oak

Series beginning
06/30/2022

Oakland Athletics

It seems like we've been seeing a lot of the Oakland A's lately. Three games here in Seattle in late May, three more in Oakland a week ago, now four this weekend. It's well-timed, really; the Mariners need some more series wins to build up their confidence and bring them up to .500 before the All-Star break and the A's remain the worst team in the Majors, 2½ games worse than the Cincinnati Reds. But this is baseball and anything can happen; even the A's have a stopper in Frankie Montas, and despite recent improvements we've seen the Mariners choke at the plate more times than we can count this season. Nothing is certain.

Still, the A's are really bad. Their top hitter statistically is catcher/first baseman Christian Bethancourt, with his  underwhelming line of .242/.283/.389. They are, of course, last in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and hits, and they're next-to-last in home runs and total bases. Oakland pitching is somewhat better, with Montas, Cole Irvin, and Paul Blackburn having decent seasons as starters and half of the bullpen crew posting good numbers, but the A's have had plenty of games that saw their opposition score lots of runs—teams have scored eight or more runs against Oakland 17 times already, including the Mariners twice (8-2 and 9-0 wins in Oakland June 21 and 22).

The last meeting between the A's and M's was memorable—Montas held the Mariners hitless through 723 innings, and with two out in the ninth the M's were still being shut out. But then previously-excellent reliever A.J. Puk wild pitched in two runs and the M's won it 2-1.

2022 Record: 25-52, 5th place in the AL West.

Last Series: Swept in three by the Yankees in New York.

Most interesting players: Hmm. Tough call. Blackburn, maybe, though IF/OF Tony Kemp is a throwback type of guy—contact hitter with speed, able defender. Not a lot to choose from in this crowd.

Key injuries: Closer Dany Jiménez, out with a strained shoulder since 6/21. IF Jed Lowrie, placed on the IL today with a shoulder strain.

Pitching matchups: Logan Gilbert for Seattle vs. Adrian Martínez in Thursday's opener—This will be Gilbert's first action vs. the A's this year as the sophomore star right-hander looks to build on his excellent season (8-3, 2.44 ERA to date); Martínez has spent most of the year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he posted a 5.62 ERA in 13 starts. Friday's starters are Marco Gonzales and James Kaprielian—Marco got the win against the A's June 21st, allowing just two runs over seven frames, but had one of his more typical hard-luck losses his last time out in Anaheim on Fight Day, relieved mid-inning having allowed just one run but getting tagged with the 2-1 defeat thanks to his relief allowing in the go-ahead run; Kaprielian was the loser on the 21st despite surrendering just two runs in 513 innings, one of his best starts of the year. Saturday George Kirby will take on Paul Blackburn—Kirby was lit up his last outing, serving up seven runs to the Orioles, but his prior start was in Oakland and saw him shut the A's out for six innings for his second big-league win; Blackburn was torched by Seattle last week in that 9-0 M's win, by far the worst start of the year for the bearded lefty, and he drew a no-decision his last time out, a 9-5 loss to the Yankees in the Bronx. Sunday is scheduled to pit Robbie Ray against Frankie Montas—Ray has continued to be dominant of late, allowing just two runs in 27 innings over his last four turns, including one against Oakland; Montas has continued to be a very good pitcher for this very bad team and had his best start of the year against the M's last week in that eight-inning effort that held Seattle hitless until the end of his 102-pitch effort.

Splits

Last ten 3-7
Away 17-24
vs. LHP 8-17
vs. RHP 17-35
One-run games 5-13
vs. AL West 6-17
vs. Mariners 2-4

Who’s Hot & Not

Last ten games

Seth Brown
.361/.410/.639, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Christian Bethancourt
.147/.194/.177, 12 Ks

Tony Kemp
.121/.194/.273, 7 Ks

Elvis Andrus
.219/.286/.281, 8 Ks

Last 3 series vs. Seattle

6/23/22 SEA 2, OAK 1
6/22/22 SEA 9, OAK 0
6/21/22 SEA 8, OAK 2
5/25/22 OAK 4, SEA 2
5/24/22 OAK 7, SEA 5
5/23/22 SEA 7, OAK 6
9/29/21 SEA 4, OAK 2
9/28/21 SEA 4, OAK 2
9/27/21 SEA 13, OAK 4

Manager

kotsay

Mark Kotsay: This is Kotsay's first managerial gig at any level, following a year as batting coach for the Padres, a year as bench coach for the A's, and several years as Oakland's "quality control coach," which frankly sounds made-up. Described as "very high-energy" by infielder Jed Lowrie, Kotsay is a stark change from the subdued and relatively stoic Bob Melvin, who helmed the A's for 11 years before departing for San Diego after the ’21 campaign. "Bob had an unbelievable ability to stay very calm," said Kotsay. "You never knew his highs and his lows.... I'm definitely more emotional." Substantively, though, Kotsay wants the A's to stay the course. “Bob laid the foundation of the culture here over the last 10-and-a-half years,” said Kotsay. “That culture is about winning. We’re going to carry that forward. Bob had a level of expectation of how the game is played, and I will continue to have that level of expectation.” Sounds good, but hard to execute when your front office takes away all of your best bats. If the A's win more than 60 games this year, it will reflect well on their rookie skipper.

Familiar Face

Nobody. There are no former Mariners among the Oakland players or coaching staff.

Franchise History

Oakland Athletics(1968 - present)
 
World Champions:1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989
League Champions:1905, 1914, 1931, 1990
Division Titles:1971, 1975, 1981, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2020

— Notes —

Dany Jiménez's pro career has been spent shuttling between the Toronto organization and the Bay Area. Oakland's rookie closer signed with the Blue Jays out of the DR, and after four years in the Jays' minors was taken in the Rule 5 draft by San Francisco. He didn't make the cut for SF's mini-season in 2020, so he was sent back to the Blue Jays. After the ’20 season, the A's claimed him off of waivers, but as he was still governed by Rule 5, the A's had to sent him back to Toronto when he didn't make the cut in spring training. Then the Blue Jays cut him loose. So he returned to the A's as a minor-league free agent and for a time was dominating the ninth inning, making both the Blue Jays and the Giants kick themselves for not knowing what they had. He's come down to Earth a bit in recent weeks, but still has 11 saves for a team that rarely has save opportunities.

Elvis Andrus is the highest-paid Oakland A this year at $14.25 million (though more than half of that is being paid by his former team, the Texas Rangers). The A's would undoubtedly like to shed his contract, but there's a problem: Andrus has a $15M vesting option for 2023 that kicks in if he reaches 550 plate appearances this year. Unless he turns it on and hits up a storm before the trade deadline, it's hard to see any club willing to take that on, and even then there'd have to be an element of desperation. And you know the A's aren't going to let that option vest for them. Most likely manager Mark Kotsay is under orders to keep him out of the lineup often enough that Andrus tops out at 549 trips to the plate.