A's Lineup: How the Brandons revitalized the A's

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A's Lineup: How the Brandons revitalized the A's

Oakland A's (34-36) lineupCrisp CF
Weeks 2B
Reddick RF
Cespedes DH
Smith LF
Inge 3B
Moss 1B
Suzuki C
Pennington SS
Instant AnalysisThis is the best possible incarnation of the A's lineup. Speed at the top, power in the middle, and another pseudo leadoff hitter batting ninth. An A's lineup without Cespedes, Inge, Crisp and Moss was able to defeat Friday's starter Tim Lincecum on May 20. That day, the A's scored four runs on him, and knocked him out after four innings. Cespedes is still the DH. On Wednesday he said his strained left hamstring is 80-percent and will only return to the outfield when he deems it 100-percent ready. He seems to have taken kindly to the DH role though. He is 3 for 8, with two doubles, one homer, and four RBIs since returning to the A's lineup two games ago.Also notable, is that Kurt Suzuki is back in the lineup after catching prospect Derek Norris made his Major League debut on Thursday. A's manager Bob Melvin insists they are in a time share, and that Norris is here to play. The pressure is on the veteran catcher to force Melvin to keep him in the lineup now. Suzuki is a workhorse who hates not being in the lineup, but being the class act that he is, he is helping Norris learn the A's ways. Top of the OrderCoco Crisp has been performing as the team's table-setter. He has gotten on base in his last eight games. He has scored a run in five of those games, and stolen four bases over that span. He is batting .423 (11 for 26) in his last eight games as well. He was still on the DL the last time the A's played the Giants. Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick has started to level out. He is hitless in his last 19 at-bats, and is one at-bat away from potentially tying a career-worst mark of 20 at-bats without a hit. The three-hitter who got a day off Thursday is batting .211 (16 for 76) with one home run and 29 strikeouts over his last 20 games. In his previous 21 contests, he hit .291with 10 homers, and 19 strikeouts.Bottom of the OrderThe Brandons -- Inge and Moss -- make a nice power-hitting tandem in the six and seven spots of the order. Moss is out slugging all of the Giants first basemen combined with seven homers in just 14 games. Inge is proving his value to the team both offensively and defensively. The play he made in the ninth inning on Thursday to get Matt Traenor at second on Dee Gordon's bunt swung the momentum in the game firmly in the A's favor. The A's may finally have a viable solution to their power starved corner infield spots.

Dallas Braden joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

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AP

Dallas Braden joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

MESA, Ariz. — Watching A’s games on television was part of Dallas Braden’s earliest introduction to baseball.

Years later, he would get drafted by Oakland and pitch one of the greatest games in franchise history. It seemed inevitable he would eventually find his way back to the only major league franchise he ever played for.

Braden will join Jose Canseco and Dave Stewart as newcomers to NBC Sports California’s lineup of studio analysts for A’s Pregame and Postgame Live. Bip Roberts and Shooty Babitt also will return as part of the rotation to join host Brodie Brazil.

[RELATED: Jose Canseco joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage]

Braden will continue in his role as a national analyst for ESPN. But the opportunity to return to the Bay Area and share his thoughts on all things green and gold is special to him.

“It might sound kind of cheesy, but it was a little emotional,” Braden said. “How I’m looking at it, it’s the first steps of getting back to being a part of the organization on more than just a surface level as a national guy. Now I’ll have the opportunity to dive in. It means a lot to me because I really do feel connected to the fan base as well. And I think it’s clear the organization has started a phase of transition. They have some new energy and new ideas from what I understand.”

Braden’s career stats — a 26-36 record and 4.16 ERA over five seasons — don’t tell his whole story. The left-hander was one of the A’s most unique and colorful personalities of the past decade.

Fans will remember him yelling at the baseball as he walked back to the mound after a pitch that missed the strike zone. He gushed with pride over his hometown of Stockton, to the point of getting “209” tattooed across his midsection.

But the afternoon that defined his career — and etched his name in A’s history — came on Mother’s Day, 2010, when Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major league history. Who could forget the snapshots of Braden embracing his grandmother, Peggy Lindsey? Or Lindsey’s memorable quote — “Stick It A-Rod!” — in reference to the run-in between Braden and Alex Rodriguez that took place weeks before when Rodriguez trotted over the mound while Braden was pitching?

The perfecto thrust Braden into the national spotlight. But aside from that magical day in front of the Coliseum crowd, his pitching career played out in unspectacular fashion. From that standpoint, it’s no surprise to hear Braden explain the lens through which he sees the game as a broadcaster.

[RELATED: Dave Stewart joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage]

“(Superstars) drive the industry,” Braden said. “But I think the personal challenge I’ve taken on myself is to try and get folks to appreciate some of the things that superstars don’t do. Some of the things that the Adam Rosales’s of the game do, and why it’s important to do those things.

“Running out a grounder … there are still some guys that don’t (crave) the spotlight but get the dirt underneath their fingernails, and I appreciate that. I want (fans) to appreciate a guy that goes first to third on a single. That is my challenge.”

Braden pitched his final game for the A’s in 2011. He tried to make his way back until shoulder injuries finally forced him to retire in 2014. He got into broadcasting shortly after, and his outgoing personality and sense of humor are a natural fit for the camera.

“It’s really come full circle,” he said of being an A’s analyst. “I grew up watching the broadcasts, watching the games. I got to play in those games. And now here on the back end I’m getting to call those games.”

A's camp roster now at 36 after release of Alejandro De Aza

A's camp roster now at 36 after release of Alejandro De Aza

MESA, Ariz. – The Oakland A’s released outfielder Alejandro De Aza, a non-roster invitee, the club announced today.

The A’s now have 36 players in camp.  That includes 30 players on the 40-man roster, which is full, and six non-roster invitees. 

The breakdown includes 18 pitchers, three catchers, nine infielders and six outfielders.

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