Tag: Kevin Kouzmanoff

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 Trade Rumors: Three-Team Trade Could See Blue Jays Landing Kevin Kouzmanoff

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland Athletics are discussing the framework of a deal that would see the Blue Jays acquire a third baseman.

The Mariners are looking to unload third baseman Chone Figgins and it looks like the Athletics are putting together a package to try and acquire him. In the move, according to Olney, you will likely see Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff sent to the Blue Jays as part of the package.

A guy like Jason Frasor is probably a prime trade target for the Mariners’ woeful bullpen, outside of David Aardsma and Brandon League from the Blue Jays. Another guy they may look at is Edwin Encarnacion, but I doubt he would be very successful in Safeco Field, where power hitters go to die essentially.

This may all just be speculation, but the basis for the deal makes sense for all sides.

For the Mariners they clear some money off the books and open a roster spot for Dustin Ackley to take over at second and possibly move Brendan Ryan to third, or call up a prospect from Tacoma such as Carlos Truinfel.

For the Athletics, they appear to be making a playoff push, or at least an attempt to try and compete with the Texas Rangers, who recently signed Adrian Beltre, and the Los Angeles Angels, who recently dealt for Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells.

Adding Figgins, who is a decent gaps hitter, and a great base stealer, would at least give the A’s some speed back that they lost in the earlier trade with the Blue Jays. The deal saw center fielder Rajai Davis head the other way for relief pitching prospects Tryston Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

Lastly, for the Jays, Kouzmanoff is a decent power hitter, who, of course, has a low on-base percentage. Like most Blue Jays, he has a tough time getting on base with any consistency. But one thing he does have is good defence at a pretty fair price.

Kouzmanoff, in my opinion, has the potential to hit 25-30 home runs if acquired by the Blue Jays. Having played his last few seasons in pitchers ballparks like in Oakland and San Diego, Kouzmanoff has seen a slight decline in power numbers.

A change of scenery might do Kouzmanoff some good in this instance.

The Jays are more likely to go after him as opposed to someone like Michael Young because a.) He’s cheaper, b.) He won’t take up space for Brett Lawrie and lastly c.) He’s younger with more power potential than many people think.

Time will only tell if this rumour does in fact come true, but for me, this would be another win-win move for Anthopolous if he does in fact follow through with this rumoured deal.

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Kevin Kouzmanoff Is Not the Solution in 2011 for the Oakland Athletics

The A’s acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff last offseason to fill the void that Eric Chavez would inevitably create.  After one season Kouzmanoff has worn out his welcome.

It is not as though “Kouz” has played so far below his career averages in Oakland, he has not, but the Oakland front office should have seen his numbers and known that he was not worth the money, even if he makes very little relative to the rest of the league.

In three full seasons in San Diego Kouzmanoff hit 59 home runs, a respectable number especially in a pitcher’s park like Petco.  When the A’s traded for him it seemed that they wanted the power he brought over, but cheap power can be found in other areas, such as players like Jack Cust.

The problem with Kouzmanoff has been his disturbingly low OPS impacted by his incredibly poor on-base percentage.  In his last two seasons in San Diego Kouzmanoff posted an OBP around .300 and an OPS around .725.  For a “power hitter” those numbers will not cut it.

Then you look at the 2010 season for Kouz and his numbers fell in every major offensive statistic.  His average dropped to .247, he hit 16 home runs, still a respectable number, but his OPS fell to .679.

By comparison, Ryan Sweeney poster a better OPS (.725) while hitting just one home run over the course of the entire season.  Of the nine regular starting players (including DH) Kouzmanoff posted the eighth-best OPS on the team.

In terms of OBP, Kouzmanoff was last on the team with a .283 mark.  Out of 149 MLB hitters, Kevin Kouzmanoff was No. 146 in OBP.

To put it plainly, Kevin Kouzmanoff was terrible in 2010.

