A's Mailbag: Where's Green? What's up with the SPs?


A's Mailbag: Where's Green? What's up with the SPs?

OAKLAND -- Time to open up the A's Digital Mailbag again. This time all the questions are from Twitter. Remember you can also email me at CPratt@ComcastSportsNet.comTwitter:@caseyprattcsn when will the As call up grant Green? Samwise Gamgee (@TommyTSlice) August 17, 2012CP: My answer: Septmber 1, when rosters expand. I've been wrong about these things before though. I think Grant Green could be ready with the bat. Here's his 2012 Triple-A slash line: .291.335.454. Defense is the main concern. Where are you going to put him? Before irrationally answering shortstop, remember that every scout I have talked to says he can't stick there. If he was considered MLB-ready at shortstop he'd probably have been here by now -- and not playing all over the field in the Minor Leagues. Here's his breakdown of positions played this year by game: OF-75; 2B-12; 3B-9; SS-17. Green tells me he is more comfortable at shortstop. He played there almost his entire life. If not at shortstop, he says he is more comfortable in left field because the ball comes off the bat from a similar angle there. Green is close. He isn't quite ready yet. The A's plan is to make him as versatile as possible so that he can come up sooner rather than later. @caseyprattcsn Do you think the A's will set a innings limit on their young pitchers like the Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg? WorldofBayAreaSports (@basportsupdates) August 17, 2012CP: I do not. They haven't said they would at least. Believe me, us media members have asked the question many times as well. The guy they want to be most careful with is Jarrod Parker because he had Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2009 season. They feel Tommy Milone will be fine. Milone and Dan Straily don't have histories of arm issues. The A's plan isn't to shut any of them down like the Nationals are doing with Stephen Strasburg. Instead they have been careful with pitch counts all season. Remember when Parker almost threw a no-hitter and A's manager Bob Melvin said he was glad he didn't because he wouldn't have let him finish the game? @caseyprattcsn any correlation between that A's current pitching problems and the departure of Suzuki? Alex Yarbrough (@AlexWFS) August 16, 2012CP: This is a popular question. I really don't think there is. The A's starting rotation has over achieved in many ways this year. It was bound to level out. Especially when considering they have been as good as they are with three to four rookies in the rotation at all times. Simply put, many of these guys are reaching inning counts they have never surpassed before. They could be getting worn down. There is no question that Kurt Suzuki has been fantastic with the A's young pitchers his entire career, but keep in mind Curt Young also had his hand in it. He is still here. The guys that I have talked to say they like throwing to Derek Norris. I don't get the vibe they are just saying that. The A's will have to hope that the return of Brandon McCarthy, the steady performance of Bartolo Colon, and a return of Brett Anderson will help prevent the starting staff from faltering down the stretch. @caseyprattcsnassuming parker and milone continue to struggle, who would they remove if anderson comes back or both if griffin is back ? Shashank Kothpalli (@desifo0l) August 17, 2012CP: I don't think there is a rock-solid plan in place here. The A's insist these are good problems to have, and that they tend to work themselves out. I tend to agree. Look how A.J. Griffin got hurt right when Brandon McCarthy was nearing return. Depth is never a bad thing. I think it might be a mistake to force Brett Anderson back into the rotation before he is completely ready. Anderson is rebounding well from Tommy John surgery, but he hasn't thrown more than 100 pitchers or over six innings yet in Triple-A. I think he could use one or two more starts at least. Even if his arm feels good -- and he says it does -- he needs to fine tune all of his pitches before facing Major League competition. That being said, I get the feeling he will be back very soon. I don't know who will lose their spot as a result though. A.J. Griffin could also make things interesting. His MRI came back clean but the team is taking a careful approach with him.A six-man rotation might make sense. It could limit the innings of the rookies and help get McCarthy extra rest. It would likely wreak havoc on the bullpen though. @caseyprattcsn What are your thoughts on Braden being with the Athletics next year? Michael Wright (@michaeljamaar) August 17, 2012CP: Dallas Braden isn't a free agent until 2014. There is no reason why the A's wouldn't keep him around next year. The second surgery he will be undergoing is exploratory. Often after a major procedure like he had they will need to go back in and clean a few things up. He could still possibly be ready to pitch next season. If not, expect the A's to keep him around as he works toward a return. They could sign him to another one-year deal in 2014 too because he will come at a bargain.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

MESA, Ariz. — After spending a few days at spring training, A’s president Dave Kaval heads back to the Bay Area on Tuesday to continue work on the team’s search for a ballpark site.

There are so many factors to consider — location, public transportation access, parking, government obligations to be fulfilled, etc. — it’s easy to understand why it’s such an all-encompassing process.

Kaval shared some detailed thoughts on all of the potential sites the A’s are considering during a visit on the A’s Insider Podcast. Here’s some highlights:

The A’s have narrowed down to four locations in Oakland to build a privately financed ballpark: Brooklyn Basin, Howard Terminal, Laney College and the current Coliseum site on which they play.

Are these four all uniquely different from each other or do they share some common traits?

“I think all of them can fulfill our long-term vision of this urban area around the ballpark,” Kaval said. “Think of Fenway, Wrigley … all of them can achieve that vision. We want to make sure with such a big decision that we swing for the fences. … I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest to create kind of an urban village, but I think it’s possible, and we’re not ruling it out.

"But all the other locations can have neighborhoods around the ballpark where people can live and you can just have a really intimate experience around the ballpark.”

There hasn’t been the same buzz about Brooklyn Basin as Howard Terminal. Located close to the water, does it offer similar attributes as Howard Terminal?

“It’s very close. There’s a couple different places the ballpark could go down there,” he said. “You’re closer to the water, which is exciting, and I think being on the water provides the ability to have water taxis, ferries, other transit options that kind of lower the requirement for parking, lower the requirement for walking or biking. And that actually can be a really great thing for the fan experience.”

Howard Terminal offers a big potential payoff with the terrific views available. But there are some substantial hurdles, not the least of which are the government regulations and approvals required to build right along the water.

“If you want to actually develop something in there, you need to have legislation from the state of California. That’s just something that has to happen,” Kaval said. “So when we think about the steps to get the individual sites (approved) and break ground, it’s just another one you have to do at that site. So you have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort? The site is so iconic that we’ve been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer.”

That’s just a sample of the many topics Kaval touched on over the course of the podcast.