That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: A’s 1981 season short and bittersweet

Tony Armas as an Oakland A sitting on the dugout steps for a Mother’s Cookies baseball card photo (Mothers Cookies baseball card photo)

A’s 1981 Short and Bittersweet

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

In 1981 there was no baseball in the major leagues from June 12 to August 10. A total of 713 games were lost. The strike was about free agent player compensation.The owners were in favor of a system in which they got a player of similar value for each player they lost in free agency.

The Oakland Athletics ended the 1981 season with a 64-45 the best record in the American League and second best in all of baseball, and also they qualified by posting the AL West’s best record in the first half (37-23) of the shortened season.

In 1981 the Athletics had one of the best outfields in the game, with Rickey Henderson in left-field, Dwayne Murphy in center and Tony Armas in right-field. Henderson led the club in batting average with .319 as well as in stolen bases with 56, Armas led the club in home runs with 22 home runs and with 76 RBIs, while Murphy was second with 60 RBIs. That was a top notch outfield offensively as well as on defense.

Tony Armas was a humble but very focus player on the field,with excellent power at the place and also a powerful arm from right field, he always told me that he was lucky, but he was really an underrated player who played hard all the time.

A couple of years after he left the A’s in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox,Tony led the Major Leagues with 43 home runs and drove 123. He was the only player in both leagues to hit over 40 home runs.A proud man from Venezuela,he was a gentleman and conducted himself professional all the time on and off the field.He retired with back problems,his son Tony Armas Jr, was a pitcher in the major leagues.

The 1981 A’s was the team of Mike Heath, Shooty Babbitt (now back with the A’s as a scout) Rob Picciolo, Cliff Johnson, Wayne Gross, Jim Spencer, and one of the all time favorites in Oakland Mitchell “The Rage” Page and many other players that contributed to that success.

Their pitching was one of the best, a very strong rotation that became even more famous the previews season (1980) with Steve McCatty, Matt Keough, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Brian Kingman, five young starts that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in April.

During the shortened 1981 season,Julio González (RIP) and yours truly were doing the Spanish broadcast. We traveled to Kansas City during the AL Divisional playoffs for the first two games,as the A’s swept the Royals in three games.

That was a good Royals team with George Brett, Frank White Willie Wilson,Dan Quisinberry and others,then we moved on to New York where the Yankees eliminated the A’s in a 3-game sweep.

A’s lost the first two in New York then back to Oakland where they lost 4-0 as Dave Righetti beat Matt Keough,to send the Yankees to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Reported that World Series,with interviews,pre and post game stuff, for the three games that took place in Los Angeles for local bay area radio. It took six games for Tommy LaSorda’s Dodgers to beat Bob Lemon’s New York Yankees.

And that is how the crazy 1981 shortened season ended in baseball.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: NBA season suspended; Quakes cancel home game Mar 21st; Giants and A’s could cancel games soon enough

desertnews.com file photo: The Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert was tested positive for the Coronavirus on Wednesday leading to the cancellation of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and suspension of the NBA season.

NBA season suspended due to Coronavirus/A’s Opener in Doubt

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND–The NBA who announced they have suspended their season until further notice. The Utah Jazz’ Rudy Gobert was making some fun about Coronavirus during a press conference before their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder started touching the surfaces and microphones that were there. Later that night he was diagnosed with the Covid 19 virus and the game was canceled leading later to the suspension of the NBA season.

The San Jose Earthquakes have canceled their home game on Saturday March 21st and it’s possible the MLS season could be suspended as well. The San Jose Sharks and the NHL have not suspended their season yet but the cost of having games and teams traveling to play in front of empty arenas will cost too much for the gate driven sport and they may end up canceling as well.

The Pac 12 Tournament is being played at T Mobile Center in Las Vegas as both the Cal Bears and the Stanford Cardinal faced each other on Wednesday night. The game was played in front of an empty arena as the rest of March will be unless the NCAA suspends March Madness as well.

The Coronavirus pandemic is starting to reach havoc in Bay Area sports. After Alameda County joined San Francisco in recommending events with 1,000 or more people be cancelled or postponed,it looks like the Oakland Athletics home opener on Thursday the 26th of March against the Minnesota Twins is very much in jeopardy. The Giants earlier today announced that the pre-season game against the A’s at Oracle Park Mon Mar 24th had been canceled after the city announced a two-week ban on all events (sports included) of 1,000 or more people.

