Prospect Profile: Jacob Nottingham

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Jacob Andrew Nottingham

Age: 20, Position: Catcher

Bats: Right, Throws: Right

Height: 6’ 3”, Weight: 227 lb.

Drafted out of Redlands HS in the 6th Round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft

“The Sheriff of Nottingham” (everyone needs a nickname) is supposed to be the prize of the trade and for good reason. Still just 20 years of age, he has amazing size for a catcher and contributes heavily with his bat. It’s rare that a player with plus power – which he has demonstrated – also can hit for average. Over his short three-year career in the minors he has grabbed the attention of many and using the raving review he’s received, I have compiled an all-you-need-to-know report about the newest addition to the Oakland Athletics farm system.

Last year playing for the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League in rookie ball, he caught the eye of evaluators with his smooth stroke and advanced offensive approach, something not found amongst most catchers. These batting traits he carries are not ones the position he plays tends to develop, its either you have it or you don’t. Nottingham’s got it.

After slashing just .238/.325/.385 in two years of rookie ball, he exploded in 2015. Nottingham absolutely wrecked the Midwest League on the Quad Cities River Bandits (Houston’s Single-A affiliate), slashing .326/.383/.558, while blasting 10 home runs in just 59 games. Easily earning himself a mid-season call up to High-A ball in the California League – known for grooming hitters – he continues to impress. Before being traded, he batted .324 while posting a .974 OPS and while it’s just been 17 games, there’s reason to believe the positive trend is not a fluke.

While playing for the River Bandits, according to FanGraphs.com, “Nottingham produced the third-best isolated-power figure (a .217 ISO, specifically) across all of Class-A.” The crazy part is his ISO number – measuring a hitter’s power and how often a player hits for extra bases – is up nearly 70 points in High-A. Another comforting trend is his strikeout percentage (SO/PA) ratio. Although his on-base percentage (OBP) has never fluttered below .300 (lowest is .307), he did have a problem early on with striking out often. His SO/BB reached its peak in 2014 when it ballooned to 27.0%, but in just a year’s span has lowered all the way down to 18.5%.

The only knock on the kid has been his defense. FanGraph’s Kiley McDaniel who recently asked a scout about Nottigham’s defense ability the scout told him, “Nottingham gets a little too high or low on himself based on offensive results, and there are some mechanical issues to work out behind the plate, but this is normal for a 20 year old.” Whether or not he’s going to become a Gold Glover – he wont – makes no difference. The A’s have shown they have no problem sticking with ‘offense-first’ type catchers the last couple years: Stephen Vogt, Josh Phegley, Derek Norris, John Jaso. McDaniel’s final projection states, “Nottingham could be an above average everyday catcher.”

However, ESPN insider Keith Law feels the newest member of the A’s organization was a steal. In his glowing review, he sees Nottingham as a potential star so long as he can stay behind the plate. Law continues to project the future catcher as someone with a 70-grade raw power – on an 80-point scale – who could eventually develop into a 20 to 25 home run per year guy.

Now that’s a reason for Billy Beane to go after him and he expressed it yesterday during an interview on 95.7 The Game on the Damon Bruce Show. “We think that at this stage in his career, he’s got the potential to hit in the middle of the lineup,” he said. “An offensive player at a position that’s typically defensive is something that’s very hard to find, so we’re excited to have him.”

A’s fans should be excited too.

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A Midsummer’s Night … Classic

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Every year I tune in to the All-Star Game to enjoy the best talent of the first half duke it out in a hard throwing, fancy accessory wearing competition. The overall ‘production’ this year was taken to new heights with a Red Carpet Show involving trucks escorting each All-Star and their families to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Most of the day I was able to tune in on MLB Network, with the most entertaining segment going to Chris Rose and Kevin Millar’s interview with Stephen Vogt and Nelson Cruz (Vogt’s Chris Farley impression is dead on and Cruz’s eyebrows are flawless) on Intentional Talk.

As a result, I was a tad late joining Fox Sports for the pregame. Sorry, I got stuck watching Brian Kenny, Pedro Martinez, and Al Leiter doing a pretty entertaining interview with Josh Donaldson. Apparently, their MLB Network colleague Sean Casey caught one of Donaldson’s home runs last night during the derby and proceeded to talk a little too much trash to Josh during today’s morning batting practice about his power. This prompted Donaldson to tell him he doesn’t talk to anyone who’s been thrown out from left field running to first. Ouch.

