Tag:Matt Holliday
Posted on: July 14, 2009 3:41 am

A's Midseason Report Card

2009 Record: 37-49, 4th Place in American League West
Offensive Grade: F
Defensive Grade: D
Starting Pitching Grade: B-
Bullpen Pitching Grade: B-
Managerial Grade: F
Front Office Grade: F
Overall Midseason Grade: D+

The A's entered 2009 as a darkhorse candidate to win the division. Now, at the halfway point, the team is a darkhorse candidate for the worst record in the American league. 2009 marks the first time in the past decade that the A's have entered the All-Star break with a record below .500. Offensively, the team has been a complete mess. Once again, Eric Chavez has found himself sidelined for the entire season, while the new free agent acquisitions have disappointed thus far. Even Matt Holliday , who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies , has gotten off to a slow start and there are now questions as to whether or not the A's will be able to get what they want in return in a midseason deal. Defensively, the A's have struggled, mainly because injuries to gold glove caliber players in Chavez and Mark Ellis . However, this can also be attributed to manager Bob Geren for starting Jack Cust in right field in many games thus far. The starting pitching has shown signs of promise. Trevor Cahill , Brett Anderson , and Vin Mazzaro , already christened "the new big three", have looked brilliant at times....and other times have shown their lack of experience. Dallas Braden has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, but a lack of run support has failed to earn him recognition. So has Josh Outman , but he became the third A's player to fall victim to Tommy John Surgery this offseason. The bullpen was very good at the beginning of the year, but has started falter down the stretch, mainly from being used far too much. Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey have been the two bright spots though. As for manager Bob Geren, he looks lost. He refuses to let starters work deep into games, has failed to play the matchups correctly, and shows no confidence in his team. If he wasn't Billy Beane's best man at his second wedding, he might be the second manager to be fired this season. Speaking of Billy Beane , he has completely mishandled the farm system all year long and his trade for Scott Hairston is questionable. It's been a rough first half for the A's.

First Half MVP: Andrew Bailey - Closer

After trading Huston Street in the offseason and seeing Joey Devine fall victim to Tommy John Surgery, many that follow the A's were wondering who would step up and take over the role of the teams closer. Andrew Bailey answered that question. Since being selected as the last reliever to make the A's bullpen out of spring training, Bailey has forced everyone around baseball to take notice of him. He is the only rookie to be selected for the All-Star Game in St. Louis and is the A's lone representative. No one could dare say Bailey isn't deserving though. Bailey leads all American League Relievers in innings pitched and strikeouts and is 4th among American League Closers with a 1.92 era. Bailey features a mid 90's fastball, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera .

Apologies to: Adam Kennedy, Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden

First Half LVP: Jason Giambi - First Basemen

If the Jason Giambi that the A's had on their team mirrored anything close to the young guy in the picture to the right, the A's were going to get a bargain in the offseason. Unfortunately, what they ended up with was an over the hill, aging veteran, whose bat can't catch up to an inside fastball. Giambi has been terrible this season. In fact, this is his worst season of his career. Currently, Giambi is hitting below the Mendoza Line at .192 on the year. The A's were hoping Giambi would be an upgrade from Daric Barton , but instead they only stunted Barton's development for no apparent reason. In addition, his inability to play the field everyday is causing manager Bob Geren to play Jack Cust in the outfield, a position that Cust should never play. Because of his performance, the A's can't trade Giambi. Jason has a team option for next year in which I don't think is going to get picked up. Unless Giambi has a strong second half, Giambi might be playing his last season in baseball.

sighs of relief for: Jack Cust, Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera

Biggest Surprise: Adam Kennedy - Infielder

At the beginning of the season, no one wanted Adam Kennedy . In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals waived Kennedy, eating the $4 million dollars he had owed on his contract. The Rays signed Kennedy to a minor league deal, but then quickly sent him to the A's for career minor leaguer Joe Dillon . Oh how those two teams GM's wish they could have do overs...Since arriving in Oakland, Kennedy has been an offensive force and is having his best season as pro baseball player. Kennedy is currently hitting .291 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Mind you, those numbers are since May, as the first month of the season Kennedy was in AAA. His home run total is his highest since 2004 when he hit 10 in a season. Kennedy is also proving to be a versatile player, playing whatever position he has been asked to receive playing time. He originally was called over to play second base in place of the injured Mark Ellis, but when Ellis returned Kennedy has made the transition to 3rd, 1st, and even some time in right field and has kept on hitting. Because Kennedy is a free agent at the end of the year though, he remains a good candidate to be traded. A team like the Cubs would be a perfect fit.

