2013 A's roster breakdown: Second base

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2013 A's roster breakdown: Second base

OAKLAND -- This is the third installment of the Oakland A's position-by-position offseason breakdown, teeing up the team's options for the 2013 season. Second base could be one of the more interesting Spring Training battles for Oakland. A's general manager Billy Beane indicated that Scott Sizemore will move back to second base this offseason. Based on that information, it is likely that Sizemore is the favorite to land the starting job out of camp if all goes according to plan. The A's remain very confident in Sizemore's abilities. He was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in 2011 and converted to a third baseman. In just 95 games with the A's he hit .249 with 21 doubles, 11 homers, and 52 RBI. He handled the transition to third base well defensively. Now he gets to move back to his natural position.In the first full squad workout in Spring Training, Sizemore tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and was lost for the season. After a year of rehabbing with the team Sizemore will be ready to fight for a starting gig in 2013. The A's organization still thinks very highly of him. "The great thing about Scott is he is a natural second baseman and now he's played third," Beane said at the conclusion of the season. "I personally have high hopes for Scott, he is very much part of our picture going forward." Prior to being traded it looked like Cliff Pennington was a heavy favorite to enter 2013 as the A's starting second baseman. This cracks open the door for Jemile Weeks, who lost the job. Weeks was labeled as untouchable after a strong rookie campaign in which he hit .303 with 22 stolen bases. He was hit hard by the sophomore slump, though, and lost his job. He only hit .220 in 2012 after starting 111 of the A's first 121 games. He fell out of favor with the A's front office and was sent to Triple-A Sacramento on August 21. "He's a very talented kid but it's certainly a disappointment to see him go back to Triple-A after having such a great rookie campaign," Beane said.Weeks was handed the starting job in 2012 and lost it. The A's have made it very clear that he will have to earn every start going forward. He has the ability to ignite the A's lineup. If he can find a way to start from scratch and fix his game he could be a star. Humbled going into 2013, Weeks will have to prove he has what it takes to earn his job back. Another intriguing possibility for second base in 2013 will be Grant Green. It is worth noting that he was told to focus solely on second base toward the end of the year. He played second base (19 games), third base (11 games), shortstop (19 games), left field (49 games), and center field (30 games) in Triple-A in 2012. Green is one of the A's top prospects and the belief is that his offense will translate in the major leagues. He was second in the A's organization with a .296 average, finished third with 75 RBI, and sixth with 15 home runs. The A's just need to find a position for him. Could second base be the answer? Don't be surprised if he finds a way to win the job at some point this upcoming season. Here in 2013:Jemile Weeks, 118 G, .221 AVG, .305 OBP, 8 3B, 20 RBI, 16 SB
Scott Sizemore, DNP
Adam Rosales, 42 G, .222 AVG, .297 OBP, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 11 BB
Grant Green, 125 G, .296 AVG, .338 OBP, 28 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR, 75 RBI (AAA)
Eric Sogard, 37 G, .206 OBP, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Andy Parrino, 55 G, .207, .316 OBP, 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI
Free Agents: NONE Biggest Question: How will Sizemore bounce back after a year off? Analyst's Take: Shooty Babitt"That's the tough one. The reason it is so tough is because Scott Sizemore hasn't done enough to earn that second base job. He came in and did a good job to earn the third base job, but he hasn't proven to everybody he can play second base every day at the major league level. That's why they moved him to third." "I think Jemile Weeks is done in Oakland. I was surprised when they brought him back up. Especially the way he left. For me, I still think that position is wide open. I think that somebody could come in there and take that position." "Grant Green can play second base and I always felt that would be his best position because I felt he could be an offensive second baseman. He catches the balls that are hit to him, he's got a slow gait, he doesn't have a quick first step, but he is an instinctive guy, I think he is not as exposed at second base." Best Available and affordable (Not much to see here) Maicer Izturis (32), Kelly Johnson (31), Jose Lopez (29), Freddy Sanchez (34)

Despite solid start, Cotton admits to thinking about no-hitter: "It just bit me'

Despite solid start, Cotton admits to thinking about no-hitter: "It just bit me'

NEW YORK — Keep peeling away the layers of Jharel Cotton’s start Saturday, and there are several different ways to view it.

The A’s rookie pitched into the sixth inning despite enduring big-time command issues and giving up a run in the first.

He took a no-hitter into the sixth despite not having the feel for his best pitch, the changeup.

He was on the verge of completing six mostly dominant innings before losing a handle on things in the sixth, allowing a two-out rally that culminated with Matt Holliday’s two-run homer. That blast wound up being the difference in Oakland’s 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

It was an eventful 5 2/3-inning outing for Cotton in his return from the minors. He admitted he was very aware he had a no-hitter going, though it also must have registered that with his pitch count at 88 entering the sixth, he wasn’t going to get a chance to complete history.

