Sacramento River Cats
With several players moving on and off of the disabled list, there have been several transactions between the Oakland A's and the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats recently. This week the A's placed starter Brandon McCarthy on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. Replacing McCarthy on the A's roster on Monday was reliever Jim Miller, who had a 2.92 ERA and two saves in 12.1 innings for the River Cats this season. Miller, who had been up with the A's earlier in the month, has made seven appearances for Oakland out of the bullpen and he has a 1.69 ERA and a 1-0 record.
On Tuesday, the A's needed to replace McCarthy in their starting rotation and they called on River Cats' right-hander Graham Godfrey. Godfrey had begun the season on the A's 25-man roster, but he was demoted back to Triple-A in late April. It has been a tale of two pitchers for Godfrey at the Triple-A level and in the big leagues this season. He is 0-4 with a 6.16 ERA in four big league starts, but he had a 3-0 record with a 1.21 ERA in five starts with the River Cats. Godfrey injured a finger on his pitching hand warming up for his start with the A's on Tuesday and it remains to be seen whether he will make his next scheduled start.
To make room for Godfrey on the A's roster, Oakland optioned left-handed reliever Pedro Figueroa back to Triple-A. Figueroa had been one of five lefties in the A's bullpen before his demotion. The hard-throwing rookie walked nine in nine innings with the A's but managed a 2.00 ERA. Earlier in the season, he made five appearances for the River Cats and didn't allow a run. Room for Figueroa on the River Cats' roster was made on Wednesday when infielder Wes Timmons was placed on the DL with an undisclosed injury. This is Timmons' second DL stint this year.
On Monday, the A's also activated outfielder Coco Crisp from the disabled list. To make room for Crisp, Oakland optioned infielder Eric Sogard to Triple-A. Sogard was batting only .136 in 66 at-bats as the A's utility infielder. He hit .298 for Sacramento in 79 games last season and .300 in 137 games for the River Cats in 2010.
Over the weekend, the River Cats welcomed outfielder/DH Manny Ramirez to the squad for his "rehab" assignment. The future Hall of Famer is serving a suspension for performance enhancing drugs and is allowed a 10-game rehab assignment in the minor leagues before his suspension is finished. Ramirez will be eligible to return to the big leagues on May 30. He is signed to a minor league contract so if it is decided that Ramirez needs more time in the minor leagues, he can stay with the River Cats as a "real" member of their roster (rehabbing players don't count against a minor league roster number). Once Ramirez is ready to return to the big leagues, the A's will have to make room for him on both their 40- and 25-man rosters.
The River Cats also added left-handed reliever Trey Barham from Double-A Midland this past weekend. Barham replaced Miller on the roster. He has appeared in two games since joining the River Cats and has allowed two runs in 3.2 innings. Barham missed several weeks of the season on the disabled list, but he was effective with Midland when he was healthy. In 8.1 innings, he had allowed only one earned run and he had struck-out 10. Barham pitched for the River Cats during the 2011 post-season, but this is his first regular season action at the Triple-A level.
With Barham heading to Sacramento, the Midland Rockhounds were in need of another late-inning reliever. The A's promoted right-hander Jose Guzman from High-A Stockton to take Barham's place. Guzman nearly made the Midland Opening Day roster but was sent to Stockton when the A's needed room for Bruce Billings on the Rockhounds' staff. Guzman had a 2.82 ERA in 22.1 innings for the Ports, with 21 strike-outs. He saved 20 games for the Ports in 2011 and 18 for Low-A Kane County in 2010.
Guzman has been with the A's organization since 2005, when he signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He made one appearance for Triple-A Sacramento in 2006 as an emergency fill-in player, but had otherwise never pitched above the High-A level before his promotion to Double-A. Guzman was a minor league free agent this off-season, but the A's re-signed him. He has made one appearance for the Rockhounds thus far, allowing a run in two innings of work with two strike-outs.
Right-handed reliever James Simmons, the A's top pick in 2007, was placed on the Midland disabled list on May 18th (retroactive to May 15). Simmons had a 5.29 ERA and a 16:6 K:BB ratio in 17 innings before landing on the DL. He missed the 2010 season and half of the 2011 season recovering from labrum surgery on his pitching shoulder.
With a 14-31 overall record and a 16-game losing streak in the book, the Stockton Ports have the look of a team in need of a shake-up and they got one this week. Several players were moved on and off the Ports' roster, including a few high-profile names.
On Wednesday, the A's demoted top prospect A.J. Cole from Stockton to Low-A Burlington. Cole, who was acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade with Washington this off-season, had struggled all season with the Ports. The right-handed starter was 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA in eight starts this season. Command was an issue for Cole all year, as he allowed 60 hits in only 38 innings. He did have a decent 31:10 K:BB ratio, but he allowed seven homeruns.
The 20-year-old right-hander pitched at the Low-A level last season as a member of the Nationals' organization. He had a 4.04 ERA and 108 strike-otus in 89 innings for Low-A Hagerstown.
Replacing Cole on the Ports' roster and likely in their starting rotation is right-hander Sean Murphy, who was off to a strong start with the Bees. In eight starts for Burlington, the 6'6'' Pennsylvania native had a 1.97 ERA and a 52:17 K:BB ratio in 50.1 innings. It was a nice turnaround for Murphy, who had a 6.33 ERA in 42.2 innings for Burlington in 2011. He made one appearance for Stockton in 2011, allowing only one run in six innings.
Although the move hasn't officially appeared on the transaction wire yet, the Ports also said good-bye to outfield prospect Rashun Dixon this week. Dixon was batting only .206 in 30 games with the Ports this year. He had a 621 OPS and 41 strike-outs in 102 at-bats. Dixon hadn't officially been added to the Burlington roster as of Wednesday afternoon, but he has tweeted that he is in Burlington and the move is expected to happen sometime this week. Dixon last played at the Low-A level in 2010, when he had a 754 OPS in 119 games for the then-A's Midwest League affiliate, the Kane County Cougars.
Dixon's spot in the Stockton outfield has been taken by Dusty Robinson, who was the A's 2011 10th-round pick. Robinson had nine homers in only 141 at-bats with Burlington to start the year, and he is picking up where he left off with the Bees now that he is with the Ports. In 20 at-bats over five games, Robinson has already homered twice and he has seven hits.
In addition welcoming Cole and (eventually) Dixon, the Bees have added right-hander David Mota to the roster. Mota had been at extended spring training. The hard-throwing right-hander from the Dominican Republic has been a sleeper prospect for several years, but he has had his progress delayed by injury and a suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Mota pitched for the A's Rookie League club in 2011 and had an 8.83 ERA in 17.1 innings. His K:BB ratio was an even 1:1, as he struck-out and walked 17.
Mota is taking the place of Nathan Kilcrease on the Bees' roster. The A's surprisingly released Kilcrease on Wednesday. The 5'6'' right-hander out of Alabama was a feel-good story coming out of the draft after he posted a 2.67 ERA in 30.1 innings for short-season Vermont. The 30th-round pick had pitched well for Burlington this season, allowing only two runs in 12.1 innings of work. Kilcrease did miss three weeks in April with an injury, however.