Fans began signing up Wednesday for free A’s tickets for the 50th anniversary game, and the team expects to accommodate everyone who’s interested in attending.
The game is April 17, exactly 50 years after the A’s played their first game in Oakland.
The A’s plan to take more reservations for freebies than the Coliseum can seat, to account for the expected no-show rate.
“We’re confident that everyone who wants to attend this game will get into the ballpark,” vice president of communications Catherine Aker said.
The average number of tickets per request has been six, though the team will communicate with fans in the coming weeks to confirm the numbers.
The A’s and White Sox will wear throwback uniforms. Lew Krausse, 74, who started the April 17, 1968, game for the A’s, will throw the ceremonial first pitch. Parking’s free, too.
“It will be like taking a time machine back 50 years,” team president Dave Kaval said. “It will be a great showcase and, really, gift to the community for the fans who have come for so many years and dedicated so much to this organization to have a free game.”
Fans going to athletics.com for free tickets for the April 17 game are given the opportunity to buy tickets for the opener, and Aker said more than 600 were sold Wednesday.
Individual-game tickets for the regular season will go on sale next Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Mothers, teach your children to grow up to be relief pitchers.
That has been the lesson of the 2017-18 MLB Hot Stove, where only bullpen arms have been getting paid in free agency so far. Position players like J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are still on the shelf, and starting pitchers like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are still looking for a home.
This couldn’t be more pathetic than if they were all bouncing around a Petco storefront, begging potential shoppers to take them home and play with them.
So many of the top free agents on the market are still available, and there’s no sign that the hiring freeze is going to thaw. Carlos Santana and his three-year, $60 million deal is still the largest contract signed by any free agent this winter, and your Philadelphia Phillies are the ones who pulled the trigger. Not only that, the Phils have signed three of the top 11 free agents (Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter) so far this off-season.
On this week’s episode of The Felske Files, MLB Editor for SB Nation Marc Normandin offers his potential reason for it all… collusion (18:06 mark).
No, we’re not talking collusion like in the 1980s, when MLB owners hatched a plan behind closed doors to band together and keep free agent contracts low. As Normandin pointed out, this is more of a legal form of collusion, one the owners snookered the players’ union into agreeing to in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
By agreeing to stricter penalties for going over the luxury tax, the owners have essentially created what the union has always been steadfastly against – a salary cap. Teams like the Dodgers and Yankees are divebombing below the $195 million number for this year so they don’t have to pay crippling penalties when they want to get involved in a better free agent class next year.
Of course, that screws over the players who are seeking big deals right now.
But calling this “collusion” may be taking it a step too far, just like calling rebuilding “tanking” is taking it a step too far. The players union agreed to these rules. They had to know what would happen. Sure, the owners sold them a bill of goods, telling them that the savings owners are getting in the international market would be spent on their own free agents, but that just hasn’t happened.
At least, not yet.
There are other factors at play, too. As Normandin pointed out, the Marlins’ fire sale, and the trade of Giancarlo Stanton, complicated things at the start of the Hot Stove season. Teams waited to see what happened on that front, as well as on the Shohei Ohtani front. However, those deals were finished a month ago and don’t really work as reasons why the market is stagnant right now.
It’s also true that MLB general managers have essentially agreed that acquiring players through free agency is essentially a bad deal unless that player is under 30. Massive contracts to stars leaving their prime (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, etc.) have proven to be boondoggles that teams are desperate to get out from under. GMs rightfully believe that players are worth a certain amount of money ($/WAR), and are unwilling to pay for past performance the way they used to.
Still, the almighty dollar is the main reason for the delay. Teams want to do more than just get good players — they want to get them at a discount. You don’t get your picture on the cover of GM Quarterly (no such publication actually exists, gang) by jumping the market and signing JD Martinez to an 8-year, $200 million deal anymore.
As for the Phillies, they seem, unlike most teams, ready to spend now. They are about $100 million under the luxury tax for this year (once pre-arb and arbitration contracts are signed) and are likely still looking to add more pieces to the 2018 roster. Are they overpaying for players like Arrieta, Lynn or Darvish? No, and they seem to be just as disciplined as everyone else in the league, which is good.
