In 2012, Reddick compiled 15 assists, the most by an Athletics outfielder in 29 years, tied for third most in Oakland history. He ranked third among American League outfielders in assists and was tied for fifth in double plays for outfielders with three. Buoyed by Reddick, the A’s turned the outfield from a position of weakness in recent years to one of strength, along with center fielder Coco Crisp and rookie Yoenis Cespedes.

Oakland third baseman Brandon Inge was also up for a Gold Glove in 2012, but lost out on the award to Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. Inge played solid at the hot corner for Oakland and received the nomination despite playing in just 83 total games this year.

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