Tag Archive | "Oakland Athletics"

B&B Big Story Banter: The Race for the American League Crown

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B&B Big Story Banter: The Race for the American League Crown

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Brett Dickinson

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

The 2014 trade deadline will likely go down as one of the most exciting days of all time.  Two aces changed addresses, World Series champions were shipped out and All-Stars were sent to other sides of pennant races.  So after the dust has settled, the standings have not changed but the strongest teams in the AL have just gotten that much stronger. In the end, if the Orioles do keep up the pace and make the playoffs, they will see one of these stacked rosters come October at some point. So which team made the moves that might push ahead of the likes of Baltimore and into a World Series? Which team should the Orioles fear the most in the AL now?

 

Detroit Tigers (Brett)

David PriceWell it may have been one of the final trades of the day, but the Tigers made the biggest splash for the biggest commodity. Finishing off the day by acquiring former Cy Young Award winner David Price certainly fills the mantra “saving the best for last.” As a team that already has two other Cy Young winners in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and a legit front of the line starter in Anibal Sanchez, Price may be better than all of them.

Could the Orioles have made an comparable offer to get an ace from the Tampa Bay Rays? The likes of Chris Davis and a combination of a young pitcher (Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey) may have been enough for a deal. But Baltimore obviously was not willing to part ways with key pieces of their future. And the Rays likely did not want to deal within the division either.

Though the Tigers had to give up their everyday centerfielder in Austin Jackson (along with young starting pitcher Drew Smyly and shortstop prospect Willy Adames), they have plenty of fire power left in their lineup with All-World hitter (and two time MVP) first baseman Miguel Cabrera, along with  All-Stars designated hitter Victor Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler. Oh by the way, almost half their roster has World Series experience to help guide them through a tough series in October. And if they can bank on their starters to keep them in the game through 7th,8th or even 9th inning, anyone would pick Cabrera (and company) to come through with enough runs to handle their playoff competition.

The biggest question with this team is the back end of their bullpen, which they addressed by acquiring closer Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers a couple weeks ago.  Detroit is certainly a complete team, that made the extra effort on July 31st to get over the hump. With the most decorated starting rotation in league history, any team should have some fears heading into a seven game series.

Oakland Athletics (Barry) 

It is often said that in the playoffs, good pitching beats good hitting. After acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a mid-July deal, as well as former Red Sox ace Jon Lester at the trade deadline, the Oakland Athletics firmly believe in this philosophy. The trade involving Lester and OF Jonny Gomes for OF Yoenis Cesepedes on the morning of July 31st may not have been the BEST trade of the day, but it was the most important. The Athletics are in position to win their third straight American League West title, but their lack of playoff success over the past two seasons frustrated the front office and the fanbase. In Lester, the Athletics get a pitcher who has won two World Series rings with Boston and was vital to the Red Sox run in the 2013 playoffs, finishing with a 4-1 record (2-0 in the World Series) and an ERA of just 1.56.

Trading away Cespedes, a fan favorite who wows the masses with his arm and home run power, will be difficult to replace. However, the combination of Gomes and another new acquisition, Sam Fuld, will do a fine job as platoon players. A healthy Josh Reddick will help substitute the home run numbers of Cespedes, while Gomes (career .335 OBP) and Fuld (.370 OBP with Minnesota) each have something to offer to manager Bob Melvin. For a team that relies heavily on their farm system and savvy free agent signings, it is refreshing to see Billy Beane and co. make trades with an eye on late October baseball. The Athletics are no longer going to settle for winning the division; acquiring Lester, Gomes, and Fuld at the trade deadline keeps them at the top of the American League food chain.

I expect the Athletics to finish with the best record in the American League, which means that if the standings held, the Orioles would avoid Oakland until the championship series should both teams make it that far. For a team that will throw Samardzija, Lester, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir in a seven game series, there isn’t a single pitching matchup that would favor the Orioles. All four of Oakland’s starters would be Baltimore’s number one starter, and having two dominant right-handed and left-handed starters will pose problems for any team in a playoff series.

There is still plenty of baseball left to be played, and there is no guarantee that the Orioles can hold off the surging Blue Jays or the stubborn Yankees for the American League East crown. After the trade deadline, the East division became much weaker as a whole, which makes the Orioles and their acquisition of relief pitcher Andrew Miller look that much better. With the difficult West coast trip over and done with, time will tell if the Orioles can play their way into an ALCS series with either of the big trade deadline winners.

For more on the MLB Trade Deadline, listen to the Brett & Barry Show with Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen this Saturday from 9a-12p on AM 1570 and WNST.net!

 

 

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore.  Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman,  Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.  What a difference a year makes.

Jim JohnsonIf the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams.  What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”

The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production.  Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season.  For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.

Jemile WeeksAs for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point).  After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013.  Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.

But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million?  Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.

Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely.  If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form.  But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.

Jim JohnsonThe same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade.  As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.

Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.

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O’s and A’s Weekend Series is Matchup of Improbable Playoff Contenders

Posted on 24 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

Friday’s series opener between the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics marks a key matchup between two potential, yet improbable, playoff teams.

It certainly was not a series anyone expected to be exciting in late July, but here we are staring a key playoff matchup between Baltimore and Oakland in the face in just three days. Sure, they may not be the two most exciting teams in the entire world. Despite the shortcomings of both, they provide and interesting boost to the baseball world looking for more parity.

Neither team is perfect by any sense of the word. The Orioles rank 20th or lower in every offensive category with the exception of slugging percentage, where they rank 17th. Miraculously those numbers are still better than the A’s, who rank 25th or worse in absolutely every offensive category.

Now maybe the Orioles are not one of the best pitching team’s in the league, as they are rank 17th or lower in all categories there too, the A’s are in the top-five in every major statistical category other than quality starts. With so many good arms in the A’s organization, it is clear the O’s are going to have to do what they do best, hit home runs, as there aren’t going to be many sustained rallies.

It has been a long road back to relevance for both fan bases. Most A’s fans would have to go back to 2006 for the last time they really challenged for anything and Baltimore fans, well they have to go a lot further back. As they stand today though, Baltimore is a half-game behind the A’s for the final Wild Card spot and while Friday will not determine who will it, there should be some fierce competition.

What the series could determine most importantly, is what each team does at the trade deadline in seven days. Both teams seem to perceive they can compete for a postseason birth. A series win or loss though could go on to determine whether or not the owners and general managers of both organizations feel as if selling or buying is a worthwhile cause at this point. Like it or not, both teams are deeply flawed and all of those flaws cannot be rectified with one trade, but fixing just one or two of them at the deadline could be enough for them to make it to the postseason.

Baltimore is leading the league in one-run wins and has a negative run differential and the A’s can’t hit their way out of a paper-bag. Yet here they are as two of the three teams atop the race for the two Wild Card spots and baseball fans should love it. Both team’s are great stories, organizations who have come up short in just about every way the last decade, but appear to be back to the cusp now. Baseball fans and the baseball world should reveal in this weekends series no matter who wins, it is good for baseball, good for competitive spirit and it should be just good plain fun.

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