Tag: Mark Ellis

St. Louis Cardinals Bench Missing Much-Needed Muscle

In most areas, the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the heavyweights. Power lineup. Power starters. Power relievers.

The bench, however? Well, let’s be generous by calling them lightweights.

For a team possessing all the ingredients to reach the World Series this season, a bench absent of any semblance of pop could be a thorn in their strategy for success.

The five players expected to comprise that unit for the Redbirds in 2014—Jon Jay, Shane Robinson, Mark Ellis, Tony Cruz and Daniel Descalso—have 147 career homers in 8,390 at-bats. Ellis hit 19 home runs in a season, but that happened way back in 2007. Remove his 105 long balls from the equation, and you’re at 42 homers in 3,451 ABs.

Opposing pitchers can motion their outfielders to play in a few more steps when a player from this “fearsome fivesome” arrives at the dish. Collectively, they’ve hit just .206 in 266 pinch-hit appearances with two home runs, both coming from Jay.

St. Louis’ most threatening pinch-hitter from last season, Matt Adams, is now a full-time starter at first base. He accounted for all three of the Cards’ pinch-hit long balls while batting .314 with a .968 OPS.

As I’ve illustrated in a previous article, the Cardinals’ home run production dropped significantly from 2012 to 2013. A casualty of that power outage was the team’s inability to come from behind, especially late.

When the Cardinals were ahead in games last season, they led the National League with a .287 average and 68 homers. Conversely, when they were behind, they hit .240 (ninth) with 26 homers (last).

Division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati own stellar bullpens, including lock-down closers in Jason Grilli and Aroldis Chapman. Rallies against quality relievers are made that much more challenging with an assembly of Punch-and-Judy pinch-hitters.

Plus, unlike the Redbirds, the Reds and Pirates are equipped with bench muscle. Cincy has Neftali Soto and Chris Heisey. The Bucs carry Travis Snider and Chris McGuiness.

Slugging options could emerge for the Cardinals later in the season.

Top prospect Oscar Taveras will likely get more seasoning at Triple-A Memphis. But barring an injury, he’ll debut in St. Louis sometime in 2014. He’d be a formidable late-inning option or push a strong bat from Allen Craig or Adams to the bench on days he starts.

Randal Grichuk, who was acquired from the Angels in the David Freese deal, hit 22 homers last season at Double-A. With a crowded outfield in St. Louis, his path to playing time in the short term will come as a potential fifth outfielder/bench bat.

Another outfield prospect, Stephen Piscotty, hit 15 homers last year between Single-A and Double-A. He’d admittedly be a long shot for this role, but the Cardinals certainly haven’t shown an aversion to thrusting young players into the limelight.

Last season, it took the Cardinals 118 games before rallying for a win after trailing by three or more runs. They ended up 1-57 when trailing after eight innings.

Teams that reach the postseason frequently rely on late-inning magic to play into October. That hasn’t been the Cards’ journey—at least not recently.

The Redbirds should be good again in 2014. And a weak bench may not make a difference. It didn’t keep the team from a trip to the Fall Classic last season. But it’s the one noticeable chink in their strong, red armor.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Should Second Baseman Elian Herrera Keep His Job?

On May 18th, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis strained his hamstring against the St. Louis Cardinals and was placed on the 15-day disabled list the following day, adding his name to a long list of Dodgers who have spent time on the disabled list this season.

As a result of Ellis’ injury, the Dodgers called up longtime minor league veteran Elian Herrera to replace him. The 27-year-old had spent seven seasons in the minor leagues before his call up roughly three weeks ago, and he has not disappointed. In addition, Herrera has been very consistent since his promotion to the big leagues, perhaps even more so than Ellis, which leads to the following question: Should Herrera remain the starting second baseman upon Mark Ellis’ eventual return?

Mark Ellis, despite his .273 average, two home runs and nine runs batted in, had begun to go downhill in his performance at the time of his injury. Herrera, meanwhile, boasts a .308/0/9 RBI stat line and, as mentioned earlier, has provided a measure of consistency at second base in his 19 MLB games this season. 

Herrera has filled his role admirably throughout his major league stint, and frankly, has better ability than Mark Ellis at this point in time. Herrera has never had much power in his career, however, he has always been an excellent average hitter dating back to his long minor league career, as he routinely hit in the .280 range throughout his seven minor league seasons. In addition, Herrera boasts good speed and baserunning skills, and is seven years younger than Ellis.

Dodgers second baseman Elian Herrera has definitely produced and made the most out of his major league opportunity, and as a result of his consistency, I believe Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly should opt to keep Herrera as the starting second baseman over Mark Ellis.

What are your thoughts on Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Elian Herrera? Should he remain the starter, sent to the bench, or perhaps demoted back to the minor leagues? Leave your thoughts on this debate in the “Comments” section below!

