Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training: Roster Cuts, Fifth Starter Battle

We provide a breakdown of the Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training schedule, results, roster moves and other news updates. For more on the Athletics spring training, check out Athletics Nation.

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9 Total Updates since March 20, 2011
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Athletics vs. Giants, 2011 Spring Training Scores: Kevin Kouzmanoff Continues Torrid Spring In Loss

The Oakland Athletics dropped the opener of the exhibition Bay Bridge Series 4-3 as Matt Cain “outdueled” Brett Anderson. Anderson had his moments but gave up a few untimely Giants hits. He went seven innings, striking out six batters and giving up four runs on six hits and two walks. Additionally, Anderson came to bat three times tonight since the game was at AT&T Park. He stood at the very outer edge of the batters box and didn’t take his bat off his shoulder once. It’s safe to say the A’s had no interest in seeing him hurt himself in a truly meaningless at bat.

The story of the game for the A’s will likely be the continued hot bat of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. The generally strong fielding third baseman had a horrendous 2010 season at the plate, hitting .247/.283/.396. Entering tonight’s game with the Giants, Kouzmanoff’s spring line was .426/.467/.611. He was 2-for-3 with a run scored tonight.

While Kouzmanoff only has six extra base hits on the spring, if he can bring a fairly consistent bat to the table, extra base hits will not be all that necessary from him. They are always welcome, but after last season’s hitting debacle, base hits of any kind are welcome from Kouzmanoff.

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Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training: A's-Giants Bay Bridge Series Brings Baseball Back To Bay Area

The 2011 baseball season is only a few short days away and our two Bay Area teams will conduct their annual spring training finale series to welcome baseball back to the Bay. The Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants have gotten the first game underway as Matt Cain and Brett Anderson do battle in their respective final starts of the spring. If the rotation is as expected for the A’s, they’ll send out Gio Gonzalez tomorrow and Dallas Braden on Wednesday.

The A’s don’t have their exact opening night lineup playing tonight, but it’s fairly close. The game is at AT&T Park, so there is no designated hitter in effect. Opening Night will feature Hideki Matsui in the designated hitter role, and likely hitting in the fourth or fifth spot. Additionally, Josh Willingham will likely get the start in left field and Kurt Suzuki at catcher when the season starts.

1. Ryan Sweeney CF
2. Daric Barton 1B
3. David DeJesus RF
4. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
5. Mark Ellis 2B
6. Conor Jackson LF
7. Landon Powell C
8. Cliff Pennington SS
9. Bobby Cramer P

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Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training Roster Cuts: Chris Carter Optioned To Minor League Camp

The Oakland Athletics made another roster move today, optioning outfielder Chris Carter to their minor league camp following a 10-3 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Unless I missed other moves, that would appear to bring the A’s down to 34 men, with nine more cuts expected between now and the middle of next week.

The demotion is not surprising and Chris Carter himself was not surprised given the numbers game he was facing. The A’s added OFs David DeJesus and Josh Willingham and DH Hideki Matsui this past offseason. Considering Daric Barton is also entrenched at first base and Carter has struggled with his defense overall, this move was expected. A’s manager Bob Geren apparently indicated the move came now so Carter could get more innings in the outfield before the end of spring training.

Carter has struggled a fair amount on defense and as Susan Slusser indicated in the link above, designated hitter may be Carter’s ceiling. If he can mash the ball that’s fine, but for now the team is set with Hideki Matsui at the position. I’d imagine Carter will get a ton of time in the field to try and improve his fielding, but in the meantime there’s just not space for him.

As it currently stands, aside from Matsui, the A’s OF/DH position would seem certain to include Willingham, DeJesus, Coco Crisp, and Ryan Sweeney. That leaves Matt Carson and Conor Jackson likely battling for one spot. I believe Jackson has a bit more time at first base, but Carson is having a better spring. Either guy is the fifth outfielder so you can only be so worried about the roster spot.

