Nakajima deal official, Cowgill sent to Mets


Nakajima deal official, Cowgill sent to Mets

OAKLAND -- It's official. The Oakland Athletics have announced the signing of Hiroyuki Nakajima. As previously reported, the Japanese-born shortstop will be introduced to the media in Oakland at 2 p.m. and you can see it right here on or Comcast SportsNet California.

The eight-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star was signed to a two-year deal with a club option for a third season. He is expected to be the A's starting shortstop, replacing Stephen Drew, who agreed to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Nakajima, 30, hit .311 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI, 52 walks, and a .382 on-base percentage in 136 games in Japan last season.

To make room on the 40-man roster the A's have traded outfielder Collin Cowgill to the New York Mets for minor league third baseman Jefry Marte. Once regarded as one of the Mets' top prospects in 2009, Marte struggled in 2010 and 2011. The 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic hit .251 with 20 doubles, three triples, nine homers, and 58 RBI in 129 games for Double-A Birmingham in 2012. He was named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star last season. 

Cowgill was originally acquired prior to the 2012 season from Arizona as part of the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. He played 28 games with Oakland and hit .269 with one homer and nine RBI.

His most memorable A's moments both came against the Giants. On May 20 in San Francisco, he took out Tim Lincecum at the plate with a head-first slide that led to a 6-2 A's win. On June 22, he injured his ankle diving for a ball hit to left field by Brandon Belt in the ninth inning that ended up giving the Giants a 5-4 victory.

Cowgill, 26, spent most of the season in Triple-A Sacramento, and would have had a tough time cracking the A's roster with outfielders Chris Young, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Seth Smith set to battle for playing time in Oakland.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.