Anyways, once I flicked over I figured I might as well document it from start to finish. Here’s how it went down:

4:23 pm – Wow, I guess Fox picked up a Kirk Herbsreit/Joe Buck lookalike named Kevin Burkhardt. Every cliché one-liner this guy is falling flat on makes me feel like I’m watching the announcers of ‘Celebrity Deathmatch.’ Hey look, Frank Thomas and Pete Rose (let all your hate go for about three hours) are here to save the show! Looks like Pete did something to his hair to make him look like the fifth Beatle and whomever tailored Franks gargantuan suit deserves a medal.

4:31pm – Harold Reynolds slid through to fill in while Rose headed down to the field so the first thing he leads with is his interview with Bryce Harper. Wow, Harper really surprised me when he said he hasn’t taken pre-game batting practice on the field all season, maybe he has grown up. Not two seconds after I wrote that, a question is asked about his hair and he responds with, “I double take in the mirror everyday, but you know look good, feel good, smell good, play good right. I mean I don’t know why every one makes a big deal, its pretty impressive.” Nope, take everything back; he’s still a douche.

4:39pm – The pregame crew makes their MVP Predictions with Reynolds taking Harper and ‘The Big Hurt’ going with Adam Jones. The funniest part might’ve been after Thomas justified his picked, Reynolds said every time Frank talks it’s like a hurricane. He probably said that because the big fella can’t stop huffing and puffing into the mike. $20 says he uses a CPAP machine while he sleeps. But besides that, Thomas I thought contributed the most interesting analysis of the bunch. Maybe things are looking up for Fox.

4:44pm – Take that back, here comes Joe Buck. Forget all the built up excitement. He gets the ‘ticking time bomb award’ because with Buck, you just get the feeling of when you know that one dude is bound ruin the party somehow some way, it’s just a matter of time.

4:48pm – This year the league introduced a new ‘Franchise Four Greatest Legends’ segment and it was actually really awesome. It’s basically a video paying tribute to the four best players on every team throughout MLB history. Some stuff I noticed included Nolan Ryan on three of the teams (Astros, Rangers, Angels) as well as not a lot of love for steroid guys. No McGwire, Sosa, or Clemens anywhere and even when Bonds was mentioned for the Giants it felt like it was forced. I think it may also spark some Hall of Fame discussion, because some of these supposed greatest legends – most notably Tim Raines for Montreal/Washington – have yet to be inducted. But hey, that’s for another day.

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Left to Right: Rose, Morgan, Larkin, and Bench. Certainly a special moment.

4:56pm – They finished with the (hometown) Cincinnati Reds and had Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin, and of course, Pete Rose all come to the middle of the field. Rose – who came out last – received an 80 second standing ovation, which despite what you may think, was cool to watch considering it may be the last one he ever gets.

5:01pm – After the old timers introduction, its time for the young guns. Going down the line I’m seeing a lot of new faces, 33 in fact. Kelvin Herrera is rocking a Dominican flag arm sleeve and I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before; respect. Holy crap Dellen Betances is tall standing next to both Stephen Vogt and Sonny Gray. I felt like I was watching Dolph Lundgren standing side-by-side with Jet Li in ‘The Expendables.’ AJ Burnett wins ‘the most likely to look the same in 20 years award,’ I mean seriously, does this guys age at all? It seems like the only way you can tell his age (38) is by counting how many more tattoos he’s gotten.

5:06pm – Jacob deGrom snags ‘the legendary flow award’ while Yadier Molina takes home ‘the best response to being booed by everyone award.’ Sorry Ryan Braun, you might’ve had a chance at that except you just sat there looking like the three kids that get pulled over in the opening scene of Super Troopers. Joe Buck tries to get back on the board by announcing Matt Holliday as the man with the best smile. Crickets. His Cardinal teammate Carlos Martinez did something to his hair not many do when going on national TV, holy Soul Glo.

5:13 – Ciara performed The National Anthem and I’m pretty sure she’s the first to ever do it in chucks. She pulled it off too. Man, Russell Wilson I got no idea how you’re going to do the whole celibacy thing, but my two cents, have the wedding next week. Also, she has an outstanding voice, so I don’t understand the back-up singers. Maybe it’s just an R&B thing.
5:19 – Next, the honoring of the four greatest living players: Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, and Willie Mays. By the way, if you haven’t seen the selfie Barry Bonds snuck with his sleeping godfather, it’s gold. Koufax threw out the first pitch to Bench, which would’ve been a real sentimental moment if not for Joe Buck ruining it – a recurring theme if you haven’t caught on yet – by asking over the PA if Bench was going catch it bare handed, then yelling at Koufax to throw him a curveball.

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Left to Right: Aaron, Bench, Koufax, and Mays. The most influential men the game has ever seen.

