Tag: Daric Barton

Oakland Athletics: Breaking Down the Mess That Is the Infield

While the Oakland A’s had a successful season by all means in 2012, the infield is bound to be a lot better in 2013. 

The A’s went out and got Hiroyuki Nakajima and Jed Lowrie, and they will return formerly injured Scott Sizemore in 2013. Brandon Moss hit .291 in 2012, and Donaldson hit .284 in his last 225 at-bats (for the regular season). Sizemore doesn’t have too much on his resume, but he is a talented player who may start at second base.

Lowrie has some pop, as he homered in 4.71 of his at-bats in 2012. He is a good middle infielder, and while he might not start, I see him improving on his stellar .331 on-base percentage (OBP) and seizing a starting spot eventually.

Right now, however, the leading candidates appear to be Sizemore and Jemile Weeks, who broke out and had a spectacular 2011 season before regressing significantly and getting sent down to the minors. Weeks hit .303 in 2011, but in 2012, his .158 well-hit average placed him among the 10 worst players in the league at making hard contact.

Weeks has speed, however, and while he isn’t a great defensive second baseman, he can play defense. However, it’s going to take a lot from him in the spring, as his numbers were appalling last year. It’s hard to post a horrific minus-one wins over replacement (WAR) and bounce back so significantly the next spring to win the starting job.

And, unfortunately for Weeks, that’s the position he is in.

Sizemore, however, is also in a tough position. He tore his ACL in 2012 and was forced to watch Oakland’s magical playoff run from the dugout. Due to his injury, his chances of starting in 2013 have significantly decreased. Sizemore is only a career .239 hitter, so it’s not like he’s automatically penciled in as a starter.


In 2011, Sizemore posted a .345 OBP with the Athletics, which is good by all means. Sizemore has a career .958 fielding percentage as a second baseman, a mark that needs to improve. However, he seems to be a better and more proven option than Weeks, which gives him a slight edge.

Lowrie is expected to get time everywhere, backing up Nakajima, who was projected by scouts to hit .270 or .280 in the big leagues. Lowrie, who doesn’t hit for average, is predicted to be a utility player, although he piqued interest from teams as a trade target and should see significant time at lots of positions.

Lowrie won’t be playing first base, however. Moss did a great job in 2012, hitting .291, and Daric Barton is a capable backup. He isn’t great, but he has posted a .360 OBP over his career. Unfortunately for him, he will need to build significantly on his .204 batting average for 2012 if he wants to work his way into a platoon.

Luckily for Barton, he should be on the roster, unlike some players. The A’s cannot afford to carry eight infielders, and presumably, they will keep Weeks, Sizemore, Lowrie, Nakajima, Donaldson, Moss and Barton. Guys like Andy Parrino and Adam Rosales have an outside chance of making the team, but they don’t bring anything special.


Donaldson locked down third base due to his great end-of-year performance, as he almost hit .300 over a span of 225 at-bats. Moss and Barton have first base under control, and a strong start from Nakajima will give him shortstop.

Second base is the only position that appears to be in doubt, and while I believe Sizemore will start on Opening Day, we will see if Weeks can rebound from his sophomore slump and if Lowrie can make a good first impression on manager Bob Melvin.

It will be interesting to watch how the infield works together, who plays when, where and how often. Any of these guys can play designated hitter, especially someone like Weeks, who isn’t an exceptional defensive player.

The infield is set in terms of which guys will make the 25-man roster, but the mess is yet to be sorted out. Melvin will have a difficult task at hand, and he will have to decide a lot of things. While I think he’s fairly confident about all four positions and how the infield can help the A’s, he has to be worrying about how to shuffle everyone around.


Spring training will be vital for all second basemen and just infielders in general, so everyone can prove that they’re ready to contribute in 2013. Oakland has enough depth and talent at each position that they are completely set in the infield, a place where they had lots of trouble in 2012.

What does that mean for the A’s? It means they are ready to embark on a legitimate championship journey, and every man in the infield will play a vital role in the team’s fate.

