Colon Returns To A's
When Bartolo Colon was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's policy on performance enhancing drugs in August, many assumed he had thrown his last pitch for the Oakland A's. However, the A's were looking for a veteran arm for their 2013 staff and they turned back to Colon, who was a steady hand near the top of their rotation until the suspension in 2012.
In 24 starts for the A's last season, Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA. He tossed 152.1 innings and had a 91:23 K:BB ratio. Colon is currently pitching for the Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. He has allowed three runs in 9.1 innings with 10 strike-outs and no walks. Colon left his last start with the Cibaenas after being struck in the mouth with a line-drive. He had to have stitches but suffered no fractures.
Colon will turn 40 next May. The A's are believed to still have interest in signing fellow free agent starter Brandon McCarthy.
A's Sign Two Minor League Free Agents
The A's moved early to sign two veteran minor league free agent pitchers: right-hander Mike Ekstrom and left-hander Garrett Olson. Both pitchers have major league experience and should provide depth for the A's at the Triple-A level in 2013. They will both receive invitations to the A's major league spring training camp.
Ekstrom split the 2012 season between Triple-A Colorado Springs and the Colorado Rockies' bullpen. The Oregon native posted a 2.53 ERA for the Sky Sox despite pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly environments in the Pacific Coast League for his home games. In 57 Triple-A innings, Ekstrom struck-out 57 and walked 18 while not allowing a homerun and holding opposing batters to a .224 average. Things didn't go quite as smoothly for Ekstrom at the major league level in 2012. He posted a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings. Ekstrom allowed 21 hits and a homer, but he walked only two and struck-out nine.
He began his career in the San Diego Padres' organization as a 12th round pick in 2004. Ekstrom moved through the Padres' chain at a steady pace. He won the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2006 and reached the major leagues in 2008. He would appear in 20 games for the Padres in 2008 and 2009.
Before the 2010 season, Ekstrom was claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. He made the Rays' Opening Day roster that season, but he would make only 15 appearances for Tampa that season, spending the rest of the year in Triple-A. In 2011, Ekstrom made 46 appearances in Triple-A for Tampa and one relief appearance in the big leagues. The 2012 season was Ekstrom's first in the Rockies' organization. In 61 career big league innings, Ekstrom has a 5.61 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. His minor league career ERA is 3.71 and his WHIP is 1.33.
Ekstrom features a fastball, slider, change-up and curveball. His fastball generally sits in the 90-93 MPH range. When he is at his best, Ekstrom is a groundball pitcher.
Olson was once one of the top prospects in the Baltimore Orioles chain. A 2005 sandwich pick by the Orioles, Olson made it to the big leagues by 2007 and made 26 starts for Baltimore in 2008. After that season, Olson was traded twice – first to the Chicago Cubs for Felix Pie and then to the Seattle Mariners for Aaron Heilman. Olson would make 66 appearances for the Mariners in 2009 and 2010, 11 of those being starts.
Olson spent the 2011 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates' chain, making four appearances at the major league level and 24 (15 starts) in Triple-A. He moved on to the New York Mets' chain in 2012, spending nearly all of the season with Triple-A Buffalo (he had one appearance for the Mets). In 287.2 career major league innings, Olson has a 6.26 ERA and a 193:143 K:BB ratio. In 686.1 career minor league innings, Olson has a 3.45 ERA and a 636:263 K:BB ratio.
The southpaw's fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range and he gets good movement on the pitch. His best secondary offering is a power curveball. He also features a change-up. Olson has had decent command during his minor league career, but he has struggled to throw strikes consistently at the big league level.
Cespedes, Melvin Named Finalists For Major Awards; Beane Takes Home Honor
The Baseball Writer Association of America announced the finalists for their major end-of-the-season awards on Wednesday and two members of the 2012 AL West champions were included. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was named a finalist for the AL's Rookie of the Year award and manager Bob Melvin was named a finalist for the AL's Manager of the Year award.
Cespedes had a standout rookie season for the A's, posting a .292/.356/.505 line with 23 homers and 16 stolen bases in 129 games. He was the A's top hitter and a key figure in the team's push to the post-season. Cespedes hit .316 during the A's five-game American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. Despite the strong season, Cespedes is a longshot to win the award. Los Angeles Angels' outfielder Mike Trout should run away with the award after posting historically good numbers (.326/.399/.564 with 30 homers and 49 stolen bases in 139 games). Texas Rangers' right-hander Yu Darvish is the other finalist. The winner will be announced on Monday, November 12.
Melvin will go up against Baltimore Orioles' skipper Buck Showalter and Chicago White Sox's first-year manager Robin Ventura. Melvin and Showalter are the two favorites for the award after both managers led team's expected to finish in last place to the post-season. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 13.
On Wednesday, A's GM Billy Beane was named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News in a vote taken of baseball executives.
Simmons' Strong Fall Continues
A's 2007 first-round pick James Simmons continues to shine in the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander threw a scoreless inning in the AFL's Rising Stars showcase on Saturday, striking out a batter. He added another scoreless inning on Wednesday and has allowed only two runs on one hit in 10.1 innings pitched (not including that Rising Stars appearance). He has struck-out eight and has walked three.
A's 2009 first-round pick Grant Green picked up his first triple of the fall on Tuesday. He is batting .278/.350/.407 with six walks and 13 strike-outs in 13 games.