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Oakland Athletics 2011 MLB Season: Trevor Cahill Informed He'll Start Opening Day

Early yesterday morning, Oakland A’s manager Bob Geren made a switch to the Cactus League pitching schedule, flipping it so that Dallas Braden would start Friday and Trevor Cahill would start Saturday. As Susan Slusser pointed out, this would move Cahill back into the competition for the opening day starter slot. Earlier this week Brett Anderson appeared to be slotted in, but this change threw that into question.

We now may have an answer as Susan Slusser has tweeted that Bob Geren stated that Trevor Cahill will start Opening Day for the A’s against the Seattle Mariners. Although Brett Anderson is a supremely talented pitcher and Dallas Braden is the veteran leader of the staff, Cahill is the one coming off an impressive career year. Cahill represented the A’s at the All Star Game and finished 2010 with an 18-8 record, a 2.97 ERA, and a 1.11 WHIP.

It’s hard to tell what this means for the rest of the rotation. With Dallas Braden starting Friday, he likely would start the exhibition season finale. As I’m writing this, Susan Slusser tweeted that Brandon McCarthy will start tomorrow’s exhibition game and Braden will start a minor league game. At this point, I guess we’ll have to wait a few more days to see how the rest of the rotation shakes out to start the season.

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Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training: Coco Crisp, Chris Carter Highlight Cactus League Performances

The Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training Schedule is rapidly coming to a close as the A’s have only a week left of exhibition play, including three games against the Giants in the Bay Area. As the Cactus League wraps up, it seems like a useful exercise to take a look at the top offensive performers for the A’s in spring training. While spring training stats have to be taken with a certain grain of salt, they can give fans reason for hope. These batters aren’t the only ones having solid springs, but are simply a few we wanted to highlight.

Coco Crisp – Over the course of 42 at bats, the speedy Crisp has shown a power flair courtesy of numerous extra base hits. Heading into today’s game with the Cubs, Crisp had a line of .429/.467/.883. The slugging percentage comes courtesy of three homeruns, four doubles, and two triples. Crisp has always had a lit bit of extra base pop in his bat. The A’s will not be looking for huge home run numbers from their table-setter, but a little extra pop makes him all the more dangerous. More importantly, the A’s simply want Crisp to remain healthy. If he can remain healthy he could be as big to the A’s offense as any of the offseason additions.

Chris Carter – Last season’s call-up had a rough start to his big league career, going 0-for-33. However, from his first hit in September to the end of the season (37 at bats), Carter hit .351. He’s dealt with strikeout issues and fielding issues, but the strong close was hopefully a step forward for Carter. This spring he’s shown improved plate discipline with 12 walks to 10 strikeouts. Although his batting average is .256, he’s got a .418 on base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage. It still sounds like he’ll start the season in Sacramento, but he has something upon which to build moving forward.

Kevin Kouzmanoff – The sometimes light-swinging third baseman has been quite strong this spring with a line of .364/.408/.523. Kouzmanoff was tendered a contract but the odds of him being non-tendered in 2012 increased after a poor 2010 campaign. He’s likely on the hot seat this season, so we’ll see if he can carry the strong spring into April.

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Oakland Athletics 2011 Spring Training: Brett Anderson Appears Set As Opening Night Starter

The Oakland Athletics had their Cactus League matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers rained out today. Brett Anderson was scheduled to start today’s game but will now apparently be bumped to tomorrow and pitch on six days rest. This is noteworthy because if the schedule continues as is, Anderson would be set to start the A’s opening night matchup with the Seattle Mariners on April 1. Gio Gonzalez originally appeared set to get that honor, but the push back would require him to pitch on short rest to make that start.

According to Susan Slusser (linked above), Dallas Braden could also fit in to the Opening Night plans. Jane Lee (linked above Slusser) indicated that the team’s rotation into this weekend could also give us a good idea as to who will be the fifth starter. Brandon McCarthy appears to be the front-runner, but given the role of the fifth starter anything is possible in the coming days.

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