Time again for the A's Digital Mailbag! In addition to my Monday Chat, the Digital Mailbag allows me to answer your questions in more than 140 characters! Speaking of Twitter, we'll begin with questions from there.Twitter@CaseyPrattCSN What would be your thoughts if the A's do not make a move? Sniffard (@Sniff009) July 27, 2012CP: I've been saying since the beginning of trade rumor season that it would make sense for the A's not to make a move. If it ain't broke don't fix it. The people that looked like they could be used as trade bait are all integral parts of the team now. Coco Crisp is peaking, Bartolo Colon is a stable force in the A's rotation, and Grant Balfour hasn't allowed a run in his last eight games. The A's are in contention now, so I don't see a move involving a current Oakland player realistic. You'd have to look at the farm for trade options. The A's can obviously improve at shortstop, especially with Cliff Pennington injured. I don't think replacing Brandon Inge with another third baseman is a wise move. Inge is an integral part of that clubhouse chemistry you are hearing about now. He has also played good defense and is surprisingly productive at the plate. His 46 RBIs with the A's rank him third on the team only behind Josh Reddick (49) and Yoenis Cespedes (50). @CaseyPrattCSN What prospects do you think Beane meant when he said.untouchable? MIGUEL MENDOZA (@OaklandBound10) July 27, 2012CP: I think the general manager wasn't just referring to prospects when he was talking about "untouchable" players. In saying for the first time he sees a lot of players as untouchable, he was likely referring to the surprisingly successful and cost controlled players he possesses. Here's a short list of who I believe are untouchable and why: Josh Reddick is making 485,000 and isn't a free agent until 2017. Yoenis Cespedes is signed through 2015. Jemile Weeks flashed signs of brilliance in his rookie season and was already labeled untouchable. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook are all rookies that have vastly exceeded any worldly expectations. As rookies they are all under team control for a long time at a low price. In the Minor Leagues I'd guess anyone could be moved for the right return, but Dan Straily has become an elite trade chip. The team's surprising success makes a lot or players that I didn't list unlikely to go anywhere. @CaseyPrattCSN with the A's recent success and possibility of the future being now do you see potential for some big signings this winter? Rick Valdez (@rickvaldezmusic) July 27, 2012CP: The A's payroll is around 52M. It was as high as 67M in 2011, and 79M in 2007. The ownership has stated they have payroll flexibility. With money being less of an obstacle, and the team proving to be a contender, it will be much easier to convince a player to come here. They still have the ongoing issues that the Coliseum presents, but money talks and players want to be a part of a winning team. With the young talented nucleus the A's possess, Oakland might prove to be a tempting destination. Besides, who wouldn't want to live in the Bay Area? @CaseyPrattCSN if the A's do make a trade are they likely to give up a lot for any player? Sylvester Valderrama (@SLYBOY_22) July 27, 2012CP: It all depends on the player. All reports indicated the A's were willing to part with much more than the Dodgers were for Hanley Ramirez. Except LA decided to eat his contract and the Marlins did what was best for their pocketbooks, rather than what was best for their franchise. The A's have some attractive prospects and an incredible wealth of pitching. It all depends on who becomes available and what the asking price will be. Based on how the A's are playing with the current roster, I don't think it would be too wise to give up a lot to go for it now. They could go for it with what they have. Think about how well it worked out when they shipped off Carlos Gonzalez as part of a package for Matt Holliday, or when they shipped Andre Ethier as part of the Milton Bradley trade. @CaseyPrattCSN Who you got dropping out of this current starting rotation when Anderson and McCarthy get healthy? Jorge Alonzo (@J_A_Alonzo83) July 26, 2012CP: I think the A's would be wise to wait until the absolute last minute to make that decision. No need to rush Brett Anderson or Brandon McCarthy. Every pitcher in the rotation has proven they deserve a spot. Only when Anderson or McCarthy are absolutely knocking down the door will it is time to decide. You'd have to start with the back of the rotation. Travis Blackley could still be extremely effective as a long reliever. When he first came to the A's he began in the the bullpen and pitched very well there. He has proven he can get it done in the rotation though. It would be difficult to move him out. A.J. Griffin has yet to allow more than three runs in a start this season, it would be tough to remove him from the rotation. This of course segues nicely into the next question @CaseyPrattCSN I expect the A's to make room for Straily in the rotation. How will they do it? Trade Colon? 6-man rotation? Someone to pen? Brad Hill (@CaliforniaJag) July 27, 2012CP: The A's would be wise to consider a six-man rotation. A's manager Bob Melvin said the team has yet to fully discuss that though. The six-man rotation could limit the innings of rookies Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone and keep 39-year-old Bartolo Colon fresh. If Brandon McCarthy returns it might also give the A's a chance to give him extra rest, something that has really benefitted him this season. If they do go that direction I don't see it happening as a means to get Dan Straily into the rotation, it will likely be a way to get Brett Anderson or McCarthy in. @CaseyPrattCSN What are the chances the A's bring Jimmy Rollins back home? Nathan Morris (@Naty_Mo) July 27, 2012CP: The Encinal high school stand out would look good in Green and Gold. Jimmy Rollins grew up in Alameda an A's fan. Would that be enough to get him to waive his no-trade clause? Rollins, 33, is a former MVP and won't come cheap. He is also declining statistically year-by-year. He peaked in 2007 when he won the National League MVP award. He is very popular in Philadelphia and the Phillies have to believe they will be contenders next season. Here's his WAR by year starting with his best season: 2007: 6.9, 2008: 5.6, 2009: 3.0, 2010: 2.5, 2011; 3.8. 