Athletics

A's Notes: Scoreboard watching, plus playoff scenarios

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A's Notes: Scoreboard watching, plus playoff scenarios

OAKLAND -- Technically if everything breaks right the A's could clinch a postseason berth on Sunday. They need to win, and the Angels have to lose both games of their doubleheader against the Rangers, and the Rays need to lose to the White Sox. The A's don't seem too worried about the scenarios. In the clubhouse, they had on two different football games. The first game of the Angels vs. Rangers doubleheader wasn't on any of the TVs. They did admit to keeping an eye on that game, though. "We keep up with what the other teams are doing," Brandon Moss said. "But when the game starts nothing matters unless you win the game. We've got to win. If we don't go out and win we're not doing what we need to be doing."
There are four games left, and the A's are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, as the regular season winds down, the team still has no idea where they will be playing next week -- or if they will be playing. "Every time I feel like I can see it I have to take a step back," Sean Doolittle said. "You can't take any of this for granted. The other teams we are in the race with anything can happen."Ratto: If it looks too good to be true, it isn't A's baseball
A's manager Bob Melvin believes the uncertainty in how the American League will shake out is better for Oakland. It means they can't be distracted by focusing on one team in particular. As far as Melvin's focus, he keeps it day-to-day as we all know. While he worries about today, every day, the front office worries about the future.
"I think there's just too much going on with this," Melvin said. "Our front office has been very good about looking at future aspects and they know I like to keep it present. Between the two of us I think it is a pretty good dynamic.""It is so tempting to look ahead and try to map it out and figure out who is going to be where and all the scenarios," Doolittle said. "It'll play itself out. We just have to stay focused on today and the next three games." -- There's nothing new with Brett Anderson on Sunday. No news is good news. He is still expected to take the mound on Monday for a bullpen session. Once he throws on a mound, the A's will be able to get a better gauge on when -- or if -- he can make his return. -- Jordan Norberto has been throwing but he still hasn't gotten on a mound yet. He has been out since August 18, and is on the shelf for the second time this year with a left shoulder issue. He won't be able to come back as quickly as Anderson once he gets on a mound. "We haven't gotten him on a mound yet but when he gets back on a mound we'll have a better idea of timing with him," Melvin said. "But we are just not there yet."-- Coco Crisp has been on a tear since returning from the eye issues that kept him out of the lineup for nine games. He 7 for 10 with five runs, two doubles, and a home run since returning to the lineup. Melvin says it looks like Crisp didn't even miss a game. "As well as he's playing, I'll just stay away from him and write his name into the lineup," Melvin said. "If he winds up on the on deck circle to lead-off or in center field to start the game I am happy about that."If the A's were to clinch a spot on Sunday it will be hard to celebrate in style. Their game will be over long before the second game of the Angels vs. Rangers doubleheader begins. It is scheduled to start at 4:05 p.m. The Oakland players might be better served heading home and resting up for a tired Texas team that will be making its way here for the final three games of the season. Tiebreakers: OAK won season series vs. TB, 5-4
OAK won season series vs. BAL, 5-4
OAK won season series vs. LAA, 10-9
OAK tied with NYY, 5-5
If the Yankees and A's end up tied for the Wild Card, the tiebreaker is intradivision record. The A's have a .547 (29-24) winning percentage against the West, while the Yankees are at .544 (37-31) against the East. That would go down to the wire. (Potential one-game tiebreakers, if necessary would be scheduled for Thursday, October 4.)

With Yankees on the prowl, error costs Sonny Gray in loss to Blue Jays

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USATSI

With Yankees on the prowl, error costs Sonny Gray in loss to Blue Jays

BOX SCORE

Sonny Gray walked off the mound after a scoreless bottom of the sixth Tuesday in Toronto.

Was it the last inning he’ll pitch in green and gold?

That’s the dominant storyline around the A’s right now, especially in light of Tuesday afternoon’s revelation that the Yankees are making a run at acquiring both Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso from Oakland in a package deal.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported multiple sources as saying the teams were “making progress” on a deal that would send both players to the Big Apple.

