Tagged: Oakland Athletics

Episode 32 – Cardinals, Tigers, and Giants! Oh My!

Three Up Three Down is back to break down all the postseason action! We discuss our favorite Division Series and who we think will take the Championship Series all the way to the World Series.  Not only that, Mapes turns the tables in our “Defend Yo Self” segment where the guys back up their Rookie of the Year and Cy Young picks. Let us know what you think!

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Grade That Trade! Angels Get Stronger. Brewers Get Young Again.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to most of Brewer Nation that their acquired pitching ace, Zack Greinke, wasn’t going to be around forever.  Having not lost at Miller Park in almost a year and a half, it was almost too good to be true.  Alas, every good thing in Milwaukee (except Ryan Braun) comes to an end. (Read: CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder).  And just like that, Greinke was shipped off to his first large market team in the form of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Not without cost however, as the Brewers acquired three strong prospects from the Angels’ organization. Let us recap:

Angels Acquired:

SP – Zack Greinke

Brewers Acquired:

SS – Jean Segura
RHP – John Hellweg
RHP – Ariel Pena

An outside observer might think that this would be unbalanced, and for the time being, it is.  It will help an Angels team that is currently 5 games back of their division and surging as of late behind the AL Rookie of the Year leader, Mike Trout, and the big man on campus, Albert Pujols.  If they catch the Rangers by seasons end, that would be a big plus, but with the moves that are being made, a Wild Card spot may be all LAA needs to make a strong run to the World Series.

The Angels aren’t at that point yet. They got a 9-4 would be All Star who had countless blown saves behind him, who also posted a 3.39 ERA with a K/9 of exactly 1.00.  Now when you put it like that, the Angels padded their already stellar rotation with one more right handed mastermind. I’m not worried about him not performing in Los Angeles, he will.  It’s the people behind him and possibly the spotlight that would make him flinch, but I don’t see the stone faced Greinke flinching anytime in the near future.  After posting a solid first outing for them, I think they’ll be glad with their trade.  Now can they resign him? That’s a question we’ll have to see after the season.

Over in the Midwest, the Brewers are collapsing behind their bullpen who has managed to ruin win after win for their starters.  With the current state of affairs in Milwaukee, this was a great rebuilding trade for a team that probably wasn’t going to resign Greinke at the end of the 2012 season anyway.  Plus, being 16 games back never helped anyone. They acquired three top prospects from the LAA farm system and will be looking to make a lot of noise in 2013 or possibly when the rosters expand to 40 at the end of the season.

Jean Segura, the 22 year old Dominican and a career .311 hitter in the minors, was one of the Angels top prospects.  He’s certainly going to battle for Alex Gonzalez’s spot in 2013 as Segura has the power and speed to make a difference right away.  His base stealing alone will bring an aspect that the Brewers have focused on under Ron Roenicke.  On top of that, he can swing a quick bat, and will strive for 15 home runs and around 30 doubles a season.  Segura is pretty sure handed with the glove as well, posting a .971 fielding percentage over 6 seasons.

Let’s head to the pitchers.  It would be hard to miss John Hellweg in the halls of Miller Park as he stands a tall 6’9″.  He packs a fastball that tops out at just under 100 mph on some days, but usually hovers around the mid to upper 90s.  Locating that fastball however has been the problem.  Hellweg’s pitching arsenal and control aren’t quite mature enough to be a prolific starter just yet.  With some crafting at AA-Huntsville, he could lower the 1.378 WHIP, strike out more batters, and depending on how his stamina develops, we could see John make a debut in the majors sooner rather than later.

Ariel Pena has the potential to make an impact in the Brewers’ organization as he has improved his statistics each year and his pitches have matured quite well.  As with any young pitcher, he does have control issues, but his BB/9 has gone down every season and his ERA/WHIP have both trended downward.  Pena also needs to change his “miss” pitch, as it tends to float up in the zone, which at Miller Park, is never good.  We’ll keep an eye on him as he has yet to make his first start for AA-Huntsville.

Side Note: The Brewers also traded C George Kottaras to Oakland for RP Fautino De Los Santos.  Two mainly backup players for both teams.  Kottaras is best known for catching Randy Wolf every fifth day while also tallying one of the Brewer’s elusive cycles.  De Los Santos has always been seen as a potential closer for Oakland, but didn’t pan out early this season and has spent his time in Sacramento.  Keep an eye on Kottaras as he’ll be Suzuki’s backup in Oakland, but De Los Santos will start in the minors.

So? What do you think? Who came out on top? That kind of depends if you live in the present or the future. Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter – @FalconKP

The All-AL West Team

The AL West consisting of the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. Time to see if I can put the perfect team out there picking only from these four teams and see if I would match them up versus any other division in MLB. This team is set to win now and not necessarily looking toward the future.