5:32pm – First pitch is strike one, a good start.

5:34pm – Fourth pitch, so much for that. Mike Trout goes oppo taco of Zack Greinke. Not only was that the first leadoff home run at an All-Star Game since Bo Jackson in ’89, but that completed the ‘leadoff cycle’ for Trout with his past four first at-bats of the AGS being a single, double, triple, and now, a dinger. It was also the first run Greinke’s allowed since June 18th. It’s official; Mike Trout is the white Bo Jackson. And damn man, he’s got the neck for it too. The only other guy I’ve seen with a more defined collar is Takeo Spikes, seriously.

AL leads 1-0

5:42pm – Lorenzo Cain’s walk up song is Fetty Wap, which is fitting considering his first at-bat looked like he was swinging with one eye closed to end the first. The NL’s first AB’s were pretty ugly too. Seems like Todd Frazier used up all his magic last night. Quick note: I mentioned deGrom’s flow before the game and if he has the best hair (suck it Harper), then Dallas Keuchel has take home ‘the best beard award,’ its not even close.

5:50pm – In his second inning out there, I’m just now noticing how Zack Greinke grunts like Maria Sharapova every time he throws. Seems to be a slight resemblance as well. Bottom two, the NL gets on the board from a Johnny “the fattest shortstop ever to play” Peralta duck snort down the right field line. Also thought I heard him snorting as he ran down the line.

All tied 1-1

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Cool Papa Bell

6:13pm – At this point, the game takes a break to celebrate the ‘Franchise Four of the Negro Leagues’ in the form of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil, Cool Papa Bell (unfortunately they are no longer with us). It’s ironic because I actually did a middle school project on these four guys (along with others) so I felt like I could really understand and appreciate their achievements in the game. My favorite of the four was Cool Papa Bell – besides the name – because of the amazing stories about him. In Ken Burns’ Baseball, Bell was described as being so fast that he once scored from first on a sacrifice bunt. His fellow legend Paige liked to say that Bell was so fast he could turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark. Apparently, he also stole home … from second, twice. Dope stuff.

6:17pm – The Ernie Johnson looking, bowtie-wearing Ken Rosenthal is interviewing Dallas Keuchel. Apparently, Keuchel was an Apparel Studies major while he was attending Arkansas Univeristy, wow. My dad said he should team up with Harper to start a hair and clothing line. Ba dum tssshhh.

6:30 – Damnit, Bumgarner’s coming in. It was inevitable. Well, since the first SF Giant (not named Posey) was sent to the field, I guess it’s about that time to send the first beer to my liver. I don’t discriminate, but for a baseball game, you can’t get much better than a cool Lagunitas Czech stye pilser. Also, first Rusty Kuntz mention by Harold Reynolds followed by an awkward silence. Sexual innuendos on national broadcasts are always a cheap laugh.

6:50pm – Kershaw comes in and gives up the lead. Granted he should’ve been out of the inning after the blatant missed strike three call on Pujols, but it just continues to prove he’s the Peyton Manning of baseball. In any type of big game, I’d rather have Air Bud. I’ve also noticed Verducci literally only talks when he can fit a statistic in there, which so far has been pretty annoying. It’s a real shame too since he’s a great personality on the MLB Network. Maybe Joe Buck just brings out the worst in people.

3-1 AL leads

7:15pm – My main man Stephen Vogt comes in and strikes out on three pitches for another solid Oakland A’s All-Star showing. Unfortunately he faced deGrom who went through that sixth inning like a hot knife through butter. K’d 3, 10 pitches on 9 strikes. It was like watching that one pitcher in little league who clearly should not be allowed to throw because for any kid to have a prayer they need to start their swing before he finishes releasing the ball.

7:20pm – Andrew McCutchen leads of the bottom of the sixth with an upper deck blast, God I miss his dreads. K-Rod comes in and he still has the identical motion he did 12 years, although he did pack on about 50 lbs. since then. He wins the ‘fattest chaw award.’ Also, Trout finally gets replaced, but by pinch runner Brock Holt?! Who the hell is this guy?!

3-2 AL leads

7:41pm – In Rosenthal’s second ‘riveting’ interview of the night, Adam Jones says Mike Trout is the “White Bo Jackson.” Hey wait, that’s what I said! Next pitch Machado doubles to right center and Reynolds drops the first “look at the flicka da wrist” of the night. So far Harold has one sexual innuendo and one Chedda Da Connect reference, not his best night. Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s big Prince again with a sacrifice fly.

