Well, there it is. Another season of Oakland A’s baseball is in the books. Another last place finish, another year in which I stopped watching games on a daily basis by late May. I just re-read my end of the season piece from last season and it sounds similar to some of the thoughts I have at the end of this season. Much like in 2015, we saw some bad baseball played, and saw some veterans traded away at the deadline. And my optimism for the future is still there – it’s always there – only with different names attached.
Thanks to trades, we have new names to be excited about, like Jharel Cotton, who was exceptionally impressive in five September starts. Thanks to development in the minors, we’re starting to see some of that talent that has led minor league teams to championships in recent years, and guys like Ryon Healy, Bruce Maxwell, and Joey Wendle got significant time in the second half of this season. And we also saw a lot of the old guard depart, saying goodbye to both Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick this season. We even got rid of Billy Butler! It really feels like the slate is wiped clean.
It’s interesting – I spoke a lot in last season’s piece about how I didn’t want the A’s to trade Sonny Gray in the offseason, and I still feel that way but with different factors at play. Last offseason, he was at peak trade value and this offseason, his trade value has diminished after a lackluster, injury-riddled season. I didn’t want the A’s to even sell high on their cost controlled young ace, so I definitely don’t want them to sell low. It feels to me like Sonny’s poor season was a blessing in disguise, as he certainly would’ve been shipped out at the deadline if he had been healthy and in All Star form. It feels like the stars aligned for him to stay. Let’s take that as a sign and keep him around, A’s.
There are plenty of other questions as we go into the offseason. What will become of the other veterans, like Stephen Vogt and Danny Valencia and Ryan Madson? Could Ron Washington be on the move, after working his magic with Marcus Semien and other young infielders? What about BoMel? Or something I haven’t thought of yet? As always, I’m ready for whatever is next. Go 2017 A’s…
Yesterday was annual Refresh Twitter Day and it yielded results for the A’s, as they made one of the biggest deadline day trades, shipping both Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Dodgers for a trio of pitching prospects. We knew it was probably coming, as both players were due to be free agents after this season. There had been some talk of extending one or both, but come on – this is the A’s. The expected happened. A similar scenario is how we even got Reddick in the first place. It’s the cycle of the A’s roster.
Reddick was a really good Oakland A – a little flamboyant, definitely unique, and an excellent fielder and a good hitter most of the time. I will have lasting memories of him gunning down runners at third and delivering post-game pies to the faces of walkoff heroes. He was probably one of our most recognizable Oakland A’s in the last two years, so this is a loss of identity as much as it a loss of one of our best players. But we’re used to being the anonymous team.
Rich Hill’s short stay here leaves me with little feelings about him leaving, other than it’s nice to get something for a guy that was signed out of free agency. He was stellar in the 76 innings he pitched as an A, but with little on the line this season, I won’t remember him for much more than just passing through. That’s unfortunate, because he’s been a great story in baseball the last year and will probably continue to be with the Dodgers.
The return for this trade sounds like a very good one. I don’t pretend to know who prospects are most of the time so I leave it to people who know, and the general consensus is that the A’s did very well getting Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, and Jharel Cotton in return for Reddick and Hill. Holmes is the big get of the deal, drafted in the first round just last season, while Montas and Cotton are more advanced but lower ceiling arms. I’ve seen the “#2 starter” ceiling thrown around for Holmes, which is probably about or maybe slightly better than Sean Manaea level. It remains to be seen whether Montas and Cotton are rotation or bullpen material, but we’ll probably find out soon-ish. Both project to be in Oakland in ’17, if not this season.
We’ve seen a lot of A’s teams over the years and they are always built around good, young pitching. This is where it begins. I know a lot of fans get sick of the trades, but being mad about stuff like this is really short-sighted. I get how roster building works. We’ve been good before and we’ll be good again. Go A’s…
Well the A’s managed to win a game yesterday to avoid an 0-8 road trip. 0-8 would’ve been awful but 1-7 is not much better. They continued their streaky ways again, as this season high seven-game losing streak immediately followed a five-game winning streak (and that followed a 1-7 stretch, which followed a four-game winning streak). Ugh, A’s. What are you?
The answer to that is what it was when I wrote my last blog about three weeks ago, and that’s “not very good.” Injuries are still a thing – Rich Hill is now on the DL, and Khris Davis and Danny Valencia sat out both of the games in Milwaukee with ailments. Sonny Gray came back, which is nice, but this is still a very battered bunch, with 10 guys still on the DL. At least they were able to find a taker for Chris Coghlan, as the Cubs wanted him back and gave the A’s an actual sort of prospect for him, speedy switch hitting infielder Arismendy Alcantara.
In seasons like these, it is often fun to focus on other things that the day-to-day playing of baseball games, and we got one of those things last week with the draft. Thanks to being crappy last year, the A’s had the highest pick they’ve had since they selected Mark Mulder #2 overall in 1998. This year they picked sixth and went with a big tall lefty pitcher, A.J. Puk. I won’t even pretend that I follow college baseball at all but the fact that this guy was considered a potential #1 overall at one point makes me pretty glad the A’s landed him here. Then with the competitive balance lottery pick at #37, the A’s drafted Cal pitcher Daulton Jefferies who posted a 1.08 ERA in college ball this season. Then in the second round, they picked Puk’s Florida teammate Logan Shore, a kid who actually put up better numbers than the highly touted Puk this season. It’s always easy to be optimistic about draft picks but the general consensus is that the A’s did very well here, and I’ll go with that. I gotta go with something.
The A’s are back home after their abysmal road trip, and it would be nice to see them win a few with A.L. West rivals coming to town. They’ll get the first place Rangers for four and then the Angels for three over the weekend. Go A’s…