Leading off and playing CF: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) I know he’s old but he is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball and plays solid defense in the outfield. He also sets the table for the rest of the lineup. He is a smart baserunner and can still steal bases when needed.

Batting second the DH: Michael Young (Rangers) He is one of the best hitters in baseball even at the age of 35. He and Ichiro are both capable of putting up 200 hits. He is also a super-utility player and is able to play three infield positions. Being the anchor for one of the best offenses for the better part of a decade speaks for itself.

Batting third and playing 1B: Albert Pujols (Angels) “The Machine” is still one of the best players in baseball. Did you guys see game 3 of the World Series? 3 Home Runs…. He is a man among boys at first base in this division. He’s been off to a slow start this season but he started off slow last year to and we saw how that ended up.

Hitting clean up and playing LF: Josh Hamilton (Rangers) When healthy the Batguy can rake and is one of the best outfielders in baseball. He is off to a hot start this season both offensively and in the outfield. Yes he is hurt a lot but he is the best outfielder in this division.

Batting fifth and playing 3B: Adrian Beltre (Rangers) Beltre is the best third baseman in baseball not named Evan Longoria. Hitting behind Hamilton last season was one of his best and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If a ball is hit in the hot corner chances are its an out.

Batting sixth in RF: Torii Hunter (Angels) I want to see him steal a home-run on my team so he gets the nod over Nelson Cruz. Last season was a down year for him he will bounce back and have a season like he’s used to having. With that many Gold Gloves its hard to over look him.

Hitting seventh and Catching: Mike Napoli (Rangers) His skills behind the plate are underrated and he proved that last year by handled a relatively inexperienced staff. He is also a 30 HR player when given the playing time. He had a career year last season but he is a good player so he should have similar numbers this year.

Batting eight and playing 2B: Ian Kinsler (Rangers) He is a legitimate 30-30 guy and with a UZR of 15.0 he is the best second baseman in the division. His average is low but he still manages to get on base and wreak havoc. Being an aggressive baserunner is useless if your not smart about it and Kinsler is excellent on the bases.

Playing SS and batting ninth: Erick Aybar (Angels) The 2011 winner of the Gold Glove, Aybar proved last year is among the elite at his position. Plus if he keeps trending the way he has been he will only get better this season. He is good for at least 20 stolen bases a season.

Rotation:

Felix Hernandez (Mariners) Remember he’s only 26 and is one of the best in baseball. If I could choose any pitcher to take the mound for me in one  game he is near the top of a VERY short list.

Jered Weaver (Angels) Recently recorded his 1,000 career strikeout. He is the anchor for maybe the best rotation in the AL.

Derek Holland (Rangers) His ERA was high last season because of a few starts where he didn’t make it out of the first inning. He seemed to have figured it out in the postseason last year. Look for him to dominate this season.

CJ Wilson (Angels) He struggles in the postseason but he is dominant in the regular season and you to make the playoffs. He has pitched in a very hitter friendly park the last two seasons and was great. Look for him to build on his 2011 season.

Dan Haren (Angels) Having the best rotation in the AL affords you lots of options to make this team and Haren falls in line. He’s off to a slow start this season but he will turn this season around and have another solid/productive season.

Bullpen:

Long Relief: Scott Feldman (Rangers) He is essentially a sixth starter for the Rangers. He was very successful last season in this role and look for him to have another solid season.

Lefty: Scott Downs (Angels) He has been a very consistent player in the bullpen for many years. He can get right-handed batters out as well as lefties.

Other relievers: Brian Fuentes (Athletics) LaTroy Hawkins (Angels)

Seventh Inning: Alexi Ogando (Rangers) He was an All-Star starter last season and he is a better reliever. Scary, huh? He was almost untouchable last season in the playoffs and has started this season much the same way.

Set-up Man: Mike Adams (Rangers) Has been dominant so far this season and was arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball last season.

Closer: Brandon League (Mariners) Playing for Seattle he is given a lot of chances in tight games and he was the best in the AL West last season. With Neftali Feliz making the conversion to starter he was the only trustable option left.

There you have it. Who would you put on your All AL-West team?

-Brian Boynton

Chowin’ Down: Bacon Tuesday

My first official MLB game of 2012 came with quite a few surprises. Despite the rain-delayed first pitch and the game being called due to that very same storm 7 and a half innings later, it was a fun time. The A’s lost 3-0, but the action on the field was nothing compared to the gloriousness that took place in the right field bleachers.

Here’s the back story for all you unfortunate fools who have yet to experience a Bacon Tuesday at o.Co Coliseum in Oakland:

As I understand it, the right field bleacher crew, (some of the most die hard fans in baseball, I assure you of that) started a tradition last year of bringing bacon treats to Tuesday home games. When the Royals strolled into town, their right fielder was intrigued by the tradition.

