A's Future - Can you tell us a couple clear differences between the Braves organization and the A's organization?
Dan Meyer - The A's and Braves are very similar organization as far as how they treat their pitchers and the other aspects of the game like conditioning and lifting as well as philosophy on pitching.....The only real major difference I can tell is similair to what [Tim] Hudson pointed out earlier.. The A's clubhouse is a lot more relaxed and laidback......I think its because of the whole west coast lifestyle which seems to be more laidback
AF - Can you go back and pinpoint the moment you hurt your shoulder, is it hard to remember or was it more gradual?
DM - I hurt it in the weightroom about 2 weeks into spring training and felt it immediately, but because of all the pressure and expectations plus my own drive, I wanted to try and push through it and be that guy everyone was expecting
AF - After your first DL stint you came back and struggled a little more before being shut down for good. Was your shoulder still bothering you, or was it more rust?
DM - Little bit of both. It felt better but I never restrengthened it like I should have. I got my flexibility back but lost a lot of arm strength. Now I feel tons better but need to work on that arm strength
AF - How are things feeling for you as opposed to how they felt at this point last season?
DM - Things are a lot better.. I had a good spring and I need to carry that into this season here in Sac so when my number is called I can do what it takes to help Oakland win
AF - Have you gotten back some of the velocity that you lost last season? How are your secondary pitches feeling right now?
DM - I have gotten some velocity back but I'm not all the way back. I have my days where it is up and down but I feel like thats all a part of this process and it's something I need to work on. It goes back to arm strength and working hard to get back to where I was.
AF - Do you feel any pressure as being the key piece in a trade for a pitcher of Tim Hudson's caliber?
DM - Yeah of course, but pressure is a part of the game and you cant let it get to you too much or it will be tough to be a successful baseball player or to have a successful career.
AF - Have the A's told you what they're limitations for you will be this season?
DM - Not really, just keep pitching
AF - What are your expectations and goals for the coming season?
DM - My goals are to keep working hard and getting back to where I was 2 years ago. It's going to be a tough and grueling process but I put myself here so I need to get myself out. I need to improve and learn from every outing so I can help the big team.
I asked Kevin Bunch why he, along with Landsford and Deal, aren't pitching in Kane County
Bunch - Lansford had a little shoulder inflamation so they shut him down the last week during spring training. He'll probably head out to Kane sometime late this week or early next week. I dont know the reason with Deal. They never told him or they did and he didn't tell me. As for me, I pulled my groin about 6 days before we were supposed to break camp. I'll probably be on the mound throwing in games in three weeks. That's if my groin holds up.
I followed up by asking if that was the same groin problem he had in Arizona last season, and if so, how big of a problem might it be.
Bunch - Last year I strained it. This time I actually pulled it. It's healed rather quickly. I'm throwing off the base of the mound tomorrow. Then if it goes good I'll throw off the top. Then three more pens, a simulated game, and finally a real game. I'm concerned about it, but not enough to worry me, if that makes any sense. I'm doing a lot of exercises to make it strong.
So there you go. Lansford will probably be in Kane County soon while Deal and Bunch look like they'll start in Vancouver.
A's Future - What are your feelings about the 2005 season?
Ryan Webb - 2005 with Kane County was a great way to be introduced to "full season" professional baseball for me. It was a learning process from day 1 all the way through the season. As far as performance, I worked on alot of different things i needed to do to get better, so i dont dwell on stats. Inconsistancy was my biggest problem in 05 and that had alot to do with working on certain aspects of my game while trying to still compete between the lines. All in all I feel im entering 06 more prepared, more improved, and more confident, making my 2005 season a success for me.
AF - You got off to a quick start last year only to struggle a bit as the season wore on. Do you have an idea of why that was?
RW - Most of the answer to this question is in my first reply. The further into the season you go the more you have to work on making it hard to get in a groove.
AF - Before the 2004 draft, what round were you told to expect to be taken in?
RW - I had heard alot of different things anywhere from round 2 thru 7. 04 was loaded with great pitching so I could have ended up anywhere but I couldn't have been selected by a better organzation.
AF - What other teams had interest in you?
RW - Most of them had talked to me and I filled out questionaires for all 30 teams
AF - What were your thoughts when the Oakland "we don't take high school righties" A's drafted you?
RW - I wasent even aware of Oaklands policy and I was blindsided by them taking me. I also didn't think much about it until I realized i was the youngest guy in the organization by like 3 years, and the other guys didn't let me forget that.
AF - How involved were you in the contract negotiation process with your agent and the A's?
RW - It was fairly simple yet still stressfull for my faimly and I. My dad handled the negotiations with my scout and there was no agent involved. It was important to me to sign early and get a full rookie ball season in instead of holding out for a few extra $$.
AF - Word was that the A's drafted you with hopes that you'd increase your velocity. How was your velocity in Kane County last year? How is it now?
RW - My velo was around the 87-91 range in KC last year sitting at about 88-89. When I went to [Instructional League] all the work I had done came together and something clicked after a 120 inning season and I saw it jump to 89-93.. So far this spring I've been in the 88-92 range throwing mostly around 90-91. Hopefully as I build up arm strength my velo will increase more. I've also got a better direction and arm angle going to the plate which is giving me some more sink on my pitches, something that should come in handy at Stockton.
AF - Can you tell us a little about your repertoire of pitches?