Apologies to: Josh Outman, Andrew Bailey, Dallas Braden

Player Most Likely to Be Traded: Matt Holliday - Left Field

While the A's have many players that could be dealt by the end of the month, none of them are more likely to leave than outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday was a three time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies, but has regressed since joining the A's and leaving the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field. According to reports, the A's are said to be asking for two top of the line prospects in return for Holliday. The reasoning is because the A's would not only be trading away Holliday, but the two compensation picks that come with him if he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The teams that make the most sense to acquire Holliday seem to be the Mets , Cardinals, and possibly the Red Sox . If teams won't give A's GM Billy Beane what he wants, Beane will simply hold on to Holliday and obtain the draft picks at the end of the season. However, some skeptics suggest that if Holliday doesn't get the price he wants in the offseason, he may accept arbitration from the A's which would net him a 1 year deal around 18 million. Personally, I don't think he would do it though as the last place Holliday would want to be to rebuild his value is Oakland. If it does happen though, the A's may have the same situation at this time next season.

Don't Get Too Comfortable: Adam Kennedy, Russ Springer, Bobby Crosby

First Prospect Likely To Be Called Up in 2nd Half: Tommy Everidge - Corner Infield

Tommy Everidge is flying under the radar. So much in fact, that I hadn't even heard of him until this year. He isn't even on Baseball America's list for the A's top 10 prospects. However, I can't wait for this kid to recieve his callup. Everidge features good power and pretty solid bat. Two seasons ago in Single-A, Everidge had 26 home runs and 94 RBI's while batting .266. Last year he had 22 home runs, 115 RBI, and improved his batting average to .279 at AA Midland. This season, combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Everidge is off to a torrid start hitting .309/.375/.508 with 14 home runs and an astonishing 73 RBI at the halfway point. A natural first basemen, the A's have been gradually converting Everidge to play 3rd, a position the organizational depth is weak at. His promotion to AAA, as well as the position switch, I believe forced the A's to trade away Jack Hannahan , who was demoted to AAA after a weak start to the season. The team probably felt they didn't want a player like Hannahan taking away at bats from Everidge. I expect to see Everidge to receive his first callup in August, though the team would likely have to trade Adam Kennedy to make room on the roster. If this kid has the ability to play 3rd base, the A's might have found their replacement for Eric Chavez.

Posted on: June 24, 2009 5:33 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 5:34 pm

Kurt Klutch

Suzuki Could Be A's All-Star Representative

He was nickamed "Kurt Klutch" by his college teammmates at Cal State Fullerton. Most A's fans have christened him with the nickname "Hawaiian Punch" for his strong play in the big leagues. However, I simply call him "the best defensive catcher in the American League".

Of course. I'm talking about A's catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Drafted in 2004 out of Cal State Fullerton, Suzuki had quite the college career. In 2004, Suzuki was named an All-American by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He also won the Johnny Bench Award, which named him the country's top collegiate catcher and was honored with the first ever Brooks Wallace Award, which is given to the college baseball player of the year. Suzuki's Cal State Fullerton Titans also won the College World Series thanks to an RBI single by him in the 7th inning of the championship game. He was drafted by the A's in the second round of the 2004 draft and moved up through the system rather quickly making his big league debut in mid-2007.

Now, in his third big league season it seems as if most have forgotten about how good of a player Kurt Suzuki actually is.

While Suzuki surely doesn't compare much to Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, he has quietly made his impression on the league. For the past two seasons, Suzuki has been second in the league each season at throwing out baserunners and for all those stat geeks like myself out there that love sabremetrics, Suzuki's catcher's era (otherwise known as CERA) has been second best among AL Catchers as well. Considering the pitching staffs that Suzuki has had to work with the past two seasons, this is remarkable.

Of course, in the age of fantasy baseball, no one cares about defensive stats, even for a position as important as catcher Looking at the current update for all-star voting this is made clear. Suzuki isn't even in the top five in votes.

Those 5 spots belong to Mauer, Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada, Jarrod Saltalamachhia, and Victor Martinez.

However, Suzuki isn't all that bad offensively either. Among all American League starting catchers (including those who don't have the qualified number of at bats), Suzuki is 1st in doubles (18), 5th in batting average (.274) and 8th in RBI (25).