Now it can be said that the A’s did not lose anything while playing a relatively cheap option at 3B, but his turn in the lineup was just a large hole.  The fact that he is still in the starting lineup as the A’s are making a conscious effort to improve the offense is unacceptable. 

Further, even if Kouzmanoff represents a temporary solution to 3B, then why did he hit in the middle of the order the majority of the year: 97.6 percent of his at-bats came anywhere from third to sixth in the order.

The only positive aspect of Kouzmanoff’s game is his defense, but even then his defensive WAR was 0.5 last season—not enough to compensate for his lack of offense.

Earlier this offseason the A’s claimed Edwin Encarnacion off waivers from the Blue Jays only to let him go soon after.

Encarnacion had an OPS of .790 last season, over 100 points better than Kouzmanoff.  Encarnacion has averaged 25 home runs a season for his career and he simply represents a bigger power threat than what the A’s have now.

On the other hand Encarnacion’s defense is unimpressive, but I believe the A’s could have gotten away with his glove because of the plus defenders that cover the rest of the field.

SS Cliff Pennington, for example, posted a 1.2 defensive WAR last season, enough to compensate for Encarnacion.

With Adrian Beltre showing no interest in Oakland and ultimately signing with the Texas Rangers, the A’s are stuck with Kouzmanoff.

The 2011 offense has already improved to the point that Kouzmanoff will most likely be slid into the bottom part of the order.  It seems as though the A’s can find a way to win with his bat in the lineup as long as others carry the slack.

With that being said, the San Francisco Giants, the defending World Series champions, had a starting lineup with no position players who had an OBP below .300.  Most of the better teams in baseball do not have such a player.

To go even further, the Giants’ 2010 Opening Day 3B, Pablo Sandoval, was benched for his poor production, but he still managed a .323 OBP and a .732 OPS.  Then again, the organization had higher expectations for the young slugger while the A’s already know what they have in Kouzmanoff.

As it stands right now there are no clear alternatives to Kouzmanoff, but it should not be too difficult to find someone who can manage at least a .300 OBP.  

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Toronto Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion Claimed By Oakland Athletics

Today, the Toronto Blue Jays lost a member of their elusive 20 home run club from last season, as Edwin Encarnacion was claimed by the Oakland Athletics.

This move was expected, as Encarnacion made around $5.175 million dollars last season and was pretty mediocre at third base. His inability to hit consistently and his erratic defensive game pretty much sealed Edwin’s fate in Toronto.

While being affectionately known was “E5” for his penchant to make errors at third base, to his credit, along with the tutelage of defensive coach Brian Butterfield, he was able to improve his defense as the season progressed.

Last season Encarnacion hit .244 adding 21 home runs and 51 runs batted in, amassing those totals in only 332 at bats. Those numbers stack up pretty nicely when you project them out over 600 at bats, which gives him a totals of roughly 35 homers and 100 runs batted in.

With the Athletics adding Encarnacion, this likely means the end of Kevin Kouzmanoff’s tenure in the Golden State.

Kouzmanoff, who is another non-tender candidate (like Encarnacion), will likely be out a job in Oakland with the likes of David DeJesus, Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis, Conor Jackson and Jack Cust getting time at third, the outfield and at designated hitter.

Kouzmanoff hit .247 last season hitting 16 home runs and adding 71 RBI in 551 at bats. Right now, according to the numbers, the Athletics upgraded at third, but you can also argue that the Athletics home stadium is one of the worst hitting parks in the majors, so his numbers may be better than originally thought.

Could he be an option at third base for the Blue Jays? That remains to be seen, but he will probably be on the Blue Jays radar nonetheless.

In other related Jays news, reliever Brian Tallet and outfielder DeWayne Wise refused Triple-A assignments this morning and were sent packing, becoming non-tendered free agents.

Tallet compiled one of his worst seasons to date last season, going 2-6 with a 6.40 ERA and Wise was used in a utility role with the Jays last season and gained more playing time when Fred Lewis was lost to bunion surgery in the latter part of the year. 

