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Oakland Newsbeat

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A’s Jed Lowrie “flabbergasted” by Astros’ response to bunt

Holy mackerel!

Last night’s game featured some strangeness, with Astros manager Bo Porter getting bent out of shape about Jed Lowrie’s bunt attempt against the shift in the first inning and the A’s up 7-0. Consensus around the Oakland clubhouse: The first inning is way too early to get upset about a guy bunting – plus, if you put the shift on, you’re inviting the bunt. Why would you then get upset about it?

“I’m really flabbergasted by the reaction,” Lowrie said of Porter’s heated words after Paul Clemens threw a pitch near Lowrie’s legs his next at bat. “He was yelling, ‘Just go play shortstop!’ He made it into such a big deal.”

As Lowrie pointed out, he was doing exactly what the Astros wanted when he bunted – and he bunted into an out, presumably their best-case scenario.

“The shortstop was on the other side, all I had to do was get it past the pitcher, and I didn’t,” Lowrie said. “I screwed up. I gave them an out. It was the first inning of a major-league game.”

I asked Porter about the incident this morning, and he said what he’d said yesterday, “The game polices itself.”

Porter is a fiery type – and with his team down 7-0 in the first, he could well have been trying to get the Astros going. At any rate, Clemens missed Lowrie and really, it all should be over by now.  A’s manager Bob Melvin said he can understand being “perturbed” with an opponent bunting when the team is down 7-0, but it was so early in the game.

“Hopefully, we can move on,” Melvin said. “I don’t think it’s that big an issue, to tell you the truth.”

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2014 at 08:04 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, oakland

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Right-hander Joe Blanton retires

Never quite Cy Blanton…

Veteran right-hander Joe Blanton has retired, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Because he was released before retiring, the Angels still owe him the $7.5 million left on his contract.

Blanton, 33, signed a minor league deal with the Athletics after being released by the Halos. He made two starts for their Triple-A affiliate, allowing seven runs in 10 2/3 innings.

In 20 starts and eight relief appearances for the Angels last year, Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA (62 ERA+) in 132 2/3 innings. He retired with an 85-89 record and a 4.51 ERA (92 ERA+).

Repoz Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A’s to use Callaspo in first base platoon

Barton is kind of a Grady Sizemore writ small.

The first base puzzle is officially coming together for the Oakland A’s.

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday morning that switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo will play first base against left-handed starting pitchers. With signs pointing toward the A’s keeping just two catchers, John Jaso and Derek Norris, it means Daric Barton is likely to make the Opening Night roster and split first base with Brandon Moss against right-handed pitchers. Moss likely will see lots of time at designated hitter as well when Barton plays first.

Callaspo, a utility infielder who played mostly second base last season for Oakland, has been playing first base this spring for the first time in his career…

If the A’s indeed keep just two catchers—with the left-handed hitting Jaso starting against right-handed pitchers and Norris facing lefties—it means Stephen Vogt will be ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento. Vogt is hitting .357 in exhibitions with three homers and 12 RBI, which is tied for the team lead.

The District Attorney Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:56 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jonah Keri: Beane Counters

Don’t have time to go through this now as “à la croisée des Stooges et des Cramps” material has crossed my faux desk.

While Moneyball the book and especially Moneyball the movie pumped up certain aspects of the A’s success while downplaying certain others (Messieurs Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Tejada, and Chavez would surely like a word), they perfectly pegged Beane’s distrust of industry insiders. While acknowledging that Melvin’s playing experience helped his candidacy for the manager job, Beane admitted to still harping on the value of outsiders’ perspectives when hiring people for other positions.

“I don’t want a lot of guys like me who played the game,” Beane said. “Quite frankly, I want blank canvases, I want people to come in with new ideas. I don’t want the biases of their own experiences to be a part of their decision-making process. Listen, our whole staff — [assistant GM] David [Forst] played at Harvard, but that doesn’t count because it’s Harvard — didn’t really play. The bottom line is that any business should be a meritocracy. The best and brightest. Period. This game is now evolving into that.”

Beane credited Michael Lewis for helping to spark that shift.

“That’s the best thing about the book and what it became,” Beane said. “I just talked to a young lady, a freshman at Santa Barbara. She’s taking a course, and Moneyball’s one of the required readings. This young lady could dream of one day becoming a general manager. That would have been much harder to imagine 15 years ago.”

One of those outsiders could be in the dugout before long, Beane said. Given the challenge of watching for subtle physical cues such as pitcher fatigue while also cycling through the many possible strategies and outcomes during the course of a game, managers and bench coaches would seemingly benefit greatly from employing a new aide.

