A's Sunday Summary

On to the Off-Season

I always feel the need to switch off completely from baseball at the end of a season; however, that’s never been so necessary than after the heavy-going 2022 campaign that us A’s fans had to endure.

Watching the play-offs didn’t offer much of a distraction, not least because the Houston Astros always looked odds-on to go all the way. There’s no doubt that they deserved their World Series triumph and the way they have coped with losing key players to free agency has been a lesson to many other big-spending teams.

Alas, the Oakland A’s will have no need to attend the School for Big Spenders under current ownership, that is unless a few of our younger players are sent there to clean the bogs to earn some pocket money.

Let’s not get bogged down in the negativity, though. There’s always reason for optimism if you look hard enough and that’s what I’ll aim to do over the off-season every Sunday.

Beane and (not quite) Gone

Whether the big A’s news on Friday is something to cause optimism is in the eye of the beholder.

The Oakland A’s announced that Billy Beane is moving into a new role as senior advisor to owner John Fisher, relinquishing his position as Executive Vice President of baseball operations.

It has felt like this has been coming for a while as Beane has made no secret of his ambition to test himself with other sporting ventures. He is already involved in various other teams – most notably, and slightly bizarrely, including Barnsley Football Club – and the new role will give him the opportunity to invest more time into those whilst continuing to provide his wisdom and expertise to the A’s.

The news has garnered plenty of attention due to Beane’s Moneyball profile; however the Front Office has been a true team effort in recent years. It’s no slight on Beane to think that this is more about what we will gain than what we will lose as it will allow the other highly-rated baseball operations staff to take on more responsibility. That starts with current General Manager David Forst, who will now report directly to Fisher, but also others such as the Assistant GM’s Dan Feinstein, Billy Owens and Rob Naberhaus.

Owens is regularly mentioned when other teams have an opening at the GM position, most recently when that role became available at the San Francisco Giants. It’s the same in every company: if there isn’t space for your best employees to progress then ultimately they will seek opportunities elsewhere.

It all seems like a positive step for the A’s Front Office.

Other Personnel Changes

Keith Lieppman is a significantly lesser-known name than Billy Beane, even among A’s fans, but his retirement from the A’s this past week at the age of 73 deserves just as much attention.

Lieppeman held various roles with the organisation since being drafted as a player by the A’s in 1971; however it was his 28 years as Director of Player Development where his impact was most keenly felt. Since he started in the role in 1992, the amount of players who have come through the Minor Leagues and had successful careers, with the A’s and with other MLB teams, is staggering. He was justifiably inducted into the A’s Hall of Fame this past summer and his legacy will live on for a long time to come.

Elsewhere, the A’s Medical team will have a different look to it heading into Spring Training as Nick Paparesta, who was the Head Athletic Trainer in Oakland for 12 years, has taken up a position with the Minnesota Twins. Just as Billy Beane’s new role has created opportunities for others, the same goes here. Jeff Collins, who has worked for the A’s for 25 years, moves into the Head Athletic Trainer position whilst Brian Schulman has been promoted to the role of Director of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

And it appears as though there will be at least one change in the dugout for the 2023 season. Brad Ausmus provided some experience alongside his friend and former teammate Mark Kotsay during the latter’s rookie season as a Big League manager; however, the New York Post’s Jon Heyman has reported that Ausmus has turned down the offer to return for 2023 and instead is looking for a Front Office position elsewhere.

A’s player news (AKA ‘who’s leaving us next?’)

The MLB Hot Stove season has started relatively quietly, other than the New York Mets splashing out a record $105M to retain the services of star closer Edwin Díaz.

Predictably, it is Sean Murphy’s name that is being bandied about in trade rumours the most so far, with a group of teams (including the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox) reported to be sniffing around the A’s catcher.

A few minor transactions have been completed over the past week as teams across MLB have been doing their usual tidying up of their 40-man rosters and deciding which of their current players they will be tendering a contract to. As expected, the A’s decided not to tender contracts to infielder David MacKinnon, and pitchers Deolis Guerra and Jared Koenig.

Meanwhile they have added a couple of players to their Triple-A depth by claiming infielder Yonny Hernandez off waivers from Arizona and outfielder Brent Rooker from Kansas City. Both players have at least one Minor League option remaining, meaning that they can be moved between the Minors and Majors during the 2023 season without having to offer them to other teams.

As with all such waiver claims, the two players have their warts (Hernandez has no power at the plate, whilst Rooker has plenty of power but hasn’t been able to show it in limited playing time in the Majors) and it’s more likely than not that they will have little impact, but they also have some skills that make it worth taking a very low financial risk on them to see if something clicks.

