We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 23. That's a little late, even for us. But given the spate of players going on the DL...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A New Blog for a New Day

Here's a post from Baseball Prospectus on the A's:

Oakland Athletics
Stepping In: With the departure of Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes in the Jason Kendall deal, the spotlight has been turned on two Oakland prospects the organization is betting can step onto the big stage. It’s the same old refrain in Oakland. Last year it was Bobby Crosby; now it’s Huston Street and Joe Blanton.
We covered Street’s performance in depth last time. Now it’s Blanton’s turn. The A’s top pick in the 2002 draft (aka "The Moneyball Draft"), the big right-hander was very impressive in 2003, his first full professional season. Blanton dominated the Midwest League with a 144/19 K/BB ratio in 133 innings, then after a late call-up to Double-A Midland, continued to throw strikes, posting a 30/7 ratio in 35 2/3 frames to go with a shiny 1.26 ERA. This year, spent at Triple-A Sacramaento, was more of a struggle for him. Blanton scuffled early, but improved as the season went on, showing the polished repertoire of pitches one would expect from a pitcher drafted out of college.
Blanton certainly looks ready to step in and contribute to the club, but he won't be an immediate star. Expecting him to be anywhere close to Rich Harden next year would be like expecting the Yankees to start cutting payroll. Blanton doesn’t have the same natural stuff that Harden features, instead working with an 88-91 mph fastball and good breaking pitches. Blanton’s shown that he can handle the jump from Double- to Triple-A, a gap that sinks more than its fair share of prospect ships, and the chances that he performs at least as well as Redman last year are good.
The Other Giles: After Blanton, the A's don't have much in the way of starting pitching prospects, which is why rumors about the A’s looking to send one of the Big Three to Atlanta for Marcus Giles don’t seem to make much sense on the surface. If Oakland does move another member of the rotation, the replacement options would be limited to Justin Duchscherer, Kirk Saarloos, or perhaps another player acquired in a trade.
Duchscherer performed admirably in the long-relief role last season after a dominant season in Sacramento in 2003, but he’ll be 27 next season and has never spent a full season in a major-league rotation. That’s not to say that he can’t do it, but having two question marks in the rotation with very little backing up the inevitable injury is not a situation in which the A’s usually put themselves. Saarloos--acquired last year for Chad Harville--had a few spot starts when Tim Hudson went down mid-season, but his career so far is less impressive than Duchscherer’s. He’d have to perform very well in spring training to have a shot at the job, if it’s available.
Mark Ellis is expected back healthy for spring training, ready to reclaim the starting second base job. One of the AL's best rookies in 2002, Ellis floundered in 2003 before spending last year on the DL with a dislocated shoulder and labrum problems. Expecting something along the lines of 10-15 VORP with significant injury concerns is probably about right for him.
Giles, however, accumulated 35.9 VORP last year, a season in which he had just 434 plate appearances, the result of his second major collision with another player in two seasons. If he'd played a full season, Giles would have been the third best second baseman in the majors behind Jeff Kent and Mark Loretta. He’s been in the majors for less than four seasons, leaving whatever club owns his contract with exclusive rights to him through 2007.
Swapping one of the Big Three for a healthy Giles could net the A’s about 35-40 runs at second base, an offensive gain of two to three wins over Ellis. However, removing one of their star pitchers would likely cost them anywhere from 10 to 50 runs in the rotation, depending on who is traded and how everyone performs next year. It would be a big gamble, but considering that at least one of the Big Three will be gone after 2005 anyway (the A’s cannot afford to sign Hudson and pick up the options on both Mark Mulder and Barry Zito for 2006), it’s the kind of preemptive move that would better answer the second-base question while allowing the A’s to focus their efforts on the two remaining members of the Big Three.

1 comment:

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Trading any of the A's pitchers for Giles makes no sense unless they get him and a Braves pitcher. I don't know the Braves pitchers other than Russ Ortiz, but Giles and anyone adequate would have to be pricey. I say trade Zito or no one.

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