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Oakland Athletics: Are the A’s Considering Demoting Daric Barton to Triple-A?

It is getting harder and harder to justify keeping Daric Barton on a major league roster, especially one still struggling to find consistent offense.

The Oakland Athletics showed Barton a lot of loyalty during the offseason and pegged him as their starting first baseman and a major part of the future.

So far this season, Barton has not rewarded the team for their faith in his abilities.

He has admitted that a potential contract extension is in the back of his head, and he is thinking and pressing too much while at the plate.

The result has been a season-long slump that has him batting close to the Mendoza line at .211, without a single home run, and with just 12 extra base hits (all doubles). He set the record last night for most consecutive games without a home run by a first baseman at 64 games.

Barton, still widely considered one of the better defenders at first base, has also seen his struggles carry over to his defense. Last season Barton committed 10 errors in 157 games.

So far this year he already has eight errors in just 64 games.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, arguably a more established major leaguer, already was handed his ticket back to Triple-A for a similar display of total defensive and offensive ineptitude.

You have to wonder: How much longer until a similar fate befalls Barton?

Yesterday, Rotoworld.com claimed the A’s may already be considering such a move:

The A’s might be considering sending Daric Barton to the minors. The .212-hitting Barton has an option left, and he’s simply never been able to escape his season-long funk. Sending him down to get his head on straight might not be a bad idea at this point. If a move is made, Conor Jackson and/or Adam Rosales would likely handle first base.

This is another significant example of a major move that would send the signal that the A’s are committed to making a run this season. The A’s still believe that Barton is a part of their future—the team has not made any indications that they are ready to hand over the reigns to Chris Carter.

There is still a feeling around this club that Barton’s defense is highly valued. A trip to Sacramento would be an opportunity for Barton to turn things around, clear his head, and build some confidence by beating up on Triple-A pitching for a little while just as Kouzmanoff is now doing (.333/.355/.700 2 HR 7 RBI 30 AB).

With Mark Ellis scheduled to come off the disabled list this Wednesday, this could be Barton’s final few games to turn things around before packing his bags for Sacramento. Presumably, the A’s would option Barton to the minor leagues in favor of keeping the hot-hitting Jemile Weeks in the majors.

Ellis’s return creates a position dilemma for new manager Bob Melvin.

Weeks needs playing time to continue developing at second, but Mark Ellis is better than a utility player. Plus, the more versatile Adam Rosales already fills that role, anyway.

Scott Sizemore, another utility-type player, would appear the most likely to head back to Sacramento if the club chooses to stick with Barton, creating a third-base platoon opportunity for Rosales and Ellis.

Ellis could become a trade chip to bring in a young prospect, although Melvin’s praise of Ellis’s intangibles indicates the A’s would like to let him play out the final year of his contract in an Oakland uniform.

The most likely scenario is that the club will choose to stick with Ellis, Sizemore, and Rosales.

Barton will be rooming with Kouzmanoff in Sacramento and waiting for his next opportunity in Oakland.

I’m not willing to wager a guess as to whether Ellis shifts to a third-base platoon with Scott Sizemore or if he becomes the utility player while Rosales and Jackson platoon at first base (as Rotoworld suggested).

Ellis could even become the super-sub-type player the A’s turned Bobby Crosby into two years ago, or he could settle into a role similar to Marco Scutaro’s and see occasional time in the outfield as well.

There are a lot of unknowns that will need to be sorted out between now and Wednesday.

One thing is becoming increasingly more clear, though: The decision does not come down to whether or not Jemile Weeks will stay in the majors.

It is whether or not Daric Barton stays.


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

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Oakland Athletics: Daric Barton Headed For Breakout Season

Over the offseason, the A’s addressed their lack of power in the lineup primarily by signing Hideki Matsui and trading for Josh Willingham. One returning Oakland player decided to take it upon himself to address his own lack of power during the offseason, however.

With Spring Training now in full swing, one of the most pleasant surprises early on is the physical condition of returning first baseman Daric Barton.