Oakland Mayor Race Almost Completed

Although we have more than enough political misery in the UK to stop us from getting worked up about local politics in the States, the election of the new City Mayor for Oakland has great significance in respect of the future home of the A’s.

The latest update from The Oaklandside website is that Democrat Sheng Thao has taken a narrow lead after the ballot count was completed on Friday, 10 days after the election day. There is little to split Thao and the other leading candidate Loren Taylor and so it may well head to a recount, but it seems like Thao will be the person to succeed Libby Schaaf.

What this means for the A’s plans to build at Howard Terminal remains to be seen. NBCS’s Brodie Brazil interviewed both of them a few weeks ago and the videos are well worth watching:

They are interviews with politicians trying to get elected so it’s understandable that they both broadly come to the same stance: supportive of the plans but the deal has to be right for Oakland. What it all means when one of them becomes Mayor remains to be seen.

Roster moves

A’s 2023 Arbitration Salary Estimates

MLB Trade Rumors have published their annual estimates for the salaries that the arbitration-eligible players are likely to receive in 2023.

This is always an interesting list, but it’s all the more so for the A’s this off-season as our roster is devoid of any guaranteed contracts.

We have a group of pre-arbitration players, plus six confirmed arbitration players and two more (A.J. Puk and Cole Irvin) who may be added to the list once the qualification point for Super Two players is finalised (a certain number of the best performing players become eligible for arbitration after two seasons rather than the standard three) .

Here are the six currently-confirmed arbitration eligible players and what the projection system has produced as a potential 2023 salary for each of them.

Tony Kemp (5.098): $3.9MM

We all love TK; the energy he brings and everything he stands for fits perfectly with Oakland. That doesn’t change the fact that he had some struggles at the plate in 2022 (yes, I know that can be said for virtually A’s hitter) and his value is more as a 25th/26th roster guy who can fill in at multiple positions than as a regular starting player.

Kemp made $2.25M in 2022 and I can’t help but feel that if signing him will take close to $4M then the A’s may not tender him a contract. To be honest, I was surprised that the projection system gave him such a big raise as I was looking at him being more in the $3.25M-$3.5M range. If he’s prepared to accept that level of contract, on the basis of staying somewhere he knows and where he’ll get plenty of playing time ahead of becoming a free agent at the end of the 2023 season, then a deal might still be possible.

Deolis Guerra: $900K

Not much to be said here, other than Guerra will be making his way back from Tommy John surgery and there’s every chance he won’t be tendered a contract.

Austin Pruitt: $1.2MM

Pruitt did okay for us out of the bullpen this season, pitching in 39 games. He gave up 11 home runs, which hurt, and he’s not a strike-out pitcher, but he does a good job in limiting free passes and can do a steady enough job in 6th-7th inning situations. It doesn’t seem overly likely we’ll spend a 7 figure sum on him, though.

Ramón Laureano: $3.6MM

2023 is going to be a big season for Ramón. We hoped that he would come back in a big way in 2022 once he finished up his suspension, but things didn’t quite turn out like that and his season was ended early by a hamstring injury.

Selfishly, the difficulties he faced in 2022 increase the chance that he will stay with the team heading into 2023 and hopefully we will see the old Ramón firing on all cylinders once again (albeit, that likely meaning he gets traded at the deadline).

Sean Murphy (3.029): $3.5MM

Comfortably our best player in 2022, Murph is a steal at a salary of $3.5M; however, unfortunately that factors into him being comfortably our most valuable trade asset this off-season.

Any team that is seeking an upgrade at catcher will be a potential trade match, with the most obvious fit being the Cleveland Guardians. They boast a strong farm system to trade from, have a need at the position and Murphy’s contract status (three years of arbitration-eligibility left) puts him in an affordable bracket for the cost-conscious team.

Paul Blackburn (3.018): $1.9MM

Paulie All-Star was having a break-out season until he ran into some performance struggles in the second-half and then ultimately was shut down for the season in early August with an injury to his pitching hand. There was talk that he may need to undergo surgery, although that doesn’t seem to have been needed to this point.

In any case, that puts some uncertainty against him that will affect his trade value this off-season, so there’s good reason to expect him to be back with the A’s in 2023.

All Comes Back to the Budget

As always, the options available to the A’s Front Office will be dictated by the budget constraints John Fisher places them under.

It shouldn’t be possible for Fisher to set such a ridiculously low payroll again without penalty ($47.7M 26-man Opening Day, just under $61M 40-man for Competitive Balance Tax purposes); however this is a system with little to prevent him from doing so.

It’s best not to underestimate how cheap a cheap Billionaire can be.


