Is Arte Moreno blowing smoke about the Angels offer to Carl Crawford?

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From the same L.A. Times article in which the Angels’ offer to Adrian Beltre was reported, Arte Moreno claims that the Angels never made an offer to Carl Crawford. Why? Never had the chance, he says.  By the time they got to talking to him in Orlando last week he had an agreement with the Red Sox. Alternatively, Moreno says, he was too expensive and if they signed him the payroll would have been out of whack and he would have had to raise ticket prices. Really: he makes the argument that an increased payroll would have led to higher ticket prices, as if those prices aren’t set by supply and demand.

Both of these explanations run counter to what ESPN’s Gordon Edes reported last week.  He had two different sources, one claiming that the Angles matched the $142 million offer but did so too late. Another says that all they made was a $108 million offer which was obviously way too light.

Know what it all sounds like to me?  It sounds like the Angels, despite all of their early-offseason talk about wanting to spend big and make a splash, have real payroll constraints that they don’t want to exceed and which were never compatible with Carl Crawford in the first place.  Disingenuous? Perhaps. Or maybe they just misread the market and didn’t figure contracts would be going loco like they have been. A third possibility: they just moved too damn slow. Whatever the case, Angels fans can’t be a happy lot right now, as their primary offseason target now plays for Boston and their secondary target — Mr. Beltre — has not accepted their allegedly big offer yet.

Know what would make this just perfect? If some other team signed Beltre and, wouldn’t you just know it, the Angels matched the offer ten minutes too late. Darn the luck.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.