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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Athletics Newsbeat

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

WSJ: Bill James and Billy Beane Discuss Big Data in Baseball

Billy Beane should have never written this article.

WSJ: We’ve seen advances in particular areas of the game in recent years—pitch framing, defensive shifts—that are now better understood. What do you guys see as the aspect of the sport that is most in need of more research, more data and better understanding?

Beane: I’m jumping out of my chair on this one. It’s using analytics—and this sounds sort of non-field-related—but it’s injuries and medical. Even the healthcare industry is doing the same thing – trying to use big data to help solve healthcare. It’s the same in a simpler form for baseball or any sport and injuries. That’s the black swan for anyone involved in a baseball team—our injuries. Trying to predict them, minimize them, limit the downtime.

WSJ: Have you seen any progress to that end or are teams still sort of scratching their heads?

Beane: It’s a challenge because if you’re using a lot of data, there are certain restrictions on how much you can collect data [on players’ medical history], so you’re sort of straddling that line a little bit. But ultimately, I think we will make progress at some point, and the foundation of that will be analytics.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 22, 2015 at 06:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, big data, bill james, billy beane, red sox

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Valencia’s 2 Homers Lead A’s Over Fading Astros 4-3 - The New York Times

The Twins are one game back of the Astros. The Angels are two games. The Indians are three back. It’s pucker time in Houston.

Oakland’s Sonny Gray (13-7, 2.56) opposes former Athletic Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63) when the series continues Saturday. Gray is 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA in six career starts against the Astros. Kazmir, who was traded to Houston in July, allowed seven hits and four runs in a loss to Oakland on Sept. 8.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 19, 2015 at 07:03 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rewind: Beane says Semien could fit anywhere on the diamond | CSN Bay Area

His improved play might not be enough to keep him at the position, however.

But it’s really been a tale of two halves for the East Bay native. Just six of those errors have come in the 51 games since the All-Star break. In watching Semien on a regular basis, it’s clear he’s handling shortstop with more confidence and fluidity over the second half. His athleticism has been on display on some highlight-worthy plays recently, including a terrific stop in the hole against the White Sox on Wednesday, when the A’s nearly pulled off a dazzling double play.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 18, 2015 at 08:14 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, marcus semien

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A’s Call Up Barry Zito

So the A’s on Wednesday called up Barry Zito, their former ace and Cy Young winner, from Triple-A Nashville. Zito, 37, had hoped for an MLB comeback this season when he signed a minor-league deal with the A’s, the team that drafted him in the first round in 1999.

Instead, Zito spent the year in the minors. He was 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA, a solid contributor but not sparkling enough to warrant a big-league call-up. Until now, that is.

This is likely an MLB farewell for Zito. The A’s — with their shared history and his popularity in the Bay Area — offered Zito the best chance to return to the big leagues. It would be a surprise if he tried again next season.

Here’s perhaps the best wrinkle in this story: Zito could very well pitch his final game when the A’s meet the San Francisco Giants next weekend and face former teammate Tim Hudson. Hudson and Zito, along with Mark Mulder, formed Oakland’s formidable (and extremely popular) trio of pitchers early in the 2000s.

Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 16, 2015 at 04:44 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, giants, moneyball

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Race for Last Place

Who will win “The Biggest Loser”?

Miami (54-79, one game out). Other than Oakland and maybe Milwaukee, this was the team on this list that had the highest hopes for 2015 coming in, though, then again, this is Miami, so you never know. Regardless, once Giancarlo Stanton got hurt, this team became impossible to watch. I love Ichiro as much as anyone else, but seeing him play every day in an empty building with a fish statue would make anyone sad. The Marlins might have a little push left in them the rest of the year. Stanton could be back this weekend, and Jose Fernandez should return in mid-September. That’s a positive for Fish fans desperate for a reason to go to the ballpark … but it won’t do their Drive For Last efforts any favors.