The A’s have been scouting the Yankees’ farm system recently, along with the systems of other contending teams who are considering Gray. The speculation surrounding Alonso, a free agent this winter, has been light in recent weeks except for the Yankees’ known interest. But after New York acquired corner infielder Todd Frazier from the White Sox last week, it seemed the Yankees’ need for Alonso might have lessened. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Gray struck out nine over six innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays, which leaves the A’s 1-4 so far on this seven-game road trip. All four runs off him came in the second, when his own throwing error toward second base helped open the gates to the only rally Toronto needed. Ryan Goins had a two-out two-run double and Jose Bautista also doubled home a run in the inning, with all four runs off Gray unearned.

MLB.com also reported earlier Tuesday that the A’s had a particular interest in Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial, and that infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo, ranked New York’s fourth-best prospect by Baseball America before the season, could also enter the equation. That same report mentioned that such elite Yankee prospects as shortstop Gleyber Torres, outfielder Clint Frazier and pitchers Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield would be all but untouchable. All are among New York’s top-10 prospects.

But for a deal that includes both Gray and Alonso, it stands to reason the A’s could ask for the inclusion of one or more of those four in a deal.

The Yankees aren’t the only team that has an enticing pool of prospects that could make for a match with Oakland. Houston, known to be going after a starter, has multiple outfielders who could be attractive to the A’s. The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers are among other teams in search of pitching who could put together competitive offers.

Gray’s next scheduled start would come Sunday at home against the Minnesota Twins, one day before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

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AP

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

As Sonny Gray prepares to take the mound against Toronto on Tuesday night, there’s not a hotter name in the rumor mill as the major leagues’ non-waiver trade deadline approaches Monday.

Yet there’s a contradiction attached to the A’s right-hander. He is simultaneously the likeliest Athletic to be traded, and the toughest to pry away simply because of what the team will demand in return.

The markets for first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jed Lowrie haven’t developed as expected, to the point that you wonder how much the A’s could even get in return for them right now.

That focuses the spotlight squarely on Gray, 27, who has posted a 1.62 ERA over his last five starts and comes with two more seasons of team control before he hits free agency. That’s why he’s been linked to no fewer than nine contending teams who are looking for starting pitching.

The A’s sit in a position of strength here. They don’t have to deal Gray right now, and indications from within the organization are that they don’t feel a pressing need to deal him before Monday if they don’t get swept off their feet by an offer. They can retain him, and he’ll still hold great value as an offseason trade chip with those two years of team control.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday morning that the Yankees and Nationals — who have already struck a deal with Oakland to get relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson this month — are two teams in particular to watch in the hunt for Gray.

Morosi also reported that the A’s are targeting young outfielders as the anchor of any deal. That makes all the sense in the world given their organizational needs, particularly in center. It’s also in line with what I’ve heard that the A’s would prioritize getting position players in return since they worked so hard over the past couple of years to acquire and draft young starting pitching (though it stands to reason a deal for Gray would be a multi-player package that could also include pitching prospects as well).

Morosi specifically mentions Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial as a player the A’s like. He’s just 19 and at least a couple years away from the majors. But Billy Beane, the head of Oakland’s baseball operations, said after making the Doolittle/Madson trade that the emphasis moving forward would be on acquiring high-end talent, not necessarily prospects close to being major league-ready.

Other potential Gray suitors have elite outfield prospects in their system: The Astros boast Kyle Tucker, the Nats have Victor Robles and the Mariners have Kyle Lewis, though it’s doubtful whether Seattle has enough elsewhere in its farm system to assemble a package to land Gray.

Just a hunch, but keep an eye on the Dodgers as a team that could enter the Sonny Sweepstakes in light of Clayton Kershaw’s lower back injury. There’s strong ties between the Oakland and Los Angeles front offices, and the teams struck a deadline deal last summer that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers. They have one of the majors’ top outfield prospects in Alex Verdugo, who’s currently at Triple-A.

Though much mystery remains, an eventual trade of Gray is inevitable. The A’s have a solid base of young pitching depth, both in the majors and coming up through the system. And Gray’s rebound from a poor 2016, combined with his favorable contract status, makes him too tantalizing a trade chip for the A’s not to make the move.

The key question is not “if” but “when.”