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.

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

Reddick gets best of old roommate Healy, and the A's

HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.

Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.

Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.

Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.

“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”

After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.

“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”

Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.

Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.

“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”

As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:

“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”

However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.

Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.

“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

Instant Replay: Davis goes deep twice, but A's get sloppy in loss to Astros

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON – Khris Davis’ heroics only stretch so far.

The A’s slugger did all he could to keep his team in Friday night’s game, slamming two homers and driving in four runs, but it wasn’t enough as Oakland fell 9-4 in the opener of a three-game series against the Astros, who have won 10 in a row over Oakland.

That’s five losses in a row for the A’s, who got off to the kind of start Friday that suggested they might break back into the win column. With two aboard, Davis lit into a pitch from Charlie Morton and drove a three-run homer to right-center in the first.

But the early offense wasn’t enough to boost A’s starter Jharel Cotton, who gave up a career-high 10 hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings. Only three of the runs were earned, due to three A’s errors, including a bizarre two catchers’ interference calls on Stephen Vogt, both with former teammate Josh Reddick batting.

Nevertheless, Cotton gave up too much hard contact. Davis’ second homer, a solo shot to right in the third, put the A’s ahead 4-3, but the Astros would come back to tie it in the fourth and take the lead for good with two runs in the fifth to send them on their way.

Morton struck out a career-high 12 over seven innings. All told, the A’s whiffed a total of 14 times, giving them a staggering 57 strikeouts over the past five games alone. Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Yuli Gurriel all drove in two runs for the American League West-leading Astros.

Starting pitching report

Cotton (2-3) heaved 30 pitches in a three-run first that had to be frustrating for him. It included the first of two catchers’ interference calls with Reddick batting. Cotton also got called for a balk when the ball slipped out of his hands while he was on the mound. With two outs, Carlos Beltran beat out an RBI infield single to the left side. Then Gurriel singled home a run and Gattis lofted a fly ball down the right field line that landed just fair and went for a run-scoring ground rule double. Cotton was trying to keep it a tie game in the fifth when Gattis got to him for an RBI single past Adam Rosales at shortstop to put Houston ahead 5-4.

Bullpen report

Cesar Valdez gave up three runs over three innings, as the Astros padded their lead in the late going.

At the plate

Davis’ two homers gives the A’s 29 for the month of April, the most they’ve hit in April since 2006, when they had 34. But the strikeouts are a mounting problem, and the A’s need to start finding more consistent sources of offense.

In the field

Reddick hurt the A’s with two hits and reached base four times overall, as he became just the seventh player in major league history to reach twice in one game on catcher’s infernece. But he also made an outstanding catch in right to rob Ryon Healy with two aboard in the eighth.

Attendance

The announced turnout was 28,472.

Up next

Andrew Triggs (3-1, 2.42) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Seattle, and he’ll be opposed by Joe Musgrove (1-1, 5.91) in Saturday’s 4:10 p.m. game.