A’s minor league coach banned one year for ordering intentional balks

Believe it or not, the headline you just read does not include any type-o’s. We have all heard of intentional walks and we see them numerous times on a daily basis. But intentional balks? Those are far less common. Not only do they exist, but their use recently earned an A’s minor league coach a year ban from the California League.

According to Brian VanderBeek of the Modesto Bee, Class A California coach Todd Steverson — who was the acting manager of the Stockton Ports on June 23 — has been fined and suspended for an entire year after he ordered his players intentionally balk in the 17th and 18th innings of an extremely long game against the Modesto Nuts. Having already been forced to use position players as pitchers, Steverson said he was trying to avoid uneccesary injuries.

“We had a position player out there and I didn’t want to put another position player on the mound and get him hurt,” he explined. “I didn’t get any of my pitchers hurt and I didn’t get any position players hurt. So a game on June 23, 2012, well, these guys will be playing many more games more important than that.”

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Ron Washington Believes He Would Have Made A’s Winners [Unlikely]

I know, I know. Upon reading the headline, I’m sure your first inclination was to throw in a cocaine joke. Ours too. But we here at LBS are tasteful, and don’t have to resort to such low-hanging fruit when it comes to humor. So we won’t.

Getting to the story, in light of all the Moneyball talk lately, Ron Washington raised some mustaches by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that if he had been named manager of the A’s in 2006, they’d be winning just like the Rangers have.

“If I took this team over when I went to Texas, I believe the same thing we did in Texas, we’d be doing here,” said Washington, referring to Oakland. “Billy (Beane) had that chance. I’m not saying he didn’t want me, but he went in another direction, and another team wanted me.”

Washington was hired to manage the Rangers in early November 2006, while the A’s went with Bob Geren a week or so later. The A’s haven’t had a winning season since, and they have finished third or worst in the AL West in four of the five seasons. Texas, meanwhile, has enjoyed three winning seasons in a row, and even reached the World Series last year. But few people, outside of Ron Washington and Ron Washington’s mother, will argue that Ron Washington is the reason the Rangers have been successful while the A’s have not.

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Fans at A’s-Orioles Game Forced to Turn off Light-Up Jackets

If fans at the Coliseum choose to wear light-up jackets, they should be allowed to wear light-up jackets. Why? Because they’re fans and they’re at the Coliseum.  That’s a rarity.  Why piss off 20 percent of the fans that chose to attend your game?

Apparently the light-up jackets worn by an A’s and an Orioles fan Tuesday night were distracting enough that they were told to turn them off.  They were seated behind home plate, so I guess the field umpire thought they would distract the pitcher and/or fielders?  Who knows.  Check out the video of the fans with light-up jackets, courtesy of MLB.com via Big League Stew:

Add this to the list of reasons C.J. Wilson can’t stand the A’s.

C.J. Wilson Hates Everything About the Oakland A’s

C.J. Wilson is one free agent who will be commanding huge bucks this upcoming MLB offseason. While an agent would probably advise its client to keep all options open to improve bargaining power, Wilson doesn’t seem to care.  That’s how much he hates Oakland and everything about their baseball team.  Either that, or he’s pulling the best free agent ploy we have ever witnessed.

“I hate pitching there,” Wilson told the Star-Telegram. “The mound sucks. The fans suck. There are no fans there. The fans who are there are really adamant, but sometimes you’ll go there and there’s 6,000 fans. I just wish the fan base supported them a little more.

“So, you don’t have to worry about me signing there in the off-season,” Wilson added after mentioning that he doesn’t even like the weather. “The players on their team hate me. Whatever. I don’t care. We’re rivals.”

I guess that cuts the list of potential suitors for the left-hander down a bit — not that the A’s would spend big bucks on a pitcher anyways.  My only question is does the mound really suck or does it simply belong to someone else?

Huston Street Rips Bob Geren

On Tuesday we brought you the thoughts of A’s reliever Brian Fuentes who ripped manager Bob Geren for his lack of communication regarding bullpen roles. It was hard to determine which side was right — Fuentes had been pitching poorly and it seemed like he was blaming someone else for his problems. Geren meanwhile should be communicating with his players and notifying them of their duties.

Though it was easy to side with the manager on the matter, comments from former Oakland closer Huston Street, now the closer for the Rockies, paints Geren in an even worse light.

“Bob was never good at communication, and I don’t want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left,” Street told the San Francisco Chronicle. “For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager.”

Keep in mind that Street had a run-in with Geren in September ’08 when both were with Oakland, so there’s some obvious tension. Also, second baseman Mark Ellis backed Geren up saying he’s always been fine with him. Still, it seems to be a trend where relievers have a difficult time getting along with Geren. He may not be the worst person in baseball, but it’s pretty obvious he needs to communicate with his players much better. I’m guessing this is an issue GM Billy Beane plans on addressing.

Players Don’t Like When Things They Say Or Do Turn Into Shirts

I’ve started to pick up on a somewhat of a theme over the past few weeks.  For whatever reason, MLB players don’t seem to like when things they say end up as catch phrases on t-shirts.  I’m not sure if it’s because they want a cut of the profits, they’re embarrassed by the attention, or some other reason but, Dallas Braden and Dustin Pedroia have both recently expressed discontent over shirts that have been made in their honor.

Braden is the most recent example.  He thinks the “Get Off My Mound” shirts the Oakland Athletics are selling — which is of course a reference to the famous barking attack Braden unleashed on A-Rod when he ran across the back of the mound — are a poor marketing tool and he’d rather the incident go away.  Here’s what he had to say about the shirts, courtesy of Out of Bounds via New York Daily News:

It’s just not cool,” Braden told the New York Daily News, referring to the shirt. “It’s just a serious, gross lack of tact. At the end of the day, I hope I do not become associated with that kind of approach.”

“They’re trying to generate revenue, trying to get butts in the seat, I can see that,” Braden said. “It’s almost like, at what cost do you do that? They didn’t have permission. They were told on multiple occasions, that, no, it’s not a good idea. It’s not going to be approved. They just kind of put the horse-blinders on and ran with it.”

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In Billy Beane, the A’s Should Trust

I learned my lesson (for the 82nd time) this year, that you can never underestimate Billy Beane. After he traded away Dan Haren and Nick Swisher leading into the season, I said the A’s had conceded 2008. They’re happily in 2nd place in the AL West, well over .500. What the **** do I know. Anyway, I think the Rich Harden trade definitely was one worth making for the Cubs, and was probably smart on the A’s part as well.

At first glance, the A’s got completely ripped off. Which probably means Beane got a steal. Sure, Beane was fleeced on the Tim Hudson deal after Dan Meyer decided to suck upon being dealt to Oakland, but there’s no doubting Beane’s track record — he’s awesome. Beane’s already received at least equal value in both the Haren and Swisher deals, and most of the prospects haven’t even come close to blossoming yet. So let’s break this trade down on both ends.

For the Cubs, they’re getting an ace who’s capable of pitching seven pretty unhittable innings in a ballgame. Rich Harden is one of the harder-throwing starters in the game, also possessing a devastating change up that he mixes in frequently. The dude needs a milk IV pumping into his bones not to mention a bubble to sleep in so he can be healthy, but he’s dominant when he’s out there, however infrequently it may be. The Cubs are essentially getting Mark Prior once again, and everyone knows how frustrating that can be. They’re rolling the dice and taking a gamble that can have a huge reward, and one that probably makes them the favorite at the sportsbook. If it doesn’t pay off, they’re not going to be hurt too much by losing the players they traded away. If it does pay off, they could be looking at winning a World Series. It was definitely a gamble worth taking.

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