A’s start spring training amid a flurry of low expectations

Oakland got a smattering of love from the prognosticators 12 months ago, some analysts figuring the A’s might finish as high as fourth in the five-team American League West. Basketball olympics usa One suggestion from Bleacher Report was that Oakland would finish fourth but with 80 wins, darn near competitive.

But after a second consecutive last-place finish and just 69 wins, Oakland is pretty much the consensus last-place pick in the West as pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz.


Backyard baseball download Tuesday with a first workout Wednesday. Little league baseball age chart 2016 One Reno oddmaker has the club’s over/under at 66.5 wins, 29th among the 30 MLB teams.

It’s not tough to see the why behind the harshness of that kind of view. El patio mcallen The A’s have let some helpful arms and bats go since the middle of last season, including lefty starter Rich Hill, reliever Fernando Rodriguez, right fielder Josh Reddick, center fielders Coco Crisp and Billy Burns and third baseman/DH Danny Valencia. How to build a fence in minecraft DH Billy Butler is gone, too.

Oakland is looking internally to find a replacement for Hill in the rotation. Knuckleball pitch Santiago Casilla is an upgrade in the bullpen. Sprinkler system diagram As for the lineup, Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce have been brought in as the new starters in center and right while Trevor Plouffe is the new third baseman. How to pitch faster The A’s one bid at a legit game-changer, Edwin Encarnacion, didn’t pan out.

If A’s fans were looking for a signature move à la the Kevin Durant signing turned in by their NBA Coliseum stablemates at 66th Ave. Hotels in dripping springs texas and Interstate-880, they didn’t see it. Landscape photos Neither did the analysts.

It’s not like there is no room for optimism. High pitch eric periscope For one thing, there are good young players like starter Sean Manaea, reliever Ryan Dull, infielder Ryon Healy and shortstop Marcus Semien who return after stepping it up in 2016. Spring training schedule arizona For another, the A’s would be hard-pressed to have the same kind of disastrous health issues that saw the disabled list used an Oakland record 27 times totaling 1,810 games.

Any hopes the A’s have about being competitive start with Gray pitching back to his form of his first 2½ seasons when he jumped into the rotation and quickly became a dominant force. Lanscaping The early reports are good. Driveway Gray has morphed from a pitcher rehabbing from injury to one who pronounced himself late last month feelings “strong, 100 percent.”

He was anything but in a 5-11, 5.69 ERA season that began with him missing his opening day start because of illness and then landing on the disabled list twice. Fastest softball pitcher in the world The season ended with Gray throwing one inning in a start on Sept. Brick fence designs 28 just so he’d be able to go into the winter without having spent the final eight weeks of the season not having the feeling of being on a mound.

Gray is just one season removed from having finished third in the voting for the American League Cy Young Award. Little league baseball field dimensions To give himself the best chance to get back there, Gray hired a personal trainer over the winter and that move and his all-in approach to his training has given the A’s hope that every fifth day they’ll have their top guy back on top.

Oakland enters the season with a serious deficit from the left side. Garden snake baby A typical A’s lineup might include just three lefties – catcher Stephen Vogt, first baseman Yonder Alonso and right fielder Joyce – and one switch-hitter in second baseman Jed Lowrie.

Small wonder, then, that there seems to be an opening for first baseman/right fielder Matt Olson, a former first-round draft pick who hit 37 homers in Class-A ball in 2014 from the left side. Little league pitch count rules 2016 However, he’s hit 17 homers in each of the last two seasons and his 2-for-21 (.095) showing in the waning days of 2016 suggest the 22-year-old needs more time to hone his game.

It is the lack of left-handed punch that lends credence to the thought that the A’s could carry three catchers this season. Home design ideas for small spaces Bruce Maxwell, who filled in when Josh Phegley was hurt last year, is ticketed for Triple-A. Outdoor furniture plans free download However, he’s a lefty and thus can’t be ignored.

Maxwell was thought to be mostly a defensive specialist until he hit one homer every 19.3 at-bats in the minors last year, then hit .283 with one bomb in 92 big league at-bats has the club upping the expectations of what Maxwell can bring, so he could serve as DH if the club needs an extra lefty.

The A’s were the first team to glorify on-base percentage as a way to score runs, but the approach championed by Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane is now the coin of the realm and Moneyball is in everybody’s playbook.

When the A’s were thought of as shoo-ins to the post-season in 2013 and 2014, it was in large part because they Moneyballed, ranking in the upper echelon in the AL in both runs scored and on-base percentage.

In 2016, Oakland finished last in both, and it wasn’t particularly close. Wyevale woodbridge Changing that will have to come over time from within, as general manager David Forst admits, because everybody wants high on-base guys and the free agency and trade marketplaces reflect that value.

One of the reasons the A’s went after Joyce in free agency is that the right fielder, who likely will be in a platoon, has a history of drawing walks and getting on base that peaked in 2016 with a .403 on-base percentage. Frances bean cobain art That overrides his .242 average, if it can be kept up. Rooftop bars near me But newbies Rajai Davis in center field (.306) and Plouffe at third base (.307) have middle-of-the-road on-base percentages, so it’s up to them and the holdovers to just do better if the A’s are going to improve substantially.

The one portion of the A’s roster that seems to be imposing is a relief corps that numbers four former or current big league closers. Patio town burnsville Casilla had 31 saves for the Giants last year while Ryan Madson took over in Oakland and saved 32 games. Little league baseball John Axford had 25 for the Rockies two years ago and three years back lefty Sean Doolittle had 22 for the A’s.

If Bob Melvin can get his club to the sixth or seventh inning with the lead, he’s going to have a chance to successfully get the A’s over the finish line with one or more of those four, because of the club’s depth in the pen.

Dull and veteran Liam Hendriks proved to be effective bridges from the starters to the finishers last year, Dull with a 0.87 WHIP and 2.42 ERA and Hendriks with a 1.11 WHIP and 2.23 ERA from the point in June when he came off the disabled list.

That being said, with basically the same group last year, the club’s overall bullpen numbers – seventh in the Major Leagues in innings, 11th in ERA and 18th in saves – aren’t showstoppers and suggest they can’t handle the load of getting the A’s competitive on their own even with the addition of Casilla.

To start the season, the Oakland will be young with as many as 12 likely members of the 25-man roster 27 or younger and with a 13th, Mark Canha, having turned 28 on Wednesday.

But the bullpen and the position players tell of an older demographic, and over the course of the season, the A’s will make moves to go younger. Pitch in The pace of that will take its cue from the Oakland won-lost record.

If the A’s hold their own, then shortstop Franklin Barreto, 20, third baseman Matt Chapman, 23, and first baseman Olson, 22, will have a leisurely rise toward Oakland. Irrigation supply store near me But if the A’s find themselves going nowhere in the first six or eight weeks of the season, the club likely will look to them and others.

Barreto, Chapman and Cotton are three of the four A’s ranked in BaseballAmerica’s list of top 100 prospects in the game, the other being last year’s first-round draft pick A.J. El patio des moines Puk, a lefty starter out of Florida. Softball pitching videos The A’s have more than two men on BaseballAmerica’s elite list for the first time since 2012.

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