“There will be an IT coach at some point” in the dugout, crunching numbers in real time and sitting right next to the manager, Beane said. The A’s have yet to actually create such a position for very practical reasons. “It would be an extra coach, and [MLB] is pretty strict — we aren’t even allowed walkie-talkies,” Beane said about league restrictions on how many coaches a team can have, and what kind of contact they can have with the outside world during games. “But I believe at some point this will happen. There’s too much data that’s available not to want to use it.”

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland, sabermetrics

Monday, March 17, 2014

A’s Jarrod Parker to miss season – Tommy John surgery again

The Complete Jarrod Parker On Nerve.

Jarrod Parker will miss the A’s 2014 season; the projected Opening Day starter needs Tommy John surgery for the second time.

“The first thing in these situations is you feel bad for Jarrod,” assistant general manager David Forst said. “He worked hard this offseason after some struggles at the end of the year and was going to be at the top of the rotation. But we can only play the hand that we’re dealt.”

This morning, Parker visited Dr. James Andrews, who did his first Tommy John surgery in 2009. Andrews will perform Parker’s second ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery a week from today in Pensacola, Fla.

Numerous pitchers have had two or more Tommy John surgeries, but the recovery rate for a second surgery is not as good as it is for first Tommy John procedures. Former Giants reliever Brian Wilson is among those to successfully come back from a second surgery, and former A’s reliever Jason Isringhausen had the surgery three times in his career and continued to pitch. In general, relievers have fared better with second Tommy John procedures than have starters.

“Unfortunately there are more data points on this than there were four years ago,” Forst said. “In the last week, it’s come up a number of times. It’s hard to predict right now, you don’t know the recovery rate on guys with a second Tommy John. It’s unfortunate that it’s more frequent.”

Repoz Posted: March 17, 2014 at 04:23 PM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Peter Gammons: The new, new thing better than Moneyball

I have a curare solutin’ BB gun at my ready for the first writer that pulls a Killer B’s for Billy Beane/Billy Burns.

Back in the Moneyball Summer, Billy Beane used to say, “whoever hits the most homers usually wins,” and could live without stolen bases. But while the movie was superb, it was, in reality, fiction, or semi-fiction. “All movies are,” Beane said when the film was released. “Thirteen Days” wasn’t the way it really was, either.

“In our market (and a park that brings new meaning to Flushing Meadows) there isn’t one way to do anything,” Beane says. “Trying to compete is about always trying to stay ahead of the curve, always adjusting, always trying to find undervalued ways to win. That’s all.” He also probably wouldn’t have been so open to creating a goofball, laughing gashouse gang and handed them to a manager who is cerebral and exceptionally logical.

“There is no set way to doing anything, in baseball or business,” Beane says. “Hey, I’ve grown to really like stolen bases. I don’t like the concept when guys get thrown out, but when they don’t get thrown out, I like them.” Billy Burns, who is in the Billy Hamilton/Micah Johnson class of speed, in three years in the Nationals organization stole 125 bases and was thrown out 17 times. Going into the weekend spring training games, he had more stolen bases than all but six teams in Arizona. So Billy isn’t as big as Ken Burns? He is a switch-hitter, every infield ground ball turns opposing infields into British roundabouts and he has the range of Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry. “I have to be honest,” said another American League GM. “I’d never heard of him.” One A.L. scout joked that “I thought he was the manger’s kid the first time I saw him in the Nationals organization.

...Beane, like Andrew Friedman in Tampa and some of the other unconventional small market general managers, is forever searching for a different way to look at and approach the business. It has worked, and once again the Athletics are the real team to beat in the American League West, with a jackrabbit named Billy Burns, a $10M closer and the intellectual flexibility to be able to take stock of what doesn’t work and keep searching, as Lewis once wrote, for the new, new thing.

Repoz Posted: March 08, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland, sabermetrics

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dallas Braden, pitcher of 19th MLB perfect game, retires

Dallas, Goodbye Club

Former A’s pitcher Dallas Braden told the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday he is retiring from Major League Baseball after multiple surgeries have rendered his left shoulder a “shredded mess.”

The 30-year-old Braden is best known for authoring the 19th perfect game in Major League history on May 9, 2010—Mother’s Day—in a 4-0 Oakland victory over Tampa Bay.

“There is nothing left in there, it’s just a shredded mess,” Braden told the Chronicle. “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum, and I’m OK with that.”

Braden finishes his career 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA in five seasons, all with the A’s. He last pitched in the Majors in 2011.

Braden told the Chronicle he was working out this offseason in hopes of a comeback but suffered a setback. An MRI showed his shoulder was too damaged to fix, he said.