Colorado (53-78, one game out). Everyone jumped ship when Troy Tulowitzki was traded, and with good reason. Maybe the saddest thing about this Rockies team that has the second-worst record is that it’s virtually indistinguishable from every other Rockies team of the past six years. It’s only missing Tulo. And they don’t even have LaTroy Hawkins anymore.

Philadelphia (53-80, “first” place). For all the frustrations with Ruben Amaro—and the fact that he’s likely going to be out of a job pretty soon—one must admit: He ended up doing rather well for himself and the franchise with that Cole Hamels trade. There’s some nice young talent in Philadelphia’s system right now. But most of it isn’t on the big league roster—and Aaron Nola is still figuring out how the bigs work—which means there are going to be a lot of Jeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf at-bats over the next month. This is as bad as it’s going to get for the Phillies. But have no doubt: It’s going to be very bad.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 03, 2015 at 06:09 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, braves, brewers, draft, marlins, phillies, reds, rockies

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mike Gallego out as A’s third base coach, Ron Washington in - San Francisco Chronicle

In the wake of recent baserunning snafus, Mike Gallego, the A’s long-serving third-base coach, was let go by the team on Monday and infield coach Ron Washington was installed back in his old spot.

“I’m going to do all I can to get guys across the plate,” Washington said before Oakland’s game at Safeco Field. “I don’t expect to be a perfect third-base coach. But I know I’m a damn good third base coach.’

Jim Furtado Posted: August 25, 2015 at 08:53 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, mike gallego, ron washington

Friday, August 07, 2015

Billy Beane might not be the A’s GM for much longer -

This would mean the A’s have joined the Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, Giants, and more as teams instituting a president of baseball operations who is a former GM, one who can remain hands on with the department. The Red Sox could end up joining this mix soon, or the Blue Jays, or whoever ends up with Dave Dombrowski now that the Tigers let him go. It’ll be sad if Beane takes a step back or becomes more reclusive with the promotion, but the guy has been around and successful for so long that it’s hard to believe he hasn’t already been given a fancy new title. Maybe he should have abused his powers as a minority owner in the team a long time ago to get that ball rolling.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 07, 2015 at 08:22 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, billy beane, general managers

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

baseballthing, Have We Been Underestimating Chris Bassitt?

I haven’t watched him pitch. How is Bassitt getting out lefties?

On the other hand, Nathaniel Stoltz was touting Bassitt as a sleeper prospect at FanGraphs toward the end of 2013. Stoltz noted Bassitt’s deception and velocity as strengths. Deception and velocity seem like good things for a pitcher to possess. Movement? Yup. He had that, too.

So far, so good. What about potential trouble spots? Here’s Stoltz again:

Sinker-slider pitchers tend to struggle with opposite-handed batters, though, and Bassitt’s biggest challenge in moving from the bullpen to the rotation has been coming up with ways to retire southpaws.

After noting Bassitt’s nonexistent changeup and hittable curveball, he reaches the following conclusion:

Many point to Bassitt as a potential #4 starter, citing his solid overall performance and broad arsenal of pitches. While he does have arm strength, stamina, four offerings with some utility, reasonable control, and decent groundball ability, his weakness against lefthanders may negate these broad strengths and make him more likely to return to the bullpen down the line.

Such skepticism is hard to shake. A year after Stoltz’s article, FanGraphs’ Jeff Zimmerman called Bassitt a fifth starter/long relief type. A few months after that, Kiley McDaniel shared similar sentiments.

And yet, here he is pitching well for Oakland as a starter, with lefties hitting .198/.308/.297 against him. And it’s not like teams haven’t read the reports: southpaws constitute 61 percent of batters he has faced.
Can Bassitt keep proving everyone wrong? I don’t know, but he’s forcing the A’s to give him serious consideration as a part of the 2016 rotation.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 05, 2015 at 09:45 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, chris bassitt

Monday, August 03, 2015

Having the AL’s worst record could benefit Red Sox - Sports - The Boston Globe

Funny. Sonny Gray is the kind of player Beane holds onto.

