A’s rebuild Begins

As every baseball fan knows, when the calendar turns to July, teams begin to assess where they are in the standings. Teams that are contending and at the top of their division usually trade for players that will make their club stronger suited for a run at a World Series championship by filling a weakness or just enhancing the starpower of the roster.  On the other hand, teams with losing records that are out of the hunt for the upcoming playoffs tend to trade their best players to contending teams. In return these teams either rebuilding or just having a down year get prospects or sometimes major leaguers that they hope will fuel the losing team back to prosperity.

From 2012-2014, the A’s were one of the best teams in the MLB. As a result, they were busy buyers at the trade deadline over these years as they tried to win a championship. However, things took a nosedive in 2014. They were the best team in baseball up until the trade deadline when Billy Beane messed up the team’s chemistry and rhythm by trading star and fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester hoping that combining Lester with Sonny Gray would carry the A’s to a championship. Yet, the A’s faltered down the stretch and ended up blowing the wildcard game to the Royals. After that season, Billy Beane continued to do the unexpected by trading late blooming superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays even though he is extremely far away from free agency and would be under the A’s control for many years to come.

These two trades really slammed shut the A’s contention window as the team lost its two offensive stars in bonehead moves by Billy Beane.These trades were just the latest instance in which Billy Beane traded away his best players just as they became established players in MLB. As a result, A’s fans know the feeling all too well of buying jerseys and getting fond of a star player only to watch him be traded rather than extended.

http://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/A-s-fans-are-used-to-saying-goodbye-to-their-11298052.php

This feeling was recently brought up once again when in the first of presumably many trades to come involving star A’s being sent to contending teams for prospects, fan favorite Sean Doolittle and fellow reliever Ryan Madson were traded to the 1st place Nationals for the Nats 2nd(inf Sheldon Neuse) and 3rd rounders(Jesus Luzardo) from the 2016 draft.

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Pros of this deal: relievers are volatile and the A’s in what Billy Beane is finally calling a need for a “full rebuild” do not need relievers as much as the Nationals who are trying desperately to win a title while they still employ Bryce Harper. Also Madson is 36 and Doolittle has had a fair amount of shoulder problems over the past couple of years. Lastly, the two prospects are young, yet they both have quite a bit of upside especially the lefty pitcher Luzardo who was considered a 1st round talent before Tommy John caused him to fall two rounds.

Cons: Both of these relievers are having very good seasons and Doolittle was a true fan favorite who made the remarkable transition of converting from a first basemen to a dominant all star left handed reliever in a little less than a year.

http://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/A-s-trade-Sean-Doolittle-Ryan-Madson-to-11292260.php

Many GM’s and experts believe that this trade is only the beginning of the sell off that Billy Beane is planning for this deadline as rumors are constantly swirling regarding the likes of Lowrie, Alonso, and Sonny Gray(three very good players who would greatly improve any of the contending teams). Sonny Gray in particular hears many rumors and speculation about him as he is the best starter believed to be available on the trade market.

While I was pissed off when Beane made his first trade and likely will be if he makes any more stupid trades or doesn’t get the return that matches the talent of the player of he trades, I can take solace in the fact that recently Beane said he would finally commit the A’s to a full rebuild. He is planning to hold on to this young core starting to emerge at the Major League level(actually keep players!!!) and make the A’s a winning team when they finally open a new stadium. These statements signify a new and better direction for the A’s franchise,but until action is taken on these statements,I and many other remaining fans will still be mad at the A’s ownership and front office.

http://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/Billy-Beane-insists-A-s-committed-to-major-11292397.php

My WJMC Experience

This past week, I had the wonderful pleasure to participate in the Washington Journalism and Media Conference with about 280 national youth correspondents from all over the US (some from foreign countries) that share the same interest in Journalism as me. The conference was based out of George Mason University, however most of the things we did and places we went were in Washington D.C.

All the correspondents were broken down into color groups and I was placed in the Orange group otherwise known as the Tangerine Dream Team. Our awesome group was led by Sue(a recently retired high school journalism advisor from ND) and Kailey(2015 WJMC alum who is now studying communications at Auburn). Thanks to their leadership, I was able to quickly get acclimated and not have too many problems. I also was able to meet and get to know many new friends whether they were in my group or in another one of the color groups. However, I got mad at myself as the week went on because I felt that I was not being as social as I wanted to be. For instance I mostly stuck to myself and did not get in many conversations with other correspondents.

