Tag: Austin Jackson

Sonny Gray

Moral victories aren’t enough for the A’s right now


OAKLAND – The A’s pulled together one of those mad, late-inning rallies Tuesday that they seem to have a trademark on.

It was a commendable effort that came up just short in a 6-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners. And while the A’s always score points for the heart they show in battling back, the fact of the matter is that the hourglass is running low on this team.

The A’s aren’t going to win many games when their starting pitcher gives up six runs and they don’t advance a runner past first base until the eighth inning.

[RECAP: Gray roughed up, Mariners edge A’s 6-5]

This is still a team that’s searching for ways to score runs consistently, especially against left-handed starters, which means they need their starting pitching to be air-tight. Sonny Gray, so terrific against the Mariners in five previous starts against them, was hardly his sharpest. He gave up a season high-tying six earned runs on seven hits over five innings, though he had the backing of his manager after Tuesday’s game.

“I thought he pitched better than the numbers would suggest,” Bob Melvin said.

You can dissect Gray’s outing and explain away much of the bad. Austin Jackson hardly crushed his two-run single that got Seattle on the board in the third, but that rally began with Gray issuing two walks to begin the inning.

In the fourth, Endy Chavez hit a chopper up the middle that leaked past a drawn-in infield, but Gray also allowed Kendrys Morales’ single and Logan Morrison’s hard-hit double to set the table for Chavez’s hit.

Then Kyle Seager’s two-run homer in the fifth came on a 1-0 fastball that Gray was trying to spot inside but caught too much of the plate. That made it 6-0, which ended up being too much for the A’s to overcome – barely.

Gray was asked if he thought he pitched better than the numbers indicated.

“I don’t know,” he said. “The final numbers are all that matters.”

Mariners left-hander James Paxton was dialed in Tuesday, and he probably would have been a handful for any lineup. But the A’s struggles against him – just four hits over 7 2/3 innings – once again highlighted one of their biggest weaknesses.

This is a team that struggles mightily against left-handed starting pitching. The A’s are hitting just .240 against lefties overall this season, lowest in the American League, and they’re 4-10 against lefty starters since the All-Star break.

“Look at the quality of starters … any American League left-hander, especially here in the West, they’re not going to be a slouch,” A’s catcher Derek Norris said. “You look at the guy tonight, he’s running up to 99 mph on our (stadium) gun, which is slow. I wouldn’t focus too much on the negatives but focus on the positives that we were one swing away from winning the ballgame tonight.”

Very true, but it doesn’t excuse the six-run deficit the A’s had to overcome in the first place. Or plays such as Chavez’s double, a slow-hit ball to center where neither shortstop Jed Lowrie nor second baseman Alberto Callaspo covered second base, and Chavez wound up with a double.

The A’s lost a chance to gain a game on the first-place Los Angeles Angels, who lost at Houston. And considering they’re facing a 4 ½ game deficit with just 24 left to play, every missed opportunity to gain ground is magnified.

They get their chance to bounce back behind Jon Lester on Wednesday afternoon. Taking the mound for Seattle? Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez.

The runs won’t be easy to come by against him either, and the A’s won’t be picky about how they generate them. When the hourglass is running low, wins are wins no matter how they come.

Austin Jackson’s arrival in Seattle pushes James Jones back to the minors

James Jones Mariners

James Jones has been the Mariners’ starting center fielder since making his MLB debut in mid-April, logging more than 300 plate appearances, but now the 25-year-old is headed back to Triple-A following yesterday’s trade for Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson.

Jones got off to a good start in Seattle, but has hit just .258 with zero homers and a .600 OPS in 79 games overall, including an ugly 64/12 K/BB ratio. He has great speed, swiping 20 bases while being caught just once, but based on his early MLB production and track record in the minors it’s not clear if Jones will hit enough to be a quality regular.

Did the Tigers pay a lot for Price? Sure, but don’t get hung up on it

Image (1) tigers%20logo%20old.gif for post 4853

Obviously the Tigers paid a lot for David Price. Drew Smyly is a really good pitcher who is either ignored or underrated outside of Detroit. Austin Jackson is having a down year, but he’s a legit starting center fielder who can hit in an age where such things are valuable commodities. Finally, the prospect they threw in — 18-year-old shortstop Willy Adames — is supposed to be a good one and is already the youngest player at his level in the minors.

Some people in Tiger Land are a tad worried about all of this. One of them is Lynn Henning:

For that boost in a rotation’s firepower, the Tigers lost an effective, back-end starter in Drew Smyly, as well as center fielder Austin Jackson, who in past weeks has been playing the brand of baseball he has often delivered and all but promised to make a permanent part of his daily routine.

Most costly, the Tigers lost 18-year-old shortstop Willy Adames, who was destined to be their top prospect in 2015 and who represents a potential coup for the Rays.

He is particularly concerned about Adames. And yes, it may hurt to see him blossom one day.

But who cares?