But they should be willing to slightly overpay the market for players they really like. Unlike many teams, they have the financial wherewithal to do it, and owner John Middleton does not seem like a guy afraid to spend on players. It just has to be the right player at the right time.
The free agent market will loosen up, but players and agents may have to accept the reality of the new CBA. Until the luxury tax penalties are made less severe, teams are going to avoid paying free agents what they feel they’re worth. Call it “collusion” if you like, but what’s clear is that this could all lead to a dreaded work stoppage when it’s time to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement after the 2021 season.
Rumors: Is Pittsburgh Pirates starting center fielder Andrew McCutchen a match for the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants?
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a very interesting situation this offseason in regards to Andrew McCutchen. Even more so than last offseason, Cutch is more likely to be dealt this winter. This is mainly due to the fact that he is entering the last year of his contract. With him entering free agency next year, McCutchen will likely be priced out of the Pittsburgh Pirates future.
So far this offseason, there has not been a lot of rumors regarding McCutchen. Part of the issue is how slowly the outfield market is playing out. First, Giancarlo Stanton was holding up things. With his deal done to the Yankees, it leaves Cutch as the top option on the trade market. However, the free agency market still is far from settled. Top outfield free agents like J.D Martinez, Lorenzo Cain, and Jay Bruce are still unsigned. A player like Martinez projects to bring as much, if not more, offensive value as McCutchen at this point. Meanwhile, Bruce and Cain can be had for just straight money versus a team’s prospects.
So who is a match for Cutch? The only team that has been reported to show interest thus far is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants missed out during the Stanton sweepstakes. They also traded Matt Moore clearing about $9 million dollars. Their front office spoke about how they will be able to reallocate Moore’s money to help upgrade their lineup. So it could be possible they are setting themselves up to make a move for their outfield. The club also dealt outfielder Denard Span to the Tampa Bay Rays for Evan Longoria, freeing up a spot in the outfield.
The other West Coast team that could be in play for McCutchen could be the Dodgers. After their recent salary trade with the Braves, there is speculation that the Dodgers are looking to add an outfielder. The trade with the Braves allowed the Dodgers to get under the luxury tax. With that, Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers mlb.com writer, speculated that the Dodgers could be in play for McCutchen:
Cutch would keep the Dodgers payroll under the luxury tax lines. Also, they have one of the better farm systems in baseball. Therefore, they would have the pieces to send back to the Pirates to entice the club to trade away their franchise player. Meanwhile, on the Dodgers side of things, they get a potential all-star to help get them back to the World Series. He would join an outfield already made up by Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor. They do have Joc Pederson as well, but Pederson has not proven that he can play against left-handed pitching.
A deal seems likely this offseason. If the Pittsburgh Pirates acquire Clint Frazier from the Yankees, then the odds are even more likely. Both the Dodgers and Giants are in need of an outfielder, the Giants more so than the Dodgers. When will a deal happen? Who knows. It really comes down to if the Bucs can get a proper return and how the free agent market shakes out.
For months, Padres officials have privately suggested the same thing many people outside the organization speculated: that San Diego is a long shot to sign Japanese megastar Shohei Ohtani.
If that was misdirection, they did a masterful job.
The Padres, sources confirmed Sunday night, are one of seven finalists in a sweepstakes that has kept even semi-informed observers guessing from the start. San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, both Los Angeles teams, Texas and the Chicago Cubs have been invited to meet with Ohtani and his representatives beginning this week in Los Angeles. The Giants reportedly are up first.
Now that Ohtani has trimmed his list from almost 30 to a handful, the speculation has reached a new level. Some think the enigmatic 23-year-old already knows where he wants to play. And more and more people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean think that place might very well be San Diego.
Sunday night in Stamford, Conn., New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman dropped a bombshell that surprised the entire sport, even some in the Padres organization. Ohtani, Cashman told reporters, had eliminated the Yankees, long thought to be a front-runner, from contention.
“I know that our presentation was excellent,” Cashman said. “The feedback from that was outstanding. But I did get a sense that I can’t change that we’re a big market and I can’t change we’re in the East.”
San Diego, of course, represents maybe the starkest contrast to New York. Ohtani’s list of finalists reinforces his preferences.
But the other suitors might face larger obstacles.