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MLB: 10 Things the Oakland Athletics Should Focus on in 2011

In 2010, the Oakland Athletics took strides in the right direction, posting an 81-81 record to snap a streak of three consecutive losing seasons.  Though Oakland’s pitching kept them competitive, lack of offensive production counteracted a solid rotation and kept the A’s out of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Though the A’s have potential to continue their progression, the American League West is a competitive division, highlighted by the recent resurgence of the Texas Rangers.  But with perennial powerhouses crowding the AL East, the A’s only route to the postseason may be a division crown.  If Oakland can focus on these 10 things, there may be a World Series parade in Northern California for the second consecutive year, only this time for the A’s.

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Oakland Athletics Commercials: "Hustle Meets Humor"

Not a whole lot of insight to this posting, just thought it would be fun to post some of the A’s funnier commercials from past seasons.

The A’s put together several commercials each year. These are the ones I was able to find on YouTube. Starting with 1981 and Billy Ball, then skipping all the way to 2005 and finishing up with the full play-list of 2010 commercials.

The A’s filmed their 2011 commercials in the very beginning of spring training, and they promise to be of their usual comedic quality.

If you have links to any commercials that I did not include, please attach a link in a comment for me to add them in.

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Battle of the Bay: Oakland A’s Defeat Giants in First 2011 Meeting

I admit that if the Athletics had lost this game, I would probably have fallen into the crowd that says “well this is just spring training and doesn’t matter, we’ll get them in the regular season.” Thankfully, the A’s took care of business (and the Giants) today behind a solid pitching performance and plenty of support from the lineup beating the World Champion Giants, 6-0.

In his three innings of work, Brett Anderson gave up only one hit and one walk while striking out five. Anderson was followed by a scoreless inning from Joey Devine, two scoreless innings from Fernando Cabrera, an inning from Gabe DeHoyas, and a combined inning from Fautino De Los Santos and Brad Ziegler. Ziegler returned to the mound to shut down the Giants in the ninth.

On the offensive side, the A’s received contributions from Coco Crisp (1-3, two RBI), Daric Barton (1-3), Mark Ellis (1-3, one RBI), Eric Sogard (1-3) and Michael Choice (2-4).

The A’s got the scoring started in the first inning when Mark Ellis singed on a fly ball to San Francisco center fielder Aaron Rowand, scoring Coco Crisp. Oakland pushed two more runs across in the fifth inning on a Coco Crisp single to right fielder Nate Shierholtz, scoring Landon Powell and Michael Choice.

In the seventh inning, the A’s scored another run when Jai Miller scored as Josh Willingham reached base safely on an error by San Francisco left fielder Thomas Neal. Michael Taylor reached on another error by San Francisco in the seventh inning, scoring Josh Donadson to give Oakland a 6-0 lead.

Brett Anderson was credited with the win, improving to 1-1 in his spring appearances. Madison Bumgarner received the loss for the Giants, moving to 0-2, although he did not give up an earned run in his three innings of work.

The Giants allowed three unearned runs to the Athletics on four errors by Mark DeRosa, Miguel Tejada, Thomas Neal and Charlie Culbertson. Oakland had one error by left fielder Michael Choice.

Crisp, CF 3 1 1 2 0 0 0 .417
 – Miller, Ja PR-LF 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 .500
Barton, 1B 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 .273
 – Timmons PR-1B 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .231
Ellis, 2B 3 0 1 1 0 0 2 .444
 – Cardenas, 2B 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
Willingham, DH 2 0 0 0 1 1 2 .364
 – Donaldson, PH-DH 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .300
LaRoche, 3B 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .273
 – Tolleson, PR-3B 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .154
Taylor, RF 4 0 0 0 0 2 5 .167
Powell, C 2 1 0 0 2 0 0 .222
 – Recker, PR-C 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333
Choice, LF 4 1 2 0 0 1 3 .417
Sogard, SS 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 .364
 – Horton, SS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250
Total 30 6 6 3 8 4 18  
Anderson, B (W, 1-1)  3.0 1 0 0 1 5 0 7.20
Devine (H, 2) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Cabrera, F (H, 1) 2.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
DeHoyos 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
De Los Santos 0.2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0.00
Ziegler 1.1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0.00













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Oakland A’s Shoddy Effort Proves Why Bob Geren Will Be Gone

The Oakland A’s played the biggest game of the season tonight against the Seattle Mariners. Now, some would say it’s way too soon to talk about big game especially since it’s only August 9, but with a young team like the A’s, any time the team has a chance to make ground on the division-leading Texas Rangers, it’s a big game. 

What were A’s fans treated to tonight? An absolute disgraceful performance offensively. Pitching-wise, Vin Mazzaro pitched extremely well after a shaky first inning. He ended the night going seven innings, giving up three runs, two earned, while striking out five and walking two. 

