Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends


Pratt's Instant Replay: A's magical season ends


OAKLAND -- Six years ago to the day, Justin Verlander pitched Game 4 of the 2006 American League Championship Series and the Tigers swept the A's. Six years later he shut down the A's to again end Oakland's season, this time in the American League Division Series. Verlander was too good, and the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs in the seventh inning en route to a 6-0 win. Okay, now it's over. The A's offseason may be starting on Friday, but this team accomplished much more than anyone in their right mind expected. The A's won 94 games, the American League West, and clawed their way back from a two-game deficit to force a Game 5. This season led to the emergence of rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook, Yoenis Cespedes, and Sean Doolittle as well as the breakout performances of Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, the late arrival of Josh Donaldson, and the return of Brett Anderson. And of course, the walk-off pies. 2012 may be over, but 2013 looks like it may pack some promise. The core of this A's team is intact for the future. Don't expect a firesale after this season. With the payroll at 52 million, they could potentially make additions. At the PlateThe reigning American League Cy Young and MVP flat out dominated the A's hitters. Verlander only allowed four hits in nine innings. He struck out 11 batters. The A's 50 strikeouts in this series broke the previous Oakland strikeout record of 43 for a five-game playoff series. Starting Pitching Report Jarrod Parker became the youngest pitcher in the last 15 years the start a deciding game in the playoffs. He looked like a veteran on the hill. Parker allowed four runs, in six and one-third innings of work. Two of those runs scored after Parker left the game. In two postseason starts he performed admirably. The A's can rest easy knowing they have an ace in the making in this talented young righty. Parker allowed a one-out double in the first inning to Quintin Berry. With Berry in scoring position Miguel Cabrera was on deck and Prince Fielder was in the hole. Parker got both of them to ground out to end the inning. In the second, Parker dispatched the Tigers with relative ease. He gave up a single to Andy Dirks on a controversial call. Replays showed that Dirks was actually out at first. The Tigers right fielder stole second to put some pressure on Parker. He responded by striking out Alex Avila to end the inning. The A's ran into trouble in the third inning. Parker allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and was charged with a wild pitch that moved him to second. Infante became the third Tigers player to reach second in as many innings. Austin Jackson ripped a double to left-center to put the Tigers on the board. He was bunted over to third and ended up scoring on a wild pitch. Parker pitched a three up, three down fourth inning, his first clean inning of the game. The Tigers got a runner on second in four of the first five innings. The young righty remained poised in big situations. He only had 70 pitches through six innings. In the seventh inning Parker allowed two singles and was lifted from the game with one out. He was pulled with 85 pitches and runners on the corners. A's manager Bob Melvin elected to go with Ryan Cook instead of Parker. That decision proved to be problematic. Bullpen ReportCook allowed an RBI single to Jackson to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. He then walked Berry to load the bases before plunking Cabrera in the shoulder with the bases loaded to make it 4-0. Jerry Blevins entered the game next. He allowed a bloop single to Fielder to make it 5-0. Young hit a sharp ball to Stephen Drew next and couldn't field it cleanly. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play the Tigers ended up scoring their sixth run. Blevins got a ground ball out of Dirks that allowed Pennington to throw Cabrera out at home. He then got a pop out to end the inning. Evan Scribner pitched a three up, three down eighth and ninth innings. Scribner didn't allow a run in his final six regular season appearances. He didn't disappoint on this evening. He might be a solid weapon for the A's next season. In the FieldPennington made a nice play on a ball hit up the middle by Dirks. He ranged to get to the ball and made a perfect off balance throw to first. First base umpire Scott Berry called Dirks safe. Replays showed he was out by a step. Dirks reached second with a stolen base. He ended up stranded there. Norris struggled in the third inning. Omar Infante led off with a single and advanced to second on a ball that got away from Norris. The passed ball issue popped up again when Norris wasn't able to block a ball that allowed Jackson to score. The Tigers only stole 59 bases this season but they ran all over the A's on Thursday night. They stole three bases against Parker and Norris. AttendanceThe A's announced a sellout crowd of 36,393. Dot RaceGold wins the dot race.Up NextThe A's pack their bags and get to enjoy some well-deserved time off with their families. It's never easy getting bounced out of the playoffs but the A's had a heck of a season. They have a lot to build on for the future. If the success of this team is any indicator, you can expect the A's to be back in contention. That's a lot more than anyone expected entering 2012. Free AgentsBrandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Brandon Inge, and Jonny Gomes are the A's only free agents. Stephen Drew can elect to test the open waters of free agency this offseason if he wants. The A's and Drew have a mutual option for 2012.

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The A’s didn’t add any players during the four-day winter meetings, but they did wave goodbye to one.

Minor league right-hander Dylan Covey was scooped up by the Chicago White Sox in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. The Sox pay the A’s $50,000 for his rights, and he must either remain on their 25-man roster for the entire 2017 season or be offered back to Oakland for $25,000.

The 25-year-old Covey, ranked the A’s No. 20 prospect by, was an Arizona Fall League standout this offseason after working his way back from an oblique injury that wiped out most of his 2016 season.