5-2 AL leads

7:52pm – Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik are due up, which means I’ll head to the bathroom for the next 12 minutes. If Andre the Giant’s twin brother Betances doesn’t mow these two down, I’ll be seriously disappointed. When any kind of orange & black is spotted, I feel like I’m about to watch a Lord of the Rings scene with the Elf chick Arwyn, which of course is the time when every guy in attendance immediately sprints to the nearest urinal.

8:26 – Right after the feel-good story Brian Dozier goes deep, I have to go to a quick intermission in the form of chicken ravioli. I come back just in time to see Aroldis Chapman dosing Mike Moustakas at 103mph and Mark Teixeira at 102mph … The ravioli, $5. The Lagunitas, $2.50. The look on Teixeira’s face while he walks back to the dugout, priceless.

6-3 AL leads

8:31pm – The NL gets their final run when Ryan Braun scores after leading off the ninth with a triple. Man, he really turned on the juice right there. Ba dum tssshhh. Trout picked up his second MVP in two years, although this year, “Imma have to go with the truck” he said. Solid choice after he took home the corvette last year. Tough life.

6-3 AL Wins.

‘Twas a solid game this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing like watching the best in the game get after it and actually compete for a full nine innings. The Midsummer Classic is always a good time.

This Year’s Home Run Derby Marks a Significant Change In Baseball

HomerunDerbyFieldThe Home Run: “A display of power with the natural capability to capture the attention of all who behold it. Originating from a batter’s ability to hit a baseball beyond the confines of a particular park, it is an American spectacle that holds a special place in our culture.”

– Dangs (That’s me)


First witnessed in 1876, sending the ball over the fence has evolved into an American obsession. The game of baseball, no matter what time period, has based rules and regulations around the volume (or lack thereof) of home runs. In 1920, there were too few so a new baseball needed to be created in order to make it easier to hit them. In 1969, baseball determined pitchers were too effective – home run numbers were falling dramatically – so the pitcher’s mound was lowered to again, to make it easier to send the ball out of the yard.

There’s just something about seeing the ball fly at such a speed and distance that seems to stop time itself. For just those couple of seconds, everyone’s eyes in unison track the flight from bat to bleacher before erupting in either delight or despondency.

imagesIt is this unique power of the home run that the Home Run Derby was formed, a platform to showcase the most exciting part of our National Pastime. From 1985 on, each and every year a group of the leagues best sluggers are brought together to put on a show for the fans. It’s a one-of-a-kind competition because no matter how disinterested one may be in the sport itself, it’s impossible not to respect the skill and power these hitters possess. I know plenty of individuals who absolutely can’t stand to watch a baseball game, but will sit down to thoroughly enjoy the Derby.

There’s a reason people show up before baseball games, just to watch batting practice. Mashing a home run is the coolest thing any ballplayer can do. A Top 10 defensive play? Ehh sure that’s pretty sweet. A 450-foot bomb in BP? That’s what everyone would rather see and anyone who says otherwise is lying. I remember in 2006 as a youngin’ being completely star struck watching the power of a 38-year old Frank Thomas sending nukes out to any part of O.Co Coliseum with the most effortless swing. I can only imagine the length of the missiles “The Big Hurt” launched in his prime.

That’s the rare function of a Home Run. The spectators have the opportunity to take a step back and appreciate the work of art that is a long ball. And as well they should, it might be the most impactful singular act in all of sports. A home run can define a game, a season, hell it even can define a player. The most memorable home run I’ve ever witnessed live was the first bomb Yoenis Cespedes – God bless his baseball-clobbering soul – hit on American soil. That ball as far as I’m concerned, has yet to land:

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He went on to win two of today’s events in a row – the only man besides Ken Griffey Jr. to accomplish the feat – providing many memories to A’s fans everywhere, myself included.

Today’s 30-year anniversary of the Home Run Derby changes all of that.

In an effort to move an old-school event into the digital age, Major League Baseball has altered the Derby completely. In the hopes of highlighting their newly developed ESPN Home Run Tracker, the MLB has also tried to revolutionize the rounds with time limits, all in hopes of drawing a larger audience. For more specifics, here are the actual ‘new & improved’ rules for the 2015 Home Run Derby.

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Taking a look at these new rules, I see a familiar reconstruction method. Much like in 1920 and 1969 it seems as if the league has become impatient with the process by which home runs are being hit. Only this next step in the evolution of the ‘dinger’ doesn’t have to do with its volume, but with its frequency. With the national media nowadays always wanting to cater to the attention span of a younger audience – which is slim to none – it was only a matter of time before it spread to the baseball field. Naturally, the first thing to target would be the most marketable feature of the MLB.