An A’s Fan Guide to the 2022 MLB Wild Card Round

The thin silver lining to the cloud of baseball futility is that the MLB play-offs can be taken or left without expectation or nervous anticipation.

With our A’s narrowly missing out on snatching the final Wild Card place by a mere 26 games, I thought I would take a look at the Wild Card round match-ups to see where our rooting interests may reside if we wanted to have some small investment in the outcomes.

But first …

UK baseball Twitter has been in a justifiable meltdown today with fears, now confirmed, that MLB has done the dirty on loyal paying customers and quietly removed play-off baseball games from the international MLBTV subscription just a day before they start.

It’s a shameful act for a miniscule reward; however, such shithousery should come as no surprise. As I lamented on Twitter, the only reason international fans haven’t been screwed over much previously is because we’ve not been worth the effort.

Now that the sport is increasing its profile internationally we represent what new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss would giddily describe as ‘a growth opportunity’. For those of us who don’t stare vacantly into the middle distance like we’ve just been subject to a back-alley lobotomy, à la Little Miss Pork Markets, we of course recognise this instead as being ripe for ruthless exploitation so that the rich can get even richer at our expense.

The predictable amount of ill feeling this has generated would make you all the more baffled as to why MLB has done this if you weren’t already aware that they couldn’t care less.

At least it appears that UK TV rights-holder BT Sport will be showing the vast majority of games throughout the post-season. That gives us an option to watch the games, even if that involves an extra £25 for a one-month online subscription if you don’t already get the channels, in a way that may not be available in every country.

Wild Card Round Revised

Justified moan over …

If any fanbase in baseball should be glad to see the one-game Wild Card consigned to the pit of Bad Manfred Ideas, it’s us. It was difficult to even feel like you’d really made the play-offs at the end of a 162-game campaign when you could – and, sadly for us, did – get dumped out by losing one game.

The new Wild Card round is now a best-of-three series, with all three games held at the home of the team with the best record out of the respective pairing. That still makes for a short series, but it improves on the previous ‘one-and-done’ without unfairly disadvantaging the other teams by creating a big gap – for teams used to playing virtually every day – between the regular season ending and their play-offs beginning.

American League Wild Card Round

The new Wild Card round pits the division winner with the lowest W-L record against the third-placed Wild Card, and the remaining two Wild Card teams against each other. The other two division winners will await the victors as part of the new play-off format expanded from 10 to 12 teams.

Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Guardians

This series brings together two underdog teams that A’s fans can readily identify with. The Rays have once again defied the odds by claiming a play-off spot from the AL East division despite working with the 6th-lowest Opening Day payroll in the Majors. As for the Guardians, whilst it’s fair to note that the under-performing Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins helped their cause, winning the AL Central division despite having the 4th-lowest payroll ($68.2M on Opening Day) was a monumental achievement.

Neither team has a strong former-A’s presence, although Christian Bethancourt turned a nice start to the season with Oakland into a spot on a play-off contender so he could be the difference-maker if you want to pick a team to support.

The winner of this series will move on to a Division Series against the New York Yankees.

Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays

The Mariners have finally made it back to the play-offs for the first time since 2001, breaking an unwanted leading current streak across North American sports and putting a dent into Dom’s description of them being “perennially shite”! Their reward is to head to Canada for a best-of-three series against the Blue Jays.

Toronto’s offense has been one of the very best across MLB this season and that’s come thanks to a group of hitters performing well, rather than just relying on one or two stars. That group has included Matt Chapman who has been the Chappy that we’ve come to know: outstanding defense at third base and a good contribution with the bat despite some streakiness and a modest batting average.

Chappy was never one of the more beloved A’s due to the impression, fairly or not, that he always saw himself moving onto bigger things; however he provides the only real A’s presence in the series if that is what will sway you towards a team. If not, it comes down to whether you have an AL West loyalty towards the Mariners or the rivalry sets you squarely against them.

The winner of this series will move on to a Division Series against the Houston Astros, so picking a team there will be as easy as deciding whether you want to be punched in the face.

National League Wild Card Round

The National League has also resulted in three teams from the East Division qualifying for the post-season, with the Atlanta Braves joining the LA Dodgers as division winners receiving a bye in the Wild Card round, and the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies joining the Central-winning St Louis Cardinals and the Wild Card from the West in the San Diego Padres.

Philadelphia Phillies at St Louis Cardinals

It’s taken a while for the Phillies to get back to the play-offs after their excellent five-year run between 2007 and 2011. They’re back now and although they made hard work of it at times over the past month, they have enough top-line talent (starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, plus Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Kyle ‘home-run or bust’ Schwarber) potentially to make them more dangerous in the short series format than their regular season record might suggest.