RW - My change up has improved a lot with my new mechanics and I'm not as tenative to throw it anymore. I have tightened up my slider and added a knuckle curve to mix in to the lefties this year. Right now I have a good feel for 4 pitches now I have to figure out the best ways to use them to the hitters I face.
AF - How has spring training gone thus far?
RW - I feel better than I ever have and I got good experience pitching with the AA Midland team most of spring training. I've thrown good sides and had good games and had the chance to pitch to much more experienced hitters and even to some big league guys that came down for extra AB's. After spring my feeling is that I'm confident I can pitch this year at the AA level so I need to keep improving and throw well in Stockton to earn that promotion sometime during the year.
AF - What were the limitations the A's put on you last season with innings and pitch count?
RW - Last year I was shut down after 120 innings and no more than 90 pitches in a game.
AF - Have they told you what they'll be limiting you to this season? RW - I'd guess around 140 innings and 100 pitches a game. But it will probably be less.
AF - What are your goals for 2006?
RW - We have a great team going to Stockton and I think we will be very competitive, so one of my goals is to be a significant contributer to a winning team. Of course a goal is to stay healthy all year, and keep improving on the things I've learned. And one of my biggest goals is to earn a promotion to AA and hopefully get invited to the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season. Another long term goal is to pitch
I'd really like to thank Ryan for his time and well thought out answers.
Season starts tomorrow so daily postings will once again begin. I may or may not have an interview with Dan Meyer coming up soon. It was all set, then I kind of talked crap about Bill Shanks (Braves front office guy, real jackass) and I think it might have angered Meyer a bit. We'll see.
AF - Word was that the A's were impressed with how well you did in instructional league, how much do the A's let you know their feelings on your performance?
BS - I think the A's were impressed with playing although I know they were dissappointed in my wieght gain and how i was out of shape. They let you know if you are doing well or not. They are pretty open with letting you know where you stand.
AF - What did the A's have you working on?
BS - really just playing again and getting in shape since i missed so much time last yr
AF - Prior to the draft were you aware of the A's interest in you?
BS - Not so much they were at some of my gmes but for the most part they kept there interest level a secret
AF - What other teams expressed interest?
BS - Blue Jays, Red Sox and Angels
AF - I read that you played some second in college. Third is blocked by Eric Chavez for another half decade, has there been any talk of you moving you back to 2nd, or even anywhere else?
BS - Well if there has been any talk about me moving to second i have not been apart of those discussions
AF - Can you give us a little rundown of your strengths and weaknesses at the plate and in the field?
BS - Strengths I would have to say would be me getting on base and my gap to gap power. My weakness I would say sometimes I get pull happy and take too many pitches and might strike out at too many times. I think in the field I have really made huge strides with my defense and making myself a solid 3rd baseman
AF - What are your goals for the 2006 season?
BS - Just to stay healthy and have a solid year stat wise at wherever I may start the year.
I of course would really like to thank Brian on taking his time out to answer a few questions.
If you missed it, an interview with A's righty Brad Knox is below.
A's prospect Brad Knox was kind enough to answer a few questions for me recently
A's Future - You went to the same college as Rich Harden, during your time at Central Arizona were you aware of Harden? If so, what was it like being drafted by the same team?
Brad Knox - I wasn't that aware of Harden when I went to Central but I did know who he was.
AF - You've been drafted 3 times, the first 2 times by the Kansas City Royals. Can you tell us a little bit about what made you decide to turn KC down.
BK - Well the first year I got drafted by Kansas City was out of high school. They offered me little money and I had already signed with the University of Houston and Blinn Jr. College. The 2nd year I think it was 2 rounds worse, so...And that was the year we won the Jr. College World Series and I pitched in and won the championship game. The next morning after the game we were on the bus back to Arizona and they had contacted me and said that they were going to let me go back in the draft. I was shocked that I didn't get any kind of offer.
AF - No offence to KC, but Oakland is clearly a superior organization. Was it a bit better feeling when they drafted you as opposed to KC?
BK - I was at a friends house listening to the draft and was surprised. And yes I was very happy to get to play for the A's. I still am.
AF - How involved were you in negotiating your contract along with your agent and the A's?
BK - Well, I didn't have an agent at the time I signed. John Keuhl was the scout that drafted me. We met late one night at Clint Myers' home, the Central manager at the time, He made me an offer of some money and school. Then I contacted my dad to discuss. Negotiations were short and sweet. I asked for more money and they only raised the offer $2,500. They told me I could have held out to see what guys wouldn't sign and I could get more money, but I didn't want to wait 2 months until the season was over to double what they offered. Looking back I wish I would have now.
AF - What are your thoughts on your 2005 season?
BK - 2005 was frustrating. I was going to be a starter in Midland but then my arm bothered me and I got held back in extended spring training. While getting paid AA money I was in extended spring until about May 7th I think. Then I got some good quality starts in Stockton. I kind of looked at it as a year to get healthy and to work on some things.
AF - Have you been working on anything specific this offseason?
BK - Past off season I lost 25 pounds and feel great. My back is holding up nicely.
AF - What is the main difference in competition between the Midwest League and the California League?
BK - It seperates the men from the boys.
AF - What are you hoping to accomplish in 2006?
BK - To have a great year and end up on the 40 man [roster]
AF - Thanks so much for your time Brad. I really appreciate it.