Kurt Suzuki, Brandon McCarthy

Running down the rosters: Oakland Athletics

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At least to the outside eye, it seems like the A’s have lacked a plan since they shipped off Matt Holliday after 93 games in 2009. It finally appeared that they were going for a full rebuild this winter, but after trading Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez, they re-signed Coco Crisp for $14 million, added Bartolo Colon, Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes and flirted with over-the-hill designated hitters like Manny Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez. The drive for 75 wins appears on.

Rotation
Brandon McCarthy – R
Bartolo Colon – R
Tom Milone – L
Tyson Ross – R
Graham Godfrey – R

Bullpen
Grant Balfour – R
Brian Fuentes – L
Fautino De Los Santos – R
Joey Devine – R
Jerry Blevins – L
Ryan Cook – R
Jordan Norberto – L

Disabled list: Brett Anderson (L), Dallas Braden (L)
SP next in line: Jarrod Parker (R), Brad Peacock (R), Sonny Gray (R)
RP next in line: Neil Wagner (R), Andrew Carignan (R), Travis Schlichting (L), Edgar Gonzalez (R), Evan Scribner (R)

Not only did the A’s shed Cahill and Gonzalez, but they traded two more guys who would have fit into their projected rotation for a platoon outfielder in Smith. It wasn’t necessarily a bad move — I like Josh Outman, but I doubt Guillermo Moscoso would have remained an asset as a starter — but it’s left the A’s without any experienced depth here.

I penciled in Ross and Godfrey at the bottom of the rotation, but Parker and Peacock should have opportunities to win jobs. The A’s might be better off with Ross in the bullpen anyway.

The A’s figure to add a reliever or two prior to Opening Day. There isn’t much left in free agency now, but there should be some intriguing out-of-options arms available before the end of March.

Lineup
2B Jemile Weeks – S
CF Coco Crisp – S
LF Seth Smith – L
C Kurt Suzuki – R
RF Josh Reddick – L
3B Scott Sizemore – R
DH Brandon Allen – L
1B Daric Barton – L
SS Cliff Pennington – S

Bench
C Landon Powell – R
INF Adam Rosales – R
OF Jonny Gomes – R
OF Collin Cowgill – R

Next in line: C Josh Donaldson (R), C Anthony Recker (R), 1B Kila Ka’aihue (L), 1B Chris Carter (R), INF Eric Sogard (L), OF Jermaine Mitchell (L), OF Michael Taylor (R), OF Jason Pridie (L)

I think it’s probably best for the A’s to stick with what they have now and try to figure out if Barton and Allen belong in their long-term plans. Still, it’s not hard to see why they’d want to have a Manny Ramirez in there. Putting a strong right-handed hitter in the cleanup spot would make the whole lineup look better. Suzuki could then hit sixth, with Sizemore in the eighth spot.

The only position battle in the starting lineup should be at DH, though a bad spring from Barton could open up first base. Barring an addition, Allen will compete with Gomes, Ka’aihue and Carter at DH. Gomes will certainly play against lefties, and that should be good enough for him. Gowgill should also start against lefties in place of Smith or Reddick.

The backup catcher gig is up for grabs, with Donaldson and Recker challenging Powell, who was bumped off the 40-man roster earlier this winter.

I’d like to see Sogard get a chance to overtake Rosales for the utility infield spot, but I’m not sure that will happen on day one.

Twins pitcher barfs before almost every appearance

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  Ryan O'Rourke #61 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after loading up the bases in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Twins righty Ryan O'Rourke has pitched in 54 big league games. He has barfed before almost every one of them.

No, really:

Through his first 54 big-league outings over the last past two years, O’Rourke estimates he emptied the contents of his stomach close to every time.

“I don’t do it in the public’s eye,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I go in the bathroom, or sometimes it’s just on the back of the mound. But, yeah, it happens.”

I wonder if I’ve barfed 54 times in my entire life. I doubt I have. Then again, I’m not doing anything in front of tens of thousands of people with potentially millions of dollars at stake.

Yet he who is without sin hurl the first, um. Well, never mind.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.