The Cardinals are the storybook team in many ways, with the veteran trio of Adam Wainwright, Yadi Molina and Albert Pujols trying to win another ring together before the latter heads into retirement. They’ve definitely got a fair chance when pairing their play-off experience with the elite double-headed monster of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in the batting line-up.

We don’t have much to go on for a former A’s player link here, so maybe the franchise’s history in Philadelphia tips the balance for you?

The winner of this series will move on to a Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

San Diego Padres at the New York Mets

Finally we go from a series without A’s player links to one overflowing with them.

Bob Melvin’s Padres, including Sean Manaea and Jurickson Profar, will head to Citi Field to take on Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha and Starling Marte of the Mets (although it looks like Marte may miss the entire series whilst recovering from a broken finger).

The Mets’ main task may be in getting themselves into the right mindset for this short series. They were the dominant team in the NL East early on, and still ended up on 101 wins; however they lost the division crown on a tie-breaker after the Braves went on a late charge. Buck Showalter’s team hardly cracked under the pressure down the stretch, still going a very respectable 18-13 from September 1st, but they still need to shake the feeling that they missed out.

In contrast, the Padres will be feeling good about themselves despite having a season that was below their high expectations. Their off-season splurge, a totally foreign experience for BoMel after years trapped within the John Fisher Experiment In Billionaire Cheapness, was added to in extravagant style at the trade deadline by trading for Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals.

The regular season reward for this huge investment was to finish 22 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West.

The post-season reward is that they still won a Wild Card place and fall in the non-division winner part of the bracket, exactly as they would have done if they had finished much closer to the Dodgers in the standings (albeit, a better win-loss record might have secured home-field advantage). They can forget the NL West gap and concentrate on causing an upset or two in the play-offs.

The A’s choice here is difficult to call so maybe flip a coin (I just did and it landed Heads for Mets, for what it’s worth). The winner of this series will go on to face the Dodgers.


Oakland a “Baseball Wasteland”?

It’s been a while since a journalist has put some money into the ‘Oakland A’s article’ machine and pulled the handle.

In the first few weeks of the season, when other baseball stories were thin on the ground, it seemed like coins were being fired into the machine with the frequency of a compulsive gambler trying to chase their losses on the Vegas slots; appropriately enough, some might say.

Since then, most news outlets have shifted back to the default position of forgetting the team exists at all; however for some reason the online version of the Guardian felt minded to publish an opinion piece by Dave Caldwell describing Oakland as “a baseball wasteland” and condemning the Coliseum as “a dump”.

Dom took to our Twitter account to point out all that was wrong about this view, whilst also offering me up as being able to “talk sense” about it. Well, you be the judge!

What’s the Motivation?

The most curious part of the article is that its opening salvo, and presumably the thing that sparked the idea for it, is the level of attendance for the recent visit from the New York Yankees.

The writer makes the valid point that it was a rare series this season that was well-attended throughout: “93,719 fans attending the four-game series, or 23,430 per game”. This train of thought ends with the following conclusion:

“The A’s are still dead last in the major leagues in attendance, though, having drawn a little over 10,000 fans per game this season. That should tell you not just something about the Yankees’ drawing power, but about Oakland as a baseball wasteland”.

There’s no doubt that the Yankees are an attraction and they produce an uptick in attendance at most ballparks they visit, but although he throws in some vague references to the way the team has been run in recent years (low payroll, churn of players etc), he doesn’t actually probe the obvious question that the facts should lead you to ask: what’s the difference between the series with the Yankees and all of the others?

Do over 10,000 fans from New York jump on planes and cross the country so that there is briefly a decent-sized baseball fanbase to sell tickets to?

Does the Coliseum temporarily undergo a magical transformation in which all of the things he readily trots out that make the place a “dump” somehow vanish for the weekend?

No, what the attendance at the Yankees series tells you is that Oakland is far from being “a baseball wasteland”. It tells you, if you have ignored all of the vital baseball market metrics (population, size of media market etc) and so don’t know this already, that thousands of local baseball fans are ready and willing to part with their hard-earned cash to enjoy a visit to the Coliseum.

The core issue is simple: invest in putting a good product on the field (such as the Yankees’ team of stars) and people in the area will come out and watch it; continually treat your customers badly and offering them a poor product and they will simply take their money elsewhere.

Oh, Caldwell delights in telling stories of feral cats (a valid issue but obviously not something that is actually putting people off attending) and feral fans (it’s becoming something of a trend in North American stadiums), but he skates away from considering whether these issues are relevant from the point he’s making because he knows they are not.

What’s It Based On?