It all started with the new pace-of-play rules introduced at the beginning of this season. They were instituted in order to try and speed up games, which for some time now have been labeled ‘too long’ and ‘boring.’ The MLB’s infatuation with accelerating baseball has led to the attempt of quickening the Home Run Derby. Do I think it will work? Kind of. I think there a few pros, but overall, there appear to be more cons with the direction baseball is headed towards.

First, the Good:

Brackets. This was a genius idea, as head-to-head matchups always seem to rev up the competition. March Madness ‘one-and-done’ tournament style was certainly something that needed to be introduced, especially with the league trying to draw a younger audience. Advertising it as a 1 through 8 seeding system builds suspense while also generating multiple storylines. Long shots, underdogs, and upsets all become possible narratives contributing to the now, more interesting atmosphere. Here are this year’s sluggers:

Albert Pujols (1) vs. Kris Bryant (8)

Joc Pederson (4) vs. Manny Machado (5)

Josh Donaldson (3) vs. Anthony Rizzo (6)

Todd Frazier (2) vs. Prince Fielder (7)

Not going to dive too much into my thought process, but I’m picking Prince. Peterson is my dark horse.

Then, the Bad:

The time constraints this year I think put too much pressure on the sluggers. The pressure will be on each competitor to constantly swing while still blasting the majestic home runs we are used to seeing. What I don’t think the MLB took into account is that swinging non-stop for five minutes is EXTREMELY PHYSICALLY DEMANDING. For anyone who’s ever been to a batting cage, you know the feeling. Taking just 10 hacks in a row will make you sweat, nevertheless intensely trying to hit balls as far as you can for five minutes straight. Whether it’s one of the four new guys to the Derby (Pederson, Bryant, Machado, Rizzo) or the veterans (Pujols, Donaldson, Frazier, Fielder), this new time system can drain any one of them. Not to mention, there are three rounds so imagine how exhausted the finalists will be. That itself could make the event even less exciting with guys being too tired to adequately appease their viewers home run hunger.

Also, the rule-makers decided to add ‘bonus’ time if a participant can hit two home runs over 420 ft. or one over 475 ft. At least the league put a limit of 90 seconds on the ‘bonus’ time because I can guarantee every single one of these guys will park one beyond the 420 mark in every single round (should they advance). Pederson’s average home run length so far this year has been roughly 430 ft. and I personally think he’s not even in the top half of the group when it comes to power.

Now, the Ugly:

I’ve mentioned repeatedly how this year’s Derby is centered around pace, but this may also be its biggest flaw. The ultimate impact time limits will have on the derby is it takes away from the spectator’s appreciation of each home run. With the sheer volume of dingers being lifted out of Great American Ballpark, there’s no time to sit back and feel like a true fan should: admiring each and every moonshot. Instead, spectators in Cincinnati will be getting whiplash from snapping their heads back and forth between the stands and the plate, while fans at home will be getting headaches from each rapid-fire replay. To make things worse, everyone will have to endure their annual listening to Chris Berman gargle, “back, back, back” until their eardrums bleed. I personally don’t believe that’s how the Derby is supposed to be enjoyed.

The focus on tempo in this year’s Derby I think also marks a looming change on the way to the game of baseball. With the MLB attempting to revitalize the popularity of baseball, it seems as if they will stop at nothing to modernize America’s historic sport. In the process, the obsession with catering to a younger generation seems to be slowly transforming the game into a computerized competition. While I do believe this Home Run Derby contains a few improvements, the continued path of such alteration indicates a significant change to come in our beloved pastime.

2015 All-Star Game AL & NL Final Vote Picks and Predictions

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The final vote is upon us ladies and gentleman. It’s another opportunity for the fans to decide a roster spot (fair or unfair) at this year’s All-Star Game. You have five players from both the American League and the National League to choose from, all deserving candidates. The unique aspect I’ve found about this years Final Vote is that the players reflect the strengths of each league. All players selected to the final ballot in the AL are hitters and all but one player for the NL are pitchers. While the NL does have some quality bats, the association with hitting is typically tagged to the AL and vice versa with conversation about the best pitching taking place mostly amongst NL teams. Nonetheless, here are your choices:

