A's Lineup: Should Seth Smith bat second?

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A's Lineup: Should Seth Smith bat second?

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Oakland Athletics (37-39) lineup1. Coco Crisp (S) CF
2. Jemile Weeks (S) 2B
3. Josh Reddick (L) RF
4. Yoenis Cespedes (R) DH
5. Seth Smith (L) LF
6. Brandon Inge (R) 3B
7. Brandon Moss (L) 1B
8. Derek Norris (R) C
9. Cliff Pennington (S) SS
Instant AnalysisYoenis Cespedes plays his second consecutive game as the designated hitter after playing nine innings in center field on Tuesday. This is the standard lineup A's manager Bob Melvin likes to go with. At some point I wonder if Melvin will explore batting Seth Smith second and moving Jemile Weeks down. Weeks is hitting .216 in the two-spot of the A's lineup. He does have the highest walk rate (20) in the AL since June 15 though. Smith has a .380 on-base percentage, which ranks him ninth in the AL. Smith is also hitting .333 against left-handed pitchers since June 4. Smith, who bats lefty, was previously used as a platoon hitter. Top of the OrderCoco Crisp continued his torrid stretch at the plate, hitting a leadoff homer for the A's on Wednesday. It was his fifth career leadoff home run. He is now batting .333 (15 for 45) with eight runs, seven walks, and six stolen bases in 12 games atop the A's lineup. Heart of the OrderCespedes is hitting .583 (7-for-12) with one homer, two doubles, one triple, and four RBIs against the Rangers. He hit his ninth home run on Wednesday. He is tied for first in the AL in home runs by a rookie -- even though he has missed 31 games with injury. Brandon Inge is batting .444 (4-for-9), with a homer and two walks in his career against Rangers' starting pitcher Scott Feldman. That might be what he needs to get back on track. He is 6-for-41 with 15 strikeouts over his last 12 gamesBottom of the OrderCliff Pennington is 2-for-28 in his last nine games. He is currently hitless in his last 17 at-bats. Derek Norris is back in the lineup as his timeshare with Kurt Suzuki continues. Suzuki has actually had some success against Feldman, hitting .294 (5-for-17).Texas Rangers (47-29) lineup
1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B
2. Elvis Andrus (R) SS
3. Josh Hamilton (L) LF
4. Adrian Beltre (R) 3B
5. Michael Young (R) 1B
6. Nelson Cruz (R) DH
7. David Murphy (L) RF
8. Yorvit Torrealba (R) C
9. Leonys Martin (L) CF

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.