October 2010

This, that and then some

A hodgepodge of A’s notes:

  • Today, the D-Backs hired Charles Nagy as their new pitching coach, wiping away any rumors that Curt Young is headed there. Several sources have said Young is going to Boston to join Terry Francona’s staff. Given the timing of Young’s decision to leave the A’s, which came just four days after the club announced he would be back, it seems likely that Young was offered an opportunity within that window. Either way, I wish him nothing but the best, and I’m sure every player who has ever been under his tutelage would say the same.
  • Billy Beane said this week that announcements on the 2011 club options for Mark Ellis, Coco Crisp and Eric Chavez won’t be made until after the World Series. It’s highly expected that both Ellis ($6 millions) and Crisp’s ($5.75 million) options will be picked up and that the A’s will buy out Chavez’s option for $3 million. Given the market for center fielders this offseason, the A’s would really be getting a great deal on Crisp, whose lineup presence would be huge for this team if healthy.
  • Some of you have asked about Rickey Henderson and whether he was considered to join next year’s coaching staff. At this point, the answer is no, Beane says. A’s brass liked having him around this season in a consulting role, though, and Rickey will likely get to do more of the same next season.
  • A’s public address announcer Dick Callahan will be serving as a celebrity bartender at Lark Creek restaurant in Walnut Creek on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. The best part: 100 percent of the proceeds are being donated to charity. Callahan has designated the A’s Community Fund and the Boys and Girls Club of Martinez as the two beneficiaries of the money raised. Great guy, great idea, great cause.
  • Dallas Braden, who is a good friend of Brian Wilson’s, will be among the World Series crowd in San Francisco this week next to Wilson’s family. Braden attempted growing something that resembled a partial beard this season, but he said he has no intentions of dyeing it black for the affair. “I don’t even want to ask how that started,” he said of Wilson’s look.  

2010 season snapshot: The good stuff

Taking stock of all the good that came out of Oakland in 2010:

Pitching

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  • Ranked third in the Majors with an American League-leading 3.56 ERA, which was the lowest mark by an A’s team since the 1990 club posted a 3.18 ERA.
  • Led the AL in shutouts with 17, along with opponents slugging percentage (.379) and pickoffs (27). The 17 shutouts were the second best total by an A’s team over the last 21 years (19 in 2002).
  • Ranked second in opponents batting average (.245) and opponents on-base percentage (.313).
  • Now have an AL-best 3.97 ERA since 2000. 
  • Craig Breslow ranked second among AL relievers with 75 games pitched, tied for fourth with 74 2/3 innings and tied for sixth with 71 strikeouts, which set an Oakland record for a left-handed reliever.
  • Bullpen ranked sixth in the AL with a 3.75 ERA and had just 13 blown saves, which tied for the fewest in the AL. 

Starting Pitching

  • Major League-leading 3.47 ERA marked the lowest ERA by an American League team since 1990, when Boston compiled a 3.32 ERA.
  • Posted the lowest opponents slugging percentage in the Majors (.373) and led the AL in opponents batting average (.243).

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  • Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez’s ability to garner at least 15 wins each while aged 24 years or younger represented just the 17th time in the post-World War II Era that a Major League team has done so. However, it marked the third time it’s happened in Oakland (2001, 2002) over the last nine seasons.
  • Cahill tied for fourth in the AL with 18 wins, most by an A’s starter since Mark Mulder tallied 17 in 2004. It was the first time a pitcher aged 22years or younger won 18 games since Brett Saberhagen went 20-6 for Kansas City as a 21-year-old in 1985.

Defense

  • The A’s committed 99 errors, which was the fifth fewest in the AL. It marked the sixth time in the last seven years they committed fewer than 100 errors.
  • Mark Ellis ranked second among AL second baseman with a .995 fielding percentage. He has now finished at least second in each of the last four seasons in which he qualified for the leader board. 

Offense

  • Ranked ninth in the AL with a .256 batting average and .324 on-base percentage.
  • Tallied 527 walks for the second consecutive season and have not walked fewer than 527 times in a non-strike season since 1985.
  • Had 30 triples, which were the most by an A’s team since 1987 (33).
  • Daric Barton led the AL with 110 walks, ranked fifth with a .392 on-base percentage and tied for ninth with five triples.