American League

200_593428Xander Bogaerts | BOS

AVG: .302 HR: 3 RBI: 37 SB: 4 AB: 295

a

200_493316Yoenis Cespedes | DET

AVG: .294 HR: 11 RBI: 45 SB: 3 AB: 320

a

200_572821Brian Dozier | MIN

AVG: .260 HR: 17 RBI: 42 SB: 7 AB: 323

a

200_458731Brett Gardner | NYY

AVG: .297 HR: 9 RBI: 39 SB: 15 AB: 293

a

200_519058Mike Moustakas | KC

AVG: .301 HR: 7 RBI: 31 SB: 1 AB: 289

a

National League

200_456501Johnny Cueto | CIN

W: 5 L: 5 SV: 0 ERA: 2.84 IP: 104.2 K: 100

a

200_544727Jeurys Familia | NYM

W: 2 L: 0 SV: 23 ERA: 1.13 IP: 39.2 K: 41

a

200_477132Clayton Kershaw | LA

W: 5 L: 6 SV: 0 ERA: 3.08 IP: 114.0 K: 147

a

200_593372Carlos Martinez | STL

W: 9 L: 3 SV: 0 ERA: 2.70 IP: 100.0 K: 105

a

200_453064Troy Tulowitzki | COL

AVG: .321 HR: 9 RBI: 44 SB: 0 AB: 274

a


Now as for my picks, I’m going to stray away from the typical stat-by-stat comparison and rationalize myself through a different perspective. Since each All-Star roster is extremely stacked and have essentially an equal amount of talent, I believe the final spot on the roster should be seen as an opportunity for the fans to vote for the player most likely to give their team an advantage. While the likeliness of these two ‘last guys on the bench’ actually seeing the field is slim, if they did, they should be able to have a positive impact.

My Pick

AL: Yoenis Cespedes | DET

You may have to forgive my slight ex-Athletic bias, but the fact of the matter is he’s the best hitter of the group. If you ask me to pick a pinch-hitter off the bench to provide an impact late in what will likely be a tight game, I’m not hesitating to tell ‘Yo’ to go grab a bat. Plus his skills are perfectly fit for an All-Star game because of his ‘wow factor.’ The midsummer classic is supposed to be a spectacle for the public to enjoy and for the last two years, America has been awed by his power in the derby (he did make the team last year as well). However, that shouldn’t be the only area he’s considered to be a ‘contributor,’ because he truly is one of the most complete players in the game.

NL: Jeurys Familia | NYM

This may be a little shocking, but hear me out. If it makes some of you feel better, I was torn between him and Troy Tulowitzki. Side note: I think Tulo should be starting over both Johnny Peralta and Brandon Crawford. However, my vote would go to Familia because he is perfect for this type of game (and I think in an All-Star Game, pitchers ultimately are more responsible for the outcome of the game). Most starting pitchers are not used to warming up for just one-inning of work and as a result, often struggle because they try to overthrow and can’t find a rhythm. Familia – who has been one of the most shutdown closers this season – wouldn’t have that issue and so would be my pick to contribute the most off the bench.

My Prediction

AL: Mike Moustakas | KC

Baseball fans everywhere saw how vicious the ‘Royal Blue Voting Attack’ was for the starters so I would find it hard to imagine them not finding a way to get their guy in. However, I think the guy that will give him a run for his money will be Brian Dozier who got snubbed again this year (last year was worse when he wasn’t even selected to play at his home Target Field). Plus, Dozier has been quietly one of the best hitting second-baseman this season (currently leads the AL in runs scored).

NL: Clayton Kershaw | LA

Kershaw hasn’t been bad this season; in fact by most pitchers standards he’s been very good (most K’s in the MLB). However, last-seasons MVP has his own standard, one that based off of his previous 4 years is un-worldly. At the same time, having an All-Star Game without Kershaw is just wrong. I compare it to this year’s NBA All-Star Game, where Kevin Durant had been hurt and not necessarily playing up to ‘KD’s standards,’ but in the end was justly named an All-Star.


No matter what happens, this years All-Star Game in Cincinnati is shaping up to one of the more exciting ones in recent memories.

Donaldson’s Accomplishments Should be Celebrated by A’s fans, not Denounced

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We all know the feeling of fixing/cleaning/building something that requires long hours of commitment and preparation. Whether it’s pulling pounds of weeds from your backyard, pulling an all-nighter to finish a project due the next morning, or doing pushups day after day hoping to see a difference. No matter how long the rigorous task took, it always seems like someone would just take one look at the finished product and not give it the attention it deserves. Now they may compliment you, even tell you they’re highly impressed, but deep down you can sense they just don’t quite get it. Then after get a few brief moments of glory, poof, it’s gone.

This has been the A’s ‘modus operandi’ (model of operation) for essentially the past 20 years. Unfortunately, whichever player they’ve seemed to develop right in front of our eyes has eventually found success and stardom elsewhere.

This year’s green and gold commodity: Josh Donaldson.