Barton, acquired by the A’s in the December 2004 trade that also sent starting pitcher Dan Haren to Oakland in exchange for Mark Mulder, is entering his seventh season in the Athletics’ organization. Barton burst onto the scene in his September call-up in 2007, batting .347/.429/.639 with four home runs and nine doubles over 72 at-bats in 18 games. Barton was supposed to be a symbol of Beane’s rebuild success.

Unfortunately,  2008, his first full season in the majors, was a forgettable campaign. Barton played in 140 games for Oakland in 2008, but was only able to put together a hitting line of .226/.327./.348 with nine home runs and 47 RBI. As a result of his poor season, he found himself demoted to Triple-A Sacramento just before the start of the regular season in 2009. Bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and Oakland, he only managed 54 games in the majors, batting .269/.372/.413 with three home runs in 160 at-bats.

Last season, Barton emerged as one of the games most under-rated first basemen. His batting improved as he provided the A’s with a batting line of .273/.393/.405 with 10 home runs and 57 RBI. He played in an impressive 159 games for the A’s. Obviously happy with his improved offensive game, it was his range and defense at first base that most caught the attention of the A’s front office, as well as his teammates and A’s fans.

“I called him when he didn’t get the Gold Glove and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, are you serious?’ But with Daric, day in and day out, you see him get to balls no one else possibly could get to. It’s a crying shame no one has acknowledged that,” said teammate Dallas Braden recently.

“Whenever I hear people talking about our need for an upgrade at first base, I chuckle,” A’s general manager Billy Beane had to say. “We’re perfectly happy and very pleased – his defense in our opinion is amongst the best at the position in the game, his on-base percentage is good and both are getting better. … He’s a championship-caliber first baseman.”

In fact, his game had improved so much that ESPN’s Evan Brunell called him one of the game’s best first-basemen, placing Daric in the same breath as New York’s Mark Teixeira and Philadelphia‘s Ryan Howard.

Looking to improve on his promising 2010 season, Barton hired a personal trainer over the offseason and went to work on entering camp this year in the best shape of his life. Working out daily with Southern California trainer Brad Davidson, Barton reportedly has lost ten pounds of fat while adding fifteen pounds of muscle. His body-fat percentage dropped four percent.

“When I went down to Triple-A in ’09, everything hit home. I’ve started to realize more and more that I need to concentrate on my career,” Barton admits.

His new physique has him feeling great with a bat so far this spring. “I’ve never felt so good swinging the bat,” Barton said. “I knew right away things would be better, taking batting practice. I would say I have more pop.”

If Barton has indeed added more power to his game, he will have removed the one argument his detractors have against him. While Barton (once projected to be a 25 home run caliber hitter) plays at a position primarily known as a power position, his career high (albeit in only two full seasons) is ten home runs.

Hitting in a lineup that will offer him more protection and with better conditioning that helped add “pop” to his swing again, it is a realistic possibility that in 2011, Barton could finally put his full game together and double his home run total from last season. What a boost that would be to an already improved Oakland lineup.

“He looks great, awesome – a start contrast with where he was a few years ago,” Braden said. “This shows how concerned he is about health and preparation, and obviously that spills over to every other facet of the game. As a friend, I’m excited for him.”

While Braden, “as a friend”, is excited for Barton; as a fan, I am excited for the A’s 2011 season and what Daric Barton brings to the table.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Oakland Athletics Team Analysis

In seems like a millennium since the Oakland Athletics were last seen in postseason play—let alone a contender at all—and while this hasn’t been a team that has had a lot of opportunities to land big name players, the A’s are a team that has quietly been building in a solid unit since 2008.

Now as the 2011 season approaches, the A’s are looking more and more as if they are a contender in the American League.

From a fantasy perspective, the A’s give fantasy baseball managers plenty to consider, as they draw up their fantasy baseball draft plans.

Not known as a particularly power hitting team, the A’s have always been right smack dab in the middle of the pack in just about every MLB category except power.

But with a few additions and a bright horizon in front of them, the A’s could afford their fans, and fantasy managers, much more than initially expected.

