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Wrap: Oakland 4, Seattle 3. A’s 19-19 (2nd Place, 5 games back)
After five straight nights of losing the A’s winning is a nice change. The game brings the A’s back up to .500 again which also is a nice change. The one run win gives the A’s a +6 run differential so they are at least a bit better than just .500 in some way, also that is the closest anyone is to even runs surrendered and runs scored. Not a particularly interesting game, as the two teams scored five of their seven combined runs on home runs, each team scoring once via alternate methods. Jarrod Parker finally looked good, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour both attempted to “make things interesting” and that about sums up this one.
The A’s scored three of their four runs via the solo home run. Josh Donaldson started it in the second inning launching one to left field off of Maurer. In the fourth inning Barton got into the act with his first home run of 2013 (forever?). I was a bit disappointed he didn’t get the silent treatment like Ryan Sweeney got a couple years back, but instead he ran like a giddy school girl down the length of the A’s dugout getting high fives and butt slaps from anyone and everyone. A Lowrie single would plate Smith in the fifth inning before the A’s cranked up the solo home run machine again in the sixth this time with Moss launching his fifth. Who’d a thunk it but now tied for second for home runs on this team are three players with five: Donaldson, Moss and the improbable Coco Crisp. Cespedes with six leads the team and he went 0-for-4 in this game but had a (don’t think it was quite a home run robbing) double or more robbing catch of a Kyle Seager hit to center field. Spectacular play nonetheless. On account of the solo shots the A’s just didn’t put too many big rallies together and were just 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position stranding only four.
Appearances: Parker, Sean Doolittle, Cook, Balfour.
Parker has seldom looked good this year and this outing was probably his second or third best of the season depending how you choose to view things. His season still is far from pretty with a 6.86 ERA and 6.33 FIP but at least in May his ERA is down (5.56 from 7.36) though his FIP is up (5.50 to 8.48) so is he progressing? It is hard to really say. For what it is worth his 4.26 ERA and his 5.38 FIP in this game are better than his season marks but also not the sort of thing a scout would gush to their general manager about. He allowed a two run home run to Kelly Shoppach and by the end of this his home run rate was a hair under 2.0 HR/9 without rounding (1.99), a completely unacceptable level that continues to afflict is FIP and his overall results. While the 17.0% HR/FB rate is sure to come down his xFIP isn’t altogether attractive at 5.34. Another outing like this and perhaps Parker is ready to work things out with the A’s, another bad outing though and he should be remedying things with the River Cats instead. Doolittle came in to relieve Parker with Justin Smoak and Raul Ibanez on base. He allowed a Dustin Ackley single that plated Smoak before striking out Shoppach and getting Bay to ground out 6-3. Cook pitched the eighth, and allowed a baserunner in between each of his three swinging strikeouts via two singles and a walk. Endy Chavez was struck out to end the frame with the bases loaded and lead intact. Balfour did a similar act striking out Ackley before allowing a hit to Shoppach, recording a strikeout of Robert Andino, allowing a hit to Michael Saunders and finally getting Seager out 4-3.
No one really stood out in this game, but the hero will go to Lowrie. A 3-for-4 day with an RBI single to go along with his thirteenth double is a good day. His season numbers now are up to .312/.399/.471. His WAR at 1.0 ranks third on the A’s behind Donaldson (1.5) and Crisp (1.1), but he is tops in batting average and on base percentage. Good start with his new club, great addition that was well worth it and at least right now he is worth more than the -0.3 WAR the Astros acquired (Chris Carter at 0.1 and Brad Peacock at -0.4).
The smartest thing said about last night’s blown call seems to come from Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports’ HardballTalk. I like Calcaterra who always is insightful and fortunately does it while being funny too. But here is what he said regarding the Adam Rosales home run/double,
“This is pretty simple: If [umpire Angel] Hernandez had the same view of the play that the Comcast Bay Area viewers had and still couldn’t reverse the call, he is incompetent. If he did not have that view available to him when reviewing the play, Major League Baseball’s home run review system is incompetent. Which is it?”
“They’re also probably wondering what good is video replay if it can’t correctly settle calls like this.”
David Schoenfield of ESPN said this,
“What’s the point of having a replay system if you’re still going to blow the call? Did the four umpires all watch the same replays and all agree? Hard to believe. Even Indians fans were tweeting that it was a home run.”
