Gomes, A's express mutual interest in 2013 return


Gomes, A's express mutual interest in 2013 return

OAKLAND -- He won the Catfish Hunter award, the Dave Stewart award, the respect of his teammates and his manager. He may not have been in the everyday lineup, but there was no player on the 2012 Oakland Athletics more respected than Jonny Gomes. One problem, he is a free agent. Would he want to come back? "Would I like to? Absolutely," Gomes said. "I don't know, I mean this season has been magical for me, it has been a dream come true. When you've been kicked in the teeth as much as I have in the offseason you realize nothing is a guarantee."And therein lies the problem. Gomes is one of four A's free agents. He shared time with Seth Smith, only had 279 at-bats in 99 games and still clubbed 18 homers. That was the fifth best mark in Athletics history for a guy that played less than 100 games. Gomes had a career-high .377 on-base percentage, and batted .306 with runners on. While those stats are great, his veteran leadership and impact on the young team behind the scenes was immeasurable.
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It would clearly be in the A's best interest to bring him back."I agree and I think it's probably a work in progress to do that," A's manager Bob Melvin said "Billy Beane understands that as well as anybody. Nothing's for sure but my guess is there's probably some talks going on either now or very quickly." The A's used platoons at DH, first base, second base, shortstop and catcher this year. The results were phenomenal. With sensitive professional athlete egos involved that is a tough thing to do. It worked because a veteran like Gomes never once complained when he was held out of the lineup for matchup reasons. 58 of his 74 starts came against left-handed pitching. His teammates saw the way he handled split playing time and thought if he can do it so can they. With all right-handed pitchers starting games for the Tigers in the American League Division Series, Gomes only got one at-bat. He didn't complain. When he finally came to the plate, he got a standing ovation. "The ovation I got was pretty special," Gomes said. "There's some well liked guys in the game and to have a sellout crowd get up on their feet to give me a little love, that's what I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for my family, and I play for the fans. I think got three thumbs up.""He's done a lot of us this year and with this community, obviously the Little League World Series thing was a blast for us to be a part of," Josh Reddick said. "...The fans were still thinking about him." Bringing back Gomes would be a good move for the A's. He had a huge impact on Reddick this season, and was a go-to guy if anyone on the team needed a question answered or advice. He even joked at times that he was Melvin's assistant manager. A fan of the game and a Petaluma native, Gomes embodies what the Oakland Athletics are all about. Heart and hustle. Baseball is a business, but having two willing parties helps. Gomes wants to be back and the team says they would be happy to have him. Maybe they can meet half way and get a deal done soon.

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.