“I wanted to just go out there and get (through) the sixth inning with no hits,” Cotton said. “I guess I thought about it too much and it just bit me.”

Taking the mound for his first big league start since being optioned to Triple-A on May 11, Cotton was also making his first start at Yankee Stadium. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the first, allowing a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch that led to Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly and an early lead for New York.

But then he settled down and found a groove, retiring 15 out of 16 hitters for a stretch from the first all the way until the sixth. That was all the more impressive given that Cotton did not have the effective changeup that’s usually the centerpiece to his game plan.

Catcher Josh Phegley said he was encouraged by Cotton’s effort in his first start back from Triple-A.

“He was kind of sporadic at the beginning, so I was just calling a lot of cutters because that was our strike pitch,” Phegley said. “You’d like to have the changeup because it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen. But he’s got the stuff to do without one of his pitches and still compete and put us in a good position.”

The game turned when Cotton couldn’t slam the door in the sixth after retiring the first two hitters. He walked Gary Sanchez and then caught too much plate with a 1-0 cutter to Holliday, who signed a one-year $13 million contract with New York in the offseason. He drilled a two-run homer to left-center, and Cotton was lifted after Castro singled on his next batter.

“I didn’t want to walk that guy,” Cotton said. “You don’t wanna put guys on base with free passes and I did that, and it came back to haunt me.”

With Cotton’s pitch count crossing 100 in the sixth, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he had no second thoughts about not going to his bullpen earlier. Cotton was charged with three runs on just two hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

“I was fine with him to get through the inning. That probably would have been it,” Melvin said. “You don’t take a guy out just because he’s got 100 pitches. He was pitching well.”

Cotton will be an important factor for the A’s moving forward given the injuries to starters Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman, with the former going on the 10-day disabled list Saturday and the latter expected to join him in the next day or two.

 

Tempers boil over as A's strike out 14 times in defeat

Tempers boil over as A's strike out 14 times in defeat

NEW YORK — As their frustration mounted inning after inning, the A’s afternoon seemed destined to end in ugly and disappointing fashion.

So it was that Matt Joyce walked away from home plate visibly baffled after a game-ending strikeout that cemented a 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. The A’s struck out 14 times in a game that included ejections for manager Bob Melvin and second baseman Jed Lowrie, and lots of puzzled looks over the strike zone of home plate umpire Will Little.

Lowrie was doing a slow burn throughout all of his at-bats. He struck out looking in three of his four plate appearances, and if you go by the location of pitches as presented by the mlb.com Gameday tracker, he had a justifiable gripe.

It came to a head when Little rang him up in the eighth inning, with Lowrie arguing and getting a quick ejection, the first of his 10-year career.

“All I’m gonna say is I got the bat taken out of my hands three times today,” he said afterward.

Later in the eighth, Trevor Plouffe appeared to perhaps hold up on a check swing. It didn’t matter, as Little rang him up on a Dellin Betances slider that appeared high. Melvin got ejected protesting from the dugout and then went out to get a few more words in.

“A lot of frustration, in big situations,” the manager said.

On the game’s final at-bat, Joyce worked the count to 3-1 against Betances and was so sure he’d gotten ball four that he unsnapped his shin guard in anticipation of taking first. But Little called strike two. Joyce swung through the next pitch for the final out.

By the end, the Yankees had pocketed a victory despite collecting just two hits, including Matt Holliday’s two-run homer off Jharel Cotton (3-5) in the sixth that snapped a 1-1 tie. Cotton had a no-hitter going until then.

New York’s odd victory also ended an odd trend between these teams — the road team had won each of the previous eight games they’d played.

Ryon Healy’s RBI double scored Khris Davis from first to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth. Holliday, who spent the first half of 2009 with Oakland before being shipped to St. Louis, homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Then A’s catcher Josh Phegley came back with a solo shot in the seventh to bring Oakland within a run.

The A’s have split the first two of this three-game series in the Bronx. But you can’t spotlight their dissatisfaction with Saturday’s strike zone without also pointing out they struck out 13 times on Friday night too. They’ll need to make more of their at-bats to take Sunday’s rubber match.

“It is what it is,” Phegley said when asked to sum up the day. “We were no-hitting the Yankees and losing. I think we wanted a little more offensive production but that’s just the way the game went. We just didn’t make the best of the opportunities we had. Obviously I feel like like there were some walks we had, we worked the counts pretty well, and it didn’t go in our favor. That’s just the way it goes.”