Yesterday, he was announced as the leading vote getter at the 2015 All-Star Game. 14,090,188 different ballots were sent in favor of Donaldson receiving the starting nod at third base, a record number. This display of national affection has truly marked the rise of the once-snubbed catcher who was converted into a corner infielder. In only his third full season in the bigs, it seems like Donaldson is now blooming in the eyes of the media with his image steadily climbing. And it’s well deserved, this was a supposed bust-of-a First Round Pick who fought and clawed his way into the spotlight before taking his play to another level this season. In his first year with the Blue Jays after the blockbuster offseason deal which brought him over, he’s the leader among third basemen with an .879 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), 62 runs scored and 56 RBI, while co-leading with 19 home runs. He’s also 4th in the AL in WAR (wins above replacement).

It’s something all A’s fans hate bring up: the what-if, why me scenarios. Would Donaldson have been to do this in order to prevent the currently not-so-great A’s season? Especially since this particular trade was so difficult to swallow and honestly made the least sense of the Oakland fire sail.

But we shouldn’t use this as a typical feel-bad situation that has followed the franchise for years. I used to hate seeing former Oakland farmhands such as Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, and (the worst of all) Carlos Gonzalez get prematurely traded and flourish as All-Stars with other clubs. However, the fans never really got to see those three players for an extended period of time, making the relationship easier to forget about.

With Donaldson it’s different.

This was a guy whose ascendance came exclusively in the confines of O.Co Coliseum. His stellar defense and majestic swing exponentially improved hand-in-hand, all in front of our eyes. In just the span of one year, he went from being Brandon Inge’s back up to an MVP candidate; the season after solidifying himself as the best third baseman in the game. And then just like that, he was gone.

But it doesn’t mean we can’t still appreciate what he’s doing now. In a season where the A’s haven’t picked up as many W’s as hoped for, Donaldson’s performance this season should be celebrated as a victory, not an ignored as a defeat. While the many memories he makes in Toronto will always constantly remind Oakland fans about the fantastic ones he made in the Bay Area, our reaction should be nostalgic.

We all know it wasn’t his fault he got traded, but seeing him have success isn’t a reason to feel poorly towards our franchise. Instead, focus on appreciating the times we got to see him play every day because those were the days representing the hard work. 158 games, two years in a row, Donaldson gave his all on the left side of the infield. Now he’s gone and you can’t alter history, but don’t let your final memory of him be the one where he changed jerseys.

Because that’s how too many A’s are remembered…

And I think that’s what needs to change.

Did Josh Reddick’s comments write his own ticket out of Oakland?

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In what’s seemed like a great last couple of weeks for the currently streaking A’s, Josh Reddick may have dampened it. He also very may well have written himself a ticket to another ball club.

Despite the team going 12-6 over their last 18 games, the Oakland right fielder expressed some frustration in a pregame interview with broadcaster Ray Fosse, concerning his playing time. In a surprisingly aggressive, but honest tone, Reddick hinted at the idea that Billy Beane specifically has been trying to keep him out of the lineup against left-handed pitchers.

022515-kgo-josh-reddick-imgWhen Fosse asked him what aspects of lefties keep him on the bench, he flipped the question and targeted the GM: “I have no idea [what keeps me out of the lineup]. It doesn’t come from anywhere in this clubhouse. Everybody knows what situations our general manager puts up there. I couldn’t tell you what the difference is between me starting against one guy and not starting against another guy. … There’s probably so many numbers they could dig into their computers with and try to find one just to keep me out of the lineup.”

He continued by defending his manager and instead focused on pointing out Billy’s possible ‘control freak’ approach to running the franchise. “I know Bob’s in there fighting for me,” Reddick said. “The other day I was supposed to play against De La Rosa, and Bob texts me at around 1:30 and told me he had been ‘trumped,’ was the word he used. I understood right away. I know it’s not Bob. He’s fighting for me to be in there every night. It still frustrates me beyond belief when I don’t play … I wanna be in there helping my team no matter if a guy’s throwing right-handed, left-handed or center-handed. Whatever you wanna call it, I just want to be in there, be able to compete and help my team win.”

This spawns the question, is Josh Reddick’s gripe valid?

Despite the right fielder hitting .330 in 209 at-bats against right-handers and just .152 in 66 at-bats against left-handers (supporting a statistic-like approach as to if he should be starting or not) it is good to see a player wanting to compete and be in the lineup every single day. Especially since the possible All-Star candidate is hitting .287 with 11 home runs, and his 49 RBI’s rank third among all American League outfielders. However, one could also argue it’s because of Beane’s preferred ‘platoon system’ that Reddick has kept his statistics so high this season. So there are a couple things to keep in mind as to whether or not Billy Beane will use this outburst as an excuse to trade him.


