Mike Gallego was doomed. He’d been doomed since May 25th. That was the day the Oakland Athletics brought in former third base coach Ron Washington. It just didn’t feel right with the way the direction was headed all season and no matter when it happened, it seemed his ending was inevitable. No matter whether it was three days ago, three months ago, or even three months from now, he was going to get the boot. The justification was the tipping point. Basically, how would the A’s find a reason to fire him? They did so in the form of critiquing his base running decisions and manager Bob Melvin summed it up when he said, “We are at the top of the league in guys getting thrown out at home and we’ve had a lot of one-run games.” He went on to speak on the matter taking some of the blame off of Gags and putting it on himself in the only way a nice guy like Melvin could.
“But I think too, and this is my fault, it’s been a little uncomfortable as far as the infield dynamic — when you bring a guy in to do some things, and when you have a guy who’s been here a while. I just felt like it was a little bit uncomfortable to the point that this was a direction we were going to go at the end of the season anyway. And we came to that conclusion and therefore we made the decision at this time, as opposed to wait to end of the season.”
What that quote says to me is that his hand was forced by someone else *cough* Billy Beane *cough* and as the manager – technically having to make the final decision – he had to answer for it. Oakland’s General Manager has always had his hand in everything and this matter remains no different. Washington is Beane’s guy. Always has been since he ran the third base box from 1997-2006. Nothing can change that and once Beane brought him on earlier in the year to ‘purely help the defense’ he was bound to end up back there.
I do think this delves a little deeper into to the head honcho though. It shouldn’t be seen as he simply hates Gallego because I don’t think he does, but it does have something to do with Beane’s inability to deviate from ‘the path’ he has set the A’s down upon. When Billy traded for Marcus Semien this offseason, he immediately sent the message that Marcus would be his starting shortstop and no one could change his mind about it. No matter how poorly Semien has performed, he’s always remained the starter. Now while I don’t think that he should be replaced and in my opinion is the best option at the spot, it just proves how hell-bent Beane is on having things look the way he wants them to.
He wanted Semien to be the shortstop so badly that he brought in – essentially – a personal coach in Washington to help him with his defense. With Wash, Marcus has certainly made leaps and bounds and because of his ‘progress,’ this gave Beane the excuse to promote him to his former position of third base coach. All that was needed was an excuse to get Gags out and as Melvin told the press a few days ago, leading the league “in guys getting thrown out at home” was the perfect opportunity.
While Washington may be a better man for the job, Gallego didn’t deserve what he got, no matter the inevitability. Beane has a way he goes about his business and his ‘anyone is expendable’ motto has apparently spilled over to the base coach area – which by the way, I have never heard of in the middle of a season. Whether you think it was fair or not, all A’s fans can do is trust the motto will lead to eventual positive outcomes.
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.
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.
When 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.
2) 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.
That 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.