Take Sonny Gray. If the A’s decide to expose him to revocable waivers, the Sox would have the first crack at claiming him so long as they have either the worst record in the AL or the worst record for any team besides the A’s. If the Sox do claim him, they would then have about two days to discuss what kind of return it would take for Oakland to consider moving the righthander – laying a framework for further discussions in the offseason.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 03, 2015 at 11:34 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Baseball’s Anti-Trust Exemption: Its Uncertain Scope

While many fans are aware that baseball is generally exempt from antitrust law, fewer realize that courts have adopted widely divergent views regarding the extent to which MLB’s operations are actually shielded from the law. For instance, just because MLB is generally immune from antitrust law does not mean that a court would necessarily give the league free reign to engage in anti-competitive practices in areas completely unrelated to professional baseball (such as if, for example, MLB Advanced Media — the league’s digital content distribution company — were to enter into a price-fixing scheme with other non-sports-related, Internet-streaming-video service providers).

Courts have traditionally disagreed regarding where to draw the line between MLB’s exempt and non-exempt conduct, and thus are deeply divided over the extent to which they will allow antitrust lawsuits to proceed against MLB. As a practical matter, then, anyone wishing to sue MLB under antitrust law may be able to do so – despite the league’s antitrust exemption – so long as they file their case in the right court…

That having been said, there may be some cases where this sort of forum shopping is not possible. In the San Jose lawsuit against MLB, for instance, the city had to file its case in a local court, even though California judges have traditionally adopted a broad view of baseball’s exemption.

In contrast, the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the recently filed suit challenging MLB’s scout hiring and pay practices wisely elected to file the case in New York, a jurisdiction that has historically viewed the exemption much more narrowly (as reflected in the decisions discussed above involving MLB’s television broadcasting and umpire relations). As a result, it would not be surprising if the New York court allows the antitrust portion of the case to move forward, despite baseball’s exemption.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 29, 2015 at 11:17 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: anti-trust exemption, athletics, legal, san jose

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mets give up too much to get Tyler Clippard - Keith Law Blog - ESPN (INSIDER)

Keith Law does not like this deal.

As far as what the A’s got back, Casey Meisner was my sleeper pitching prospect for the Mets this year, and has indeed had a breakout season in Savannah. He would now rank sixth in the Mets’ system, behind Dominic Smith (who ranked No. 40 on my last updated global prospect ranking), Amed Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, Michael Fulmer and Wuilmer Becerra (although you could argue Meisner belongs ahead of Becerra too). The 6-foot-8 right-hander is consistently throwing heat up to 94 mph, complemented with an above-average curveball, and this year has seen his command jump to where it’s consistently above-average as well. He pitched extremely well in Savannah and has been so-so in High-A St. Lucie, with his most recent outing his worst of the year.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 27, 2015 at 08:49 PM | 59 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, mets, tyler clippard

Friday, July 24, 2015

Acquiring Kazmir gives players a lift on and off field - Houston Chronicle

“I feel an obligation to support them in a situation where I can do something to help them win,” Luhnow said. “They care as much as anybody, because they’re on the team.

“I think when you don’t make a move, even though sometimes that’s the right thing to do, people can misinterpret it as they’re not being supported. Now I would never make a move … just to make them feel supported, but it’s the right move to make, and it’s in our domain to make it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: July 24, 2015 at 06:59 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics, trades

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Astros acquire Scott Kazmir from Oakland for two prospects

And so we begin…

The Astros made a trade Thursday, acquiring left-hander Scott Kazmir from the A’s for two minor leaguers, right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham…

The 31-year-old Kazmir, a 2002 Cy Falls graduate, will join the club in Kansas City on Friday. He is 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA this season 18 starts for the A’s this season. Among American League pitchers, Kazmir ranks fourth in opponent batting average (.213) and fifth in ERA. On the season, Kazmir has allowed just three earned runs or fewer in 17 of his 18 starts.