And Even though baseball fans haven't voted for Suzuki to make the All-Star game, the decision of him getting in will rest with Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. And while many in Oakland, including the A's team website, have been boasting offensive stars Matt Holliday and Adam Kennedy among the A's to be selected, there is a general feeling in the A's clubhouse is that Suzuki will get in instead.

With only Mauer and Martinez being above the rest of the AL catchers, the American League will carry three catchers in the midsummer classic and Suzuki likely could be the third catcher selected. If Suzuki is selected, it will be the first time an A's position player was chosen for the All-Star game since another former A's catcher, Ramon Hernandez, made it in 2003. The chance of the A's having more than one representative is unlikely given their record and position in the standings.

Posted on: May 26, 2009 6:21 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 7:26 pm

Up and Adam

A's Kennedy Provides Offense With Spark

Having scored the fewest runs and having the lowest OPS of any American League team in 2008, Billy Beane's offseason goal for 2009 was simple ---The offense had to get better. So Beane started on his quest by trading for outfielder Matt Holliday, signing Jason Giambi to come back and play first base, and getting himself a top of the order middle infielder in Orlando Cabrera.

That alone should have been enough to get the A's offense out of the American League cellar for scoring runs, right? I mean, after all, Holliday was coming off of three All-Star seasons in Colorado, Giambi was coming off of a season in which he hit 32 homers and over 90 runs batted in for the Yankees, and Cabrera hit .281 last year, a batting average higher than all but one A's regular in 2008.

Overall, the team isn't doing a whole lot better with the moves, only moving up three spots in run production and still sitting dead last in OPS, but it is getting better. In the month of May alone, the A's have already hit 23 home runs and considering they hit 9 all of April, it's a definite sign that the offense is going the right way.

And despite the news that Eric Chavez's career may be a sneeze away from retiring and that Mark Ellis is expected to miss a lot of time this season, the team continues to have confidence in its offensive abilities. The acquisition of Adam Kennedy from Tampa Bay on May 8th has paid huge dividends for the team. Through 15 games, Kennedy is off to a torrid start hitting .441 with 2 home runs, 13 RBI's, 6 doubles, and 3 steals to start off his career as an Athletic.

Meanwhile, teams such as the Cardinals and Rays have to wonder whether or not they made the right decision letting him walk.

In November of 2006, the Cardinals signed Kennedy to a 3 year/10 million dollar contract to play for them. However, after Kennedy became frustrated with his lack of playing time a season ago, the Cardinals released him in February of this year, eating the $4 million dollars that Kennedy had remaining on his contract. A week later, Kennedy signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and was invited to camp, but did not make the roster. At AAA Durham, Kennedy was .280/.366/.439 in 23 games and was dealt to the A's for a player to be named later (infielder Joe Dillon) and immediately became the A's starting second basemen.

For Kennedy, he knew his opportunity would come this year with some team.

"I'm just trying to fit in, you know?" said Kennedy. "I knew I'd be back [in the majors]. I was just down there grinding away. It's not fun, but you can't not stay ready."

Truer words couldn't have been spoken. That is the kind of leadership the A's were expecting to come from Holliday and Giambi.

"What a spark plug he's been," said A's 3rd basemen Jack Hannahan. "He's kind of a lead-by-example-type guy, but at the same time, he'll talk to you about where to play guys. He's a good addition to the team."

Kennedy is expected to remain the A's starting second basemen until Mark Ellis comes back from the disabled list on June 28th. At that point, manager Bob Geren has hinted at the possibility of moving Kennedy to third base, in place of the injured Eric Chavez.

The A's are currently 17-25 and set to play divisional series this week against the Seattle Mariners and the division leading Texas Rangers.

Have a question about the A's? Send me a PM with your question and it could be featured in my latest A's blog!!!

Posted on: April 1, 2009 9:43 pm
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Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:25 am

Pure Optimism in Oakland

You know the major league baseball offseason just hasn't started until Billy Beane has made a blockbuster trade.

Yet this time around, there is a different feeling. The A's are no longer selling. The trade on Monday for Matt Holliday was a breath of fresh air for A's fans everywhere. After years of watching superstars leave their team, A's fans know that this offseason is different.

After the 2001 season, the A's lost former MVP Jason Giambi, closer Jason Isringhausen, and outfielder Johnny Damon. Two seasons later, following the 2003 season, A's fans saw Miguel Tejada leave via free agency to the Baltimore Orioles and Keith Foulke leave to win a world series with the Red Sox. Again after the 2004 season, Beane traded all-star pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder away in seperate deals and also saw Jermaine Dye leave for Chicago. After 2006, Barry Zito left to join the San Francisco Giants throughout the year last season, the A's witnessed Billy Beane trade away Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Mark Kotsay, and fan favorite Nick Swisher.