Despite my social problems, the week was still very much worth it thanks to how much information I absorbed about the field of Journalism as well as the places I got to go. This conference featured a jampacked schedule as I was busy from 7 Am to 11 Pm every day of the conference.

One of the highlights of WJMC for me and something I will always remember is the sheer amount of qualified people in the Journalism industry who took time out of their lives to come speak to us and share their advice for getting into and thriving in the Journalism industry.  The speakers who I most enjoyed were Scott Jackson who talked about how it took him a long while before he got his current job as a voice of the Redskins and April Ryan. Ryan really intrigued me since I found it amazing to be listening to a journalist who’s job allows her to get in the White House and interview Trump and members of his administration. I also found Brian Lamb(C-Span) intriguing because he stressed how crucial the power of storytelling is to a Journalist. Instead of hogging the podium and just speaking like all the other speakers did, Lamb asked us the question of “Have you ever interviewed your mom and dad”. Then he let correspondents share stories of their family history and realize for themselves the power of storytelling. I found all the correspondents stories to be very intriguing and inspiring and I wanted to share where my mom’s family came from but I did not get called on.

Another thing I enjoyed was visiting the newseum for a second time as once again I found all the exhibits on news and its history to be extremely interesting.  However in the museum my bag will all my belongings fell apart and so I had to get a sales bag to temporarily contain my things for the rest of the long day. That day(Monday) also included an extremely pretty twilight tour of the famous monuments specifically the WWII and Lincoln ones.

Thursday upped the ante of coolness because I got to go to the Capital and meet Rep. Barbara Lee who reps my home area of the East Bay in the House of Representative. SHe has been doing it for 20 years which makes her one of the longest tenured in Congress. Rep. Lee was in a very important appropriations meeting so I was only able to get a quick picture with her. When I quickly asked her what is it like to work in Congress, she responded, “busy, always busy.” However, I was able to talk with her staffers Kelsea and Chris. Chris was the one who has been in touch with me and I learned that he recently graduated from SJND back in 2011. I also got to go on a free tour of the Capital with a tour group and see the statue rooms. I would have liked to get to go in the House or Senate chambers but I would have needed a special pass which I didn’t have.  Then, we had a gala that evening which was like icing on the cake. It was really fun and just a great ending to an unbelievable week.

Overall I want to thank Ms. Elena Johnson and my parents for giving me the opportunity to attend this once in a lifetime experience that I do not think I will ever forget. Because of how amazing a time I had at the program, I will certainly consider staying involved with the program in some way in the future. Lastly I want to say to all high school kids who get an invitation to this conference in the mail should strongly consider attending this as it changed my life and I learned so much advice from leaders in the field that will help me be more prepared if I do decide to embark on a career in the Journalism field.

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WJMC So Far

So far throughout my time here at WJMC, I can say that the journalistic part of it so far has lived up to the expectations. We correspondents have been constantly on the move often shuttling back and forth between D.C and George Mason Campus. The Conference got off to a rousing start with a very intriguing opening speech by newseum pr director Sonya Gavankar. She spoke strongly about the importance of networking and internships saying that they are critical to finding internships and soon after legit jobs in the journalism field. Sonya also gave many extremely helpful tips and advice to my fellow correspondents who like me are thinking about or already set to make a career in Journalism. Then following that we had a meeting as a color group to talk about her speech and plan for the upcoming week.

Yesterday was a day full of fun sightseeing in D.C. We bookended a visit to the newseum in the morning with an extremely cool twilight visit to the world famous WWII memorial and Lincoln memorial. Some people also went to the Vietnam Memorial. I had already been to the newseum once before so I knew about it but since I am so interested in the things featured there, paying a visit to the museum of news will never grow old for me. The memorials were also amazing especially how serene and pretty they were in the dusk. This long and eventful day also featured a speech by Ron Meyer who is a conservative libertarian that founded and is in charge of Red Alert Politics. This magazine is the only one in publication dedicated to conservative millennials.

