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Why the A’s Are ‘Punishing’ Two of Their Own Players

In the last 75 years, only five teams have had a worse run differential than this year’s Oakland Athletics through their first five games. One of the those teams was the 2021 A’s. Of the five worse run differentials, two were teams with winning records for the season. But, that’s just one of many unfortunate events manager Mark Kotsay has navigated during his tenure in Oakland. After their historically bad start in 2023, news broken that the A’s had agreed to buy land in Las Vegas with the eye of moving the franchise there by 2027-28.

Now, it’s 2024, perhaps the final season that baseball will be played in Oakland and things are off to a brutal start. Yesterdays news about Esteury Ruiz being demoted to Triple-A was headscratching one, continuing to make things worse for themselves.

Mark Kotsay Explains Why Esteury Ruiz Was Demoted

In three games against the Cleveland Guardians, Ruiz went 3-for-7, hitting .429 and a 1.232 OPS with one double, one triple, one RBI and one stolen base. Ruiz was a pivotal part in helping the A’s win their first game of the season following an 0-3 start. He hit a respectable .254/.309/.345 slash line for the A’s last year, he seemed poised to take a step forward this season. However, Kotsay explained the decision to demote last season’s American League stolen base leader when talking to reporters.

“My message for Esty is, he’s going to go down, he’s going to lead off, he’s going to play every day. He’s going to go down and dominate that level,” Kotsay said. “Those are my expectations. He’s working really hard and is continuing to work hard and buy in one of the adjustments we’ve asked him to make.”

In turn, the A’s will go with infielder Tyler Nevin, whom they claimed off waivers Sunday from the Baltimore Orioles.

Was the Demotion Related to Fan Protests?

To some folks, it looked like Ruiz was doing just that. A’s general manager said that Ruiz needs to get on base more.

“We saw some better at-bat skills this spring. But the reality is, to use his skills, he needs to get one base,” Forst told reporters. “He needs to be able to do that on a consistent basis.”

Ruiz wasn’t the only the roster move transaction. Brent Rooker has seen his playing time go down drastically. Rooker was the A’s All-Star representative in 2023, playing in three of the team’s five games this season.

Last Dive Bar, a group that has been an organizer of fan protests against team ownership. They gave some insight on a possible explanation for the demotions. In the post shared on social media, the group showed two pictures of Ruiz and Rooker wearing wrist bands with ‘Last Dive Bar’ on them.

Ruiz’s Demotion Is Shady

It’s an interesting case to bring to the table and understanding why these sorts of theories come to play. However, Ruiz’s surprising demotion could play a role in his MLB service time manipulation. While he’s in the minors, Ruiz’s clock is stopped on his accrual of time in majors. That sets back when he’ll eligible for free agency and bigger contracts. For Rooker, his benching comes from a cold start, going 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts.

Fans have and will continue to protest the Jeff Fisher’s refusal to work with the city of Oakland to build a new stadium. With a move to Las Vegas on the horizon, fans continue to protest outside of the Coliseum. Thursday’s home opener drew an attendance of 13,522 fans. Attendance for Friday’s game saw a 9,685 seat decrease with 3,837 at the game.

Main Photo: © Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports


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