Mengden and Nottingham had been playing for Class A Advanced Lancaster after each began the 2015 season at Class A Quad Cities. Mengden was originally a fourth-round selection in the 2014 draft, while Nottingham was originally taken in the sixth round of the 2013 draft.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 23, 2015 at 01:52 PM | 54 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics, scott kazmir, trades

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Oakland Athletics are the unluckiest team in baseball | FOX Sports

If only…

They just haven’t been able to overcome hideous middle relief. Maybe Doolittle can fix that; maybe he can’t. When a team feels an arm short in the bullpen, it usually is two arms short these days. Then again, being an arm (or two) short in the bullpen isn’t supposed to hurt this badly. It’s clear that Beane’s bunch is more like a second-tier contender than a bottom-feeder, in terms of actual ability. Expected runs allowed paint a fairer picture of the A’s than actual runs allowed; they’ve just had too many bad sequences.

Yes, this cut-rate Oakland team could have been a contender, but it’s too late now. Since the advent of divisional play and the League Championship Series, only two 14-25 teams (Oakland’s record before Monday’s win) have ever reached the playoffs: the 1974 Pirates and the 1989 Blue Jays. Call it bad luck, a bad bullpen or the Curse of Josh Donaldson, but the A’s have no angle left to play in 2015. Beane will have to spend his summer wheeling and dealing again, but this time, he’ll be spinning off assets not unlike the ones he collected last July:

Jim Furtado Posted: July 13, 2015 at 08:22 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, trade rumors

Thursday, July 09, 2015

How much have Marcus Semien’s errors hurt the Oakland A’s? - SweetSpot - ESPN

We’ll check out every error he’s made, but here’s a remarkable thing to consider: Baseball Info Solutions has Semien with +1 Defensive Run Saved. In other words, a league-average shortstop, even with all the errors. That’s the same rating that Asdrubal Cabrera has, who has made just two errors. (UZR is more harsh, with Semien at -14 runs, second-worst in the majors to Desmond.)
Semien’s 27 errors have led to just nine unearned runs. But you can argue the only error that cost the A’s a game was the April 11 error that allowed Nelson Cruz to bat with two outs in the eighth inning. Cruz’s three-run homer gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead. The A’s tied the game before the Mariners won in 11 innings.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 09, 2015 at 05:07 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, marcus semien

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Angels tried convincing Red Sox to help them trade for Josh Reddick

“C’mon, just helps us. All the cool kids are doing it.”

e Angels could use another bat, as Matt Joyce hasn’t worked out in their outfield and C.J. Cron isn’t getting it done as the designated hitter. According to MLB’s Alden Gonzalez, they wanted to pry Josh Reddick from their division rivals, the Athletics, but didn’t have the resources to do so. Gonzalez reported that the Angels’ (and then-GM Jerry Dipoto’s) solution was to get the Red Sox involved in a three-way trade to make it happen, but Boston had no interest, and as you know, nothing went down.

It makes all the sense in the world that the Red Sox wouldn’t help the Angels out here, and it has nothing to do with the six games separating them in the wild card standings. What, exactly, were the Angels planning to send the Red Sox in return for Reddick? Their farm system is atrocious, and Reddick is still a highly productive outfielder. Reddick can’t hit lefties, sure, but he’s also batting .288/.346/.463 overall, has one of the strongest arms in the game, and has been worth at least a win defensively in each of the last three seasons according to Baseball Reference’s measures.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 07, 2015 at 09:37 AM | 67 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, athletics, jerry dipoto, josh reddick, red sox, trade rumors

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Theo Epstein on trade that brought Addison Russell to the Chicago Cubs

Here’s a really interesting article about the Russell deal.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 04, 2015 at 09:06 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: addison russell, athletics, billy beane, cubs, theo epstein

Reddick criticizes A’s front office over his playing time | CSN Bay Area

Maybe he should worry about doing better in the AB he does get against lefties.

