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Oakland A's 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Khris Davis

Khris Davis

The A’s are one of the most optimistic last-place teams in history. Yes, they finished at the bottom of the AL West a third straight year. But, no, they’re not anticipating much more gloom and doom. Not after they played their best baseball in the final weeks, finishing 17–7 and posting a winning September after 10 straight losing months. 

Corner infielders Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are two of the biggest reasons for hope, and Khris Davis will be gunning for his third straight 40-homer, 100-RBI season. The offense can be lethal, but the pitching is a major question mark, both in the rotation and bullpen. The A’s will rely on many young pitchers to lead the way, and that’s the great unknown.

The A’s have an improved farm system, largely because of prospects acquired in trades, especially the two in July that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees and Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals. It’s a work in progress, as always in Oakland, but there are reasons to believe in a bright future.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the A'S

“These guys are still a ways away. Billy Beane is always rebuilding, but I don’t know how many future stars he has here. Sean Manaea knows how to pitch, Andrew Triggs keeps the ball down in the strike zone with deception, and Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett have good arms. But I don’t see a No. 1 starter, and I really don’t see a No. 2 starter, either. I’m not sure I see a solid closer, although Santiago Casilla has experience, and Blake Treinen showed some new life after the trade from Washington. Yusmeiro Petit was a great signing; he’ll take the ball in any role, he’s not afraid of anything, and they could flip him for a good prospect in July since he’s under team control at a good rate through 2020. Their lineup strikes out a ton, but Khris Davis and Matt Olson do make up for it with big-time power. I love Matt Chapman’s glove at third, and while Franklin Barreto wasn’t quite ready last year, he’s always hit in the minors, and he’s a big part of their future at second or short.”

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Home Sweet Home

Stephen Piscotty is thankful the Cardinals traded him to the A’s, where he can be close to his mother, Gretchen, who was diagnosed with ALS last year. “Sometimes there are things more important than baseball,” he says. “This opportunity here is a great combination of family and baseball. I think it’s really the best thing for myself and my family. A lot of good is going to come out of it.” Piscotty lives at his parents’ home in nearby Pleasanton. The A’s sent minor-leaguers Yairo Muñoz and Max Schrock to St. Louis.

Artistic License

Grady Fuson, who was portrayed inaccurately in the movie “Moneyball,” won two awards at the winter meetings: West Coast Scout of the Year and the Chief Bender Award for player development. “I fired that guy,” Billy Beane quipped, referring to the scene in which Beane’s character, played by Brad Pitt, canned Fuson — which never happened. Fuson had left the team for a more lucrative gig with the Rangers. He returned in 2010 and now is an assistant to Beane and GM David Forst.

Billy Ball

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and two longtime employees — director of team travel Mickey Morabito and clubhouse manager Steve Vucinich — appeared in “Billy,” a documentary about Billy Martin. Martin managed the A’s in the early ‘80s when the team played an aggressive style known as Billy Ball.

Breaking ground

Haley Alvarez, 24, was hired as scouting coordinator, the first woman to work as an A’s talent evaluator. Among her assignments: assisting in draft preparation and international scouting. She was an A’s intern two years ago and worked for the Reds in 2017.

Rising Sun

The A’s are candidates to play a season-opening series in Tokyo in 2019. It’s possible they’ll play the Angels, who signed Japanese pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani. The A’s opened the 2008 and 2012 seasons in Tokyo.

Starting Over

The A’s were the lone West Coast team that Ohtani did not include among his seven finalists, and stadium issues figured to be one of the reasons. For years, the A’s have tried to target sites for a new facility, and their plans keep falling through. The latest plan was to build near an Oakland community college, but that fell through in December. With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco, the A’s would be the lone major pro sports team in Oakland.

Projected Lineup

SS     Marcus Semien (R)
LF     Matt Joyce (L)
2B     Jed Lowrie (S)
DH     Khris Davis (R)
1B     Matt Olson (L)
RF     Stephen Piscotty (R)
3B     Matt Chapman (R)
CF     Dustin Fowler (L)
C     Bruce Maxwell (L)
UT     Chad Pinder (R)
OF     Boog Powell (L)
INF     Franklin Barreto (R)
C     Josh Phegley (R)
RHP     Kendall Graveman
LHP     Sean Manaea
RHP     Paul Blackburn
RHP     Daniel Mengden
RHP     Jharel Cotton
RHP     Blake Treinen 
RHP     Emilio Pagan
LHP     Ryan Buchter
RHP     Yusmeiro Petit
RHP     Chris Hatcher

LHP     Daniel Coulombe

RHP     Liam Hendriks