Running down the rosters: Oakland Athletics

5 Comments

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.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
5 Comments

NEW YORK — Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost five of six following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.