And that leads us to the overriding reason to take issue with the article: what exactly is he basing all of this on? Well, he’s interviewed a couple of fans – neither of whom negatively comment on the Coliseum – and he’s watched a video on YouTube in which the presenter is actually much fairer than the “Is This Place Safe? Rusting Floors at Worst Stadium in Baseball?” title would suggest.

What he doesn’t include is his own experiences of visiting the Coliseum. That whilst it is unquestionably rough around the edges, it provides great views to watch a ballgame from. That many of the staff there – Hal The Hot Dog Guy being the obvious example – go above and beyond to make sure everyone has a fun and enjoyable afternoon/evening at the ballpark. That what the fans lack in sheer numbers they more than make up for with their noise, passion and friendliness (and that, selfishly, having plenty of space to stretch out in is actually a bonus!).

No, Caldwell doesn’t mention any of this because – as with all other such articles – it’s based on preconceptions, half-truths and the nonsense that the A’s top brass spew out to justify their relocation threats (to be fair to Caldwell, he does state that Kaval didn’t respond to a request for comment, but he would have only received the same well-rehearsed lines every other journalist gets anyway).

Come And See For Yourself

Four of us are heading out to Oakland from the UK in three weeks’ time to take in six games at the Coliseum. None of us will spend a single second tut-tutting about the ballpark.

Admittedly, we are all used to visiting football grounds in the UK, some of which would be condemned for immediate demolition based on the U.S. sports franchise owner view that anything over 25 years old is ancient and requires hundreds of millions of tax-payers’ dollars to make it habitable, but anyone who doesn’t require a sedan chair to take them to their seat will have no real complaints.

Does it look tired? Sure. Is it a poor venue to watch a game at? No, not in a million years.

Perhaps Caldwell could get in contact with his editor at The Guardian (presumably the US version) and see if they’ll stump up the expenses so that he can join us in the bleachers for a game or two while we’re out there?

If he’s in luck, he’ll find that Oakland is far from being a baseball wasteland deserving of his ridicule and instead is a baseball city of great heart and huge potential that needs journalists like him to shine a more discerning, critical light on why that potential is being wasted by cheap ownership rather than regurgitating the same false narrative.

MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week Commencing 8 August 2022

Let’s not talk about the Bay Bridge Series. Instead, let’s focus on the week ahead and a bunch of games against AL West division rivals.

We start with three games at home against the LA Angels, with Wednesday’s game being an early start and available out-of-market for free on

109 games into the regular season and the LA Angels, unfortunately for them, have gone all “Angelsy” again. They are 46-63, so just five games better off than us despite spending $140m more on their payroll (which would be even funnier were it not for the obvious joy John Fisher will take from this fact). After the A’s went a scarcely believable 5-21 in June, the Angels cratered almost as badly in July by going 6-18.

All of which is to say that this is probably not a series that will be grabbing the attention of any neutrals, although I guess a Shohei Ohtani start (scheduled to pitch on Tuesday) is always an event of some kind. The probable starting pitching match-ups are as follows:

  • Gm1. Cole Irvin – José Suarez
  • Gm2. James Kaprielian – Shohei Ohtani
  • Gm3. Paul Blackburn – Patrick Sandoval.

After that, it’s off to Texas for games against the Astros and then the Rangers.

Somehow we have managed to split the 12 games we’ve played so far against the Astros, so you know they will be desperate to put that right; however the A’s have had their number of late and maybe we can keep that run going a little bit longer.

Probable pitchers are as follows:

  • Gm1. Adam Oller – Lance McCullers Jr.
  • Gm2. Adrián Martínez – Luis Garcia
  • Gm3. Cole Irvin – Cristian Javier

MLB Roster moves

Oakland A’s Trade Deadline Preview

The next act in the Oakland A’s latest rebuilding project will conclude on Tuesday August 2nd at the MLB trade deadline.

The official deadline is 6pm Eastern, meaning 3pm Pacific and 11pm here in the UK. That’s when deals have to be agreed by, although – as with the football transfer deadline – late agreements can become public during the hour or so after the buzzer has sounded.

So far, the A’s only departure of note has been Christian Bethancourt, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 9th. We can expect at least one more name to be added to the list by Tuesday night. Here are the main candidates.

Frankie Montas

Contract status: Earning $5m this year, plus one further year of salary arbitration

Frankie may have been with a new team already had an ill-timed bout of shoulder soreness not put him on the sidelines just before the All-Star break. As a genuine high-quality starting pitcher, and one with another full season under contract after this one, he is a very desirable addition for a number of teams hoping to make play-off runs.

Montas has been grouped in the trade rumour mill with Cincinnati Reds pitchers Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle as the three top starting pitcher trade targets (Reds fans being in a similarly depressing situation as us in going through another rebuild).