The Tigers are the ultimate win-now team. By the time Adames is ready to contribute to the Tigers — assuming he can get past either Eugenio Suarez or Jose Iglesias on the depth chart — the Tigers core will be lining up for the early bird special at some family restaurant in Florida. Brad Ausmus will be transforming from baseball’s most handsome manager to a dashing-but-graying Cary Grant figure. The owner, Mike Illitch, may be in the great pizza place in the sky. You don’t worry too much about tomorrow when everything that matters is today.

While Henning doesn’t play the “John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander” card, you have to assume it’s on his mind. And on the mind of Tigers fans. It has been for 27 years. But what everyone conveniently forgets about the Smoltz-Alexander trade was that it actually worked for the Tigers.

The Tigers wanted one thing and one thing only from that trade back in 1987: they wanted to win the AL East. And, despite trailing the Blue Jays by a game and a half on the day of that deal, they beat ‘em out thanks to Alexander, who went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA after coming over, including a must-win game against the Jays in game 160.  The Tigers wanted to make the playoffs. They traded off the promise of a prospect (though a not particularly well thought of prospect) in order to do it. Sure, they would have been better off with Smoltz for the next 20 years, but they were trading for 1987, and to a team like the 1987 Tigers — veteran-laden, in win-now mode — 1987 was all that mattered.

The same goes for the Cabrera-Scherzer-Verlander Tigers of 2014. David Price gives them what they think they need to win the World Series. If they do it, well, awesome. But even if they don’t, they are making a move that gives them a better chance to do so than keeping Willy Adames on the West Michigan Whitecaps does.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers 2, Braves 1: Ho-hum, complete game with nine strikeouts for Clayton Kershaw, who s now 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA. He needed to be sharp yesterday, though, as Julio Teheran allowed only two runs over eight. Yasiel Puig’s homer in the third proved to be the go-ahead run.

Diamondbacks 7, Pirates 4: Andy Marte — who I was surprised to see is still alive and walking the Earth and playing baseball and stuff — was called up from Reno yesterday and then broke a tie with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the sixth. Also: the dude is only 30. I have no idea how he is both living and not 48-years-old. I feel like someone ought to investigate this for identity theft or something. I am pretty sure that he was a Braves prospect back when they played in Boston, in fact.

Blue Jays 6, Astros 5: Nolan Reimold hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the ninth. Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro hit bombs of their own.

Reds 3, Marlins 1: The Reds scored the tying run in the eighth inning on a sac fly thanks to a controversial plate-blocking call. Watch it here. I realize you can’t block the plate without the ball, but Jeff Mathis got the ball while Zack Cozart was, as far as I can tell, still back in biology class in middle school or something. It — along with Johnny Cueto striking out nine and allowing one run in seven innings — decided the game. More on this later this morning at HBT.

Phillies 10, Nationals 4: The Phillies had 17 his and put up a ten-spot, led by Grady Sizemore’s three his and three RBI. But there was bad news for the Phillies too, as Cliff Lee had to leave the game with an elbow injury. He hasn’t been good since he’s been back and now one has to wonders whether he’ll be back at all. On the bright side, this led to one of the more fun pitcher wins ever: Antonio Bastardo came in to relieve Lee in the third. He threw two pitches and was out of the inning. Then he got the W since he was the pitcher of record when the Phillies scored five in the top of the following inning.

Mariners 6, Indians 5: Mike Zunino’s two-run homer in the eighth inning gave ’em the win. Adding Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia gave ’em hope. Good day for Seattle yesterday.

Angels 1 Orioles 0: Tyler Skaggs and six relievers combined on a five-hitter over thirteen innings. Unfortunately for Skaggs, the reason they needed six relievers is that he had to leave the game with forearm tightness in the fifth inning. Had a no-hitter going at the time too. Albert Pujols knocked in the game’s only run in the top of the 13th.

Cardinals 6, Padres 2: Not to be outdone by the Angels, Shelby Miller and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and Miller didn’t have to leave the game with an injury. Oscar Taveras hit a two-run homer.

Royals 6, Twins 3: Yet another game in which the win was overshadowed by an injury. This time Eric Hosmer who fractured his finger. Meanwhile, Alcides Escobar hit a two-run triple and Yordano Ventura allowed only one earned run over seven innings while striking out seven.

Cubs 3, Rockies 1: The Cubs take three of four in the battle of the basement-dwellers. Jake Arrieta struck out seven while allowing one run on three hits.

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: For Detroit the highlight of this game was Austin Jackson having to come out of the game in the middle of an at bat in the seventh inning after being traded to the Mariners in the David Price deal. Nice standing ovation from the crowd as he goes too. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost for the fifth time in six games so, um, yeah, get here soon, Mr. Price.

Winners and losers at the trade deadline

A.J. Burnett, Ruben Amaro Jr., Ryne Sandberg

It doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot of baseball sense to name the Tigers, A’s and Red Sox trade deadline winners this year, so let’s see if we can’t be a little less obvious than that. Here are some other people, as well as teams, that had good and not so good days Thursday.

In case you missed it, here’s our Trade Deadline Tracker.


Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski: I’m not so convinced the Tigers made the right move parting with Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly for David Price for three reasons. First, Rick Porcello and his 3.24 ERA were likely to be more than fine in the postseason rotation. Second, the downgrade from Jackson to Rajai Davis in center field is big offensively and defensively (Davis’s OBPs against right-handed pitching the last three years: .290, .273 and .299). Third, Smyly seemed poised to be a very important piece of the Detroit pen in October.  Of course, all of that said, Price was the most valuable pitcher on the market. Dombrowski got his man yet again. He always seems to.

Jon Lester (LHP Athletics): Not only does Lester get to fatten up his numbers in Oakland for a couple of months and potentially improve those Hall of Fame credentials during another playoff run, but thanks to today’s trade, he’s no longer tied to draft-pick compensation as a free agent this winter. That could increase his haul by a few million bucks.

Oscar Taveras (OF Cardinals): It’s your turn to shine, Oscar. After getting mentioned in the Price and Lester talk, Taveras not only stayed put in St. Louis, but he now has himself a clear starting gig with Allen Craig gone to Boston. It hardly seemed like a coincidence that he responded by homering today against the Padres. The Cards could call up Randal Grichuk to platoon with Taveras against left-handers, but even if that happens, Taveras will no longer have to wait until the lineups are posted each day to figure out whether he’s playing.

St. Louis Cardinals: They got John Lackey and Justin Masterson without parting with Taveras or dipping into their stable of arms beyond Joe Kelly. Lackey has been a bulldog in the playoffs, and while I’m not sold on Masterson turning it around as a starter this year, I don’t deny it’s a possibility, and even if he doesn’t, he could be a force in relief in October. Also good: the Pirates did nothing Thursday and the Brewers failed to add to their staff (though they did get a nice piece in Gerardo Parra for the outfield). The Cardinals still have to get to the playoffs, but if they do, they have at least as good of a chance as any NL team of reaching the World Series.

Houston Astros: I’ve never been a big Jarred Cosart fan. I’m also not a big Jake Marisnick fan, so today’s trade with the Marlins wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk. It is worth a try, though. 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran should make it as at least an average regular at third base and might be something more. Marisnick has the tools to be an above average regular, too; I’m just skeptical he’ll put them together. To get the pair (along with a wild card arm in Francis Marte and a draft pick) for Cosart, and a couple of likely role players in Kike Hernandez and Austin Wates was a smart move.


Every AL contender besides the A’s and Tigers: Pick your poison… Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija or Max Scherzer, Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez. The Angels have been the AL’s second best team this year — probably MLB’s second best team — but it’s going to be awfully difficult to get past those pitching staffs and into the World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies: OK, so this one is terribly obvious. It could be seen coming, too. It at least seemed that Ruben Amaro Jr. would move Marlon Byrd and/or Antonio Bastardo, two guys who had some legitimate trade value without the Phillies having to eat any money. Nope. Nothing. Nada. It’s disappointing that Amaro couldn’t pull off some sort of a deal with so little to lose. On the plus side, most of the rest of the Phillies will clear waivers, making them available in August deals.

Kansas City Royals: GM Dayton Moore couldn’t sell. To do so would have been to admit defeat and most likely would have cost him his job. Unfortunately, Moore also failed to add anything after flirting with several starters. All signs point to the Royals finishing in the neighborhood of .500 as a result.

Daniel Nava (OF Red Sox): The Yoenis Cespedes acquisition left room for Nava, but that changed a couple of hours later when Craig joined him on Boston’s roster. That’s a shame. Nava is hitting .330 over the last couple of months, has a better career OPS against righties than Craig and is a better defender in the outfield than Craig. He deserves to start against righties, but he’s probably going to take a backseat because of Craig’s contract.

Mookie Betts (2BOF, ?? Red Sox): Hard to tell what’s in store for one of baseball’s best prospects now. Already having moved off his natural home of second base, Betts finds himself behind Cespedes, Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Nava and Shane Victorino in the Red Sox outfield. Perhaps Betts will overtake Bradley at some point, but that’s going to be a tough assignment, what with Bradley looking like the AL’s premier defensive center fielder at the moment.

Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon, yet your GM and ownership won’t step up to bring in any kind of bat with Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hurt. This has been bothering me for weeks.

Joc Pederson (OF Dodgers): Pederson’s minor league numbers sat he’s ready — the 22-year-old is hitting .319/.448/.587 for Triple-A Albuquerque — but he stayed buried in Los Angeles after both being involved in Price and Lester rumors and also potentially being a candidate for promotion in the event of a Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier deal (of course, one of those could still come in August).

Colorado Rockies: Kevin Gausman for Jorge De La Rosa? Telling teams you’re not interesting in moving the NL’s oldest player (LaTroy Hawkins)? Sometimes it seems like the Rockies are perfectly content to be bad.

Not Losers

New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners: I can’t put them in the winners category since they’re AL contenders not located in Oakland and Detroit, but I still like the moves. The Yankees added Martin Prado and Stephen Drew to the haul that already included Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy without significantly dimming their future prospects. That’s just good dealing. And while the Mariners did give up a pretty nice piece in Nick Franklin, he stopped fitting into the club’s future the day Robinson Cano was signed. With Jackson and Chris Denorfia in the fold, the Mariners upped their chances to reach the playoffs and gave their fans a product worth investing in for the first time in a long time.