Running Game

  • The club’s 156 stolen bases represented the ninth best single-season total in Oakland history and the most by an A’s club since the 1989 team stole 157. 
  • Ranked third in the AL and the Majors in steals and led the AL and ranked second in the Majors in stolen base percentage (80.4%).rickey rajai 2010.jpg
  • Rajai Davis (50), Coco Crisp (32) and Cliff Pennington (29) combined for 111 of the 156 stolen bases, marking the most by three Oakland teammates since1983 when Rickey Henderson (108), Mike Davis (32) and Bill Almon (26) combined for 166.
  • Crisp’s 32 stolen bases was a career high, and he achieved the mark in just 75 games. He was successful in 32 of 35 (91.4%) attempts, which was the best percentage in the Majors and second best in Oakland history.
  • Davis’ 50 stolen bases was also a career-high, and the mark ranked second in the AL and third in the Majors. He now has 116 career steals with the A’s, which ranks eighth in Oakland history.
  • Pennington’s 29 steals were most by an A’s infielder since Carney Lansford had 35 of his 37 steals in 1989 while playing in the infield.

Miscellaneous

  • The A’s pitching staff had a 3.27 ERA with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, which was the lowest catchers ERA in the AL by more than half a run.
  • The A’s compiled a 47-34 (.580) record in Oakland, their best home mark since 2006. The pitching staff’s 3.02 ERA at home was the third lowest home ERA in the Majors. They allowed just 62 homers at home, which was the fewest in the AL.
  • Oakland had the second best day record in the Majors with a 35-21 (.625) mark. 

Leftovers from The Day After

The Day After, as in the day following the 2010 season that was, placed Billy Beane inside Bob Geren’s office this morning, informally holding court with a handful of us reporters while the rest of the A’s clubhouse was turning into offseason mode. Most of Beane’s 30-minute session is highlighted in this story on the A’s site, but here’s some leftover bullet points that I figured would best be shared than left idling on a word document on my computer.

  • When asked about individual accomplishments that stood out, Beane first mentioned Trevor Cahill. Said Beane: “When you think about him starting the season on the DL — and he was probably going to start the year in Sacramento anyway — and for him to come out and win 18 games with a sub-three ERA and lead the league in opponents batting average, it’s hard to not look at that and have that one stand out.
  • That said, Beane said he wasn’t so much surprised by Cahill’s success, but more so in how quickly it came about. Same for Gio Gonzalez. “Both just developed so quick. This was where I hoped they’d be a year from now.”
  • Meanwhile, Beane admitted Craig Breslow was a pleasant surprise. Breslow ranked second among AL relievers with 75 games pitched, tied for fourth with 74 2/3 innings and tied for sixth with 71 strikeouts. “I think Craig not only established himself as a valuable member of the club, but he also brings a real balance and intellectual leadership for these young guys,” Beane said. “He’s the kind of guy who, as a general manager, is the kind of mature leadership you like these kids to be around. I know he’s been voted the smartest guy in the league, but to be around him every day, you really see how he carries and conducts himself, and how guys really turn to him.”
  • When approached about the long-term plan for Chris Carter, Beane said “I think it’s our intention” to keep him in the outfield. Continued Beane: “Daric Barton has solidified himself at first, and I think Chris is a good enough athlete to make the transition. He really just went out there a couple weeks before he came up, so I think we need to give him some time. He does have power. So getting back to Daric, he showed himself to be, in my opinion, the best first baseman in the league. He’s also made significant strides offensively. I was quite pleased with what he did there this year, and I have no intention of taking him off first base.” That’s quite a bold statement and only proves the club’s intent to stick with Barton.
  • With Carter slated to be the club’s Opening Day left fielder next year — though Beane noted he doesn’t want to make a definitive statement regarding that notion — the A’s could be looking at an outfield of Carter in left, Coco Crisp in center and Ryan Sweeney in right. It’s likely the A’s will pick up Crisp’s 2011 club option, and they “feel pretty good” about Sweeney’s ability to be ready by season’s start following knee rehab. However, Beane noted a lot of the outfield makeup “depends on if there are any adds as well. Some of the dynamics of the outfield will be affected by any trades or signings.”
  • Finally, general thoughts from Beane on moving forward: “I