The Padres, not expected to contend for at least another season, could give Ohtani what the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters afforded him. A half-decade ago, Japan’s best teenage talent was convinced to stay by one of that country’s less prominent teams. The Fighters, knowing how strongly Ohtani desired to test himself in the U.S., pitched him on playing both ways. Ohtani proceeded to do that with unprecedented success, and now would like to continue exploring his two-way potential in the majors.
The non-San Diego finalists are presently constructed to win more games in 2018. If Ohtani is hitting, say, .215 in June, a contending team might propose it’s better for him to focus on pitching. Meanwhile, the Padres, who’ve carried three Rule 5 draftees and auditioned a catcher as a reliever, should not have the same problem.
Should the topic of a winning environment come up, the Padres can tout their farm system, one of the best in the game. Ownership is hopeful for a playoff berth by 2020. (Acquiring a player of Ohtani’s caliber would help.)
Communicating such factors to Ohtani should be relatively easy. The Padres’ ties here have been well-documented. Several employees are either revered in Japan or have personal relationships with Ohtani, such as ex-Fighters trainer Seiichiro Nakagaki. Ohtani is already familiar with the Padres’ spring training site at the Peoria Sports Complex, where the Fighters held a portion of their preseason preparation each of the last two years.
For now, even after the field has shrunk, much remains unknown. Little to no substantial clues have leaked from Ohtani’s camp, and General Manager A.J. Preller has publicly commented on his pursuit only once, when the Union-Tribune posed a question Saturday.
“As a group, we’re prepared, and I think he’s a player that obviously we’ve scouted and have history with,” Preller said. “You try to see what the fits are and why he’s a good fit for us and why we’re a good fit for him.”
The Padres, favorite or not, certainly have done their homework.
With the Arizona Fall League now behind us, we’ll focus on San Francisco Giants players who are getting some work in the winter leagues.
Dominican Baseball League
Christian Arroyo – Pretty interesting to see the Giants top prospect playing winter ball, but Arroyo played three games game back in October to get some extra at-bats. He picked up a couple of hits, and I doubt we see him play again this winter.
Orlando Calixte – Currently on the Giants 40-man roster, Calixte is hitting just .179 in 28 at-bats this winter. His last game played was on November 18, so it’s unclear if he’s done for the winter or not.
Miguel Gomez – The utility player is ranked as the Giant’s 23rd best prospect by MLB.com after making his major league debut in 2017. He’s hitting just .161 in 31 at-bats this winter. His last game played was on November 19.
Ryder Jones – After getting a lot of playing time in the big leagues this past season, Jones wanted to pick up some extra at-bats this winter. He hit .204 in 54 at-bats with his last game played no November 4.
Jarrett Parker – The Giants outfielder played in only one game back on October 13 and picked up a hit in four at-bats.
Jose Dominguez – After being suspended for pretty much the entire 2017 season for a second positive test of a banned substance, Dominguez is getting work in the winter league. He pitched in two games but only recorded three outs, while giving up 1 run on 2 hits with 2 strikeouts. His last outing was back on October 24.
Roberto Gomez – Gomez made his major league debut this year but was roughed up in just 5.1 innings pitched. He’s made 3 appearances this winter, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 1 walk in 2 innings pitched. His last appearance was on November 18, so he may not be done yet.
Reyes Moronta – Another player that made his major league debut in 2017, Moronta posted a 2.70 ERA in 6.2 big league innings. This winter he’s pitched in one game — on November 14 — and allowed 1 hit in 0.2 innings with a strikeout. Moronta is ranked as the 26th best prospect for the Giants by MLB.com.
Tyler Rogers – Rogers had a very good season at Triple-A in 2017 posting a 2.37 ERA in 76 innings pitched. He pitched in three winter league games back in October and allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 1.1 innings pitched.
Venezuela Baseball League
Jose Flores – Flores had a solid 2017 between Double-A and Triple-A posting a 3.46 ERA in 112 innings pitched. So far this winter things have not gone as well with a 10.38 ERA in 8.2 innings pitched, allowing 18 hits and 6 walks with 7 strikeouts.
Matt Lujan – Lujan pitched to the tune of a 4.99 ERA at Double-A in 2017. His numbers have not been good this winter with a 11.91 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched, allowing 18 hits and 8 walks with 8 strikeouts.