As always Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle may not have had much in opinion to say about the call but came through with the most information about what happened. She wrote,
“Every replay in the press box clearly showed the ball hitting a railing well over the top of the wall in left, and [Bob] Melvin said this morning that it is his understanding that the umpires get all available views from both the A’s and Indians broadcast outlets. A video coordinator with access to all feeds to me he hadn’t seen a single replay where it wasn’t obvious that the ball went out… Getting the call right, Melvin said this morning, ‘Doesn’t mean we were going to win the game, but at that time in the game, we were in a better position with our bullpen. You never know how it will go, but it looked like it should be going on.’”
All said and done the call was blown. With today’s game underway it seems nothing will be done but as Slusser noted in that above mentioned piece, she expects MLB will talk publically about this at some point. I am not one to criticize umpires. In real time watching that home run/double it conceivably could have been a double. But that is why we have these replays for home runs and in slow mo it was beyond obvious it his the railing above the wall, even the reactions of the fans above knowing the Indians had blown the lead and they’d missed catching a home run ball was evidence of such. I don’t want to see replay like in the NFL where we all stand around and wait for ten minutes to review things. Last night’s review took far too long. But it seems that you could add a fifth umpire who sits upstairs in the booth and watches everything and acts as a sort of check on this whole system on the field. The A’s won their division last year by a game on the final day of the season, calls like this matter.
Wrap: Cleveland 4, Oakland 3. A’s 18-17 (2nd Place, 3 1/2 games back)
After a good road trip to New York it is depressing to come into Cleveland and drop three straight and hopefully avoid a four game sweep tomorrow afternoon. It hurts even more to lose a game due to a controversial call as tonight’s went. First off let’s say this: the Indians could have won this ballgame. Adam Rosales‘ home run/double was not the be all and end all of this game. It would’ve left the score tied 4-4 from which a myriad of possibilities could have occurred. Of course even if this game had somehow given the A’s the lead, being in Cleveland the Tribe would have had a chance to win regardless. But what hurts is not being given that chance to win. Angel Hernandez flat out missed a home run call when Rosales in the top of the ninth belted a game-tying home run to left field off Tribe closer Chris Perez that clearly hit the railing above the wall and above the yellow line signifying a home run. This was a no doubter. Everyone watching the ComcastBayArea broadcast could see that quite clearly and indisputably. How this could go unnoticed by Hernandez and the umpiring crew is criminal. I have no clue what view they were watching but this call could not have been more cut and dry and Bob Melvin‘s ejection was fully earned as he had every right to be enraged. The reaction even of the fans who both seem to be upset they did not catch a home run ball and upset that their hometown Indians seemingly blew a game was completely ignored as well. The A’s “lost” this one and it is a shame. While there are calls to have Bud Selig force a restart of the game from that point on with the game tied, I doubt that that happens no matter how many people cite George Brett‘s pine tar game.
Masterson had his sinker working as he had a 66.7% GB% in this game allowing just four hits in his seven innings on the hill. The A’s only extra base hit of the game was Rosales’ “double”. The A’s went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position stranding eight. One guy A’s fans have become loathe to see come up with two outs and a run scoring opportunity presenting itself has been Barton freshly recalled from Sacramento. But Barton came thru in the top of the fourth hitting a single to plate Cespedes and Moss and stake the A’s out to a 3-0 lead. The only hitter with multiple hits was Smith who went 2-for-5 with a run scored. However Smith was also the opposite of Barton and did not come through in the clutch stranding two runners in scoring position with two outs.
Griffin didn’t look so great in this ballgame. Six and two-thirds innings on the mound yielded six Indians hit including solo home runs by Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana as he walked just two and struck out just four. The big problem being the big flies really as otherwise Griffin’s pitching while far from spectacular would’ve likely sufficed for a win. On the year he now has 6.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 but a concerning 1.4 HR/9 that skew his FIP to a 4.57 contrary to the lower 3.83 ERA. There are a few concerns here, first and foremost his BABIP has ample room to grow from .250 and all his peripherals are worse than last year when they stood at 7.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9. That said Griffin has shown flashes of brilliance and everyone is entitled to a bad outing or two. Doolittle knows nothing of bad outings these days and nor does Cook as both looked great in their respective third of an inning and inning of work. Cook pitched a perfect eighth striking out two to bring his K/9 total to 10.7 K/9. He now sports a 1.69 ERA and 1.92 FIP as he has been lights out and worth 0.4 WAR a total that bests tonight’s starter Griffin at just 0.3 WAR.
Smith even though the clear zero is Hernandez and his blown call. Smith ended the game with the bases loaded and the A’s needing to score one run. It isn’t usual that you’ll give the zero to a player who had the best offensive night of anyone arguably, but when the game was on the line Smith failed to come through. Rosales had his home run/double, then a rattled Perez hit Sogard with a pitch. Jaso walked to load the bases. Smith came up took a strike before grounding out to Perez to end it. That’s a zero. Sorry, Seth.