But now the A's are on the other side of the deal. They are buyers for once.

The trades made by Billy Beane over the past year were set up to replenish his farm system and to allow him financial flexibility. In 2007, the A's had an opening day payroll of around 80 million. By midseason of 2008, Beane had cut that number in half. Now, that added payroll flexibility in the end will allow the A's to attempt to compete. If he chooses to spend it, Beane has around 40 million dollars to work with. Actually, the inclusion of Huston Street in the deal will likely make it around 45 million after Street is done with arbitration. With that extra cash, there have been talks that Beane will attempt to work out an extension with Holliday. On top of that, the A's have also been linked to names like Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Surround quality players with strong pitching and a good farm system and the A's could be contenders for years to come.

In Holliday, the A's are getting a two time all-star that is coming off of three really strong seasons in the National League and has been a franchise player since he was called up in 2004. Holliday fits the Oakland philosophy. He hits for a high average, has a high on base percentage, and has the power to send plenty of baseballs over the fence. While it's likely that Holliday's numbers are sure to decrease outside of Coors field, no one really knows how much of an effect it will be. He is a quality right handed power bat on a team that is loaded with lefties.

Billy Beane will undoubtedly get criticized for this deal from people everywhere. The critics of Billy Beane will look at the players the A's gave up and say "wow, why on earth did you give up that much." Most of these are the same critics that slam Beane for once trading players such as Mark Teahen, Carlos Pena, Aaron Harang, Joe Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwig and others. However, many of those critics don't realize how much better Beane's teams have gotten throughout those trades. They got all-star caliber players in return, such as Damon, Ted Lilly, Jose Guillen, Dye, and others. Sure, Beane might have traded away some prospects that turned out to be good major leaguers, but isn't that a testiment to how well this A's organization drafts and develops its players in the farm system? After all, the team keeps refueling and competing year in and year out with homegrown talent.

The A's gave up three really good talents in order to acquire Holliday in Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, and Huston Street. Gonzalez was the prize piece the A's picked up a year ago from the Arizona Diamondbacks when they traded Dan Haren. His swing is a thing of beauty, but his approach at the plate has never matched the A's "moneyball" philosophy built on strong on base percentage. Gonzalez projects to be a solid player once he matures and a lot of scouts have compared him to a younger version of Garret Anderson. Meanwhile, Greg Smith was also acquired in the Arizona deal as a throw in and flourished for the A's in the rotation last year. He has quality stuff, but he was expendable as the A's have a TON of quality pitching prospects in the minor leagues. However, it should be noted that Smith had surgery this offseason on his elbow as well. Lastly, Huston Street is a player that has fallen out of favor in Oakland. He has been in and out of injuries the past few seasons and finally lost his closers job last year to Brad Ziegler halfway through the year. However, I still believe Street can be an effective closer in this league, but he is no longer needed in Oakland as the team is prepared to hand the 9th inning duties to Joey Devine going forward. This trade benefited both teams involved and was a win-win scenario for both teams.

Remember, it was just a year ago that people were criticizing Beane for the package he got back for Dan Haren. According to most "experts" at the time, Beane got only one solid player (Gonzalez), an average pitcher (Brett Anderson) and a bunch of throw ins. In essence since two of the people from that deal are heading to the Rockies as part of that deal, Beane managed to land Holliday, Anderson, Dana Eveland, Aaron Cunningham, and the A's organizational player of 2007, Chris Carter for Dan Haren and Huston Street. Like it or not, but the A's are better off than they were a year ago because of these trades.

Sure, the A's finished 24 games out of first place this past season, but that was also with the team setting a new record for DL use which also had their other big bat in the lineup (Eric Chavez) sidelined for the year. It was a season that featured many rookies making their major league debuts as well. There are several things that can happen in an offseason to change your place in the standings. You can make improvements yourself and you can also watch your opponents make mistakes and lose players. The A's young players are going to continue to develop and now the team has vastly improved their offense. Meanwhile, the Angels may or may not get Mark Teixeira, Garret Anderson or Francisco Rodriguez back this offseason as they all have become free agents. We will have to wait and see what the offseason brings. However, there is a sense of pure optimism from this A's fan and I know I'm not the only one.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com