Oakland A’s report Monday: The good, the bad and the ugly halftime report for the A’s

July 10, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics’ Rajai Davis hits a single against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game, Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

by Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND– Well, here we are at the annual All-Star break, and it’s time to take a look at the first half of the season for the A’s. The A’s continue to adhere to their business model which is to trade away valuable assets, i.e., players that are good and near the end of their contracts and will be in line to make more money and to insert young prospects who earn the Major League minimum salary plus hire some veterans that are considered undervalued. The veterans are hoping to get a chance to redeem themselves and have the opportunity to sign for more money elsewhere. The A’s front office hopes that will catch lightning in a bottle with this approach, but it does not work out that way more often than not.

The 2017 edition of the Oakland A’s was crafted in that manner. They signed the veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe was adequate on defense, but he slumped at the plate, and the A’s had to release him as they embarked on a youth movement They also brought in Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce to fill two holes in the outfield. Rajai played for the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians and had a huge home run for them in gave seven of the World Series last year. Cleveland chose not to resign Davis, and he came back to Oakland. However, Rajai has not had a good year as he is batting slightly over .200. He still has speed and can cause turmoil for opposing pitchers as he demonstrated last week when he stole four bases in one game. The other veteran, Matt Joyce, also got off to a slow start. Joyce has picked up his game, but he still leaves a lot to be desired.

The A’s shocked everyone when they designated Stephen Vogt for assignment. Vogt was a team leader and one of the best guys in the game. He is now with the Milwaukee Brewers and has made several contributions to his new team.

Two other veterans having great seasons for Oakland are Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie. Alonso is having a career year as he is hitting for average and power and is an excellent defensive first baseman. Alonso was the only Athletic to be named to the AL All-Star team. There is speculation that Alonso will be traded as he is a free agent at the end of the year and we all know what that means in Oakland. The other veteran, Jed Lowrie, is having a comeback year after suffering a foot injury that impaired his performance last season. Lowrie is 33 years old and could be attractive to a contending team. The chances are that he will be gone by the trade deadline. Sonny Gray has also rumored to be traded as scouts from various clubs have been seen checking him at the Coliseum

The A’s Are now using Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley as the catching tandem. Ryon Healy is having a solid season and has been used at third, first, and as the designated hitter. Marcus Semien missed about half the season with a broken bone in his wrist, but he is off the disabled list and back in the lineup. Matt Chapman is at third, Chad Pinder, currently, on the DL, has played second base and been in right field for the A’s. Young Franklin Barreto, perhaps the second baseman of the future, can play second or short. Jaycob Brugman is in center, and Matt Olson hopes to be able to break through and rejoin the big club soon.

The A’s starting rotation has seen virtually all of the starters land on the DL at some point so far this season. Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Ryan Dull, and Andrew Triggs are on the DL now. Sean Manaea and  Sonny Gray were on the DL earlier this year. The bullpen has been relatively free of injury, but both veterans John Axford and Sean Doolittle made the DL, too. The A’s starting rotation now includes Sonny Gray, Sean Manaea, Paul Blackburn, Daniel Gossett, and Chris Smith. Manaea has been fairly consistent this season and Gray is getting back to form. A’s manager Bob Melvin has had his hands full trying to concoct a rotation that will stay healthy. The bullpen hasn’t been all that bad, but John Axford is struggling to get the job done. His velocity has not dipped, but he seems to not be able to put the ball where he wants, and he has not been able to do the job.Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Daniel Coulombe, Santiago Casilla all have more good moments that bad. Casilla is also rumored to be available to be moved.

The ugly has been the A’s defense. The A’s continue to play poorly on defense. They lead the Majors in errors and have allowed the most unearned runs by any team. They know they have to play better as sloppy fielding can wreck a pitcher’s outing. One of the cardinal rules of baseball is to not beat yourself. Making errors helps the team beat themselves. Bob Melvin and his coaching staff have to figure out ways to make the team get better fielding, and the sooner they fix the problem, the better it will be for the organization.

The A’s are currently 39-50 and are in fifth place in the AL West. It appears they are committed to the youth movement. The young guys on the roster are giving hope that the A’s are going to get better very soon shortly. They need to shore up the pitching rotation and find out why so many pitchers have gone on the DL. The second-half of the season will be the time for the youngster showcase their talents. The A’s need to get the fan base excited once more. The fans are hoping that the A’s will announce the location of the new stadium soon and that they are building a team that will be in the playoffs to fill the stadium with people.

Jerry Feitelberg is a beat writer covering the Oakland A’s for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

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About rxslugger

Retired pharmacist who now has a career as a sports writer and broadcaster

View all posts by rxslugger

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