Today the Oakland Athletics issued the following statement: Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our community. We will adhere to any government directives, and work with Major League Baseball on all alternative arrangements to ensure the health of our fans and our community remains a top priority.

While the A’s Opening Day is this 26th, the San Francisco Giants will be opening the season on the road for the 11th consecutive year, also the 26th at Dodger Stadium vs Dodgers. As of today that game is “on” as far as the Dodgers are concerned, but the situation about Coronavirus is very fluid, so things can change at any given time.

Meanwhile,the new Giants neighbors, the Golden State Warriors who announced today that the team will play its next home game without fans this Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets. Later after that announcement came the NBA has suspended the season.

Earlier this week, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS. These four major active sports leagues in the U.S. decided to bar nonessential individuals, including reporters, from clubhouses and locker rooms. It will be left to local communities/cities to play with or without fans,depending what part of the country the events take place.

The biggest sporting event in the world this year is the Olympics and If the Olympics can’t go ahead this summer in Tokyo because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the most realistic option would be to delay the event by one or two years, a member of the executive board for the Japanese organizing committee recently said.

All over the US,sporting events have been affected.

Note: Last time we had a flu pandemic of this magnitude(or close) was in 2009 when the virus was commonly referred to as “swine flu”,which began in the spring of 2009, the virus had spread to the US from an outbreak in Veracruz,Mexico. CDC estimated that about 59 million Americans contracted this virus strain, 265,000 where hospitalized as a result and 12,000 died.

California was the most affected State with 10,545 reported and confirmed cases and 657 dead. (World) 150,000 to 575,000 died. One quick note the Spanish flu lasted two years in 1918 killing an estimated 20-80 million people. Coronavirus is expected to dissipate at some point as the epicenter of the virus Wuhan China is now getting back to normal.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: A’s getting some hitting production Barreto, Olson, Krizan and Allen

photo from sfchronicle.com: Franklin Barreto hit three doubles on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers in pre season action for the Oakland A’s

On That’s Amaury’s podcast:

#1 Amaury talk about A’s second baseman Franklin Barreto he doubled in three at bats, scored two runs and got an RBI on Sunday.

#2 A’s first baseman Matt Olson with bases loaded went 0-2 against Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader. Olson worked the count to 3-2 and fouled out, “it’s just fun for the fans to watch that” said A’s manager Bob Melvin

#3 The A’s Jason Krizan hit a two run home run in the eight inning Sunday. Krizan came from the Mets minor league rule 5 draft.

#4 Vismel Machin is another rule 5 draftee who tried to make it to the A’s but will be going back to his former club after Melvin said that Machin was “further down the pecking order”

#5 The A’s Austin Allen hit two doubles and got three RBIs on Sunday. Austin was replacing catcher Jonah Helm who was 0-2 for the game.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez can be heard on KIQI 1010 Spanish radio home of the Oakland A’s Friday, Saturday and Sundays for A’s home games and for News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: Maddon excited to face his old team Cubs; Will Matz meet the Mets; plus more

photo Angels manager Joe Maddon

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast:

#1 What’s it like for former Chicago Cub manager Joe Maddon to play against his former team the Cubs as Angels manager.

#2 What does it say for the Angels organization formerly working in Anaheim picking up a manager like Joe Maddon.

#3 The New York Mets are inquiring about Steven Matz of the New York Yankees. Matz has a 4.05 ERA over the last four seasons and could turn free agent what are the Mets chances of getting Matz?

#4 The Oakland A’s Jesus Luzardo threw for three innings on Sunday in his second start this spring. Luzardo pitched for the Las Vegas Aviators last season in seven starts and had an ERA of 3.19.

#5 A’s manager Bob Melvin says that Tony Kemp may not end up being the A’s lead off hitter but he’s been getting some good at bats, Kemp hit a double and went 8-18 and Melvin says that Kemp is seeing left handed pitching pretty good too.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for A’s baseball on KIQI 1010 San Francisco hear all A’s home games on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Amaury does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: For 2020 Predictions Los Atleticos My predictions for this upcoming 2020 season

file photo from sfchronicle.com: Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien fields a grounder by San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey, who was out at first during a baseball game in San Francisco. Semien will look to build momentum from a career season that included being top three in the AL MVP voting. He was rewarded with a new $13 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration, a raise of $7.1 million

2020 Predictions: Los Atléticos

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

My predictions for this upcoming 2020 season.