The A’s will call up Daric Barton as they place Josh Reddick on the disabled list with a wrist injury stemming from his colliding with a wall in Houston the first weekend of the season. Reddick’s injury clearly was more serious than initially thought, first off because here it is putting him on the DL a month later, and furthermore because let’s take a quick look at his production (or lack thereof) this young season: .152/.266/.250 with a .240 wOBA and 48 wRC+ in 109 trips to the plate with just one home run making him worth -0.1 WAR on the year. This of course is a far cry from the guy who last year hit .242/.305/.463 with 32 dingers a .326 wOBA and 108 wRC+ to go with his 4.5 WAR.
Curiously, the A’s and Billy Beane call up Barton who needed to be added to the 40-man roster, proving that their love affair with the high walk, no power first baseman may not yet be over. Barton after being DFA’d had spent the season in Sacramento and there he hit .287/.422/.465 with three home runs in 128 trips to the plate. He also featured an 18.8% walk rate, a .402 wOBA and 137 wRC+ so here is hoping he has turned the corner (again). Brandon Moss will be moved to outfield duties, dramatically improving the quality of the infield, but probably dramatically decreasing the defensive quality of the outfield. Unfortunate that these outfield injuries happened when they did because I’d much rather see Casper Wells than Michael Taylor.
Surprisingly to make the addition to the 40-man roster the A’s rid themselves of lefty Jordan Norberto. That move was surprising, again Jesse Chavez lives to see another day. Norberto is presently on the MiLB disabled list and his injury, never good news for a pitcher is an elbow strain. The injury has limited his time with the club as he has thrown just one and a third miserable innings across three outings for the River Cats sporting a 40.50 ERA and 12.95 FIP as he has walked seven and struck out four among the 16 batters he has faced. Norberto came to the A’s at the 2011 deadline in the deal that sent Brad Ziegler to Phoenix in return for Norberto and Brandon Allen. Norberto’s achilles heel has always been his lack of control (5.8 BB/9 in his career) but last year was a good season for him in the A’s bullpen as he put together 52 innings with 8.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 for a 2.77 ERA and 3.90 FIP. In his career his ERA is an even 4.00 and his FIP is a decidedly higher 4.78 for a career total -0.1 WAR.
A’s assistant-GM David Forst says that the A’s are open to re-signing Norberto on an MiLB deal which explains technically at least, why he was released as he could not be designated for assignment or put on waivers being on the disabled list.
There is a cool site called Diamond Mines run by the National Baseball Hall of Fame where they have (an awful search engine, but) really cool old scouting reports on players. Poking around it you can find some interesting things and while this seems best suited for offseason posts its a cool new discovery so I will post something from it now. This is a scouting report from Dave Littlefield (who would go on to be the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the period where they were criticized for getting signable players as opposed to the best players with the first overall selection of Bryan Bullington whom Littlefield labeled a future #3 starter in the “Moneyball draft”) of one Jason Giambi who would of course be the offensive staple of the A’s lineup at the end of the previous millenium and beginning of this one. But what did Littlefield think of Giambi on Valentine’s Day 1992?
“Big body w/pretty good bat, future 1B-LF, disappointed w/def play @3B, plays hard but tools (except for bat) are short, future 3A journeyman, maybe bat off bench”
Littlefield, who at the time was working for the Montreal Expos, also rated Giambi’s future hitting ability as “average”, power as “below average” and dedication as “fair”. Of course Giambi exceeded Littlefield’s 3A joyrneyman, maybe bat off bench expectations making his MLB debut a little over three years after this scouting report on May 8, 1995. In 2000 he would make his first All Star team and also win the MVP hitting .333/.476/.647 with a 7.7 WAR season in spite of his poor defense which Littlefield correctly pegged at “below average”. Giambi of course is still playing with Cleveland now and in his career has thus far amassed 50.1 WAR and 431 home runs while hitting .280/.403/.522 with a .398 wOBA and 143 wRC+. Maybe he could’ve been used as a bat off the bench?
It is well known that the A’s are one of the more frugal teams in the American League and in baseball as a whole. Only the two Floridian teams and Houston have lower payrolls than the Athletics of Oakland who currently sit at a “mere” $61,964,500. The Los Angeles Times has an interesting graphic where you can compare teams salaries position by position against one another. It is interesting stuff and worth messing around with if you have some spare time. What was interesting is just seeing how many places the A’s actually have a more expensive position than other teams which at times is surprising but owing to the rules in baseball that suppress young players’ salaries it often happens when one wouldn’t expect it.