Today featured speaker after speaker who all play different roles in the Journalism field. Yet, they all are well respected by their peers. The list of speakers was as follows:the Marsh sisters, David Culver, Brian Lamb, April Ryan, and lastly Kevin Mccarthy. Each of these speakers had different advice to offer us aspiring journalists and they all did a very good job. Lamb’s speech was very unique in that instead of hogging the microphone and attention, the founder of C-Span let the correspondents tell their stories and realize the power of storytelling. He was probably the most liked along with McCarthy who dropped all these name-bombs of celebrities he has interviewed as part of his job as a movie critic for NBC Washington. I found each speaker to be unique and awesome in their own way and I feel that each of them gave me at least one piece of advice that will stay with me as I enter the field that they have already paved paths in.

Overall, this has been a fairly well start to the week and I look forward to doing more cool things and learning more about Journalism as the conference continues.

 

WJMC Day1

I just recently arrived at the 2017 WJMC conference. When I got there, I checked in, brought my luggage to my dorm and got settled in. No one in my suite was around when I arrived, however when I came back from my meeting with my advisors at the Hub, I met my roommate Julian who comes to this program from WV.

Regarding my meeting with my advisors, I have to say that they were really nice. After we introduced ourselves, they told me about the rules and other general info. My advisors also gave me a book by April Ryan who is one of the speakers at the conference as well as the program notebook which has everything needed to know for the conference.  My junior adviser is named Kalley and my senior advisor is named Sue.

Overall this has been a fine day to begin this camp and I look forward to making more memories as the camp continues. I am especially looking forward to going to the newseum and Capitol Hill.

The Oakland A’s Burgeoning Youth Movement

The 2016-17 Oakland A’s entered the season employing many newly signed along with already rostered veteran placeholders. The list of veteran placeholders who began the year on the team is as follows: Matt Joyce(right field), Rajai Davis(center field), Trevor Plouffe(third base), and Adam Rosales(utility,however mostly shortstop). They signed these guys to give them a chance to play and prove themselves while the youth movement continued to brew down in the minors. This particular youth movement is spearheaded by a group of guys that for the most part developed together in the A’s minor league system playing winning baseball in each stop of their development(Single A, Double A,and Triple A). The main young prospects who the A’s front office think will  restore the storied franchise to greatness are listed below.

Ryon Healy: Emerged as a top prospect last year when he shot through the top levels of A”s minors and impressed when he got promoted to the big leagues for the second half of the season. He is continuing to put up big power numbers this year and cementing his status as a huge piece of the future.

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Chad Pinder is a man that can play short,second, and corner outfield as he has turned himself into kind of a super-utility player. He has also impressed with the bat since his promotion.

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Enteathleticsnation.com/…/oakland-as-2017-community-prospect-list-18-chad-pinder

Matt Olson-Above-average defender at first who can also play right field. He is a true three outcomes hitter who is projected to rack up a ton of home runs, walks, and strikeouts.

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Bruce Maxwell-the A’s catcher of the future who is very good defensively and decent at the plate.

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Enterrotoprofessor.com/baseball 

Matt Chapman-Elite defender at the hot corner.This guy also has huge power potential but a big question experts ask about him is if he will be able to make enough contact to have success in the MLB.

Brugman-the A’s most advanced outfield prospect who is good at everything but doesn’t excel at any one aspect of the game. He is better defensively than all A’s outfielders on opening day roster.

Frankie Barreto: The big prize in the return of the Donaldson trade. A’s top prospect is a middle infielder(SS and 2nd) from Venezuela who can flat out rake and is steady defensively.

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Enter amlbdailydish.com/…/athletics-promote-franklin-barreto 

The A’s also have some young pitchers whom they hope can emerge as future members of the rotation down the line. Daniel Gossett is the most advanced starter with hype as he emerged last year with a breakout season and has ridden that success to a recent callup to the A’s rotation recently decimated by injuries. However when it comes to A’s pitching prospects, the first name mentioned is usually AJ Puk(a power lefty projected to go 1st who fell to the A’s with the 6th pick in last year’s draft and is currently dominating the lower minors)

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m.mlb.com/…/as-sign-first-round-draft-pick-aj-puk
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sfgate.com/…/A-s-Daniel-Gossett-earns-first-big-league-win-11244861.php