(American League West)

1-Oakland Athletics 2-Houston Astros 3-Los Angeles Angels 4-Texas Rangers 5-Seattle Mariners

Oakland A’s  (Offense) This is the year everything will come together for the Athletics. For the second year in a row finished with an excellent 97-65 record and behind the Houston Astros. They will catch and pass the scandal-riddled Houston Astros.

A’s are a powerful offensive force with numbers that do the talking. Among all 30 teams,the A’s finished fifth in home runs with 257,number eight in runs scored 845 and number ninth in runs driven-in with 800.

The team of the greatest base stealer ever, and in my opinion the best all-around player in the history of the Oakland A’s,Rickey Henderson who stole 1,406 bases during a stellar Hall of Fame career,only stole 49 bases last season,which put them close to the bottom,only three teams in baseball stole less bases.

But nobody is perfect,that is not their game, only the Giants, Twins and Cubs stole less bases than the A’s. Unfortunately (if you are old school) at this time in history where 30 homers for a player is “normal” and many say boring,the stolen base is like the bunt,”Breaking News”when it happens.

(Pitching) Bob Melvin A’s had the sixth best earned run average for a pitching staff in baseball with 3.97. Only Astros, Dodgers, Rays, Indians and Cardinals showed a better ERA. Their 2020 staff is one of the youngest and most talented in the game. Sean Manaea, Jesús Luzardo, Frankie Montás, A,J Puk, Mike Fiers starting and leading the way.

(Bullpen) Liam Hendriks (25 saves and 1.80 ERA),who took over Blake Treinen as closer was robbed of the Reliever of the Year Award by New York Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman,but was one of the reasons the A’s got to the AL Wild Card game.

The only reason Hendriks did not win the award is because he pitches for the A’s and Chapman for the Yankees. The market was the deciding factor. However,the Astros had the top bullpen in the AL West and third best in baseball last year with ERA (3.75) and batting average against (.226). Roberto Osuna led the Astros with 38 saves,second in baseball only to San Diego’s Kirby Yates with 41.

(Defense) Los Atléticos finished tied with the Atlanta Braves as the fourth best defensive team in baseball,with a .987 fielding percentage. and committed total of 80 errors,only Cardinals,Royals, Houston and Braves committed less. It all starts with the Golden Corners; Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, both Gold Glove winners,plus a mostly improved Marcus Semien at shortstop,and very a talented outfield with Ramón Laureano in center field. Ramón’s arm is one of the best – nobody runs on him.

2020 A’s are very similar to 2019.The second base position still wide open, they acquired veteran Tony Kemp but also have A’s minor league star Jorge Mateo as well as Franklin Barreto who already have some major league experience with the club, as well as Sheldon Neuse and then there is Rule 5 pick Vimael Machín.They are all candidates at the second-base position that Jurickson Profar left vacant after he signed with the San Diego Padres.

Conclusion: It will be a battle for the division between the A’s and the Astros. Now under Dusty Baker,the Houston team still one of the best group of players in baseball,it should not be easy for the A’s, but they are ready for battle. It is of great importance that the A’s win the division,because they are starting to get the label that they cannot win a Wild Card game.

The LA Angels with the addition of one of the finest hitters and all around players in third-baseman Anthony Rendon, who will now be in a lineup with MikeTrout, Justin Upton,Shohei Othani and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hitting sixth or seventh,they will score tons of runs, but they are still short of pitching.Good luck to a great baseball guy,Joe Maddon, now back in Anaheim as manager.

Texas will be Texas,Joey Gallo might hit 50 home runs,so what? and the Seattle Mariners will continue to look up to the others in the division. Seattle a great city that once had stars such as Ken Griffey Jr. Edgar Martínez, Randy Johnson, Ichiro Susuki, Féliz Hernández, Jaime Moyer, Raúl Ibañez and others, but for this season they will be a sad again. Mariners remain the only team in the division never to win the pennant.

Atléticos First Homestand features two Divisional champions. A’s Open 2020 this Thursday March 26th at 1:07PM with the first of a four games against the Central Division champion Minnesota Twins followed by the Western Division champion Houston Astros for a three game series starting Monday. The Twins loaded with power set a new MLB record last season with 307 home runs and the Astros lead the regular season with 107 wins.