Albert Suarez – Suarez has 115.2 major league innings under his belt with a career 4.51 ERA and 88 strikeouts. This winter he’s made four starts and has a 2.75 ERA over 19.2 innings with 13 strikeouts. He’s allowed 19 hits and 5 walks over that span. His last outing was on November 15.
Mexican Baseball League
Dusten Knight – Knight had a 3.52 ERA over 76.2 innings in 2017 playing in High-A and Triple-A. This winter he has a 6.23 ERA in 6 games (5 starts) and 26 innings pitched with 23 strikeouts, while allowing 30 hits and 11 walks. His last game was on November 19.
Luis Pino – The 23-year-old was able to reach Double-A in 2017, but didn’t have much success there. This winter he has a 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings pitched, allowing 24 hits and 14 walks with 14 strikeouts. His last outing was on November 18.
Australian Baseball League
T.J. Bennett – Bennett played across three levels in 2017 reaching Triple-A, but only played in 59 games. The ABL just stared, but Bennett is hitting .250 in 12 at-bats with 2 home runs.
Check back with Around the Foghorn throughout the offseason as we keep you up-to-date with San Francisco Giants players in the winter leagues.
The Seattle Mariners have the same goal this offseason that they’ve had for a long while: Build a good-enough team to snap the playoff drought that has consumed their Octobers since 2001.
In an effort to accomplish that, general manager Jerry Dipoto might be looking to bring in a player who has ample playoff experience: Free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana:
Santana wouldn’t seem like an obvious fit on paper. The Mariners have plenty of funds allocated to Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager — and would seem more likely to use their available resources to shore up their rotation and/or outfield. Yet Santana would fill a hole at first base.
Santana doesn’t have the sexiest profile. His durability and on-base skills are his selling points, as he’s tallied more than 600 plate appearances in all seven of his full seasons, all the while reaching base at least 35 percent of the time. Santana’s power production has varied — he’s homered 19, 34, and 23 times the past three seasons — but he’s a quality player all the same.
Perhaps the hope for the Mariners is that a flooded first-base market and the aforementioned lack of chrome will make Santana a potential bargain. Shy of that, the Mariners might opt for another member of the market’s surplus of cold-corner types.
Right around this time last year, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Brett Cecil almost completely out of nowhere. With the ‘closer’ role being made of utmost importance, is there another totally random Brett Cecil-type of signing out there? Here are 6 names to know…
Ever since John Mozeliak revealed that a closer is this offseason’s “top priority” for the St. Louis Cardinals and that that pitcher would “likely come from outside the organization,” rumors have swirled and names have been thrown around.
Will it be Greg Holland? What about Wade Davis? Maybe Zach Britton? How about Roberto Osuna? All are beautiful options but would either require excessive contracts or massive prospect hauls in a potential trade.
So, much like I did just the other day in looking at some under the radar ‘impact bat’ candidates for the St. Louis Cardinals, let’s take a look at some of the other guys out there in the closer market.
Quickly, before I get started with the actual list, I’m intentionally leaving Juan Nicasio off because he is already a prevalent option and doesn’t qualify to me as ‘under the radar’ because he might well be right in the center of the radar, hanging out and having drinks with Greg Holland.
Hamstringing the payroll is never good, but in a time where relief pitching is as important and volatile as its ever been, the Cardinals need to shy away from the big money contracts that Wade Davis and Greg Holland will command and instead look to fill the ranks with relatively cheap, yet quality free agents such as the 5 listed above.
The MLB Playoffs continued last night with both LCS’s having games played.
The New York Yankees stunned the Houston Astros as they climbed back from a 4-0 deficit in the 7th inning to rallying to back to win, 6-4. The series is now split at two game apiece and the Yankees victory ensure the series will return to Houston for Game 6.
Meanwhile, over on the National League side of things, the Los Angeles Dodgers continued their dominance over the Chicago Cubs, defeating them 6-1, and taking a 3-0 series advantage.
Game five of the ALCS takes place at 5 today with Dallas Keuchel taking on Masahiro Tanaka.
The Dodgers will look claim the National League Championship tonight as they’ll send Alex Wood to the mound against Jake Arriete with that game starting at 9:10pm EST.