Let’s take a look.


Impact Players (Hitters):

  • 1. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B: The A’s weren’t known as a power hitting team collectively, but leading the way was Kevin Kouzmanoff, who admittedly says he had a down year in 2010. Kouzmanoff would like to elevate to a power third baseman; something that would sure help his fantasy baseball value in 2011. Kouzmanoff hit .247 with 16 home runs and 71 RBI and will have to improve upon his walk rate significantly from last year, which directly affected his OBP (.283). In the end, you could do far worse at third base in the middle of your draft.
  • 2. Coco Crisp, OF: If you saw this stat line: .279/.342/.438, eight HR, 38 RBI, 51 R, 32 SB, 81 total hits, you would probably say that’s pretty average, but nothing to write home about right? Well, how about that stat line in only 75 games and 290 AB? Coco Crisp didn’t play a ton, but when he did, he made his mark. He can get on base, obviously can steal and will more than likely hit leadoff this year. If he can stay healthy, I would wager to say you could justify taking him in the bottom portion of the middle rounds, but if you can push it and grab him in the later rounds, you definitely walk away with a steal.
  • 3. Daric Barton, 1B: According to Athletics’ GM Billy Beane, Daric Barton is the best first baseman in the league…moving along. OK, look, Barton is very serviceable and can add a bit of power and pilfered bases making him a nice late round DH for your team, but an elite hot corner guy he is not. Expect Barton to hit around .290 with a possible line that could look like this: 15 HR, 75 RBI, 85 R, 10 SB—not too shabby for a late-round flyer, especially in AL only formats.

The Pitching Staff: The following is a preliminary look at the projected lineup and what you could expect. Please keep in mind that this lineup and its order could change by the time Opening Day hits.

Individual performances, injury and the unforseen all have a dramatic affect.

For now, use the information as a template as you keep an eye on these guys in ST. Also be aware that any preliminary listed ADP could also change in the coming months, again based on the individual’s performance, or lack their of.

1. Trevor Cahill: Want a top 50 fantasy baseball SP who has two 10-plus win seasons under his belt and was good enough for AL CY Young consideration last year?
Then you might want to take a look at staff ace Trevor Cahill. Cahill ended the 2010 fantasy baseball season with an 18-8 record alongside a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11WHIP.
The only knock on Cahill is his low career K/9 rate (5.0). But keep in mind two things: 1) Last year, he raised his K/9 rate to 5.4 from a dismal 4.5 in 2009 and 2) Cahill offers more stability and consistency than any other middle of the pack pitcher in the league right now.
He’s worth owning for his value and reliability.

2. Gio Gonzalez: Arguably the best pitcher on the staff last year next to Trevor Cahill—arguably the best staff pitcher in terms of fantasy value—Gio Gonzalez will look to build upon a 2010 campaign that saw him finish 15-9 with a 3.23 ERA and a 7.7 K/9 rate.

That ERA is a bit inflated thanks to an elevated 4.1 BB/9 rate, but that’s really the only issue with the youngster. If you look at the current ADP numbers, you’ll find Gonzalez ranked higher (45 SP, 173.82 ADP) than pitchers such as Josh Beckett and Jorge De La Rosa which is dead on.

In fact, you could make a case that Gonzalez is just as good as, if not better than, the 12 pitchers ranked ahead of him. You can see the full list below, just click on the MockDraftCentral link.

3. Brett Anderson: Couldn’t get your hands on Gonzalez or Cahill? Don’t worry there’s still more pitchers out of Oakland—like Brett Anderson.

If it weren’t for a bout with the injury bug in 2010, Brett Anderson’s ADP (201 according to our friends at MockDraftCentral.com) would be a bit higher, but that is still an absolute steal. Anderson still ended the season with a 7-6 record alongside a 2.80 ERA and racked up a K/9 rate of 6.0 (7.0 career).

Anderson doesn’t give up the long ball hardly ever (0.5 HR/9) nor does he walk anyone (1.8 BB/9), making him one of the more delicious SP in just about every format.