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New York Yankees: Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, Next Move

The Yankees had a busy day Friday, acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros and Austin Kearns from the Indians, and it looks like they could make some more moves today as the 4:00 PM Trade Deadline approaches.

The big splash for the Yankees so far has been the trade for Lance Berkman . The details and trade won’t be official until this afternoon, due to Berkman spending his entire career in Houston, making him a 10-5 player (10-5 means that the player been in the league at least 10 years and has spent at least five of those years with one team), which gives him a 24 hour waiting period to change his mind if he so chooses.

It appears that the Yankees will send RP Mark Melancon and IF Jimmy Paredes to Houston in turn for Berkman and cash to pay part of his remaining salary this year.

Berkman , commonly referred to as the Big Puma, will primarily serve as the DH for the Yanks, while occasionally filling in at first base and the corner outfield spots.

He is hitting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 85 games this season, and while those numbers might not sound great, they are better than nothing, which is exactly what former everyday DH Nick Johnson has given the Yanks since his wrist injury in May.

The Big Puma is also a switch hitter, joining Mark Teixeira , Jorge Posada , and Nick Swisher in the regular lineup, which makes it even harder for other teams to align their pitchers according to who is batting for the Yanks.

He has struggled against left handed pitching this year, but when he bats left handed against righties , he has an OPS of .874 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI, clearly a man who can take advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

I feel that this was a good trade, especially for how cheaply the Yanks got Berkman for in terms of prospects, and it should bring consistency to the DH spot, which has been a revolving door since May.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman wasn’t done after getting Berkman . He went out and improved the bench and outfield depth by trading for veteran outfielder Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later, or cash.

Kearns is having a solid season, hitting .268 with eight home runs and 42 RBI in 83 games for the Indians this year.

I think Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman wanted a player who knows how to man the outfield and can still provide production off the bench, which is exactly what they got in Kearns .

His arrival could spell the end to Colin Curtis’ or Marcus Thames’ times as New York Yankees this year. Preferably, I would want to keep Curtis, but Thames is the veteran and would cost the Yankees money if he was the one to go.

Even after these two trades, it appears that the Yankees are not finished dealing yet.

Many consider them in on Chad Qualls , a trade that I strongly disagree with, considering his horrific numbers in Arizona this year.

But as Buster Olney of ESPN, points out in his tweet, the Yankees are probably looking to add a player who can man the hot corner or a middle infielder.

Two players that I like and fit that description are Kelly Johnson of Arizona and Kevin Kouzmanoff of Oakland.

Kelly Johnson, who is the starting second baseman for the D-Backs, would look pretty nice on the Yankees bench, hitting .279 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI.

And Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit .272 with nine home runs and 50 RBI out in Oakland would serve as an excellent back up to A-Rod at third base.

Both of these players are under 30 years old and would be salary dumps for both teams, with Kouzmanoff making $3.1 million and Johnson making $2.3 million.

However, both are signed through next year and Oakland and Arizona might not want to part ways with them quite yet, so it could take a couple prospects to pry them away.

I’m sure that there are lots of moves yet to be made, and we will all know who is where by this afternoon.

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Could Kevin Kouzmanoff, Michael Wuertz Help The Angels Win The AL West

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need help to reclaim another American League West division title. With the Texas Rangers adding Cliff Lee to their rotation it’s going to be tougher than ever for the Angels to catch the Rangers. 

Currently the Angels own a 47-42 record and are four and a half games out of first place. Yet, if the Angels would like to catch the Rangers and pass them for first place the Angels could use some help.

Where does the help come form? The Oakland A’s. They’ve got two players that would improve the team considerably. When making a trade with the A’s the Angels don’t have to give up players who are already at the Major League levels, just some prospects. 

Now the Angels could actually trade for two players from the A’s. One players alone would help them with their fielding problems and give them a bat in the lineup, and take away from the platoon at third base. 

