Addition, subtraction: A’s sweep first-place Indians, trade Doolittle and Madson

July 17, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

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Oakland Athletics’ Marcus Semien, right, prepares his throw over Cleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor (12) to complete a double play in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 16, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Indians’ Michael Brantley was out at first base. Oakland won 7-3. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

AP photo on the cover: Oakland Athletics’ Jaycob Brugman swings for a two run single off Cleveland Indians’ Trevor Bauer in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 16, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–Billy Beane agrees. The annual A’s roster purges, both maddening and philosophically necessary, have to stop. Even the long-time Oakland front office executive says after 20 years, dealing popular players, familiar faces–practices that he himself originated as a way to field a competitive team on a limited budget–has grown joyless.

“We need to change that narrative by creating a good team and ultimately committing to keep them around so that when people buy a ticket, they know that the team is going to be around for a few years,” Beane said Sunday.

That Beane’s statement comes on the occasion of another trade deadline deal, this one sending veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals for reliever Blake Treinen and two notable minor leaguers, isn’t contradictory, he says, because this will be the last wave of such trades, in advance of the building of a new, Oakland ballpark and the financial wherewithal that comes along with the new yard.

So this time, the rebuild has a target date, a definitive purpose, an end to the means. Just no ballpark site, or groundbreaking date, as of yet. After saying the location of the new park would be revealed at some point during the current season, the club know vows to have an announcement before the end of the year.

“Finding players has never been an issue for us,” Beane said. “Keeping them and ultimately keeping the faith and commitment from people who follow the team, that’s got to be done by keeping them around. Again, I’ve been assured by ownership that that’s what we’re going to do as it parallels with the stadium.”

According the latest trade rumors, Jed Lowrie will be moved prior to July 31, and so will Sonny Gray, now two years after the possibility of moving the team’s most talented, young pitcher was first realized.

So tell me again, what’s different this time?

“The important end of the sentence is rebuilding and keeping them,” Beane reiterated. “This is my 20th year on the job. There are only so many cycles that I can go through before I get as exasperated as everybody else.”

After saying goodbye to Doolittle and Madson, the A’s kept their heads and feet in the win column, beating the AL Central-leading Indians for the third, straight day, 7-3.

First inning, RBI singles by Ryon Healy and Jaycob Brugman–each delivered in two-strike counts–both frustrated and chased Indians’ starter Trevor Bauer before he could record three outs. The A’s four-run, first inning was a collaborative effort; Bauer provided the traffic on the basepaths with three walks, and Brugman and Healy contributed the big hits.

Bauer was lifted after throwing 43 pitches, saying he had little feel for how his body was moving, or where his pitches were going. For Cleveland, trying to avoid a first, four-game losing streak since 2015, Bauer’s short appearance was an ominous sign.

“You’re trying to salvage a game out of the series and you’re down four before you can even look up,” manager Terry Francona said. “That’s a hard way to play, and then you go through your whole bullpen. That wasn’t our goal for today.”

Sean Manaea was the beneficiary of the early offense, which he helped stand up courtesy of his wicked slider that baffled Cleveland hitters for seven innings.

Against a righty-heavy lineup constructed to avoid Manaea’s proficiency against lefty hitters, only Francisco Lindor enjoyed any success with a four-hit game. The A’s starter did the job on the rest of the Cleveland lineup, allowing only the two runs in the fourth inning.

The A’s continue their brief, six-game home stand on Monday against the Rays, with rookie Daniel Gossett facing Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi.

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