Bay Area Hot Stove Special

Bay Area Hot Stove Special

It's been a while since I've dropped an A's Hot Stove update on you, and given Adrian Beltre's recent removal from the mix, now seems like a good time.It's also about time for an update on what I'm hearing from my Giants sources, so let's call this a Bay Area Hot Stove Special.A's: Billy Beane is on vacation with his wife and toddler twins, but that doesn't mean he's not working. Heck, traveling with twins is serious work in itself. But Beane's also been crushing whatever minutestext plan he has on his Blackberry, and his assistant, GM-in-waiting David Forst, is surely doing as much work as anyone in the organization. On what are they working? Well, finding a third baseman is certainly a priority right now, as evidenced by Oakland's very real pursuit of Beltre. They certainly weren't going to go 9 mil a year for him, as did the Red Sox, but they did make a big play for the guy.Alas, it didn't work out. Personally, I don't think Beltre ever wanted to go to Oakland. I think he pulled a Rafael Furcal. But that's neither here nor Sebastopol. Bottom line, the A's still need a third baseman, and they still need some pop.As far as third basemen go, I know the team has at least broached the subject of trading for Andy LaRoche, a 26-year-old under contract with the Pirates who has some pop and hits from the right side but made 14 errors last season. A trade for the Padres' Kevin Kouzmanoff, who is two years older than LaRoche with a similar offensive profile (with a lower OBP) but a better glove, has been batted about, too. Neither of those guys will give you the guaranteed 25 bombs that Jack Cust would provide, though, and that's why the A's are still talking with Cust's agent about a possible return. Oakland hasn't yet made an offer, and Cust has already gotten at least a couple offers and is expecting a couple more, but I get the sense that the A's will be given an opportunity to match whatever offer Cust deems most attractive before he actually takes it.And if you're wondering why the A's are so interested in getting a third baseman despite having Jake Fox and Eric Chavez, it's because Fox isn't really a third baseman -- Oakland isn't comfortable with him there on an everyday basis -- and Chavez is, well, you know, Chavez. Nobody sane would be counting on him to be an everyday position player at this point.What about Adam Kennedy, you ask? He'd be a Plan D or E. I'm surprised he hasn't gotten more serious looks this offseason, but there just aren't many openings for a starting second baseman around the game this winter, and that's what he wants to be. Giants: You've probably heard Cust's name in association with the Giants at least a couple of times this winter, and it's probably had you scratching your head. As I've noted before, Cust's defensive issues in the outfield should negate any pitching-based team's infatuation with his power and OBP. But as Cust himself recently told me in a text, "Stranger things have happened."He was talking about returning to the A's at the time, but it applies here, too. The Giants really want to add a left-handed bat, and it seems they're not sold on Nate Schierholtz or any of their other young outfielders, including second-half surprise Eugenio Velez. But would they actually have the stones to throw out Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand and Cust in the outfield at AT&T? Look, kiddies: TWO triples alleys!And last I checked, Cust punches out about 4,500 times a year. A good fit this is not.Adam LaRoche, on the other hand, would be a nice fit. He's a lefty with proven pop, he gets on base (.343 career OBP), he drives in his share of runs, and he made only two errors in 148 games at first base last season. There's no question he'd make the Giants a better offensive club, and Pablo Sandoval's ability to play the hot corner would give the team perhaps its best corner infield combo since Matt Williams and Will Clark.But LaRoche must know something about the market that the rest of us don't, because he's said to have turned down a two-year deal worth 17 million from the Giants.So now what? Do you hear it?It's getting louder It's the Miguel Tejada drum, and I'm banging it again. I'd be willing to bet that Tejada has two more good years in him, so why not throw a restructured version of LaRoche's deal at him? One year at 8 million, with a vesting option for 2011 at another 8 mil. If he flops this year, he's gone. If he kills and hits certain statistical heights, he stays and gets paid great money for a 47-year-old.A full year of Freddy Sanchez at second, DeRosa in left, Tejada at third, Panda at first and Juan Uribe at the ready to fill in for Edgar Renteria and everyone else sounds pretty good. Not wow, but pretty good. And put Schierholtz in right for at least the first two months of the season. I'm telling you, the guy can play.Oh, and who's the catcher and fifth starter? Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants won't shout it from the rooftops, but they think both of them will be just fine in a sink-or-swim situation. They might not be Michael Phelps right away, but they'll won't be Eric the Eel from the 2000 Summer Olympics, either.By the way, if you have no clue who Eric the Eel is, look it up. Hilarious videos out there.

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – That pristine ERA wasn’t going to last forever for Andrew Triggs, and it was no secret why things took a wayward turn for the A’s right-hander Sunday.

His command deserted him in the top of the third against Seattle, and that led to a disastrous inning that told the story in an 11-1 loss that halted the A’s five-game winning streak.

Triggs, who hadn’t allowed a single earned run in winning his first three starts of 2017, walked Robinson Cano to load the bases in the third, then issued another free pass to Nelson Cruz that forced in a run and put the Mariners up 2-0. After striking out Daniel Vogelbach, Triggs caught too much plate with a 1-0 pitch and Taylor Motter drilled it for a grand slam that made it 6-0 and put this one out of reach with the way Yovani Gallardo was pitching.

Gallardo (1-2) gave up just four hits over 6 1/3 innings as the Mariners prevented the A’s from completing their first home sweep of a four-game series since July 3-6, 2014, when they took four from Toronto.

Seattle turned it into a rout as Nelson Cruz belted a three-run homer in the seventh off Raul Alcantara, who was left in to eat up innings and surrendered two***more runs in the ninth.

Triggs (3-1), in a season-opening rotation for the first time in his major league career, opened the year by throwing 17 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. That was the longest such season-opening streak by a starting pitcher in Oakland history. His ERA went from 0.00 to 2.42 with Sunday’s outing.

The A’s (10-9) finished 5-4 on their nine-game homestand that was shortened by one game due to a rainout Easter Sunday.

Starting pitching report

The first batter of the game was a bad omen for Triggs as he hit Jarrod Dyson to put the speedster on base. Dyson stole second and Cano knocked a run-scoring single to right field that quickly brought Triggs’ earned-run streak to an end. The right-hander was charged with six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits with four strikeouts and the two walks.

Bullpen report

Daniel Coulombe entered in relief of Triggs in the fifth and provided 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Then Alcantara, who was replaced in the rotation by Jesse Hahn on the last road trip, was left in to soak up three innings to save the bullpen any more wear and tear in a lopsided game. He gave up five runs in three innings and walked two.

At the plate

The A’s, after falling behind early, couldn’t muster anything against Gallardo, who the Mariners acquired in an offseason trade from the Orioles. Their only run came in the seventh, when Ryon Healy led off with a double, moved to third on Trevor Plouffe’s single and scored on Matt Joyce’s sacrifice fly off reliever Tony Zych.

In the field

Neither team committed an error, making it five games in a row that the A’s have gone errorless. Gallardo was aided by an outstanding diving snag by third baseman Mike Freeman in the sixth. Matt Olson, drawing a start in right field for the A’s, made a sliding catch that turned into a double play when Daniel Vogelbach wandered too far off first base.

Attendance

The homestand finale drew 24,165 fans.

Up next

The A’s take Monday off and then begin a nine-game road trip against the Angels on Tuesday. The opener pits Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00) against J.C. Ramirez (2-2, 6.46). On Wednesday, it’s Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.43) against Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.98). Then Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76) matches up against Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76) in Thursday’s finale. All three games begin at 7:05 p.m. and air on NBC Sports California.