“We’ll see what happens,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He certainly was as deserving as anybody of being protected (on the A’s 40-man roster), we just ran out of spots. Good for him to get this opportunity.”

As for ways Oakland might supplement its own roster, that task continues.

The A’s held plenty of discussions over four days spent at the sprawling Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, but those talks didn’t bear fruit in their search for a center fielder. They had trade dialogue with the Kansas City Royals regarding Jarrod Dyson, a blazing runner and potential leadoff man, but couldn’t find common ground.

As the holidays approach, the A’s will continue to scan the free agent market and explore trade opportunities.

“My guess is there are plenty of things we talked about this week that have legs, and those conversations will continue over the next few weeks,” Forst said. “We’ve got two months until pitchers and catchers report, four months until the season. We’re not the only ones leaving here without actually consummating something.”

The Orioles are another team reportedly trying to pry Dyson from the Royals. Another center fielder mentioned as being available is Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, although reports suggest Cincinnati isn’t in a rush to move him.

Dexter Fowler is the best free agent center fielder still on the market, although Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis seem to fall more in the A’s price range.

Forst was asked how much urgency there is to the center field search.

“I’m not confident they’re gonna be there all winter, there’s only a certain number of guys,” he said. “We’re not going to risk anything to jump out (and do something) we wouldn’t otherwise do. But we think we’re being diligent.

“We cast a wide net, and we continue to. We have to keep doing that just to make sure — free agents, trades, different kinds of players, platoons, whatever. I think we have to keep our toes in every option.”

As for other areas the A’s can improve, they may look to add a veteran starting pitcher. Just speculation, but Doug Fister is one free agent whose price tag figures to be reasonable, and he’s a Northern California native. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the A’s simply invited a veteran to camp on a minor league contract to see if they can find a diamond in the rough, or at least someone to provide competition.

A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane mentioned second base as an area of concern because of injury issues (Jed Lowrie) and inexperience (Joey Wendle, Chad Pinder), but it’s very possible the A’s stick with their in-house options.

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s general manager David Forst flies home Thursday afternoon, and unless there’s a drastic change in the final stages of the winter meetings, he’ll still be searching for a center fielder.

Wednesday’s events included some discussion between Oakland and other parties, but no concrete progress toward landing a center fielder. That’s despite the late-breaking news Tuesday that the A’s and Royals were talking trade for fleet-footed Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“It’s a two-way street with a free agent or a team, a function of the other side’s pace,” Forst said. “It’s unlikely (they complete a deal at the meetings), and not for lack of conversations or lack of ideas. Just things move at different speeds.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean the chance of landing Dyson is done. Forst pointed out talks which transpire at the winter meetings sometimes materialize into a deal down the road. But it’s also worth noting that the Baltimore Orioles are pursuing Dyson too. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that Baltimore and Kansas City have discussed him.

Therefore, consider the A’s as players in the free agent as well as trade markets.

“We’ve cast a wide net,” Forst said.

Two free agent center fielders came off the board Wednesday as the Rockies agreed to a five-year $70 million contract with Ian Desmond and the Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez to a one-year $11.5 million deal. Desmond was assumed to be out of the A’s price range, but Gomez was thought to be a realistic target. He opted to return to Texas, which needed to do some outfield re-stocking after losing Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who like Gomez was an in-season acquisition for the Rangers in 2016.

The three most enticing free agents left now at the position appear to be Dexter Fowler — like Desmond, expected to command a pricey multi-year deal — former Athletic Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson.

As for other needs, the A’s would add a veteran starting pitcher at the right price and could look to upgrade at second base, though neither of those is as high a priority as landing someone to anchor the middle of their outfield.


Manager Bob Melvin addressed reporters at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Though A’s top baseball official Billy Beane said Tuesday the organizational focus was on the future, aiming for a strong team to be in place by the time the A’s potentially move into a new ballpark, Melvin’s attention is solely on the upcoming season.

“In 2012, we had I don't know how many rookies on that team. It was all rookie starters, and we ended up winning the division,” Melvin said. “Once you start the season, the focus is all about winning.”


Should the A’s not bring in a center fielder who can also lead off, the first in-house candidate Melvin mentioned as perhaps hitting atop the order was Joey Wendle. He gave a nice showing of himself in a September call-up and hit leadoff for a stretch, but there’s no guarantee that Wendle even starts at second base next season, especially if veteran Jed Lowrie is healthy after foot surgery.


Former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has rejoined Oakland’s staff as Melvin’s third-base coach, and Melvin has plenty of confidence that Hale will capably fill Ron Washington’s shoes as the infield instructor. Washington was popular with A’s infielders and had particular success working with shortstop Marcus Semien.

Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach before getting hired by Arizona before the 2015 season.

“Obviously we've talked a lot about Wash and what he's meant to some of these younger guys,” Melvin said. “We feel like if anybody can replace Wash, it's Chip Hale.”


Forst said John Axford will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks has not yet committed to Team Australia.


Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, was examined by A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta on Wednesday and his recovery is going very well. He’s between throwing programs right now. Forst added that lefty Felix Doubront is also coming back well from the same procedure.