A's Digital Mailbag: Flip Reddick and Cespedes?

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A's Digital Mailbag: Flip Reddick and Cespedes?

The A's are 23-9 since July 1 which is the best record in Major League Baseball over that span, and firmly planted in the American League playoff picture. Time to open up the A's Digital Mailbag. TWITTER:@caseyprattcsn Who is the Athletics biggest threat(s) in the AL wild card race? Aaron T (@aaron_1981) August 10, 2012CP: The A's biggest threat in the Wild Card race could be the Rangers. Allow me to explain. With the Wild Card winners being awarded a one-game playoff, the A's could be put in a tough spot. If they are opposed by the Angels, they will have to face Jered Weaver with everything on the line. If Detroit makes it, then they could be facing Justin Verlander in a win or go home scenario. The A's surely have their sights firmly planted on Texas. If they gun for the American League West crown and fall just short then they can worry about the Wild Card. I also think the Orioles will fall off. They are the only team in the hunt with a negative run differential (-57).@caseyprattcsn Hey dude, are the Athletics still looking for a SS? Or do you think they are content now? Donny (@donnyc99) August 10, 2012CP: Getting a healthy Cliff Pennington back is a boost. He says his left elbow feels 1,000 times better. He didn't want to make excuses for his struggles, and he doesn't have to if he can go out there and perform. He drew two walks and scored a run in his return to the lineup. A's manager Bob Melvin will likely use Pennington and Adam Rosales in a shortstop platoon. Pennington is hitting .213 against right-handed pitching and .152 against left-handed pitching. That might minimize some of the struggles at the position. Pennington was better than most gave him credit for last season. He had achieved career-highs in hits (136) homers (8), and RBIs (58). He also ranked fifth in the A.L. with a .348 batting average with runners in scoring position. That being said, if a shortstop slips through waivers the A's will definitely take a look. @caseyprattcsn on our road trip what do you predict A's our record? Also if we sweep the white sox is Melvin locked for manager of the year? Panda Yeung (@TYeung153) August 10, 2012CP: I hate making these predictions. Here it goes: I am going with 4-2. Whether the A's sweep the White Sox or not, Bob Melvin should be a lock for American League manager of the year. No one had the A's pegged as contenders and here they are surprising every expert in baseball. That has a lot to do with Melvin. He is a very skilled communicator and leader. He has a lot to do with the way this team is playing. @caseyprattcsn Who do you envision as the Athletics starting 5 once everyone is healthy? PrattATatTat LetsGoOakland AJ Jones (@justplainaj) August 10, 2012CP: It could be a starting six. And it could be determined on what you mean when you say "everybody." Dallas Braden probably won't factor into the team's 2012 rotation. Of the guys currently available -- or close to ready -- here is how I see the rotation shaping up. Five-man (everyone healthy): Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker. Six-man (everyone healthy): Add A.J. Griffin or Dan Straily, use Travis Blackley as a long reliever or spot starter. Remember this is the A's we are talking about, so it is doubtful everyone will ever be healthy at once. That is why depth is important. @caseyprattcsn are we going with a 6-man rotation now? v (@foursixthreeDP) August 10, 2012CP: The A's aren't admitting to going this route. It could be a beneficial course of action though. Brandon McCarthy benefits greatly from extra rest. Plus, the A's could limit the innings of rookie pitchers Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone this way. They have the talent to do it. @caseyprattcsn how close is Braden to returning? M V (@mvaccaro13) August 10, 2012CP: He has been throwing bullpens and mixing in all of his pitches lately, which is usually a sign that he is getting closer. Then he had a minor setback suffering a groin strain. Based on how deep the A's pitching staff is, the team will take their time with him. Once he gets back on the mound and throws some more bullpens without issue he could head to Arizona to pitch in simulated games. I just don't see him factoring into the A's starting rotation this season. @caseyprattcsn I agree with what you said to Townie on the show about keeping Cook as closer, but if you could choose someone else, who? Shay Lennon (@RealShayL) August 10, 2012CP: It is still Ryan Cook's job to lose. Bob Melvin says he isn't seeing anything fundamentally wrong with Cook on the mound so they are going to be patient. If he does lose the job, and I had to choose his replacement, (something they would never, ever consult me on) I'd probably go back to Grant Balfour. He has been pitching very well lately. He just recently had a 13-game scoreless streak snapped, and he ranks sixth in the A.L. with a .173 opponents batting average.E-MAIL:Hey Casey,
Do you think the As have lost chemistry since the Kurt Suzuki trade. Feels like it.
-MKCP: The day the A's traded Kurt Suzuki there were some sad faces in the clubhouse. The players were definitely not happy, but they said they would react similarly to anyone getting moved. Suzuki meant a lot to those guys, as a leader, mentor, and friend. That being said, most of them recognize that Suzuki got put in a great situation in Washington where he can play everyday. The team did what was best for him. The A's also believed it was Derek Norris' time. He has done a good job with the pitching staff and got to learn a lot from Suzuki. The A's have won 17 of the 25 games Norris has started. In July they won 13 of the 14 games he started. Baseball is a tough business and all of the guys know that. This move might have been a mutually beneficial one though. The clubhouse chemistry is still intact. Hi Casey,
Big A's fan here.I'd like to advocate flip-flopping Reddick and Cespedes in the batting order. Simply put, Reddick is not getting the job done with runners on base.Reddick is killing our rallies and I would like to see Cespedes bat 3rd now, Reddick 4th and Carter 5th.Your thoughts?- Jason L.CP: Saving the best for last. This is an interesting idea. There's no question both of these guys have been great for the A's this season. Would a flip in the order work? Reddick is batting .301 with 14 homers and 29 RBIs with two outs. His 14 two-out home runs lead Major League Baseball. He is only batting .167 with runners in scoring position though. Nine of Yoenis Cespedes' homers have come with runners on base. He is hitting .362 with runners in scoring position.Based on the stats I'd leave them where they are. The thought being that if anyone gets on base in the first, Cespedes then steps to the plate with a runner or runners on. Reddick batting fourth means he would actually bat more with runners on. His stats with RISP aren't good. Cespedes is hitting .402 since the All-Star Break and has a .468 on-base percentage since the break which is second bast in all of baseball. Would you really want him batting behind Cespedes? I'd rather see Cespedes batting with Reddick on, than the other way around.

