Tuesday turned out to be Transaction Day for the Oakland A’s this week. In a flurry of moves, the A’s filled out their coaching staff, re-signed one of their relievers and, at least temporarily, let go of one of their veterans. Find out all of the day’s events and the rest of the news around the organization in this edition of Oakland A’s Notebook...
A’s Hire Gerald Perry As Hitting Coach
The A’s announced the hiring of former major league first baseman Gerald Perry to take Dave Hudgens’ place as the team’s hitting coach. Perry comes to Oakland after a two-year stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also served as the hitting coach for the Seattle Mariners in 2000-2002. He also spent three season in the Boston Red Sox chain as a minor league hitting coach and, later, the team’s minor league hitting coordinator.
Perry is a career .265 hitter with 59 homeruns in 13 years with Atlanta, Kansas City and St. Louis. Perry’s best season was 1987, when he hit .300 for the Braves. He is the career pinch-hit leader for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Perry had success in Pittsburgh with such players as current A’s catcher Jason Kendall and 2004 Rookie of the Year Jason Bay. In 2003, Perry’s Pirate team finished third in the National League in batting with a .267 team batting average.
A’s Coaches Stay In The Fold
The A’s also announced that the remainder of their coaching staff would be back for the 2006 season. Rene Lachemann and Brad Fischer re-upped for the 2006 season and Ron Washington, Bob Geren and Curt Young all signed two-year contracts that would take them through the 2007 season. Young will remain as the team’s pitching coach for his third season and Washington will retain his role as the A’s third base coach and infield instructor.
Young had an extremely successful sophomore season as a pitching coach, as he led a young A’s pitching staff to a 3.69 team ERA. Rookies Huston Street and Joe Blanton thrived under Young’s tutelage, as did young hurlers Rich Harden, Dan Haren and Justin Duchscherer. Washington is a team and fan favorite for his vast baseball knowledge and his ability to turn stone-hands fielders into Gold Glovers. Washington was a candidate for a number of managerial positions this off-season, but he will return to Oakland for his 11th season.
The other three coaches will be returning in different roles in 2006. Lachemann, who served as the team’s bench coach last season, will be moving to first base. Geren, who was the bullpen coach last year, will take Lachemann’s place as the bench coach, and former first base coach Fischer will be the bullpen coach. The A’s coaching staff is now complete for 2006.
Reliever Jay Witasick, who was acquired in a mid-season deal with Colorado, has re-signed with Oakland. The contract will reportedly be worth $2.75 million over two seasons with a $2 million club option for 2008. Witasick made 28 appearances for the A’s last season, posting a 3.25 ERA and striking out 33 batters in 28.2 innings. Overall, Witasick appeared in 60 games and had a 2.84 ERA in 63.1 innings for the A’s and Rockies.
For his career, Witasick has a 30-41 record with a 4.54 ERA. He began his career with the A’s back in 1996 and spent parts of three seasons with Oakland. He has also spent time with Kansas City, San Diego, New York (AL), San Francisco and Colorado. He appeared in the World Series with the Yankees in 2001 and the Giants in 2002.
A’s Decline Hatteberg’s Option
The A’s declined their team option for DH/1B Scott Hatteberg on Tuesday. The option was worth $2.7 million and Hatteberg is now a free agent. Hatteberg was signed by Oakland in the off-season before the 2002 season to replace departed MVP Jason Giambi. The former catcher became one of the team’s most popular players and a front-office favorite. In four seasons with Oakland, Hatteberg hit .269 with 49 homeruns and 263 runs batted in.
His best seasons with the A’s were in 2002 and 2004. In 2002, Hatteberg hit .280 with 15 homers in 136 games. One of those homers was one of the most memorable in A’s history – the walk-off homer that secured the A’s 20th straight win in September 2002. In 2004, Hatteberg played a career-high 152 games and hit .284 with 15 homers and 82 runs batted in. He also walked 72 times against only 48 strike outs. Hatteberg slumped in 2005, hitting only .256 with seven homeruns in 134 games.
-- Third baseman Eric Chavez was awarded his fifth straight Gold Glove. He is the fourth AL third baseman to win five straight Gold Gloves.
-- OF Andre Ethier had another big day in the AFL for Phoenix on Tuesday. Ethier went 3-4 with three RBI and a walk to raise his batting average to .373. He leads the team with 19 RBI. Phoenix also received contributions from two other A’s farmhands. Daric Barton went 1-3 with two walks and an RBI and Kurt Suzuki went 1-5. Former A’s draft pick Bill Murphy struck out an AFL-high 10 batters in six shut-out innings for Phoenix in their 7-2 win over Surprise.