Not Much Guessing for A's Lineup

Not Much Guessing for A's Lineup

Jan. 22, 2010A'S PAGE
The As held their annual sponsors luncheon and their 2010 media day Thursday, and on my way to the former I decided to do the same type of Guess The Lineup blog that I did for the Giants a while back. After talking with Oakland manager Bob Geren, though, I realized there wont be much guessing involved. He sounded like a man pretty set on how things are going to shake out if -- and even he conceded that this is a massive if -- everyone stays healthy throughout spring training. The only guessing regarding the lineup at this point relates to the biggest if of all, Eric Chavez. If Chavez is healthy, the lineup presented and discussed on Thursday nights SportsNet Central -- and further examined below -- could change dramatically from day to day. If Chavezs most recent comeback attempt, this time as an uber-utilityman, doesnt pan out, heres what youre likely to see come Opening Day: 1. Rajai Davis, LF: Geren said Davis, last years breakthrough player for the As (and biggest doh! for the Giants), might have to learn to play on a corner. Translation: Coco Crisp is going to start in center field. You dont give a guy 4.5 mil and ask him to move; you tell the guy who just enjoyed his first taste of big-league success to move. 2. Coco Crisp, CF: A seemingly delightful chap with a quick smile and engaging charm, Crisp claims to be healthy in the wake of surgery on both shoulders that cost him much of 2009 with the Royals. Hes been a leadoff man for much of his career and said hed like to do it in Oakland. But Geren likes to go right-left-right or left-right-left up and down his lineup to give opposing bullpens matchup problems. Andconsidering that the only name he threw out as a potential No. 3 hitter was that of a right-handed hitter, Crisp, who hits from the left side, Crisp seems slated to follow Davis, a righty swinger with virtually the same offensive skill set. 3. Kurt Suzuki, C: Last seasons team leader in RBIs, Suzuki was the most consistent contributor and has improved every year that hes been in The Show. Its not a stretch to think he could get his batting average up in the .300s and go 20 HRs110 RBIs hitting in this spot. Batting third and handling a young starting staff is a ton of responsibility to throw at a guy heading into his third full season, but Zook is equipped to handle it. 4. Jack Cust, DH: Cust hits from the left side, buthe fitsas the cleanup manas much for his power and ability to get on base as anything. Hes the only guy on the team that you can be near-certain will hit close to 30 bombs. 5. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B: His 88 RBIs for the lowly Padres last season matched Suzukis RBI total for the lowly As. Cust runs better than most people think, and Kooz is a solid gap-to-gap guy, so it's easy to see Cust drawing a walk and rumbling around to score as a Kouzmanoff drive short-hops the wall in deep left-center at the Coliseum.6. Ryan Sweeney, RF: The other centerfielder in what should be an awfully good defensive outfield, Sweeney had been used in the leadoff, No. 2 and No. 3 spots (among others) during his time with the As, and if he starts hitting with more power, hes a candidate to swap spots with Suzuki at some point. For now, this is a low-pressure, potentially high-RBI spot for Sweeney, who is still just 24 years old and developing. 7. Mark Ellis, 2B: You never really know what kind of offensive production youre going to get from Ellis, who can be streaky with the bat. Buthe's beenone of the best glove men at his position over the past several years, and you knowhe'll give youget smart at-bats, some surprising power and heady work on the bases. 8. Daric Barton, 1B: On this one I have to hedge; Id give backup catcher Landon Powell -- a legit power threat with nice patience -- a serious look at first base this spring. And Chris Carter is definitely going to get a look. But for now its Barton, for whom this season is the biggest of his career. If he doesnt cement himself as a regular, hes going to disappear in a hurry. 9. Cliff Pennington, SS: Coming off a nice showing in his first dose of regular run with the As, Pennington is a pesky, fleet-footed switch hitter with some pop and a good eye. Against lefty starters, hed give Geren right-left-right throughout the order. He was a better hitter against righties last year, though: .307 vs. 200. Again, a healthy Chavez would change everything. But this will suffice until further notice. And with speed at the top and bottom, and at least decent power from 3-8, its certainly an improvement on what we saw for most of 2009.--Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State

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AP

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.

DOUBLE TECHS

Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."

UP NEXT

Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.

Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner

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AP

Cal blows huge halftime lead, dropped by Oregon on Brooks' game-winner

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Dylan Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a comeback from 16 points down and No. 6 Oregon beat California 68-65 on Wednesday night to keep its hopes alive for a Pac-12 title.

The Ducks (25-4, 14-2) trailed by 16 points early in the second half and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes left before rallying for the win that moved them a half-game behind Arizona for first place in the conference. Oregon holds the tiebreaker.

Brooks led the Ducks with 22 points and Chris Boucher added 18.

Jabari Bird scored 20 points to lead the way for the Golden Bears (18-9, 9-6), whose hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth were dealt a big blow with this loss.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard cut Cal's 10-point lead to one with just under 3 minutes left. Boucher then gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a layup that made it 62-61 with 1:48 to go.

Grant Mullins and Brooks traded jumpers before Bird missed a contested 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go. Tyler Dorsey hit one free throw before Ivan Rabb tied the game with a putback of his own miss with 9.7 seconds to play.

That set the stage for Brooks, who hit the 3 that set off a wild celebration for the Ducks.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks finished the season undefeated at home where they have a nation's best 42-game winning streak. They need to prove they can win away from home if they want to have success in the postseason. This comeback win was a start but the task will only get tougher in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.

California: The Bears had been seeking a signature win to boost their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they blew the lead and a chance at that win as they fell to 1-6 against ranked teams with the only win coming last month at then-No. 25 USC. Cal could get another shot at a top team next month in the Pac-12 Tournament.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Visits Stanford on Saturday.

California: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.