2012: 2.6. Rollins' contract is a bit burdensome as well. He is owed 22M through 2014, and has a vesting option for 2015. The 2015 option is worth 11M more if he is able to reach certain performance incentives. According to Cot's baseball contracts if the option doesn't vest, the team owns a 8M club option and Rollins owns a 5M player option. Rollins will make a large dent in the payroll and in the prospect department. The A's would likely have to give up less in the personnel department, if they ate all that money. A lot of work would have to be done to make this move. I don't see it happening, but crazier things have occurred. @CaseyPrattCSN With all these names floating around the A's rumor mill, who do you think would fit best with this club? (@JamalM_510) July 27, 2012CP: I still think the A's biggest need is a shortstop, and I think Yunel Escobar remains the best fit. There has been a lot said of his potential clubhouse chemistry issues, but Hanley Ramirez might be one of the worst out there in that department and the A's didn't shy from going after him. Escobar is still just 28, and had a good 2011 season. He could be a valuable addition to the A's and wouldn't cost as much as Rollins, Ramirez, or Asdrubal Cabrera. You have to wonder how series the back issues are that kept Escobar out of the final two games of their recent series with the Blue Jays. E-MAIL What are the As plans for their rotation? Will they shut down all the rookies, even if they are in contention for a playoff spot in September? If they get into the playoffs, should we not expect to see Parker, Milone or Griffin?- Matthew MitchellCP: Keeping a close eye on the rookies is important. The A's main concern is Jarrod Parker who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009. Tommy Milone hasn't had any injury issues and appears to be fine for the long haul. A.J. Griffin should be fine for the stretch run as well. The A's haven't said they would shut down down anyone -- even if they make the playoffs -- like the Nationals have claimed they will do with Stephen Strasburg. Instead, the A's have been very careful with Parker's pitch count, and they will look to find a way to limit him a little at a time -- rather than shutting him down completely. A six-man rotation might play into this eventually, and the A's certainly have the bullpen strength to cut the A's starting pitchers break. Don't expect to see anyone shut down if they are in the hunt.
NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.
Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.
“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”
Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).
“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”
With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.
Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.
“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”
The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.
Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.
After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.
NEW YORK — Dealt another dose of injury bad news Friday, the A’s got to temporarily push those thoughts aside once Sean Manaea took the mound.
The big lefty shined in his first career outing at Yankee Stadium, matching Masahiro Tanaka pitch for pitch and spinning his best start of the season in a 4-1 A’s victory.
After he walked leadoff man Brett Gardner on four pitches in the first, it conjured up memories of his five-walk outing two starts ago at Seattle. But from that point on Manaea locked in, allowing just four hits over seven innings and striking out eight. Not a single Yankee advanced past second base against him.
“He was out there chucking,” A’s left fielder Khris Davis said. “He’s got that Chris Sale stuff where people are swinging and missing in the zone. It’s great to see that.”
The day began with news that Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman and fellow starter Jesse Hahn both are likely headed to the disabled list with shoulder and triceps strains, respectively. It continues the cycle of injury woes for the A’s, who have lost every starter except Andrew Triggs to at least one stint on the 10-day DL. With two-fifths of the rotation down for an unknown period of time, Manaea takes on an even more significant role.
“For a young guy we’ve leaned on him pretty hard since he’s gotten here, but now probably a little bit more so,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Yet no matter what is unfolding elsewhere on the pitching staff, the challenge for Manaea always stems from within. He’s talked often this season about the need to be mentally tougher and more aggressive attacking the strike zone. After the leadoff walk to Gardner, Manaea (3-3) said a switch flipped inside of him.
“I was thinking that these guys weren’t gonna hit me at all, and that I just needed to throw strikes and trust the defense,” he said. “I know I can get these guys out. To me it was a big mentality switch, and just believing in myself and trusting everything.”
Tanaka, who has disappointed this season to the tune of a 6.56 ERA entering Friday, put it together against Oakland and rang up a career-high 13 strikeouts without a single walk. But Manaea was more than up to the task, keeping New York off the board until the A’s scored twice in the eighth to snap a scoreless tie off former Athletic Tyler Clippard, who relieved Tanaka to start that inning.
“He was pitching with a lot of confidence, and that’s what I love to see,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said of Manaea. “He wants the ball, wanted to keep going out there. It was awesome.”