Coronavirus Note: WHO(World Health Organization)tips about this virus. 1-Wash hands frequently 2-Maintain social distances 3-Avoid touching,eyes, nose and mouth 4-If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the play by play announcer for the Oakland A’s Spanish radio broadcasts and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Athletics Radio-Not the First Time

photo from Amaury Pi Gonzalez working in the Oakland Coliseum pressbox 19 during the 1979 season

Athletics Radio – Not the First Time.

Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND–In 1979 during the last season of Charlie O Finley ownership of the Oakland Athletics, the team did not sign a local commercial flagship station to broadcast their games locally.

Finley sold the broadcast rights for $1 dollar to the University of California Berkeley, their campus radio station.. Their play by play announcer was Larry Baer, now a SF Giants top executive, Baer broadcast weekend games and just across the glass next both, Box 19, Amaury Pi-González was broadcasting weekends in Spanish for KBRG 105.3FM “Hot Hits” San Francisco.

KBRG (popularly known as KBRIDGE) one of the pioneer Spanish radio format stations in California. The A’s made a big change this 2020 season ending their relationship with KTRB radio 860AM who was their flagship station.All the games this season will be air for free on TuneIn.

A’s Cast, the Oakland A’s 24/7 audio streaming station on TuneIn, is now the official home of A’s audio content, including all 2020 game broadcasts, podcasts, and daily sports shows. Every Spring Training and regular season game in 2020 can be heard exclusively on A’s/ Although the A’s do not have a Bay Area station their retain and will air them on their radio network.

Ken Korach will return for his 25th season with the A’s and his 15th as the team’s lead radio announcer, pairing with Vince Cotroneo, who will begin his 15th season with the Club. Ray Fosse will also make special appearances in the booth throughout the season.

The A’s are also expanding their Spanish-language broadcasts on TuneIn to include coverage of every regular season home game in TuneIn and Spanish radio. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday home game Spanish-language broadcast will also air on KIQI (1010 AM, San Francisco Bay Area) and KATD (990 AM Pittsburg) covering Sacramento/Stockton and surrounding areas.

So, that’s it, “That’s the way the ball bounces”

Amaury Pi-González will return for his 27th season with the A’s and 43rd season overall in MLB. Pi-González will be joined by Manolo Hernández-Douen, who will begin his 12th season as an A’s analyst.

 

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: MLB: Rules changes for 2020 (English and Español) MLB: Rules changes for 2020 (English and Español)

nypost.com photo: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has changed baseball’s rules and with so many changes Amaury lists and explains them below

MLB: Rules changes for 2020 (English and Español) MLB: Rules changes for 2020 (English and Español)

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

We might as well go to “baseball school”so we can learn more of the new rules.slowly but surely the National Pastime continue to go through a series of changes. These are the categories that will go into effect this 2020 season. For all fans pleasure and entertainment,here they are.

1-The Three-batter minimum. For all intent and purposes,this is “the one”.
All pitchers, starters and relievers now have to face at least three batters (or pitch until the inning is over) before they come out of a game. The only exception is an injury or illness that prevents the pitcher from being able to finish his three batters. Main effect of this rule will be on the specialist relievers (the ones used to face one batter for a favorable match-up) the perennial lefty coming out of the bullpen just to get a lefty out.

That is gone,there will be none of this beginning this season. Also could impact teams that use the “openers”, who are usually starters that are used just to pitch the first inning of a game.These “openers” are pitchers that start the game to match up specifically against the top of the opposing order. Starting this season an opener will have to face at least three batters even if he had a bad match-up in that start, –This three-batter rule is already on effect this current Spring Training Roster Limits.

2-Roster Limits: 26 man rosters.Teams active rosters are being increased from 25 to 26 players for the regular season (through August 31) and during postseason. Teams are limited to carrying a maximum of 13 pitchers.

3-Smaller Rosters in September:MLB is adjusting the size of September rosters to 28 players,including a maximum of 14 pitchers.

4-Two-way Player Designation: Totally new. A “two way player” somebody who can both hit and pitch, like Angels Shohei Otani or Reds Michael Lorenzen,who appears as a reliever and also plays the outfield.. The “two way player” has not been seen in MLB since the days of the legendary Babe Ruth*,the most famous of all “two way players”. This rule will let these players stay on the roster as a position player and pitch in games without counting their team 13 pitchers limit. If you designate someone as a “two way player” they have to stay that way through the end of the year.
*When Babe Ruth played in the 1910’s and 1920’s it took 1 hour and 51 minute on an average to complete a game.

