A's may not be finished making moves

548840.jpg

A's may not be finished making moves

Phoenix, Ariz -- School's back in session. Today marked day one of pitchers and catchers reporting to the 2012 Oakland A's camp - here are a few observations from Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: He may still be several months away from returning to the mound, but at 20-25 pounds lighter, Brett Anderson looks game-ready - and his Skip has taken notice. Bob Melvin said Anderson has "progressed beautifully" rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last summer. Melvin said with Anderson's new stature, he's even taken on a new persona, "he's more energetic, confident, vocal." And Melvin suspects Anderson will be more agile as well when he takes the mound for drills, although he isn't expected to return to game action until August.

NOTABLE: Bob Melvin told the handful of media members that were present for his 1st First 'Address' of the Spring, that there are "...some questions he had to shy away from," because he's not sure what the roster will look like, hinting that the team may still be doing some wheeling and dealing. "As we've shown this off-season, we're not afraid" to make moves, Melvin said.REWIND: A's sign Cespedes
QUOTABLE: When I asked Dallas Braden how hard it was to watch some of his friends be traded this off-season, he told me, "It's tough because you invest a lot of emotion, a lot of time with teammates. You spend more time with these guys than you do your own damn reflection sometimes." He went on to explain "as a human," losing these guys was "a tough pill to swallow," but "as a player," he's looking forward to this time with the new guys. CACTUS-LEAGUE SNAPSHOT: Want to be like Mike... Michael Taylor and Michael Choice arrived at the facility this morning, six days before their actual 'report day'. All decked out in green workout gear, the two went across the street to Papago for an impromptu workout, only to be told it was coaches only at the other facility.
LOOK AHEAD: Speaking of which,will Manny Ramirez sport the green and gold? I asked current A's players their thoughts on Ramirez joining the Oakland ranks, and the overall reaction was nothing, but positive.Michael Taylor explained to me how Manny was one of his favorite guys to watching growing up, and said guess he'll just "sit back and watch and learn something from him (if he joins to the A's) both on and off the field.""You talk about his ability first, his ability to perform...he's easily one of the hardest workers at his craft," said Dallas Braden, "When you talk about the financials of the game, it makes sense for the organization to pick him up at a low cost.""I know Manny pretty well," Jonny Gomes told me, "I worked out with him last year...one thing you can't bend is time so only time will tell what's up."

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.