A’s answer to Aubrey Huff: Josh Willingham

| March 11, 2011

Just finished up a profile of Josh Willingham for the A’s magazine. I didn’t put it in the story, because I didn’t think the A’s would want any more references to the Giants than necessary, but it occurred to me as I was writing it that Willingham comes to the A’s with a similar back story as Aubrey Huff’s from a year ago.

Both had spent their entire careers playing for bad teams, and therefore not really getting the proper attention for their performance. Both also carry a red flag. With Huff it was his inconsistency, and with Willingham it’s injuries. Huff was 33 last season, and Willingham is 32 this season.

Their overall performances are somewhat similar, too. Willingham has played in much worse hitters parks throughout his career. Adjusting for that, his career OPS+ is 121. Huff’s OPS+ before last year was 113.

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Gio Gonzalez stuffs the Reds

| March 1, 2011

Saw my first, and only, A’s game of the spring today, and Gio Gonzalez put on quite a show for two innings against the Reds. Gonzalez struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect inning. Four of the strikeouts were looking and one was a check-swing. He also threw first-pitch strikes to all six batters.

Now, spring training performances don’t mean a whole lot. (At least, that’s what the guys say when they do badly, like Brett Anderson after Gonzalez.) That said, Gonzalez looked pretty nasty. Bob Geren said he was throwing 95 mph, which surprised me. The other interesting thing is that he said he went down to the bullpen after his 23-pitch outing because he needed to work on his changeup. I asked him why he hadn’t thrown it in the game and he said the situations just didn’t allow it. Now, I didn’t get that, because I thought the whole point of spring training was to throw whatever you want to throw, regardless of the situation. In fact, Anderson said that he threw pitches he wouldn’t have thrown under normal circumstances.

Anyway, that’s not really a big deal.

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The A’s biggest problem

| February 21, 2011

A few of you asked me to find out about the A’s backup shortstop situation. With Cliff Pennington still working back slowly from left shoulder surgery over the winter, and with Adam Rosales dealing with rehab from foot surgery, the A’s have a problem.

Even Billy Beane admitted as much.

“If you ask me my biggest concern from an individual player standpoint, it’s who will be the backup shortstop,” Beane during Monday’s first full-squad workout in Phoenix. “That could be our Achilles Heel.”

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Spring training, 1st stop: A’s

| February 20, 2011

I’m sitting at the Oakland airport waiting to board my flight to Phoenix for spring training. I’m having a bit of an abbreviated trip (more on that later), but I will still be down there for nine days. I’ll spend at least two days each in the A’s and Giants camps, starting with the A’s on Monday.

I’ll be writing for FanHouse, and working on some magazine stuff, but I’ll also be posting here. If there are any really pressing questions you have about the A’s, let me know. I’ll do my best to get the answers.

I’m planning to be at Giants camp on Thursday and Friday, at least, so feel free to send me questions on them too. I’ll be on Chronicle Live on Comast Sports Net Bay Area on Thursday night.

I don’t need to do this blog just to amuse myself. This is for you guys. Let me know what you want to know. Write your questions into the comment box below, or email me at jfletcher@pacbell.net.

Chris Carter interview

| January 27, 2011

Today I went to the A’s pre-spring training media event and, as expected, there wasn’t a whole lot of news. Most of the media horde (relative horde) was gathered around Josh Willingham. I decided to have a chat with Chris Carter. It’s going to be an awfully interesting year for Carter, who seems like he ought to be ready to get his shot in the big leagues, but the A’s have no spot for him.

Ready to get back to baseball

| January 26, 2011

Hey guys, it’s about time to shake my blog out of its winter hibernation, huh? I know, hasn’t been much here lately, but it’s the winter, and I was on vacation. (Turks and Caicos… thumbs up.) Anyway, last night I did a double-dip at CSN Bay Area, going on Chronicle Live and then doing Hot Stove. I’d link to clips of my appearances, but they didn’t put any on their site.

So now we’re about to begin the home stretch toward spring training. That means that the A’s and Giants will be trotting out a bunch of players for media availability over the next two weeks. The A’s are having an event on Thursday, and I’ll be at that. I am planning to report back here with details of what happens, as well as perhaps some video.

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Adrian Beltre talk from Orlando

| November 17, 2010

One of the big rumors circulating here at the GM Meetings in Orlando is that the A’s have offered Adrian Beltre a five-year, $64-million deal. I wasn’t able to confirm that, but I do believe it. The numbers may not be exactly right — I’m guessing they aren’t — but I do believe the A’s have made a significant offer to Beltre.

Here is my little FanHouse video discussing the idea. I talk in the video about why I believe the A’s are actually after Beltre pretty hard. That said, It’s still going to be tough for them to sign him. Scott Boras is going to ask for a lot.

The one thing that may help the A’s is that Beltre supposedly wants to be on the West Coast. He apparently still lives in LA. If that’s the case, the A’s may be his best bet. The Angels also would seem to have a fit for Beltre, but they are apparently focused on Carl Crawford first. (I asked Angels GM Tony Reagins about this, and he refused to confirm that he’s the Angels GM.)

The Giants sure could use Beltre too, but I don’t think they can afford him. Brian Sabean also seems to be more interested in left-handed hitters.

By the way, don’t know if you saw my tweet yesterday, but the Giants are “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to re-sign Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff. Sabean said the team is talking daily to the agents for both of those players.