The Seattle Mariners jumped head-first into the trade market on Friday by dealing away four prospects, including two particularly highly-valued shortstops, for Castillo. That has put Montas at the top of the available starting pitcher list, with Mahle a slightly cheaper alternative option.

The A’s don’t have to trade Frankie now. He’ll still have plenty of value left in the off-season; however history shows that teams will be prepared to pay a premium to add a player for an additional play-off push, so the only way Montas will still be in Green and Gold come Wednesday is if his shoulder starts acting up again. He isn’t scheduled to pitch again until Tuesday night and you can guarantee that the A’s will be keeping him in cotton wool between now and then.

Where might he land? Well, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals are the two teams most heavily linked to him at the moment, whilst the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins could clearly do with rotation reinforcements, and the Rays and Blue Jays might get in the mix too.

Chad Pinder

Contract status: $2.7M this year, then a free agent this off-season

After Frankie, everyone else falls into the camp of being potentially trade-able, but only if a particularly worthwhile offer is on the table.

Chad falls into that category on the basis that he’s a free agent at the end of this season, so if the A’s can get anything for him rather than walk for free then it may make sense to do so.

Pinder’s a fan favourite for many of us, but he has a desperate .268 on-base percentage this season so there won’t be a huge demand for him. He does bring some good defensive flexibility, being able to handle a host of positions, and a bit of power, so we may find a team that sees some value in adding a utility player to their roster whilst only giving up a controllable Minor League depth piece for him.

Ramón Laureano

Contract status: Approx. $2m this year, plus two further years of salary arbitration

Ramón’s name is being mentioned because we all know the level of talent that he possesses; however, 2022 has been an awkward season for him coming off the drug suspension and he still has two years under contract after this one.

It seems more likely that he will stay with the team for now, with the hope that he will continue to rebuild his value either for the off-season market or for next season’s trade deadline.

Sean Murphy

Contract status: $725k this year, plus three further years of salary arbitration

As for Murphy, beyond the obvious point that there will always be interest in good players, I really can’t see a situation in which the A’s are likely to part with him over the next couple of days. There is no financial reason to do so given that he is on a small salary and still has three years under club control after this one.

The trade rumours are predominantly coming on the back of the form being shown in Triple-A by our top prospect Shea Langeliers, but unless we are really bowled over by a trade proposal right now I don’t think that will change our Front Office’s thinking.

Langeliers has all the tools to establish himself as our catcher for years to come and, whilst the excitement he creates make us fans eager to see him as soon as possible, the priority for the Front Office should be to do the best thing for his development.

Hitting in the Big Leagues is a completely different proposition to hitting Triple-A pitching in Vegas. Add on the demands of catching in the Majors to that workload and it could be to the detriment of Langeliers’ development, and some of our pitchers, to expect him to jump into an almost full-time role over the final two months of this season (Stephen Vogt would be a great teammate for Shea to learn from, but we have to be realistic about the workload Vogt can shoulder behind the plate).

We also have to remember the benefits a gold-glover like Murphy brings to our pitching staff and how he can help them finish off this season strongly to set them up for a step forward next year.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the best development path for Langeliers is to get a full Spring Training under his belt, working with Murphy and the Big League pitching staff, then sharing the workload in the first half of 2023 and assessing things from there. It just depends on whether a team really pushes to add Murphy at the deadline and if the prospect package is too enticing to ignore.

Lou Trivino

Contract status: $3M this year, plus two further years of salary arbitration

Lou is the last man on my list on the basis that plenty of play-off chasing teams are looking for another bullpen arm and, given our situation, any potential offer for Trivino is worth listening to.

I have taken to referring to him as Liability Lou after some of his recent blow-ups, but in fairness he has pitched well at times this season (including his last two outings) and we’ve seen him operating as a high-leverage reliever in the past.

Teams with significantly higher payrolls than ours may see a reasonable investment (in a couple of lower-value prospects and salary) in trading for him as a 6th/7th inning guy who could have spells of being more than that over the two years remaining under contract.

Ordinarily we would sit tight and see if he can rack up some saves to then trade him in the off-season or at next year’s trade deadline at a higher prospect value; however, our penny-pinching ways mean that saving the $1M left for this year and some of the approx. $4M that a salary-arbitration bump would give him next season may well be too appealing to overlook.

MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week Commencing 25 July 2022

The Oakland A’s once again let slip the chance to win their first series sweep of the season yesterday, although they showed plenty of fight in the process.

I’ll be honest, once the A’s went down 11-1 to the Texas Rangers in the top of the sixth inning, I decided to call it a night and headed to bed.

