Archive for the ‘Oakland Athletics’ Category

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago White Sox

“As I have said hundreds of times in the past, Mr. Finley owns the ball club and he can do whatever he likes.” — two-time Athletics manager Alvin Dark.

The second time Alvin Dark was fired by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, his club had just finished the 1976 season with 98 wins and a fifth consecutive American League West championship. Dark was fired, as United Press International reported, because the manager said Finley was a sinner who “was going to hell unless he mended his ways” at a gathering at a Pentecostal church in Hayward, California. Charlie Finley had fired men for less.

The first time Alvin Dark was fired by Charlie Finley, nine years prior, his Kansas City Athletics players had called Finley’s meddlesome ownership style into question. A’s pitcher Lew Krausse had been suspended for an incident involving alcohol on the team plane. In response, the Athletics issued a statement:

“We players feel that if Mr. Finley would give his fine coaching staff and excellent manager the authority they deserve, these problems would not exist.”

Dark was fired the next day.

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres

There are plenty of roles more important than the lowly fourth outfielder. Going into a season with a question mark this menial on your depth chart should not keep anybody up at night. It is, however, a job that can pay distinct dividends.

There are many different ways to build a fourth outfielder. It is mostly a matter of need. Provide late-game defensive cover for the slugger with “fall down” range or do the opposite – offer “break glass in case of emergency” bench pop when a team needs instant offense.

As Spring Training slowly gives way to the regular season, it is this type of depth role that is often battled over among multiple options. Guys of this nature sometimes price themselves out of the role, leading to some last minute shuffling as the season nears and the ax falls in favor of a younger, cheaper player.

But what type of fourth outfielder you prefer says a lot about you and it says a lot about your favorite team. Your insecurities and worst held fears about the soft spot in the starting nine all bubble to the surface.

So let’s dig in and find out what kind of fourth outfielder works best for you. Yes, you.

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“No, that wasn’t considered. We thought there’d always be only the one club in this vicinity and we’d be it. It would appear we weren’t far-sighted enough.”

That was San Francisco Giants club president Horace Stoneham, as quoted in the November 4, 1967 issue of The Sporting News, on the news that the Kansas City Athletics would be moving to Oakland and invading the Giants’ once-exclusive Bay Area territory. The move, spurred by volatile Athletics owner Charlie Finley, led to extreme reactions all around.

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Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics

There is no easy way to deal a player like Yoenis Cespedes. The Oakland A’s, notorious for their grueling efficiency, seem to churn through position players at a high rate (though this isn’t actually true.) They’re adept cheap pickups and willingness to platoon makes it hard to know the players without a program, as they say.

Even among those players, there is a certain facelessness associated with playing in the rundown Coliseum in front of a small clutch of rabid fans. The A’s don’t splash the cash on the free agent market so there isn’t a lot of name recognition among their key contributors, few players onto which the casual fan can latch.

Josh Donaldson is a terrific player hot off an amazing season, one that netted him the fourth-most MVP votes in the American League. But for all Donaldson’s exploits, he is not yet a star. Yoenis Cespedes isn’t quite as good as Donaldson but he is, in no uncertain terms, a star.

That he’s a capital-S Star makes it difficult to trade him on an optical level. Good thing the A’s don’t spend much time worrying about optics because that is exactly what they should do – trade Yoenis Cespedes.

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Wednesday afternoon, Covelli Loyce “Coco” Crisp hit his 20th home run off Angels starter Jason Vargas. Crisp has been around the league for 12 years. He played in most robust offensive seasons in major league baseball history. Until the above, he had never hit 20 home runs in a season.

Sunday afternoon, Eric Sogard led a double-steal for the Oakland Athletics, already American League West champions by virtue of an earlier Rangers loss. Coco Crisp trailed Sogard, and in doing so recorded his 20th stolen base of the season. At 33, Crisp now has the first 20-20 season of his career. He’s just the 24th player to post his first 20/20 season after age 30, and only the fifth to do so at age 33 or older:

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Oakland Athletics Photo Day

It was perhaps the most Oakland Athletics play of the season Sunday night in the bottom of the eighth inning. Erstwhile A’s bench stalwart Adam Rosales, now with the Rangers, hit a a ground ball into the third base-shortstop hole. Athletics shortstop Eric Sogard — one of the defining players of this year’s A’s club — ranged into the hole and made an impressive throw to nab Rosales at first base. [See it here]

The Athletics, just like last year, opened the season under .500 in the first month and a half. Oakland was 20-22 on May 15th, and they had allowed 199 runs in 42 games — 4.74 runs per game. Only three teams — the horrendous Astros, Blue Jays and Angels — had allowed more.

Since then, Oakland is 68-39, the best team in baseball. The Dodgers are a half game back at 69-41, and Boston is a full game back at 69-42. Oakland has passed Detroit for the second-best record in the league.

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Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants

This is my last Battle of the Bay column, and I want to extend a hearty and heartfelt thanks to both Drew Fairservice and Riley Breckenridge for letting me pinch-hit for Riley while he was out gallavantin’. This was a freaking blast, not least of which because it let me watch a ton of baseball games and pretend I was actually working. Can’t ever complain about that.

The Week That Was

Oakland Athletics: 2-2 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of July 23: 83.1%)

The A’s can do dumb shit like make three errors against the Astros, trail most of the game, and still win.  

Oakland dropped a series to the Angels, but they now have a chance to get well against a horrendous Astros club. They took the first game of the series last night, despite making 74 errors and generally playing like shit. You can do that when you play the Astros, I guess.

San Francisco Giants: 2-2  (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/23: 3.8%)

I’m often tempted to refer to this season as a trainwreck, but that’s far too interesting. This here is a much closer approximation of the Giants’ 2013 season.

The Giants won a series against former division leaders Arizona, which helped the Dodgers take the lead in the NL West. Also, Tim Lincecum and the Giants got absolutely brutalized by the visiting Reds last night. Would losing three of four this week be enough to convince Brian Sabean to sell?

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