    think
    we’re excited about the offseason. We came in with the youngest team in the big
    leagues, and we left with the youngest team in the big leagues, but I think we
    did some things and accomplished some things that you wouldn’t normally
    anticipate with a team with this kind of youth and experience. To have the No.
    1 pitching staff in the American League is difficult no matter what your
    payroll is, and to do it with these kids and their inexperience is quite a
    statement and quite a building block for us going forward.”

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but you can regularly check this blog along with the A’s site throughout the offseason for all your A’s news.

The final word…

…from Dallas Braden, who will be an analyst for MLB Network on Oct. 8 and 9 for postseason action:

Get your Dallas Braden fix. It’s a different side of the game, different side of the business I haven’t seen before. It’s an honor for someone to think I would be a good fit there. We’ll have some fun with it.”

When asked if he expects to temper his unique personality at all, Braden quickly replied, “No.”

“…So it could be my debut and my finale, who knows?”

It just might be, especially since he’s slated to work on the Twins-Yankees series broadcast.

“Live look-ins with A-Rod in the dugout. … Keep that mic away from me. Is that when they’re going to hit that button that doesn’t let you talk? And I’m just yelling at the TV and you can’t hear me. … Get your popcorn ready.”

Braden, of course, is joking for the most part, and he said all of this with a smile. As outspoken as he comes across, he’s truly an athlete of character, and he respects the game and the people who play it far too much to put his own character in jeopardy. That being said, don’t expect the bleep button to come out in full force when A-Rod’s face is on the screen. That doesn’t mean Braden won’t be biting his tongue, though…

Saturday grab bag

Pregame tidbits from Safeco Field, where the A’s are getting ready to play their final night game of the year: Geren said Matt Carson might not be available today or tomorrow because of a lower back spasm that forced him out of Friday’s lineup before the first pitch. … Daric Barton, who exited in the seventh after a monster night Friday, is back in and feeling better. … When asked if Bobby Cramer could work out of the bullpen tomorrow, Geren said he’s thought about it but hasn’t made a decision. … Several players’ statuses for next season are uncertain. The big one, obviously, is Mark Ellis. I’d think the club would ultimately decide to bring him back — not only because of what he offers this team but also because there’s really no one to step in for him right away. So when I asked Geren about a guy like Eric Sogard, who could potentially be at second base if Ellis departs, and about how close he feels Sogard is to stepping into a big league everyday role, he simply said he’s not sure because he hasn’t been tested in such a role yet. Same for Josh Donaldson, who could be Kurt Suzuki’s backup next year if the club decides to part ways with Landon Powell. Geren likes the strides Donaldson has made in the past year, especially defensively. … The A’s feel good about their chances these next two games, both of which need to be won in order to avoid a fourth straight losing season. 

Looking ahead: 2011 rotation

Bobby Cramer has strung together some impressive outings. Vin Mazzaro endured a healthy taste of sustained success for much of the season. Josh Outman is on the mend. And Tyson Ross isn’t too far behind any of them. So who fills out the rotation next year, assuming Cahill, Anderson, Gonzalez and Braden all break camp healthy? Could be another fun competition next spring. Mazzaro may seem to have the edge simply because of his extended experience, but I wouldn’t write off Cramer and Outman just yet. Ross, meanwhile, may need some extra time in the Minors to make up for the lengthy time he lost this year due to elbow injury. According to Geren, he was cleared to throw just today, and I’d suspect the club wants him to undergo a string of healthy starts in Triple-A before joining a big league rotation. Nevertheless, Geren made mention of all four guys when approached with the subject today, so it should be interesting how the offseason — Mazzaro may be prime trade bait for offensive help — and Spring Training unfold.

Right now, who would get your vote for the 5th spot? 

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