That meant I missed the A’s offense finally coming alive, scoring seven runs on four homers including back-to-back-to-back jacks.

In another season I would reluctantly concede this late flurry as being of little consequence. When you are fighting for a play-off place, offensive outbursts when the game is already gone don’t count for anything. A loss is a loss whether it was a close game or not.

However, in a rebuilding year such as this there are always things you can take from every game, no matter the result.

It’s easy for a team to show character and spirit when things are going well. In a long tough season, finding a way to keep your heads up is a difficult task however professional the players are. You have to be impressed by the way a group of players who could have accepted yet another loss decided they were going to fight to the end come what may.

We’ll need those same battling qualities this week with another series against the Houston Astros and then three games in Chicago against the White Sox.

Houston (H)

The Astros come into this week with a 64-32 record after sweeping a series in Seattle. They lead the Mariners by 13 games at the top of the AL West and are already a full 30 games ahead of the A’s, so the form book would suggest that the Astros should take at least two of the three games at the Coliseum.

The form book said the same thing just before the All-Star Break when the A’s went to Minute Maid Park and took two of three, so maybe Mark Kotay’s men can repeat that feat and sign off on what has been an encouraging home-stand so far. The probable pitching match-ups are as follows:

Game 1: Adam Oller – Jake Odorizzi
Game 2: Frankie Montas – Luis Garcia
Game 3: Cole Irvin – Cristian Javier

Much as I don’t want to think about it, the obvious thing to point out is Game Two on Tuesday and the strong likelihood that this will be Frankie’s final start in the Green and Gold at the Coliseum.

It seems all but certain that only a recurrence of his recent shoulder injury will prevent Montas from being dealt before the trade deadline on Tuesday August 2nd. If Frankie makes the start tomorrow as planned then his next scheduled start would not be until deadline day, as we have an off-day on Thursday and then on the Monday, so hopefully he can sign off in style with a great performance and a win.

Chicago White Sox (A)

The team will then head on to Chicago for our first meeting with the White Sox this season.

Tony La Russa’s team are currently an underwhelming 48-48 bearing in mind the talent on their roster and the expectations for them coming into the season. They have had some injuries to key players, with Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal returning recently from a spell on the sidelines, and Luis Robert has just joined that list due to illness. That still doesn’t explain how they are not over .500 having played nearly 100 games of the regular season.

So long as the White Sox sit in third place in the AL Central, the surprising decision by owner Jerry Reinsdorf to bring La Russa out of retirement to manage this young team ahead of the 2021 season will continue to be called into question. The one thing they have in their favour is that they only sit four games behind the division-leading Minnesota Twins, so if they can get their act together over the next 64 games they still have a good chance of making the play-offs.

The probable pitching match-ups for the series are as follows:

Game 1: James Kaprielian – Lance Lynn
Game 2: Paul Blackburn – Johnny Cueto
Game 3: Adam Oller – Dylan Cease

UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week Commencing 18 July 2022

The All-Star Break has coincided with a heatwave here in the UK and through much of Europe.

It’s been a struggle to stay cool, something that can’t be said for the A’s during the first half of the season!

We have picked up a bit of late, including the confidence-boosting 2-1 series win in Houston last weekend, so let’s hope our reputation as being a second-half team comes true again this year.

Mark Kotsay and his team will aim to do that by starting off with a home-stand at the Coliseum.

Firstly, we have a rare traditional double-header on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers. Game One is set for 12.37pm local time, so 20:37 for us in the UK, and then Game Two will follow after a short break.

The A’s have announced that Zach Logue will pitch in the opener, with Frankie Montas making his return in the second game. I’m slightly surprised by that decision as I would think it would be better for Frankie, coming off his shoulder injury, to know exactly what time he’d be starting as part of his pre-game warm-up schedule, but maybe it makes little difference to him?

The Texas Rangers then come to town for a three-game series. There’s a small change to the usual schedule in that the Saturday game is not being played in the afternoon, as is typical in Oakland, but instead is being played at night. That means one less game being played at a convenient time for us to watch live in the UK, but you do occasionally see A’s fans on Twitter asking for some Saturday games to be played at night so we’ll see if it’s popular.

The good news is that MLB has made all of the games over the next four days available to watch for free online, other than those that are part of US national deals (ESPN, Apple etc). The A’s are not being featured in any of the national games – they rarely show the A’s even when we’re good, so that’s no surprise – and that means all of the A’s games are available to watch for free.

MLB UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week beginning 11 July 2022

The first half of the 2022 season has felt like a long haul, even with the regular schedule getting underway later than planned following the off-season lock-out.

There’s no denying that a lacklustre rebuilding season such as the A’s are going through can make it difficult to keep the enthusiasm up, especially for those of us battling the time difference.