Because A’s fans are the coolest kids around, they developed a unique bond with Mr. Francoeur (aforementioned right fielder), and donated some bacon to his mouth. He responded by tossing them a baseball with a $100 bill wrapped around it.

Needless to say, the right field bleacher crew at A’s games is now in love with Francoeur, and it seems as if the compassion is shared equally. I was at the game on Tuesday, and every time Francoeur came out to the field, the fans chanted his name and he turned around and smiled or waved.

He seemed to be having a legitimately great time with those fans, a rare spectacle for a visiting player. By the way, Frenchie (as he’s affectionately known) scored major points with me. I thought he was just a “blah” player with below average stats, but he’s clearly the greatest player in the game today. I mean…he loves bacon!

Anyway, when they came back to the Coliseum this week, the right field bleacher crew had shirts ready, reading “2nd Annual bacon Tuesday,” and below that, “Sponsored by Jeff Francoeur.” Yes, he got a shirt. Duhh.

My friend Taylor and I went up to the bleachers around the fourth inning to meet the guys and gals up there and laugh about the tradition and talk a little baseball. Little did I know that adventure would lead me to the most delicious oral extravaganza of my life. Whoa. Re-word that. Uhh…

I chowed down on chocolate-covered bacon. Incredible, of course. Chocolate. And bacon. A match made in heaven. Then I was handed a bacon-wrapped jalapeno stuffed with peanut butter. It was a little strange, naturally. But entirely enjoyable.

The most memorable treat came in the form of a pretzel stick. Ready? Wrapped in…candied bacon. No, there’s more…DIPPED IN NUTELLA. My mouth just started watering like Niagara Falls remembering that finger-lickin’ morsel.

A’s fans, and baseball fans everywhere – let’s be real. The A’s could use a little revenue. So go to o.Co, especially on Tuesdays. You might get to share in the epicness of the bacon treats. Which may very well be the greatest things ever created. Hashtag: NOM.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Five Things I Think I Think

Well the first “Five Things I Think I Think” went so well (we got a comment!) that I’ve decided to make this a recurring thing.  Going to do it Wednesday and Sunday nights.  Here’s what’s gone on in this silly, little brain of mine since we last spoke.

1)      There will be more closer turnover this year than ever.  Here’s the list of closers that have gotten hurt this season Andrew Bailey, Joakim Soria, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, and Ryan Madson.  The closer situations for those teams look pretty fluid right now, especially in Kansas City where current closer Jonathan Broxton became the 1st pitcher in 46 years to end a game with consecutive hit-by-pitches.  Everyone thought it would be Joel Peralta in Tampa Bay, not Fernando Rodney who is now 3 for 3.  Who saw Hector Santiago getting the first two saves for the White Sox?  Don’t lie and say you did.  On the north side of Chicago, Carlos Marmol is being Carlos Marmol and blowing leads in spectacular fashion for the Cubs.  There will be plenty of pitchers getting saves this season, I’ve got a feeling.

 

2)      I want to see Dee Gordon race Peter Bourjos.  Both of these speedsters are burning up the basepaths.  Gordon has an MLB leading five stolen bases (tied with Starlin Castro) and seemingly has a green light any time he’s on base.  Bourjos on the other hand had the first inside-the-park home run in the season against the Twins, circling the bases in a ridiculous 14 seconds.  The link to that is underneath.  Both of these players are in the Los Angeles area.  Can’t we set this up for a LA charity.  Bonus points to Miami Marlins teammates Emilio Bonifacio vs. Jose Reyes in the undercard.

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20541799&topic_id=8878746&c_id=ana&tcid=vpp_copy_20541799&v=3

3)      The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away.  If getting one-hit over eight innings by Justin Verlander doesn’t bury them, then nothing will.  They came back in the 9th against the reigning AL MVP and then continued the onslaught on “Papa Grande” Jose Valverde.  Matt Moore was effective in his first start against a lethal Tigers offense, just another weapon in that rotation.  I’ll continue to say that Joe Maddon is the best manager in the game.

4)      I wish Erik Bedard could stay healthy.  When he is, he’s one of the better starting pitchers in the game.  I’m currently watching him pitch effectively the Dodgers on the road.  If the Pirates get 25 starts out of him, they will be well on their way to .500 for the first time since 1992.  Fantasy owners should have him rostered until he gets hurt.  He was the Mapes Fantasy Special today.  Shameless plug to follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave or just search #MapesFantasySpecial for a starting pitcher to pick up that’s owned in less than 50% of leagues.

5)      Bacon Tuesday is the greatest thing ever.  It’s bacon.  It’s baseball.  Leave it to Oakland fans to come up with something so awesome.  They have great fans.  Just wish more of them would show up at the ballpark.   Jeremy will have more on his Bacon Tuesday experience on the blog soon.

-Bryan Mapes