Not a bad start for Mazzaro, although the one complaint could be after getting Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman is, what was he doing pitching around Russell Branyan in the first inning? 

As a result, it led to two runs because the next batter, Jose Lopez, followed with a RBI single scoring Ichiro, who opened the game up with a single. Franklin Guttierez was able to take a hanging slider to right field for a RBI single scoring Branyan. 

It looked bad when Mazzaro got behind in the count to Ryan Langerhans, but Mazzaro was able to get out of further trouble by striking Langerhans out on a 3-2 pitch. 

Overall, the A’s had excellent opportunities to score runs. The biggest moment of the game was in the top of the fourth inning and further proves why Bob Geren is not the manager that will lead the A’s to the playoffs. 

Jack Cust opened the inning up with a single and Kevin Kouzmanoff walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs. The A’s hadn’t been hitting well with runners in scoring  position; in fact, when Kurt Suzuki came up in the top of the third, the A’s had been 0-for-30 with runners in scoring position. 

What the issue is that Geren decided to push the envelope instead of playing it safe. Mark Ellis had been the A’s best hitter with runners in scoring position, but knowing that the A’s had been struggling to get runs in with runners on base it would have been a much better decision to bunt. 

Instead Geren chooses to let Ellis swing away. What does Ellis do? He grounds into the inning-ending triple play! Let me restate that: He grounds into the inning-ending triple play! 

Now, in reality, the call was missed. Ellis definitely beat the throw from Chone Figgins to first, but either way two runners were out and the A’s were now 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position. 

The A’s only scoring came on a double by Rajai Davis. Coco Crisp opened up the sixth inning with a leadoff single. Davis then pulled the ball down the left field line, scoring Crisp from first. 

Suzuki again came up with a runner in scoring position and he grounded out to second base moving Davis to third with one out. Make it 0-for-32 for the A’s with runners in scoring position. 

Next up for the A’s was Cust, who had two hits previously, but he ended up striking out making it 0-for-33 for the A’s with runners in scoring position. Kevin Kouzmanoff couldn’t come up with a big two out hit making the string with runners in scoring position. Oh-for-34. 

There’s not much to say about the rest of the game for the A’s offensively since that point in the game as they went 0-for-12, not even making a dent off struggling closer David Aardsma. 

What a disgraceful way to start a series for the A’s. The Mariners are one of the worst teams in baseball and the A’s can’t even gain ground on the Rangers, who were idle today, and in fact lost positioning in the standings because of tonight’s game. 

Even worse, though, for the A’s is that Felix Hernandez is starting tomorrow night’s game. So, instead of sweeping a team that came into tonight with only 42 wins, the A’s could be the team that gets swept—not a good sign when the A’s had a chance of gaining ground on the Rangers. 

The reason why the A’s had an excellent chance to make up some some substantial ground on the Rangers is because the Rangers are facing the New York Yankees the next two games.

Tonight, though, is just another example of the long list of reasons why Geren should be fired at the end of season regardless of where the A’s finish. The only way he saves his job is if the A’s make the playoffs, and under his direction that doesn’t seem very likely.  

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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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Oakland Athletics: Adam Rosales and Cliff Pennington Getting It Done on Offense

If you were to ask me in mid-March who I thought would be the A’s leader in RBIs through the first month of the season, I probably wouldn’t have said Cliff Pennington. 

Well, Pennington, a former first-round pick, is off to a strong start for the A’s this season. Through 24 games, Pennington has managed to hit .250/.337/.461 and has collected a team-leading 15 RBIs. 

While his batting average is nothing to excited about, his unexpected display of power, however, should make even the most pessimistic A’s fan feel all giddy inside. 

Along with Pennington, second baseman Adam Rosales has emerged as a surprising leader on offense. Rosales, who was not expected to make the team in spring training, has emerged onto the scene now that Mark Ellis is sidelined with an injury. 

The young infielder has collected 10 RBIs of his own, and has gone 18-for-55 (.327) in 19 games this season with the A’s. His line of .327/.367/.491 is impressive, considering he was expected to be a utility player at best this year for the A’s. 

As a team, the A’s are hitting .254 (eighth in AL), are ninth in on-base percentage (.322), and 11th in slugging percentage (.377). Despite scoring 104 runs (fifth in AL), the A’s offense has slowed down considerably since the start of the season. 

The A’s pitching has been solid throughout the first month of the season (14 quality starts), but with recent injuries to Brett Anderson and Justin Duchscherer, the A’s will need more offensive production from other players like Eric Chavez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Rajai Davis. 

Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales have both gotten off to solid starts, but Oakland is going to need more than just three (the third being Daric Barton) hitters in their lineup.

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