5-Position Players Pitching:Position players are allowed to pitch only if a game goes to extra innings,or If their team is winning or loosing by more than six runs.During normal circumstances in a nine-inning game only the teams 13 designated pitchers (or two way players) are allowed to pitch.

6-The 27th man: What used to be the 26th man is now the 27th man, thanks to the new 26 man roster size.

7-Injured List and Option Periods: Pitchers and two-way players are returning to a 15-day injured list.That is once they are placed on the IL, they cannot be reinstated for 15 days. The IL (injured list) used to be 15 days for all players until the 2017 season,when it was reduced to 10 days. Position players will still have a 10 day IL under the new rules. Also,pitchers who are optioned to the Minor Leagues now have to remain there for 15 days rather than 10. The option period for position players remains at 10 days.

8-Challenge time: Managers now have 20 seconds to decide to challenge a play instead of 30.

__________________________________________________________________________________

MLB: Nuevas reglas para temporada 2020

Amaury Noticias y Comentarios

Por Amaury Pi-González

Hay que regresar a la “escuela de béisbol” para aprender más de las nuevas reglas. Lentamente pero seguro el Pasatiempo Nacional continua con una serie de cambios. Estas son las categorías que se pondrá en práctica apartir de esta temporada 2020. Para deleite y entretenimiento de los aficionados,aqui están.

1-Enfrentar un Mínimo de Tres Bateadores(en efecto desde el Spring Training 2020) Este es el cambio más importante.
Todos los lanzadores, asi sean abridores ó relevistas, deben de lanzarle mínimo a tres bateadores ó acabar la entrada para poder ser relevados por otro lanzador. La única excepción a la regla será cuando un lanzador se lesione ó tenga una enfermedad que le impida lanzarle al mínimo de rivales ó terminar el inning,los tres bateadores. El máximo efecto sería en los relevistas especialistas, por ejemplo un pitcher zurdo que sale a enfrentarse a solo bateadores zurdos. Esto no existe para el 2020. La regla también puede afectar aquellos equipos que usan un “opener” -típicos relevistas que los usan para iniciar el juego. Ahora el “opener” tiene que enfrentarse a por lo menos tres bateadores,aún si las cosas no le salieron bien contra los bateadores a los cuales se enfrentó.

2-Cambios en los Rosters: La lista se expande a 26 jugadores, De lo que eran 25 el año pasado a 26 jugadores para el 2020 con un máximo de 13 que pueden ser lanzadores.

3-Rosters más Pequeños en Septiembre:. Ahora los equipos podrán tener solo un máximo de 28 peloteros,incluyendo un máximo de 14 lanzadores.

4-Designación de Jugadores Multifuncionales: Un jugador multifuncional es uno que lanza y batea, por ejemplo Shohei Othtani de LA Angels y Michael Lorenzen de los Rojos de Cincinnati.Babe Ruth*fue l primer famoso jugador multicuncional. Esto les permite mantenerse en la lista como “jugador de posición” por ser parte de la nómina de 13 lanzadores máximo que estan permitidos en el roster. Un jugador que es designado como multifuncional tiene que mantenerse así toda la temporada.
*Cuando Babe Ruth jugó en los 1910’s y 1920’s un encuentro tenía promedio de 1 hora 51 minutos.

5-Jugadores de Posición Lanzando: Para que un pelotero de cuadro ó jardinero pueda lanzar,el partido deberá estar en extra-innings ó con una diferencia de seis carreras, a favor ó en contra. Durante un juego normal de nueve entradas,solo los 13 jugadores inscritos como lanzadores ó jugadores multifuncionales podrán lanzar.

6-El Jugador 27: Cada equipo podrá agregar un jugador más a su roster regular, de 26 a 27 jugadores.

7-Lista de Lesionados y periodo de Opcionados: Lanzadores y jugadores “multifuncionales” tendrán un periodo mínimo de estancia en la lista de lesionados de 15 días, en vez de los 10 días en el pasado. Los jugadores de posición seguirán pasando a la lista de incapacitados durante 10 días. Al igual que con la lista
de lesionados los jugadores de posición deberán permanecer 10 días.