Everyone expected the A’s to call up these young players eventually for a taste of the majors in what was expected to be another season of losses and low expectations. However, no one expected them to be called up as early as most of them have been with the exception of Aj Puk who is just beginning at Double A. Gossett was called up to replace the injured Andrew Triggs in the A’s rotation and has performed admirably since a horrible debut in Miami. The A’s cream of young and talented position players have since been called up due to injuries and ineffectiveness among players blocking them on the big league roster. Maxwell has been promoted to take the place of struggling recently released fan favorite catcher Vogt on the left handed hitting side of the A’s catcher platoon opposite Phegley. Chapman was recently promoted to take over third base from horrible Plouffe who also got released and in the process greatly improve the A’s overall defense. However,he only played in 4 games before coming down with a bad knee infection that put him on the disabled list. Pinder was called up to help cover shortstop after Semien landed on the dl with a wrist injury. He has surprised many people with his good all around play, but he is now also on the dl with a hamstring injury. Brugman and Olson got finally promoted after much fan demanding and they are already making more of an impact than declining Rajai Davis. Lastly, Frankie Barreto made his hyped debut yesterday replacing Pinder and immediately showed why everybody thinks so highly of him.

Yesterday’s game of the A’s versus the White Sox was really the first time that most of these top prospects were in the A’s lineup together as the only exceptions were Chapman and Pinder as both are unavailable due to injuries. The prospects that are a huge part of the A’s future shined brightest yesterday in the A’s 10-2 demolishing of the White Sox showing the huge potential they have.Olson, Brugman, and Barreto each hit their first major league home runs which was a major league record that had never happened before.

These three along with Chapman, Pinder, Semien, Maxwell, and Healy are why I along with many others are excited for the future of the A’s. I think that these young players are going to be the foundation of a team that returns the A’s organization to postseason glory and they will experience success only if Billy Beane keeps them together and doesn’t trade them right as they get good like he did with Donaldson.

A New Direction for the A’s

As Memorial Day hits, the A’s are 22-28 thus in 4th place in their division and it is time to asses the current status quo of the club.

Before the season began, the A’s front office hoped to patch up their roster holes and improve the team by bringing in some stopgap veterans while their top prospects would continue to develop and improve at Triple A. Former A Rajai Davis was brought in to man the gaping hole in center field. Vet Matt Joyce was signed to play right field and Trevor Plouffe was signed to man the hot corner.. However all three of these veterans have underperformed both at the plate and in the field which makes me think its time for a change.

The A’s currently have about 12 more errors than any other MLB team and their outfield defense is especially problematic(Joyce). Their pitching has been decent however a rash of injuries has hit the rotation and bullpen recently. However, Sonny Gray is back and appears back on track to returning to his ace like self.Image result for sonny gray 2017

Regarding offense, the A’s have been mostly one dimensional with the main thing the A’s consistently doing being hitting home runs. Khris Davis and Ryon Healy have continued their slugging ways and Jed Lowrie is having his best season at the plate since two years ago. Yonder Alonso has been the one surprise on the A’s so far this season as he’s come out of nowhere to become an power hitting force when he comes up to bat.

To improve the A’s both offensively and defensively thus giving them a better shot at surprising the rest of MLB, I say-let the youth movement commence. The new and improved lineup should be as such

Leftfield-Khris Davis-best player despite very weak throwing arm in left field.

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Center field-Jaycob Brugman (A’s top outfield prospect who’s solid at everything and doesn’t make mistakes).

Right Field-platoon of Matt Olson(A’s pick in 2012-high walk rate and great ability to hit home runs-can play first and corner outfield) and Mark Canha.

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Catcher-for now Vogt and Phegley. If possible, trade Vogt at deadline and replace him with Bruce Maxwell(top catcher in minors-only if Maxwell healthy).

1st base-Alonso-sign to extension since really good now.

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2nd base-maybe trade Lowrie while he’s having a good year and put at this position-Franklin Barreto(A’s top prospect who’s a middle infielder acquired in the Donaldson trade with a great hitting ability and is raking in Triple A) if he is ready to man second.Image result for franklin barreto

Shortstop-Marcus Semien who will hopefully continue to improve in all facets of his game once he hopefully returns healthy from wrist surgery.

Third Base-Matt Chapman-A’s 1st round pick in 2014 who is considered a potential Gold Glove defender at the hot corner. Also has a ton of power and is in triple A.

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DH-Ryon Healy

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Super utility-Chad Pinder.

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This is a team that I want to see the A’s have by next year at the latest since I feel it will improve them on both sides and help them get back to the playoffs. Now all Billy Beane has to do is make it happen.