Kevin Kouzmanoff has had an up and down season with the A’s hitting the ball. He’s aggressive and not very patient, but he would fit right into the Angels lineup. Not only that he wouldn’t have to be hitting so high up in the lineup as he had done with the A’s. 

He’s hitting a decent .269, with 89 hits, 16 doubles, eight homers, 40 rbis, and a stolen base. Kouzmanoff would definitely be an improvement of Brandon Wood, Macier Izturis (currently injured), and Kevin Frandsen. 

Defensively he improves the Angels dramatically. Of the group of players that have seen time at third base for the Angels they’ve combined for 14 errors while Kouzmanoff has only seven errors.

The other player that would benefit the Angels would be Michael Wuertz. After an outstanding season with the A’s last year he’s been inconsistent this year, but a fresh start may help him regain the magic that he had last year. 

It also wouldn’t hurt the Angels because the bullpen has been struggling throughout the year and the addition of Wuertz could boost some life into the bullpen. So, far Wuertz has appeared in 23 games, has a record of 2-1, with a save, an ERA of 5.71, has struckout 13 and walked 10. 

The season before that though Wuertz went 6-1, in 74 appearances, had four saves, and struck out 102 while walking 23. 

With the year that Wuertz is having though it maybe difficult for the A’s to include him with Kouzmanoff. So, Brad Ziegler could be the other option in the trade to help improve the Angels bullpen. 

Ziegler has had a decent season so far he does struggle a little bit against left handed hitters. He’s appeared in 41 games, has a record of 2-4, and has 25 strikeouts to go along with 17 strikeouts. 

As for the Angels what players would they give up in a trade to the A’s for Kouzmanoff and Wuertz or Ziegler?

Michael Kohn is a 24 year old right handed relief pitcher who’s appeared both at the Double-A and Triple A level and is having a solid year in 35 games he has a 2.08 ERA with 52 strikeouts to 20 walk, and 10 saves. 

Tyson Auer also 24 is an outfielder who can play each position who has appeared in Advanced A ball and now Double A is hitting a combined .340, with 103 hits, eight doubles, eight triples, three homeruns, 30 rbis, and 44 stolen bases. 

Also, coming over could be Casey Haerther who’s at the Single A level who has played both third base and first base. He’s 22 years old and currently hitting .315, with 90 hits, 13 doubles, two triples, four homeruns, 54 rbis, and nine stolen bases. 

Either way the trades would benefit both clubs it would bring in a reliever that the Angels could definitely use a third basemen that can not only hit but provide defense at the hot corner and the A’s like they usually do they’d be getting young talent to build up their farm system. 

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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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Oakland Athletics’ Recent Struggles Mean Some Veterans Might Be on Borrowed Time

When I first arrived at the Oakland Coliseum for Tuesday’s game against the visiting Cincinnati Reds, the sky was mostly blue as the sun was successfully holding streaks of gloom at bay.

By the time the Athletics had finished batting practice about an hour later, the clouds had inflicted heavy casualties on the other side and were threatening to win the battle in a romp.

That seems like a pretty good metaphor for the tack Oakland’s 2010 season is on at the moment.

What started off in azure warmth is beginning to go cold and gray.

The Elephants have lost five of six games and eight of the last 10. They’ve fallen four games under .500 (ties a season-high) and dropped 8.5 games off the pace set by the first-place Texas Rangers (sets a season-high).

After finishing May at the top of the American League West, a June swoon—the club is 6-14 in the month—has been the anchor on the contention ship.

Only the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates have been worse for the last 22 days. That’s not the company you want to be keeping when rubbing Major League elbows.

Of course, all is not lost…yet.

You don’t need a calculator to figure out that, at 34-38, los Atleticos still have 90 games left on the docket.

Translation: forget about the All-Star break, we’re not even at the mathematical halfway point so there’s plenty of ball to be played.

The team could just as easily snap back to its April/May form as it could fall off the same cliff that’s swallowed the Seattle Mariners.