1) His Contract

As many of you know, the biggest reason that Reddick has not been traded so far – like many Athletics that have come and gone before him – is because of the amount of money he makes. He’s currently earning a little over $4 million and is arbitration eligible for next season. This means not only is he under team control, but he’s cheap, two things that Beane likes from his players.

635597812020140539-USP-MLB-Kansas-City-Royals-at-Oakland-Athletics2) His Value

Although Reddick has been putting up solid numbers this season, he is a career .250 hitter who has been healthy for a whole season just once in his six-year career. In the lone season (2012) when he was healthy – he hit 32 HR’s and won a Gold Glove – he only hit .242. Based off the A’s ‘buy low, sell high’ philosophy, it wouldn’t be outrageous to think Reddick could get traded considering his past trends, that all point to this year being a ‘fluke.’

3) His Attitude

Reddick is the definition of a competitor and this was not the first time he has spoken out against management. When Josh Donaldson was traded (another sore subject), Reddick said publicly, “This doesn’t make sense to me. We just traded our best player the last 2 years.” He continued on saying he thought the trade was a sign the A’s were clearly in ‘rebuilding mode.’


The last point I made was really why Reddick’s comments yesterday were so perplexing to me. Winning cures everything and over the past two weeks, Oakland has been doing just that. Although the entirety of the season has been frustrating, the direction as of right now looks positive. Maybe he’s had enough, maybe not. Either way, here’s why I don’t think he will be traded before the trade deadline:

Beane won’t get a great enough return for him. At 28 years old and not having proved he can consistently stay on the field, no team is going to want to give up any impact players/prospects for him.

Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Sam Fuld (23) and right fielder Josh Reddick (22) celebrate after scoring against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics won 16-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY SportsThat plus the fact his production has also been inconsistent, Reddick wont be a hot commodity. If he were, we would have already heard about it. Plus the idea that Oakland’s GM will get rid of him because he spoke out is unrealistic. Billy Beane doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about him (player or otherwise), that’s what makes him Billy Beane. The only time he has traded a player for their character flaws was because they were a hindrance to the team, on and off the field. So far in his illustrious green and gold career, Reddick hasn’t done that. I’m sure if you ask around the clubhouse, he’s one of the best teammates bar none. Whatever kind of dispute the two have – if it’s even a big deal – they’ll work it out and by my estimation Josh Reddick won’t be going anywhere.

Athletics Achilles Heel

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After this weekend’s tough three-game sweep by the Kansas City Royals, some A’s fans may be thinking that Oakland will not be able to get back into the playoff race because they can’t compete with good teams. Yes, they were a bit exposed by an experienced group with the best record in the American League, taking advantage of every little mistake.

Game One: Ike Davis’ throwing error in the third inning cost Oakland two runs

Game Two: Unable to score with two runners on and no outs in the eighth inning

Game Three: Max Muncy overthrew Stephen Vogt on a play at the plate in the third inning, allowing a run to score and essentially giftwrapping two more.

While the mistakes in Game Two were more collective than the others, all three of these very may well have been the difference between a Green and Gold sweep instead of a Royal Blue one. However, just being a couple of plays away – three days in a row – to defeating the defending American League champions is also a sign that Oakland can hang with the best of them.

However the real problem, as the Athletics approach the end of June, is they just haven’t been able to hang with the worst of them.

Oakland is 5-14 against teams below .500, second worst in the majors. If you discount the recent 3-1 interleague series against the San Diego Padres, it gets even uglier. Here are the A’s head-to-head splits against the Boston Red Sox (35-43), Chicago White Sox (32-42), and Seattle Mariners (34-42):

TEAM  W  L  RS  RA  WP    (According to Baseball-Reference.com)
BOS

CHW

SEA

1

0

1

5

3

5

21

12

31

24

18

28

.167

.000

.167

These are the games that should make your heart sink, (especially the L’s to a Mariners team who Oakland has outscored) not the close losses to ‘top-tier’ ball clubs. In fact, the Athletics are 29-30 against teams over .500, which is above the MLB average and a better mark than 40-win squads such as the Pittsburg Pirates (13-17) or the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-19).

You may have also noticed that both of these playoff-caliber clubs haven’t played nearly as many games against .500+ teams as the green and gold have. Well, that’s because no one has – the closest team being the New York Yankees (30-26). This means the A’s schedule through the first half of the season was extremely frontloaded and thus, will likely normalize to lesser competition in the second half.

However, in order take advantage in the hopes of a late playoff push, Oakland MUST reverse their poor play against the bottom feeders.

It’s go hard or go home the rest of the way.