8-Tiempo de Manager para pedir un Reto: El tiempo de los managers(en el reloj)para retar una jugada através de la repetición será recortado de 30 a 20 segundos.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio talent for the Oakland A’s on 1010 KIQI San Francisco and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Giants no longer after former Dodger Yaseil Puig; At Giants Fan Fest Pence says he loves being back

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is welcomed back by his teammates Alex Dickerson and Buster Posey at Giants Fan Fest on Saturday at Oracle Park in San Francisco (sfchronicle.com photo)

On That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary:

#1 The San Francisco Giants were one of the teams that were expressing interest in acquiring former Los Angeles Dodger Yaseil Puig but no more. Puig commands a seven year worth $42 million deal. The Giants have said they are no longer interested in obtaining Puig. Was it his unpopularity with his teammates with past teams the issue or the cost of his contract demands?

#2 It was a big deal at Giants fan fest when Hunter Pence sat on stage with an untucked Giants jersey on and was happy to be back in San Francisco again

#3 Pence signed for a one year deal worth $3 million is Hunter’s value mostly in the clubhouse or what he can bring to the plate he did get some big flies when he did play in Texas last season

#4 In a San Francisco Chronicle poll of 500 voters in Oakland 62% of them said the current site should be at the Coliseum for the A’s, 29% of those polled wanted to see the A’s move to Jack London Square. Most of those polled said the Coliseum site is more practical because of it’s land space, parking, freeway access and BART.

#5 MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has made it clear that if the Oakland A’s do not get a new stadium built at Howard Terminal in downtown Oakland MLB will seek to move the A’s out of Oakland and move them to Las Vegas.

Join Amaury Pi Gonzalez each Tuesday for News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: 2020 State of the Athletics Armed and Dangerous

photo from mercurynews.com: Oakland Athletic pitcher Jesus Luzardo participates in fielding drills during spring training at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

2020 State of the Athletics: Armed and Dangerous

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND–The Houston Astros will be picked favorite to repeat and win the American League West for the fourth consecutive year. The Oakland A’s have finished in second place during the past two seasons when they ended with identical 97-65 record.

The best one-two pitchers in the American League last season were Justin Verlander who won 21 games and the Cy Young Award and Gerrit Cole who won 20 games. However,Cole, the top free agent in the market left for the New York Yankees who signed him to a $324 million contract, the fourth largest deal in MLB history.

To the Athletics advantage,they will not have to face Cole that many times,since he is now in the AL East. That by itself could be worth three to four games in the standings. The Astros will be lingering from the biggest scandal in baseball the sign-stealing scandal,which cost the jobs of their field Manager and General Manager.

The Astros will be busy fielding all kinds of questions beginning next week when they open their Spring Training in West Palm Beach,Florida. That would be the busiest Spring Training in baseball this year,since the Astros share that same facility with the World Champions Washington Nationals.

The A’s pitchers and catchers will land next week in Mesa,Arizona and their young pitching staff is definitely Armed and Dangerous.Their main starters are here by age, youngest to oldest: Jesús Luzardo,  Frankie Montas(22)  A.J Puk (24) Sean Manaea(27) and Mike Fiers(34).

This is indeed a formidable bunch of pitchers; Luzardo,Montas and Puk all power pitchers with fastball scratching the 100 mph on the radar. Either Mike Fiers or Sean Manaea (one of the two) most likely will be announced by A’s manager Bob Melvin as the Opening Day pitcher, for Thursday afternoon the 26 of March at the Oakland Coliseum.During this first homestand for the Athletics, the Houston Astros will follow the Twins to Oakland, presenting a delightful early season match-up between the A’s and the Dusty Baker Houston Astros.

This Athletics rotation will the potential to match and even better the Houston Astros,the team they will probably have to beat,to win their division. Not to forget the Rangers and Angels both much improved during this off-season,but there is little doubt who the A’s will have to beat, to forget “about a One-Game wild card playoff, and try to win the division affording them a better chance to go deep into the postseason.”

These pitchers will have the support of one of the youngest and most talented teams in the game. The A’S in 2019, were one of the best hitting teams in baseball. Among all MLB teams, A’s ranked #5 in Home Runs with 257, #9 in Runs Batted In with 800. Their pitching staff had the 6th best Earned Run Average with 3.97.

Bob Melvin’s young ball-club will also have excellent defensive support for that young and powerful pitching staff. Among all 30 clubs in MLB the Athletics finished #4 in fielding with a .986 percentage. Only St Louis,Kansas City and Houston had better defensive numbers than the A’s.

A’s won Gold Gloves at first base with Matt Olson and third base with Matt Chapman,with a most improved Marcus Semien at shortstop who comes out of this best season,finishing third in the very much coveted MVP,behind Mike Trout of the Angels and Alex Bregman of the Astros.