“I wasn’t in a position to repeat my delivery, to pitch with any intention,” Braden told the newspaper. “That’s OK, I understood the odds I was facing. You have to face your mortality one day, and I have been so blessed in this game. If I take 10 minutes to be hacked off about it, it would be nine minutes too long. You can’t ask for more than I’ve been given, coming where my grandmother and I are coming from.”

Repoz Posted: January 15, 2014 at 12:09 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A’s acquire Corey Brown from Nationals

Corey Brown was designated for assignment by the Nationals last week and today they traded the 27-year-old outfielder to the A’s for cash considerations.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Oakland ballpark backers tout waterfront site

Clorox: A bright way out of a jam.

Imagine AT&T Park flanked by giant shipping cranes - that’s pretty much the vision A’s boosters have for a 38,000-seat ballpark at the Port of Oakland, just west of Jack London Square.

The $500 million waterfront ballpark is being proposed by a team led by Clorox chairman and CEO Don Knauss and former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream boss T. Gary Rogers - with the blessing of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

“It’s one of the two sites we promised Major League Baseball we would offer, and it will be available early next year,” Quan told us Friday - the other being the current Coliseum site.

“Trust me, Oakland is hot now,” Quan said, “and a lot of developers would love that (waterfront) site if it doesn’t become a baseball stadium.”

...And though it’s too early to say if public money would be required, there has been talk of the port providing the land for the ballpark at nominal cost in hopes of spurring economic activity in the area.

To call Wolff skeptical of the Howard Terminal idea, however, would be an understatement. “It would be easier to build on Treasure Island,” he told us.

“All I care about is getting a new home for the A’s in the best possible circumstances - and under any circumstances, Howard Terminal would be as close to impossible as anything,” Wolff said.

Repoz Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:45 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland

Monday, November 04, 2013

SF Gate: MLB may help A’s play in S.F. if no deal - sources

Bobby Murcer ain’t gonna like this one bit…oh, wait…and wait again.

Major League Baseball would help the Oakland A’s move across the bay and play at rival Giants’ AT&T Park in San Francisco if Coliseum officials don’t come to terms on a new short-term lease for the team, sources tell us.

The A’s two-year home stint at AT&T Park, which would start next season, would probably be the first step toward moving the team out of the Bay Area.

The league’s hardball warning was passed on to Coliseum officials at a closed-door meeting by Jon Streeter, the San Francisco attorney who is representing the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority in the stadium lease negotiations.

We’re told MLB is also demanding that the Coliseum give the A’s just a two-year lease extension - not the five- to eight-year deal the authority has been pushing.

The short-term lease would give the A’s more flexibility should the team’s owners swing a deal to move to San Jose - or beyond.

The sticking point in the Coliseum negotiations hasn’t been the length of the lease so much as the money from food and beverage concessions. Under their old lease, the A’s managed the concessions for all sporting events at the stadium, including for the Raiders, and they got a major share of the revenue - terms the Coliseum Authority wants to change in its favor.

The talks have dragged on for more than two years. Now, however, the Coliseum’s governing board - which includes two Oakland City Council members and two Alameda County supervisors - is definitely feeling the heat.

“Now we have to do this lease quickly because Major League Baseball has injected itself into the conversations,” said one board member, who like our other sources asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Repoz Posted: November 04, 2013 at 05:35 AM | 85 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland, san francisco

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oakland A’s Billy Beane’s crazy family tree: Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Hillary Clinton

And I’m related to Faora Hu-Ul…and have the scars to prove it!

Thanks to months of research by genealogical experts, A’s general manager Billy Beane learned over the weekend that he has the ingredients for the wackiest family reunion of all-time.

His relatives include Madonna (10th cousins, one generation removed), Celine Dion (11th cousins, once removed), Hillary Clinton (10thth cousins, three times removed) and Camilla Parker-Bowles (11th cousin, two times removed).

“I wasn’t going to say anything, but now I can: This is the reason Madonna and I have never dated,” Beane joked during a phone interview Monday.

In truth, Beane had no idea about the connection until told on stage Saturday night. Like so many others in the audience, he gasped “What?” and “No way!” as the quirky branches of his family tree were unveiled during a fundraising event for the California Genealogical Society and Library.

Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin and heavy-metal drummer Tim Alexander also had their ancestry explored for a presentation called “Their Roots Are Showing” at the Del Valle Theatre.

As it turns out, Beane’s mother’s side is connected to the earliest wave of French settlers in Canada, which explains his link to Madonna and just about everyone else of French-Canadian descent.

Another distant but verifiable cousin is Angelina Jolie, a revelation that prompted Beane to call Brad Pitt after the show to alert him to a belated plot twist in “Moneyball.”

Repoz Posted: October 30, 2013 at 05:38 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: history, oakland

 

 

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