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

A's spring training Day 42: Roster longshot Decker could claim outfield spot

MESA, Ariz. — As the pieces are beginning to fit for the A’s 25-man roster, Jaff Decker may be an unlikely feel-good story come Opening Night.

A non-roster invitee this spring, the journeyman has impressed with his all-around game to the point that he might make Oakland’s club as a fifth outfielder.

There’s other factors that play into it — how many relievers the A’s carry will determine whether they keep five outfielders — but things are breaking right for the 27-year-old Decker, who’s with his fourth organization and has never made an Opening Night roster.

When Jake Smolinski went down with a shoulder injury that required surgery, it thrust Decker into the competition. Then Monday, the A’s released veteran Alejandro De Aza, who had impressed this spring but had an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. The A’s think enough of Decker that they cut De Aza loose. On Monday, Decker returned from a minor oblique issue and started in left field, going 1-for-3 in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City.

“I’m super excited,” Decker said. “I feel like I fit in well here, and I get along with the guys really well. It’s a good group of baseball minds, baseball guys. I hope I have done enough and shown I’m healthy enough to land that spot.”

De Aza hit .300 in 19 games and displayed the veteran savvy that seemed to make him a possible fit on the A’s bench. Manager Bob Melvin expressed hope that De Aza might re-sign with the A’s if he doesn’t find a big league opportunity elsewhere.

But Decker, who bats left-handed as does De Aza, is hitting .308 and has his own attributes, including a strong arm and the ability to play all three outfield spots. It’s a nice package of skills for a player who, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, doesn’t appear the prototypical big league outfielder at first glance.

If the A’s keep seven relievers, they will take five outfielders into the regular season. The decision on a seventh reliever appears to be between lefty Daniel Coulombe and right-hander Frankie Montas. But the A’s could hang on to both and only keep four outfielders, with Mark Canha being the fourth.

Decker fun fact: His first name is pronounced “Jeff.” He’s named after his uncle, whose first name was misspelled on his birth certificate. Decker’s uncle kept the spelling.

MELVIN ON RAIDERS: Melvin, a Bay Area native who is quite tuned in to the history of local teams, weighed in on the Raiders announcing a move to Las Vegas. That news has a direct impact on the A’s, obviously, as a co-tenant of the Coliseum with the Raiders.

“It’s too bad,” Melvin said. “Like us, they have a rich tradition and unbelievable fan base. They’re well supported in the Bay Area. It’s tough to have to deal with it.”

NOTEWORTHY: In his first start since being named part of the rotation, Andrew Triggs struggled mightily against the Royals, getting tagged for eight runs and three homers in 3 2/3 innings. While stressing that now is no time for complacency in his position, Triggs also said he was approaching the game differently than if it were the regular season. He kept throwing his changeup, his fourth best pitch, in an effort to get more comfortable with it.

“If this were (the regular season), we probably would have said in the first or second inning, this wasn’t so great, and gone out there and started back-dooring cutters and working off the sinker,” he said. “But we made a concerted effort to work on a pitch, it wasn’t very good, and the results showed that.”

FAMILIAR FACE: One of the homers off Triggs came from former Athletic Brandon Moss, who connected for a two-run shot in the fourth. The outfielder signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Royals in the offseason.

ODDS AND ENDS: Coulombe had a great day, tossing three scoreless innings. That’s three outings in a row without allowing a run for the lefty after a rough patch before that. Melvin pointed out that the ability to throw multiple innings will be important if Coulombe makes the team. … Matt Chapman homered in the fifth, his third long ball of the spring. He’s hitting .261 and playing stellar defense. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and it rubs off on guys,” Melvin said.

 

A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

A's statement on Raiders: 'We would be sorry to see them leave'

MESA, Ariz. — The Raiders’ approval to leave Oakland and relocate to Las Vegas comes as the A’s are contemplating where to build their own ballpark in Oakland, with the Coliseum site one of the options.

The A’s issued this statement Monday after the Raiders got the green light from NFL owners to bolt for Vegas:

“We understand the Raiders’ need for a new stadium. Oakland is an incredible sports town and we would be sorry to see them leave. We commend the city’s and county’s efforts to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The Mayor and her team have worked incredibly hard to save the franchise. We are focused on, and excited about, our efforts to build a new ballpark in Oakland and look forward to announcing a location this year.”

The Raiders have one-year options to continue playing at the Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and they plan to do so.

The A’s, meanwhile, are choosing between four different locations in Oakland to build a new venue — the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, a site near Laney College and one near Brooklyn Basin.

The Raiders’ decision to leave doesn’t necessarily mean the Coliseum moves into the lead for possible options for the A’s to build. The site is viable, and there’s great BART and freeway access. The Coliseum could be considered the safest option, perhaps, because it’s a tried-and-true site that has hosted three professional sports teams for decades. The A’s know what they’re dealing with there.

But the A’s also want a thriving entertainment area around their new ballpark, wherever that might be. That sort of “neighborhood” would have to be built from scratch at the current Coliseum site, which is isolated from the multitude of restaurants and bars that exist around AT&T Park, for example.