As Spring Training begins next week I will have more analysis of this young and very exciting team. But there is little doubt in my mind(injuries are the wild card)this is one of the best and youngest pitching staffs in all of baseball. More to come.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish play by play voice for the Oakland A’s with broadcast partner Manolo Hernandez-Douen on KIQI 1010 San Francisco and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Athletics Pitcher Frankie Montas, Exclusive Interview

2020 Topps baseball card of Oakland A’s pitcher Frankie Montas

Athletics Pitcher Frankie Montas, Exclusive Interview

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND– In a overcast day/afternoon, but without rain,as thousands of fans visited and mingled with A’s players during the 2020 A’s Fanfest at Jack London Square young Danay García, Special Events Assistant for the A’s brought to our kiosk at The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, A’s starting pitcher Frankie Montas.

Frankie ended his 2019 season with a 9-2 record with a 2.63 earned run average in 16 games he started. Smiling and followed by a bunch of fans with ball and pen in hand they were lining-up to get this autograph, he sat next to me as he signed for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, once in a while standing up to pose with fans in selfies as well as group/family shots.

Montas dropped by with his wife Nicolette and son Michael. The young Dominican hurler seems very happy posing with fans signing one autograph after another. I conducted the interview in Spanish and here it is translated. Montas pitched this winter for the Leones del Escogido or Escogido Lions) in the Dominican Republic professional baseball league.

He said he pitched a little bit more this season. That makes sense because he only started basically half of the 2019 for the Athletics. I didn’t wanted to dwell on why he was suspended that was not the main goal, specially at this time in history when baseball is under heavy scrutiny because of the sign-stealing scandal. This is not the place anyway, this was a Fanfest, where positivism was in the air. The last thing I wanted to ask him was about his suspension and I did not.

Montas is about 6 feet 2 inches tall,at 240 pounds with a strong powerful right arm.

Q: Welcome to Oakland. Ready for Spring Training?

A: “Yes, I am happy to be here, and ready to go to Arizona”

Q:You live in Arizona, so basically you are going back home.

A: Absolutely,should be fun…and I am really looking forward this season.

Q. Do you consider yourself a fastball pitcher (you throw around 97 mph).?

A: Yes, I do, that is my best pitch, but I can also come at a hitter with other pitches, but yes, I think you can consider me a “power pitcher”.

ThIs will be his sixth season in the major leagues and fourth with the A’s,the Dominican pitcher will be 27 years of age next month. During his abbreviated 2019 season,he recorded 103 strike-outs in 96 innings of labor and was on a pace to win 18 to 20 and throw over 200 strike outs.

Q: Many people (including me) like to know, which player is the toughest for you to get out.

A: Joe Mauer of Minnesota, I cannot get him out. Mauer has played 15 years with the Twins and is the only catcher in MLB history to win three batting titles. The veteran has been a tough out for many pitchers, last week in a ceremony at Target Field,the Twins retired his famous number 7..

Q: Now that you have been in the majors for a few years, what is the one thing that has impressed you the most?

A: The discipline here, everything is done professionally,we have a schedule for everything, the speed of the game is another thing..

Q: Oakland Coliseum is the most spacious MLB park, with all kinds of foul territory,that benefits pitchers. Aside from here in Oakland,which parks are the favorites for you to pitch, favorites for you, not necessarily because you can get more outs,but because you like those places.

A: Kansas City…Anaheim and Houston, I would say those three.

Q:Luis Rojas was just named the new manager of the New York Mets, a fellow Dominican one of the sons of Felipe Alou, your opinion?

A; Great, I know him, he is a great guy, happy for that.

Photos and selfies all over the place with the very affable Frankie Montas,as his wife and son patiently waited on the sidelines, he was just getting to the end of his signing duties at our kiosk. We also took some pictures, he signed a few Topps baseball Cards for The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum, which someday (hopeful sooner than later) we’ll have a place inside the proposed new A’s Ballpark at Howard Terminal.

My last question.

Q:When you were a little boy like this kid that was taking a picture with you here. Who was your idol?

A; :”Pedro Martínez” Not surprisingly from a young pitcher to name the great Dominican Hall of Famer Martínez

The Oakland Athletics pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to their Spring Training home February 12.

We shook hands,as I told him,next time we talk will be at Mesa, during Spring Training. which he said Okay!

Good Luck Frankie!