After being forced to miss the Arizona Fall League with a broken nose, Dallas Braden has rescued a disappointing winter with a solid showing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Braden was the A's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2005, but he missed much of the 2006 season with a shoulder injury. The left-hander was set to play at the AFL this fall, but another off-season injury derailed those plans. His spot went to Jared Burton instead and Burton parlayed his AFL experience into a Rule 5 selection by the Cincinnati Reds.
Braden has been pitching both in the rotation and out of the bullpen for Mayaguez. The Texas Tech alum has appeared in nine games (seven starts) for the Indians this winter and he is 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA. In 33.2 innings, Braden has allowed only 21 hits. He has 37 strikeouts and 14 walks (although 11 of those came in his first three appearances). Braden has allowed two homeruns and hasn't had a wildpitch or a hit batter.
Braden was invited to major league camp this spring and he will attempt to erase the injury-filled nightmare of the 2006 season with a solid 2007 campaign.
Other Winter Action
A's back-up Hiram Bocachica has struggled during winter league action in his native Puerto Rico. Bocachica, normally a star player for Ponce, is hitting only .190 in 105 at-bats. He has one homerun and 11 RBIs and has 13 walks against 20 strikeouts.
Antonio Perez is competing with the Gigantes of the Dominican Winter League in the DWL round-robin playoffs. The A's back-up infielder is batting .200 with three hits in 15 at-bats. He has walked three times and has struck out four times. Perez missed most of the DWL regular season recovering from a broken hand he suffered during the last week of the A's regular season.
Daric Barton hasn't played over the last few days for the Toros del Este. He has a homer and three RBIs in three games in the round-robin DWL tournament. His team has not fared well, however, as they are winless in 13 games.
Erubiel Durazo, the one-time A's DH who signed a minor league contract with the team earlier this winter, is continuing to scald Mexican Winter League pitching. During the regular season, he hit .344 with 18 homers in 227 at-bats. In the playoffs, Durazo has hit two homers in four games. His Hermosillo team has advanced to the second round of the playoffs after goign 4-1 in the first round series.
Marco Scutaro's Caracas team is winless thus far in the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs. Caracas was the Venezuelan league and Caribbean league champion last season. Scutaro is hitting .258 with four errors in seven playoff games after winning the Venezuelan League batting title during the regular season. A's prospect Gregorio Petit has served as a defensive replacement in two playoff games, but has not had an at-bat.
A's Make Offer To Erstad
The A's have reportedly offered a one-year contrac to long-time nemesis Darin Erstad of the Los Angeles Angels. MLB.com reported on Friday that the A's had made Erstad the offer and that they expected to hear back before the end of the weekend. Erstad is expected to serve as a back-up centerfielder and first baseman if he signs with Oakland.
The 11-year veteran has spent his entire career with the Angels. He played in only 40 games last season, as he was hampered by an ankle injury that required surgery. He is a two-time All-Star and a three time Gold Glove winner.
Seven File For Arbitration
The A's had seven players file for salary arbitration on Friday. Milton Bradley, Joe Kennedy, Marco Scutaro, Justin Duchscherer, Kiko Calero, Bobby Kielty and Kirk Saarloos all filed. Salary numbers will be exchanged on Wednesday. The A's can avoid arbitration and re-sign any of these players up until the date of any scheduled arbitration.
Williams Signs With Nationals
Jerome Williams, who was non-tendered by Oakland in December, has been signed to a split one-year contract by the Washington Nationals. The former San Francisco Giants phenom was claimed off of the Chicago Cubs' waiver list by Oakland in September. He was carried on the A's 40-man roster until December, when he was non-tendered by the A's. Williams will make $500,000 if he makes the Nationals roster and $90,000 if he is in the minor leagues.