4. Dallas Braden: Aside from Dallas Braden’s famed perfect game last May, there’s little to get excited about.

Career wise, the guy doesn’t strikeout many batters (5.5 K/9) and hasn’t had a winning season in four years of play. But if you do dig a bit deeper, Braden has lowered his ERA in each of the past four seasons (6.72 in ’07, 4.14 in ’08, 3.89 in ’09 and 3.50 last year.) He also lowered his hits per nine despite still being a very hittable pitcher.

If you’re looking for a draftable SP in the very back end of your fantasy baseball draft, you could do a lot worse than Dallas Braden.

5. Rich Harden – Brandon McCarthy: This fifth spot is up for grabs between the strike master, but oft injured Rich Harden, and the fly ball prone Brandon McCarthy. Both pitchers should make for great waiver wire fodder, but nothing more.

Potential Sleeper:

Brett Anderson, SP: If we get away from the initial stats on Bret Anderson, we can focus a bit more on just exactly why the 2011 fantasy baseball season could wind up being a true sleeper year for him.

Anderson was a favorite to bust out last year after posting a 2.96 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings over his final 17 starts as a rookie, but the guy just couldn’t stay healthy. In May, he only had one start (strained forearm) and the same happened in June (sore elbow).

But as we saw towards the end of the 2010 season, Anderson began to settle in as an everyday starter, finishing the final 12 games of the season in the fashion many figured in the first place with a 2.59 ERA.

Anderson improved upon nearly every category from his rookie year except for strikes, but you can easily chalk that up to playing in nine fewer games in 2010. He gave up one-third less home runs, cuts his ER count and R total nearly in half and again, despite playing in nine fewer games; one has to imagine that with two full years under his belt and the fact that he is more settled and healthy than ever before, he is worth a consideration for the sleeper tag in 2011.


What You Should Know:

Let’s not forget that the Oakland Athletics are also stacked in the bullpen with Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes and Michael Wuertz if you’re looking for a high value guy at the RP slot.

And with a bullpen comprised of throwers like that, it gives the starting rotation even more intrigue and a bit of extra value.

The Athletics will be far more competitive in the 2011 season, especially with the addition of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham, but I don’t see any reason why you should draft either of these players.

Josh Willingham has played no more than 133 games in the past three years (no more than 144 in his seven years of service) and Hideki Matsui is doing his best impersonation of the six million dollar man by continuing to play on those bum knees, making both of these players very risky.

Still, Willingham could hold more value than Matsui if you need to grab someone in the very back of your draft.

One final note is to keep a close eye on outfielder and first baseman Chris Carter who will inevitably start in the minors again this year thanks to Billy Beane’s affinity toward Daric Barton.

Carter was known—and touted—for his power in the minors and ended his sixth season with a .284/.380/.540 batting line, a .940 OPS and a whopping 149 home runs.

There is still a chance he could wind up playing again in 2011 as a starter as the season progresses.


Interested in another team? Check out our other Team Analysis: PhilliesCubsWhite SoxOriolesRedsYankeesRed Sox

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MLB’s Five Most Plate-Disciplined Hitters

In baseball, the art of being able to recognize and take pitches out of the zone is key to success. Although hitting statistics like home runs and batting average are glorified, walks greatly contribute to wins. Here are the five most disciplined hitters, based on their O-Swing % (the amount of pitches out of the zone at which they swing). 

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Oakland Athletics: Top 9 Reasons to Believe There’s Always Next Year

In a lot of ways, the Oakland Athletics have already had a very successful 2010.

The campaign isn’t over by any means—with more than 50 games yet to be played, anything and everything can still happen.

However, the A’s sit nine and a half games off the American League West pace set by the division-leading Texas Rangers. With the Texas in town for the weekend, they have a chance to shave some of that margin and they’d better.

Because they’re even further behind in the AL Wild Card race.

Granted, with the juggernauts out in the AL East, the playoff side door was probably never a realistic option.

Nah–it’s the pennant or bust.