The All-Star Break will therefore come as a welcome chance to reset and to find a second wind for the second half, for A’s fans and players alike. We can at least find some joy in Paul Blackburn being named to the American League All-Star team as a wonderful story for a pitcher who has worked incredibly hard to prove himself at the Major League level.

The final week before the festivities sees the A’s on a road-trip to Texas, starting against the Rangers at Globe Life Field before heading to Minute Maid Park to renew hostilities with the Houston Astros.

Texas Rangers (A)

It’s been an up-and-down first half for the Rangers after their off-season spending splurge.

An awful 7-14 April was followed by a magnificent 17-10 May, only to then lead to a below-par 15-20 June and early July.

Texas has won 5 of 7 against the A’s so far this season with our batting line-up managing to score only 19 runs combined across those games (not quite 3 per game), so there’s plenty of room for improvement on our end. The scheduled starting pitchers are as follows:

Game 1: Adrián Martínez – Spencer Howard
Game 2: James Kaprielian – Glenn Otto
Game 3: Paul Blackburn – Jon Gray

Houston Astros (A)

Avoiding being swept by the Astros at the Coliseum over the weekend just gone counts as an achievement for Mark Kotsay’s team in a year of appropriately low expectations.

Repeating the feat on the road will be another small feather in the cap bearing in mind we’re scheduled to face Jose Urquidy and Jake Odorizzi again, both of whom pitched very well against us, and the ever foreboding presence of Justin Verlander too.

The one crumb of comfort is that the A’s are optimistic that Frankie Montas will be ready to return from his spell on the sidelines. The Front Office must have held their heads in their hands as Frankie’s shoulder started bothering him a month before the trade deadline, but it looks like the cortisone shot has done the trick in bringing down the inflammation.

Game 1: Frankie Montas – Justin Verlander
Game 2: Cole Irvin – José Urquidy
Game 3: Adrián Martínez – Jake Odorizzi

UK Schedule

A’s Schedule: Week beginning 4 July 2022

The A’s are heading back home after a tough 10-game road-trip, which would sound like a good development but the Coliseum hasn’t exactly been Home Sweet Home this season either.

Add to that the quality of the two teams we’re facing this week and it could be a case of enjoying the 4th of July Fireworks tonight, praying for the best with Frankie Montas’s shoulder injury, and anything else being a bonus.

Toronto (H)

The Blue Jays come into the week on a 44-36 win-loss record and have just slipped behind the Boston Red Sox into third place in the AL East after losing three in a row to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Toronto have been a team of two halves over the past 30 days. Whilst their batting line-up has been excellent, leading the Majors with 171 runs scored during that span, their pitching has been hit by injuries and some ineffectiveness.

Their pitching staff’s combined ERA over the past 30 days of 4.70 ERA is the eighth worst across the Majors and, although they’ve not been terrible throughout that stretch, it’s the part of their game that they need to improve in the second-half of the season if they want to be true play-off contenders.

Probable pitching match-ups are as follows:

Game 1: Alek Manoah – Cole Irvin
Game 2: Yusei Kikuchi – Adrian Martinez
Game 3: José Berríos – James Kaprielian

Houston (H)

It’s always a treat to welcome the Astros to the Coliseum, of course, and this series will be no exception.

The Astros have won 14 of their past 17 games, including six on the spin heading into this week. Their 51-27 win-loss record is second only to the New York Yankees (58-22) and they already have a 13.5 game lead over second place in the AL West, so there’s no doubting they are the class of the division by quite a margin.

They’ve got a four-game series at home against the Kansas City Royals Monday to Thursday before heading out west to face us over the weekend, so we can probably forget the idea that their confidence might take a dent before we face them.

Perhaps they may just get bored of winning and we can take a couple from them! Probable pitching match-ups for the series are as follows:

Game 1: José Urquidy – Paul Blackburn
Game 2: Framber Valdez – TBD
Game 3: Jake Odorizzi – Cole Irvin

Our nemesis Justin Verlander is currently on schedule to start on Thursday against the Royals, so we should miss him this time around. That potential good news gets balanced out by the potential bad news associated with our scheduled starter for Saturday.

We should hear more about Frankie Montas’s injury status later today after he lasted just one inning on Sunday against the Mariners. The initial reaction from Frankie was that he and the team were erring on the side of caution, but the MRI scans today will tell the tale. Even the best case scenario makes it likely that he’ll skip a turn in the rotation to ensure he can get a couple of performances in before the trade deadline is reached at the end of July.

It’s sad to write that maintaining Frankie’s trade value is the most important thing for the A’s right now; however it’s sadly true.