“I have no idea. It doesn’t come from anywhere in this clubhouse. Everybody knows what situations our general manager puts up there. I couldn’t tell you what the difference is between me starting against one guy and not starting against another guy. … There’s probably so many numbers they could dig into their computers with and try to find one just to keep me out of the lineup.”

Reddick, who’s hitting .330 in 209 at-bats against right-handers but just .152 in 66 at-bats against left-handers [emphasis added], brought up Tuesday’s game against Colorado as an example. He told Fosse he was originally slated to start against Rockies lefty Jorge De La Rosa, but he received a text message from Melvin in the afternoon saying the idea had been vetoed.

“I know Bob’s in there fighting for me,” Reddick said. “The other day I was supposed to play against De La Rosa, and Bob texts me at around 1:30 and told me he had been ‘trumped,’ was the word he used. I understood right away. I know it’s not Bob. He’s fighting for me to be in there every night. It still frustrates me beyond belief when I don’t play …. I wanna be in there helping my team no matter if a guy’s throwing right-handed, left-handed or center-handed. Whatever you wanna call it, I just want to be in there, be able to compete and help my team win.”

Reddick’s career splits:

Jim Furtado Posted: July 04, 2015 at 08:52 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, josh reddick

Ben Zobrist is the mystery hitter Mets would ‘overpay’ to get | New York Post

Ben Zobrist? Don’t get me wrong, He’s a good player. But he’s the GUY they would overpay for? He is a free agent next year.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 04, 2015 at 08:43 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, ben zobrist, mets, trade rumors

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Billy Beane still weighing A’s options as trade deadline nears | CSN Bay Area

It’s a long season. The Wild Card opens up many possibilities.

“It’s really depending on how you’re playing and where you’re headed,” Beane said. “Just about any deficit can be overtaken if you’re clicking as a club. Case in point, 2012.”

Jim Furtado Posted: June 30, 2015 at 06:39 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, billy beane

Friday, June 12, 2015

Video: Must C: Burns’ two great grabs |

Not a bad pick up for Jerry Blevins.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 12, 2015 at 09:27 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, billy burns

Monday, June 08, 2015

Red Sox stun A’s with 7-run 8th to cap sweep |

This was a good win for the Red Sox. It’s good to see some life for the team.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 08, 2015 at 09:44 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, red sox

Friday, June 05, 2015

Switch-Pitcher Pat Venditte makes Major League debut

Lord take me now, because I will never see anything more awesome than this.

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte made his big-league debut tonight at Fenway, and pitched a nearly perfect sixth inning—retiring Brock Holt with his left arm, seen above, and then after allowing a single inducing a Mike Napoli double play with his right (which you can watch below).

Three videos at the link, including one of the switch-hitting Blake Swihart having to run back to the dugout to grab his lefty batting helmet when Venditte decides to pitch to him right handed. Venditte went 2 IP and gave up a single while striking out one.

Switch-pitcher placed on path early by dad |

There is a new freak in town.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 05, 2015 at 11:17 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Grant Brisbee breaks down each of Oakland’s 15 one-run losses

Getting to this a bit late, this was published on May 28th and since then the A’s have increased the number of one-run wins by 50%... to give them a 3-15 record overall.

4. Astros 7, A’s 6 - April 26

Key moments:
I’m caught between wanting to throw my hands up and say, “You get the idea” and continuing to pile on at the risk of my sanity and yours. I’ve chosen the latter strategy. May we all find peace in this world.

If only there were an image to symbolize this awful game.


That’s a fastball above Evan Gattis’s nose, which he hit for a two-run, ninth-inning double. The lead run was on base because Brett Lawrie had a brain fart and threw to second base on a fielder’s choice when the runner was already there. Again, that was a bad baseball play, but of course it happened in the ninth inning of a one-run game.

The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: June 02, 2015 at 09:41 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, gifs, oakland a's

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