Around this time of year, MLB.com asks its beat writers to put together a year-in-review for each of the league’s 30 teams. Tom Singer took care of the task for the Oakland A’s, who struggled to a 75-87 record this past season and a last place finish in the American League West division.
Some lowlights of the A’s 2009 season, courtesy of Singer:
- Oakland finished in the
AL West cellar for the first time since 1998, and lingered there for 106 total days.
- The A’s have been around for 109 years and have never had such a long stretch at the bottom of the standings.
- The offense reached fewer total bases than any other team in the American League.
- The team’s combined .328 on-base percentage ranked 21st in all of baseball and their .397 slugging percentage ranked 25th.
- The 2009 A’s finished last in the American League in home runs. That hadn’t happened since the organization was in Kansas City.
But fear not, A’s fans, GM Billy Beane has a plan:
“Our organization has two waves of players,” Beane said this week. “We have a
strong group of young pitchers up in the Majors, and we have a group of
young hitters coming up behind them who will be ready soon. It’s a
process we went through in the 1990s, so we know how it works.”
It’s hard to doubt the guy. The last time the A’s rattled off three straight losing seasons (1996-1998) the next eight years brought four division championships and four second-place finishes. And he’s right about the young pitching staff, a group that compiled the AL’s third-lowest ERA and set a franchise record for
strikeouts. There is some hope for Oakland.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.