Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Angels 7, Athletics 1

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OAKLAND -- What goes up must come down. No one expected the A's to win every single game for the rest of the season, even after tallying nine wins in a row. That being said, the 7-1 loss resulting in the three-game home sweep at the hands of the Angels is mildly troubling. The A's have much more to worry about than Wednesday's loss. The more immediate concern is the health of pitcher Brandon McCarthy after he took a line drive off the head in the fourth inning. Starting Pitching ReportThe ball hit McCarthy just above his right ear. He was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power. According to the A's, McCarthy never lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.The ball hit by Angels' shortstop Erick Aybar ricocheted off McCarthy to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to first to make the out. After being struck by the liner McCarthy dropped to the ground and laid prone for a moment. Soon after impact the right-handed pitcher was able to sit up and speak with trainer Nick Paparesta. As the Coliseum went completely silent, McCarthy's teammates and coaches stood around him on the mound before he was able to get up and leave the field. McCarthy's ability to leave the field without assistance was an encouraging sign and surely a relief for many. The frightening moment is a reminder just how vulnerable pitchers are when on the mound. On Tuesday night relief pitcher Sean Doolittle was also hit by a line drive. He was struck on the left shin and was reportedly hobbled after the game. McCarthy allowed three runs, all earned, prior to his departure. The runs all came in the third inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Alberto Callaspo, who was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a Mike Trout ground out. Callaspo scored on a Torii Hunter single to right field. The next batter was Albert Pujols, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games after he squeezed a double down the third base line that got past a diving Donaldson. The A's chose to take their chances with Howie Kendrick, walking Kendrys Morales to load the bases with two outs. Kendrick came through for the Halos, driving a two-run single to right field, but Morales ran into an out on the play to end the inning. Bullpen ReportTravis Blackley entered in relief of McCarthy. He was given as much time to warm up as needed. The A's long reliever and spot starter kept them in the game. He threw 44 pithes in three innings of scoreless relief. He was able to strand two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with no outs he struck out Mark Trumbo looking and got Aybar to fly out to end the threat. Pat Neshek retired one batter to end the seventh inning. Ryan Cook took over in the eighth frame. He struck out Pujols, walked Morales, then got Kendrick to ground into an inning-ending double play. Cook remained in the game for the ninth, but allowed the Angels to load the bases with no outs.Grant Balfour inherited the bases loaded situation. He walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis on a close pitch that was called ball four. Balfour responded by striking out Trout looking on a 94-MPH fastball. Hunter then broke open the game with a two-run single up the middle past the outstretched glove of a diving Adam Rosales. Now a 6-1 game, A's manager Bob Melvin brought in Jim Miller. The right-handed pitcher struck out Albert Pujols swinging on a 92-MPH fastball. The Angels then executed a double steal with Hunter taking second and Izturis successfully taking home. Miller eventually ended the inning by getting Morales to ground out to second. At the PlateThe A's put together a third inning rally in response to the Angels' runs. It started with some control problems by Dan Haren. With one out he walked both Derek Norris and Cliff Pennington. The next batter, Coco Crisp, reached on a force attempt after Howie Kendrick didn't even try and touch second after receiving first baseman Kendrys Morales' throw. The Angels argued that Pennington obstructed the throw to no avail. Seth Smith came up next and made the Angels pay for their mistake by driving the first pitch he saw into right field for an RBI single. With the bases loaded Josh Reddick struck out swinging and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out to end the threat. Norris scored the A's first run after a free pass. He ended up with three walks on the day. After Norris' third walk, Brandon Moss entered the game as a pinch hitter and smashed a single to right field. The Angels countered by putting in rookie Nick Maronde. He struck out Crisp and Smith swinging to end the threat. Maronde also struck out Reddick to start the eighth inning. He has retired four batters in his career, all via strikeout. Kevin Jepsen picked up where Maronde left off, striking out Cespedes and Carter to end the eighth inning. A span of five consecutive batters retired via strikeout. In the Field With two on and no outs in the ninth inning, Callaspo laid down a perfect bunt. Donaldson briefly charged the ball before back tracking to third base, while Norris attempted to grab the ball barehanded but couldn't get a grip on it. Norris was charged with an error and the Angels loaded the bases. In the ninth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, the Angels executed a double steal. Miller had the right idea, faking a throw to third as Hunter broke for second, but Drew was late to the bag. As Miller threw the ball to Drew, Izturis broke for home. AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 15,404. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's get a day off as they travel to Seattle. On Friday, A.J. Griffin (4-0, 2.26 ERA) takes the mound for Oakland. He will be opposed by Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez (13-6, 2.51 ERA).