Regardless, the slide comes at a particularly inopportune time because of the Green and Gold’s history of having its hand forced by the small-market albatross circling above the Coliseum.

For the last three years, the franchise has wisely used the July 31 trade deadline as a chance to flip veteran commodities for younger ones.

And it’s done so at the slightest hint of non-contention.

In 2009, general manager/Moneyball mad scientist Billy Beane sent outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Orlando Cabrera packing.

Bob Geren’s bunch was 15 games under .500 and 17 games out of first when it pulled the July 24 trigger on Holliday; things had not improved noticeably when Cabrera hit the road a week later.

In 2008, pitchers Joe Blanton and Rich Harden were the veteran centerpieces moved for prospects. Harden took his exit on July 8 with the A’s eight games over .500 and sitting in second place, only five games out of the catbird seat.

Blanton walked out the door nine days later with the fellas in roughly the same spot.

In 2007, it was mercurial outfielder Milton Bradley and stoic catcher Jason Kendall on the move. Bradley said goodbye on June 29 with Oakland one game in the black and holding on to third place, 9.5 games out of first.

When Kendall took his leave 17 days later, the wheels were starting to come off as indicated by a 44-49 record and 12-game deficit.

All of the above begs the question, how much longer will seasoned vets like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Ben Sheets be with the franchise given the recent downturn?

The third baseman absolutely must be on some contender’s wish-list given the dearth of offensive might available at the hot corner.

For those of you who don’t get out to the West Coast much, Kouz has been utterly scalding in June.

Pick your favorite nugget—he’s raking at .418 with a 1.097 OPS and he’s launched five of his eight bombs this month.

Perhaps most impressively, he’s only suffered three hitless games and those came in starts made by Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Ryan Dempster.

Toss in the 28-year-old’s quality leather, his $3.1 million contract (expensive by Oaktown’s standards, but reasonable by most), and his departure seems like a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.”

By contrast, the big right-hander is a tougher sell.

Unfortunately for the A’s brass, it’s probably a more important one to make given his $10 million salary. If Kouzmanoff’s number is big in Oakland’s relative world, then that sucker is positively Zito-esque, which makes the fact that baseball’s Big Ben has yet to rediscover his pre-injury rhythm doubly troublesome.

The 31-year-old’s 6.29 K/9 is the lowest it’s been since his rookie campaign in 2001 and his 1.34 HR/9 is the highest since that same year. Meanwhile, his 3.81 BB/9, 4.95 ERA, and 1.47 WHIP are all career-highs.

In other words, the Athletics won’t exactly be selling high unless things change.

That’s not meant as an indictment of the Olympic gold medalist.

His body of work is incomplete and, frankly, it’s a tremendous accomplishment just taking the pearl every fifth day.

Remember, my man is trying to rebound from a serious elbow injury that caused him to spend an entire year gathering dust on the shelf. He literally didn’t throw a professional pitch in ’09 after a stellar ’08 effort was cut short by the torn flexor tendon.

And there’s always that pedigree.

Hopefully, Ben Sheets can turn it around and rattle off a string of quality outings.

But, if he doesn’t take the team with him, those blue skies of April and May won’t be the only fading memory around the Oakland Coliseum.

If history is any guide.



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Cliff Lee, Kevin Kouzmanoff Should Be on Twins’ Trade Deadline Radar

With the trade deadline looming over the next month-and-a-half of baseball, it’s about time for teams to get serious trade fever.

The Minnesota Twins have a few trade chips and are definitely in need. Surely, the front office will address a few issues before we see the end of July.

Let’s start talking about what the Twinkies could use.

Third Base: Third basemen in Minnesota are hitting a combined .211 through this point in the season. Kind of reminds me of a black hole. Little Nicky Punto has proven to have stellar defense, but he still can’t hit. Danny Valencia has added a little (I stress, little) pop to the hot corner as well as some nice defensive plays, but I can’t imagine him having an everyday spot until at least this time next year. 