Since the Rangers look to have a pretty firm grasp on the flag, Oakland’s hopes for contention are dwindling with every nine innings.

Nevertheless, the Elephants have shown a lot of pluck and resiliency over the course of the season. They started behind the eight-ball due to a minuscule payroll and then had their plight compounded by Lady Luck, who gave them only two flavors—bad and rotten.

Even so, the Green and Gold are treading water and posted a respectable 14-10 record in July, which was fourth-best in the Junior Circuit.

More importantly, there are plenty of silver linings that should give the franchise and its fanbase hope for the immediate future.

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A’s Throw The White Flag, Get Humiliated by The Rangers

The perfect game is long gone for Dallas Braden. He finally got his first win since he pitched that masterpiece, but after tonight it looks like he’s going back to his losing ways. 

Tonight was an absolutely disgraceful performance by Braden against the Texas Rangers. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if Braden had been roughed up by certain hitters in the Rangers lineup such as Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Jorge Cantu, or even David Murphy, but that didn’t happen.  

It was the ninth place hitter in the Rangers lineup; a hitter so bad that he wasn’t even hitting .100 for the season! The batter was Taylor Teagarden, who rarely gets playing time because he simply can’t hit.

For some reason against the A’s he does. Well it was understandable that he did get his first homerun of the season off Vin Mazzaro who should have never gone out to pitch that inning to begin with.

Yet, with Braden on the mound it’s a different story. He came in the bottom of the third and Braden fell behind. Teagarden eventually got a 3-2 changeup that he deposited into left field for an easy double. 

He scored on a double by Elvis Andrus, but that’s the first time that Teagarden gave Braden problems in the game. Coming in to the game Teagarden was hitting .059 on the season. Yes, .059! 

With that double it meant it was Teagarden’s third hit of the season and brought up his average to .086. Teagarden wasn’t done, he had an encore for Braden. 

Braden allowed a sharp single to Christian Guzman who hit a rocket to shortstop Cliff Penningtin. This brought up Teagarden again. Braden then gave up Teagarden’s second homerun of the season.

This is an example that shows how far Braden has fallen since the perfect game he threw in May. 

The game itself showed nothing too exciting for the A’s offense, they just laid down for Cliff Lee. There was no effort except for in the first inning when Daric Barton hit a one out triple and Kurt Suzuki followed up with an RBI double.

There was one last chance for the A’s to come back that was in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs Daric Barton hit a single which was the third hit of the night for him, and Kurt Suzuki followed with a single.

So the A’s had first and second with two outs. In stepped Kevin Kouzmanoff with an opportunity to get the A’s in striking distance against Lee. Well, to call the at-bat disappointing is an understatement. 

Much like Kouzmanoff has done all year, he swung at the first pitch and popped it up, but luckily for him it went out of play instead of being caught. The second pitch from Lee was a fastball on the inside corner and if he had been looking for it he could have it, the third pitch from Lee wasn’t even in the strike zone and Kouzmanoff flailed helplessly at the pitch.

If tonight was a big game for the A’s, that means tomorrow afternoon is even bigger because if they don’t take this weekend series from the Rangers the season is all but over. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon brings out a much better effort. 

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Fantasy Baseball Free Agent Pool: 2010 Speed Demons, Vol. 8



Just because you’ve slipped behind in the Stolen Base category doesn’t mean you can’t catch up.  Here are some reasonably available SB threats.


Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland A’s

If steals are what you’re looking for Coco is your guy.

He had seven SBs over the past 15 days while hitting .250 with seven runs and one RBI. On the year he’s hitting .237 (which explains his 11 percent ESPN and 24 percent CBS ownership) with 14 SBs, 24 runs, three HRs, and 18 RBIs in 34 games.


Will Venable, OF, San Diego Padres

Venable had four SBs over the past 15 days while hitting .179 with five runs, one HR, and six RBIs. On the year he’s hitting .231 with 18 SBs, 40 runs, nine HRs, and 38 RBIs. Will is owned in four percent of ESPN and 13 percent of CBS leagues.


Jason Kendall, C, Kansas City Royals

Kendall had three SBs over the past 15 days while hitting .213 with seven runs. On the year he’s hitting .263 with nine SBs, 35 runs, and 33 RBIs. Jason is owned in eight percent of ESPN and 42 percent of CBS leagues.



Daric Barton, 1B, Oakland A’s

Barton had three SBs over the past 15 days while hitting .255 with six runs and six RBIs. On the year he’s hitting .271 with four SBs, 46 runs, five HRs, and 38 RBIs. Daric is owned in three percent of ESPN and 25 percent of CBS leagues.


Chris Getz, 2B, Kansas City Royals

Getz had three SBs over the past 15 days while hitting .265 with four runs and one RBI. On the year he’s hitting .240 with 11 SBs, 18 runs, and 13 RBIs. Chris is owned in 0.3 percent of ESPN and eight percent of CBS leagues.


Also check out:
– Fantasy Baseball Box Score Breakouts 8/3/10
Fantasy Baseball Streaming Pitcher Option for 8/4/10

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Grading the Oakland A’s at the All-Star Break

The Oakland A’s have had an up-and-down season so far.

They were in first place in the American League West at the beginning of June.

At the All-Star Break the A’s are now 43-46 and seven-and-a-half games out of first place and three games out of second.

Now is time to take a look at the grades for each player the A’s have had at the break. I’ll start with the infield, then outfielders, relievers, and then the starters for the A’s.

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Seven Things the Oakland A’s Must See in the Second Half From Their Players

There was a point in time in the season where the Oakland A’s could have made a surprising run at the American League West division title, but all hope are pretty much gone after another dreadful performance against the New York Yankees. 

So, what is there for the second half of the season for the A’s? Well there’s five things the A’s have to have to show they could become a contender in the American League West division. 

First, regardless of the batting average of Chris Carter he needs to be called up to provide a big bat in the lineup. For the Sacramento Rivercats, Carter has hit 17 homers and driven in 60. Along with the 17 homers he also has 22 doubles and two triples. Meaning in 83 games 41 of his 74 hits have gone for extra bases. 

Those numbers are something that the A’s are in desperate need of a big bat. 

For the second thing that has to change is Daric Barton needs to stop taking so many pitches and start swinging the bat more.

He’s leading the league in walks, but I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him get a pitch to hit and he’s either taking it or fouling the ball off or in a big time situation he gets caught looking at a close pitch. 

That happened against the Yankees. The A’s were trailing 5-1 at the time and this was a game changing situation. With the bases loaded and a 3-2 strike count in the bottom of the fifth inning.

CC Sabathia threw a fastball on the outside corner instead of fouling the pitch off like he did on the previous pitch he didn’t swing. Mike Winters the man calling balls and strikes ran Barton up. 

Barton was upset and immediately slammed his helmet down and was ejected. When hearing the call on the radio I thought hey here’s another example of the Yankees getting the benefit of the doubt.

But, today when I saw the replay of that inning with Barton taking the third strike. I could only shake my head and think to myself what was Barton thinking? That was a perfectly placed pitch by Sabathia it was a strike and even if it was a ball that pitch was way too close for Barton to be not swinging. 

The third thing the A’s need to see is Gio Gonzalez continue to mature. When he gets in trouble in games he lets it bother him. Against the Yankees there’s another perfect example of the growth that needs to be shown from Gonzalez. 

For the game he had way too many baserunners. In the top of the fourth he let his concentration get away from him even after he got a double play. 

Gonzalez allowed a single to Brett Gardner with the two outs. He attempted to throw over a number of times, but none were successful at keeping him from stealing second. 

Ramiro Pena was the batter and he fell behind him and with a 3-1 pitch threw a fastball to the outside corner which Pena blooped into shallow right and Gardner scored easily. 

Pena was able to take second on a wild pitch by Gonzalez. Derek Jeter then with his patented inside out swing hit a groundball past Barton for a single allowing Pena to easily to score from second. 

Nick Swisher was up next and again he was wild getting to a 3-1 count. Gonzalez got lucky on a ball hit down the leftfield line but fortunately it went foul for him. Next pitch though was not even close, walking Swisher. 

The very next hitter Mark Teixeira didn’t have to wait long to get a pitch to hit. He drove a fastball out to dead center. So, the A’s came into the inning winning 1-0 by the end of the inning the A’s were then trailing 5-1. 

The inning started for the Yankees with two outs. All Gonzalez had to do was get the third out. After Gardner got on and stole second, that’s when Gonzalez should have gone right after Pena instead of pitching him carefully. 

I get the fact that the Yankees have a scary lineup, but Pena doesn’t exactly strike fear into many pitchers and it shouldn’t have happened to Gonzalez. 

The fourth thing relates to Gonzalez’s meltdown. This has to do with both Curt Young and Kurt Suzuki. 

When Gonzalez walked Swisher to put runners on first and second. Either Young or Suzuki should have been out to the mound to talk with Gonzalez to settle him down instead of allowing the next batter to come up to the plate and then hit a three run homerun. 

It was easy to tell that Gonzalez was rattled just a bit after the stolen base to Gardner. With the Yankees you can see the difference with Jorge Posada behind the plate or even Francisco Cervelli. 

When a pitcher is struggling they’ll get up from behind the plate and either make a gesture to calm the pitcher down or they will walk to the mound to talk things over. While Suzuki is still growing as a catcher he has to do a better job of understanding when a young A’s pitcher is struggling. 

That same thing can be said for Young and even though he only had one visit to the mound, he should have been out there talking to Gonzalez at some point during the inning.

The fifth thing that must happen is that Ryan Sweeney needs to start showing that he can hit for power. Otherwise in the offseason he should be traded. It’s inexcusable that a 6’4 215 pound outfielder is a slap hitter. 

Most of Sweeney’s hits have come to the opposite field and he rarely pulls the ball. Well Sweeney in the second half must show that he can learn to take the ball out of the ballpark. 

He has just one homerun this season. For his career he has just 13 in 360 career games. 

Also, it doesn’t look good for Sweeney while Carlos Gonzalez who was part of the Matt Holliday trade from last year is having an all-star caliber season for the Colorado Rockies and has settled in hitting in the third spot. On the season he’s hit 15 homers driven in 55, has a .303 average, and 12 stolen bases.

There’s nothing wrong with Sweeney’s defense he can play any of the three outfield positions and has a great arm, but offensively he leaves a lot to be desired. 

As for the sixth thing the A’s need to do is trade Ben Sheets and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Sheets needs to go to a team that can give him the offensive support he needs.

Kouzmanoff, while an outstanding defensive third basemen is as inconsistent as they come as a hitter. For a few weeks he’ll be ice cold the next few weeks red hot, and then it’s backto being ice cold. What’s worse is Kouzmanoff’s tendency to swing at pitches nowhere near the strikezone.

Finally the seventh thing the A’s need to do is change the lineup and rotation for the second half. 


1. Coco Crisp CF

2. Mark Ellis 2B

3. Chris Carter 1B/DH

4. Jack Cust DH/RF/LF

5. Kurt Suzuki C

6. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B

7. Ryan Sweeney RF

8. Cliff Pennington SS

9. Rajai Davis LF/CF


1. Trevor Cahill

2. Brett Anderson/If healthy at the end of the all-star break

3. Gio Gonzalez

4. Dallas Braden

5. Vin Mazzaro

As the second half approaches for the A’s and to have a successful season they must bring up Carter, Barton needs to swing more, Gonzalez needs to learn how to control himself when he gets rattled, Suzuki needs to understand when to calm his pitcher down, Sweney needs to develop his power stroke, Sheets and Kouzmanoff need to be sent packing, and the lineup and rotation must be changed. 

On one other note. A’s fans need to start going out and supporting their team. It’s an absolute disgrace that Yankees fans dominate the A’s fans when they are in town and same can be said about Red Sox fans. 


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