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

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ATHLETICS/TWITTER

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s officials at the winter meetings carried heavy hearts Tuesday following the death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith.

Smith died unexpectedly Monday in Arizona at the age of 41. No cause of death was known, a team spokesperson said, and the A’s traveling contingent at the meetings were still processing the news Tuesday night.

“We’re still sort of absorbing this whole thing. As you can imagine this came as a shock to everybody,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “He had such a commitment to the organization and was such a diligent worker. He’s a tremendous loss. Everybody thought the world of him as an employee, a person. It’s shocking.”

Smith worked for the A’s for eight years and was instrumental in creating the team’s minor league video department in 2009. Manager Bob Melvin, who crossed paths with Smith every spring at the team’s minor league training complex, said Smith went above and beyond the expectations of his job to help everyone in the organization.

“He was the first guy you saw,” Melvin said. “Just a great guy that everybody felt close to. He couldn’t do enough to help wherever he could. … He’d send me video during the year of guys he thought I might see at some point, and I never even asked for them. Just a hard-working guy who was very aware of what each guy he was working with was looking for and needed.”

Funeral services are pending.

Beane: A's 'aren't one player away yet,' focused on ballpark, future

Beane: A's 'aren't one player away yet,' focused on ballpark, future

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Are the A’s searching for a center fielder?

Absolutely.

Will they trade Sonny Gray?

Time will tell.

Those are the main talking points surrounding the current state of this team as the winter meetings unfold along the shores of the Potomac River. But clearly, the future is also on the mind of Billy Beane, the rest of Oakland’s baseball staff and ownership.

Beane said he’s had numerous conversations with A’s principal owner John Fisher, who took over managing partner duties after Lew Wolff stepped down. The result is a big-picture focus in which Beane says more money will be directed toward scouting, player development and international efforts. And that’s a mentality Beane says he truly believes in — it’s not a directive coming down from Fisher.

The goal is to be ready to field a contender, and have the financial capability to retain players, by the time the A’s hope to be moving into a new ballpark.

“It has to be in the back of your mind that if you’re going to rebuild and you’re going to have a (new) venue, you make sure you have a good young team that’s sustainable,” Beane said. “Finding players has never been a challenge for us, it’s retaining them. And we’re operating with the idea that we’re going to be able to retain them.”

If this storyline sounds familiar, it should.

Beane talked of a similar philosophy in years past when the A’s held hopes of building a ballpark in San Jose, which proved to be a false start. But Beane, addressing reporters Tuesday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, said he senses a purpose behind the A’s current ballpark search that has a different feel to it than past attempts.

“It’s my 29th year here, and I would say right now as much as anytime I feel a real internal momentum that they’re trying to get something done in Oakland,” Beane said. “It’s not something I’m working on — I’ve got my hands full trying to find a center fielder. But I can tell you there’s a real commitment of trying to figure something out.”

A’s fans know to view any ballpark optimism with caution given this odyssey has extended more than a decade without a single pile of dirt being moved. And the reality that Major League Baseball is stripping the A’s of their revenue sharing, a result of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, can’t be ignored. It figures the A’s weren’t going to start spending wildly on big league payroll in light of that news.

But it appears the A’s will invest more in their scouting and player development.

Beane and general manager David Forst said it was too early to gauge what the 2017 payroll would be. The A’s badly need a center fielder and are engaged in trade talks involving Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson. They could also use a veteran starter, though Beane considers that a secondary task.

What he does feel is vital: Fortifying a scouting department that he claims has languished at the bottom of the majors in terms of manpower.

“There’s a real commitment to invest long term into the operation, and some of it’s gonna be based on David’s and (my) recommendation,” Beane said. “If I personally felt there were one or two players that put us (over the top), I think we’d have full support with the major league payroll. I’m not quite sure we’re ready, so I think maybe some of that investment is better served in building out the operation.

“I just don’t think we’re one player away yet.”

That won’t exactly fire up a fan base that’s waiting for the day the A’s splurge on the major league roster like so many other franchises do. But if you’re worried about Gray being the latest big-name player to be traded, it’s no certainty that will happen.

“Where we are right now, I think we have to listen, consider everything,” Beane said. “What we would like to do long term as much as possible is hold on to the group of our younger players just now starting to get to major leagues. (As far as) a player being untouchable, it’s all sort of relative.

“(But) we didn’t come down here with the idea to trade Sonny Gray. That wasn’t on our to-do list.”