Who Makes Sense:   Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting .294 with six dingers and 35 RBI for the Athletics so far this year. He may be the best bet for the Twins, but its unclear how much they would want for him. Kouzmanoff would add a nice bat to the bottom half of the order, and make some nice plays on defense. He could also provide the first concrete third baseman for the Twins since…Corey Koskie?

Who Doesn’t: Mike Lowell. It’s as simple as that. Lowell is hitting around .220, barely above the Punto line. With Punto’s incredible defense, it makes absolutely no sense for the Twins to give up a prospect for the old and decrepit Lowell. Don’t get me wrong, for Lowell’s bat will probably pick up later in the season, but he’s still a health risk and rental player at best. 

Starting Pitching: The Twins have a very good staff, as they always do, but it’s not great . Liriano has shown shades of brilliance and looks to be the club’s only candidate for bona fide ace. The Twins have a pretty little trade chip in Wilson Ramos, so it will be interesting to see if he goes in a package for a pitcher.

Who Makes Sense: Cliff Lee does. I know you think I’m crazy, but he might be a great rental for only a couple prospects. I would think a starter like Pavano and a prospect like Ramos could help land Lee in Minnesota for the rest of 2010. But here’s why it really makes sense: After the season, the Twins could shop Lee for some top draft picks and continue to bolster their unparalleled farm system. Cliff Lee would give the Twins a great veteran southpaw to take the number one spot (and maybe a little pressure) off young Francisco Liriano. 

Who Doesn’t: Roy Oswalt is a phenomenal pitcher, but he has a steep $27 million price tag at the moment. There aren’t a lot of teams without the name “Yankees” or “Red Sox” that would be willing or able to absorb such a sum. 

So the Twins are sitting about where they were in the offseason: Barring Orlando Hudson, they have no third baseman or staff ace. They definitely have the trade pieces to get there, so it will be very interesting to see who they start calling up. 

Positions that were once in question seem to be doing just fine now. Delmon Young has exploded recently, upping his average to .295 and nearing the team lead in RBI. With a continued surge like this, it certainly wouldn’t be too much to ask to see him in the All-Star game. (Too bad he’s not from New York.) JJ Hardy and Hudson should return to health soon and give a significant boost to both offense and defense. 

I think a veteran starting pitcher like Lee or Dan Haren (who the Twins have already shown interest in) and a Kevin Kouzmanoff at third base would put the Twins over the top, and well on their way to a successful playoff run in 2010. 

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A’s Dallas Braden: Flawless Victory

We knew Dallas Braden was good. We knew he was tough. We knew he had a bit of fight in him. But just how good he could be was simply astonishing. Who knew he could be perfect?

27 up, and 27 down.

On a perfect Mother’s Day, you really couldn’t ask for more. Sure Braden got some really good help from Kevin Kouzmanoff, and the rest of the Oakland A’s defense, but as Dallas said after the A-Rod debacle “I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or if I’m the 25th man on the roster, if I’ve got that ball in my hand and I’m out there on that mound, that’s not your mound. If you want to run across the mound, go run laps in the bullpen. That’s my mound.”

It certainly was his mound Sunday. As if every pink bat, arm band, and ribbon fired him up; Braden retired batter after batter with spot-on location on each and every throw. Dallas, for the day, was simply un-hittable.

The team refused to let him down too. Kevin Kouzmanoff made several great plays: he snagged a slicer at the third-base line, followed a foul ball into the dugout, and hit a splitting Daric Barton on first after scooping up an exceptionally tough grounder.

Barton would also quickly glove a potential hit in the ninth.  Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney, and Eric Patterson devoured everything that came their way in the out field. Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales walled off the middle infield. And, of course, catcher Landon Powell called an exceptional game.

A whopping 12,228 fans showed up to witness the historic Mother’s Day marvel.

I sense more fan attendance in the A’s future, especially when Braden pitches. I sense jersey sales increasing. I sense a contract extension for a future franchise player.

This guy’s for real, and these A’s are for real.

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