For example, the A’s versus the Angels where comparing the ten positions (pitchers aren’t differentiated according to role, plus the designated hitter), the A’s have more expensive players at three of the ten positions: left field, center field and designated hitter. That is largely because the A’s have Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Seth Smith there while the Angels feature pre-arbitration Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo at those positions, wheras the Angels’ pitchers earn more than the entire A’s team at $63,831,250.
With Texas the A’s again outspend their rivals at three positions: left field (Cespedes beating out David Murphy), center field (Coco trumping the duo of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry) and first base where Brandon Moss and Nate Freiman trump the salary earned by Mitch Moreland.
Seattle is an interesting foe as the A’s beat them at four positions salary wise. Right field where the combo of Josh Reddick and Chris Young outearn Michael Saunders, shortstop where Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima beat out Brendan Ryan (though the Times has Robert Andino at second base, if you move him to shortstop the A’s still have more payroll there and it would also leave things at second base unchanged too). First base sees the A’s spending more on Moss and Freiman than the M’s spend on Justin Smoak and then the A’s also edge out Seattle at the backstop where John Jaso and Derek Norris earn $289,200 more than Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach collectively.
Houston with the lowest payroll in baseball, just north of $26M, make the A’s look like huge spenders with Oakland having a higher payroll at every position except one: first base where Carlos Pena and Brett Wallace, both former A’s themselves, earning more than Moss and Freiman. As it stands right now money clearly doesn’t mean much as the A’s find themselves second in the standings despite being fourth in funding.
Wrap: Oakland 5, New York 4. A’s 18-14 (2nd Place, 2 1/2 games back)
The A’s take the series against New York, first time they’ve taken two out of three from the Yankees in the Bronx since August of 2011 (the one loss in that series being that awful 22 run debacle) . Turns out when Yoenis Cespedes, who homered, is in the A’s lineup the A’s this season are 13-4, with a 95-50 record since he joined the club and he has been in the lineup as per MLB.com. Regardless it wasn’t all Cespedes today as the club put together a solid showing to win.
Lineup vs. Andy Pettitte: Adam Rosales SS, Derek Norris C, Jed Lowrie 2B, Cespedes CF, Josh Donaldson 3B, Nate Freiman 1B, Luke Montz DH, Seth Smith LF, Michael Taylor RF.
The A’s were powered by the home run in this game: Montz had a solo shot in the fourth, Cespedes a two-run dinger in the sixth, and Donaldson the go-ahead in the top of the eighth. Montz had a nice day for himself going 2-for-4 his other hit being a double that also came off of Pettitte. Freiman struck out against Pettite with the bases juiced in the first inning as a part of a 1-for-4 day. Freiman is sticking around as a Rule V pick with a .243/.326/.378 slash line and has been worth -0.2 WAR today. Tough situation today for Freiman but I still have to say I like the little I’ve seen. Remember this is a kid who has previously not played above Double-A. The other hit of note is Josh Reddick coming in and getting a double off of Boone Logan having come in as a defensive replacement for Taylor who went 0-for-3 (still hitless in 2013) upping his season slash line to .148/.267/.250. The home runs were important (as they always are, but particularly so in this game) as the A’s couldn’t put together runs on their own going a pathetic 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Appearances: Dan Straily, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour.
Straily looked alright until the sixth inning when running out of gas it seems after 85 pitches (60 of them strikes) he allowed a single to Robinson Cano and later walked Travis Hafner. (Overall on the day, he had five and a third innings pitched tagged for three runs on four hits with three walks and four stirkeouts) Blevins came in but was awful allowing both inherited runners to score, first Cano on an Ichiro Suzuki double, and later Hafner on a Lyle Overbay single that also would score Ichiro. On the year Blevins had previously been good with inherited runners with only two of the ten scoring. Doolittle pitched a perfect seventh earning the win care of Donaldson’s blast in the next half inning. Cook meanwhile got himself into trouble with singles to Hafner and Ichiro before pitching himself out of a mess. Balfour did the same thing allowing a single to Brett Gardner and intentionally walking Cano after a wild pitch moved Gardner to second, before finally getting Vernon Wells out on strikes to end the game. Not the prettiest of games from the pitching staff but overall not terrible as the A’s pitchers combined for nine innings of four earned run, nine hit, four walk and eight strikeout baseball, a recipe I imagine would work more often than not.
Gonna go with Montz. Cespedes had the biggest home run in terms of runs, with his being a two-run shot, but Montz was the only hitter with more than one hit. Donaldson’s home run while the go-ahead was worth just as many runs as Montz’ and Montz having a day with a double and home run narrowly wins to be the hero.