Someone stole the bat from Ken Griffey Jr’s statue outside of SafeCo field, thankfully the police have already apprehended the suspend and recovered the bat
Viva El Birdos, the Cardinals SBN site, looked at the Rays as a potential trading partner
Over at Rays Colored Glasses, they believe the Rays will be making a plethora of off-season moves
Today, you can say you learned that Hawk Harrelson wanted to purchase an MLB franchise and bring it to Tampa Bay in 1990 and he had the ultimate plan to succeed
“We were going to buy all young players, making the minimum and tell the people here in this area what we were doing. This is our plan. And we were going to go with that plan for five years. And then we were going to see where we were after five years. If we made good choices and the players were coming along, we were going to keep it. If they weren’t, we were going to sell it. We had everything all set.”
Speaking of bring a major league franchise to a location, Portland is working to be one of the next expansion sites.
Evan Grant, Rangers beat writer for SportsDayDFW.com and The Dallas Morning News, answered questions about the team in a live chat recently. Here are some highlights:
Question: What is the next step for Nomar Mazara to improve his game?
Evan Grant: He’s had back-to-back 20 homer seasons, but, in this day and age, 20 homers means little. Mazara should be capable of more power. But he also must learn to hit on the road. Over his first two seasons, there is a huge discrepancy between his home and road splits. He’s a .288 hitter at home with a .796 OPS; it drops to .229/.687 on the road. He’s got to be more comfortable in unfamiliar settings. I do feel like the power will come naturally.
Question: Who would you say is the Rangers’ best reliever after Alex Claudio?
Evan Grant: I think Jake Diekman is going to be a dominant lefty next year, but I do wonder if Rangers will try to get him to where he can get 4-6 outs if needed. I think Keone Kela has the ability to be world class. He had a great 2015 rookie season, was injured in 2016 and had to deal with a growth issue in 2017. It’s time for him to really step up. He can do it.
Question: Who do you think is going to be the next Rangers prospect to crack the MLB roster?
Evan Grant: When you say “crack,” I think you mean do something more than just make a token appearance. And under that definition, I don’t think there is any question that it will be Willie Calhoun. I have him penciled in as the regular left fielder in 2018 or, at worst, in kind of a loose platoon there. He did get four weeks in the majors this year, but only 34 at-bats. He’s the next guy with a chance to make an impact. If you mean somebody who doesn’t yet have a major league at-bat, I think there is a chance Ronald Guzman gets some kind of look in 2018
Question: I’ve seen that the Rangers would use Shohei Otani as both a pitcher and hitter. Aren’t NL teams going to have a bigger advantage when it comes to that? And how could the Rangers do that? DH every few days?
Evan Grant: AL teams will have the advantage, unless NL teams are willing to play him in the outfield. He can DH in the AL. Question is: Could he DH all four days between starts or would he need a day of rest after he starts and a day of rest on the day before he starts. It’s an unprecedented situation. It’s going to take some time to figure out.
Tanner Roark struggled on the mound in last night’s series finale in Citizens Bank Park, but the Washington Nationals, who scored five runs, went 3 for 12 overall with runners in scoring position and 11 left on base in the 7-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position,” Dusty Baker told reporters, “… and lately we’re not hitting with runners in scoring position so we’ve just got to go the drawing board on that one and we’ve just got to pick up our overall game.”
With four games remaining in the regular season and then four days off before the start of the Nationals’ NLDS matchup with the Chicago Cubs, there isn’t much time left for getting in the at bats that some of the Nats need to get their timing down as they prepare for the postseason.
“That’s a long time, and so on one hand you can get guys healed and healthy and set your rotation,” Baker said when asked last night about the balance of keeping players rested and sharp.
“On the other hand you don’t want them to rust out by inactivity. So there’s a definite balancing act, and you don’t know if you’re doing it right until you get there.”
Baker was clear, however, that he wasn’t looking past the games that are left because there is work to be done before he and the Nationals take on the Cubs.
“My thoughts are finish the season strong and then we’ll worry about Chicago,” Baker said. “We’ve got another four days to go and we want to finish strong and go into the new season with some momentum.”
After dropping two of three to the Phillies, the Nationals try to start building up that momentum in this weekend’s four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates.