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Condition Oakland

An Oakland A's blog with a slant towards stats and focus on who's hot, who's not, and minor league prospects.

Updated: 2015-09-16T22:05:52.624-07:00


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A's opening day roster beginning to take shape


It was just 2 weeks ago that I made a fairly bold prediction that Ryan Goleski wasn't going anywhere over at A Minor Consideration. Particularly considering the trouble the A's went through acquiring Goleski in the rule 5 draft and the fact that they will be without Kotsay for several months.Well, it appears the A's brass may have other plans and Ryan Goleski may not be part of their future, which would make him a $100k gamble that didn't work out:He's not likely to play there often, but if Perez is an emergency option in the outfield, it could affect the breakdown of the roster. Perhaps the A's could go without a utility player, which is something they've considered adding with center fielder Mark Kotsay out of action for two months or more. "A big part of our success this year will be versatility,'' manager Bob Geren said. Perez, who hit .102 last year in limited use, is 10-for-22 with four doubles and eight runs over his past 10 games. "Seeing Antonio right now, he looks like the guy we traded for,'' special assistant to the general manager Billy Owens said. Perez, who handled two groundball singles and one flyball Sunday, has played in the outfield before -- one whole inning while with the Dodgers in 2005. "He can fill in in an emergency,'' said outfield coach Tye Waller, who has been working with Perez. "He's a good athlete, he runs well, he's got good instincts.''It also helps, as mentioned above, when you have a hot bat in Spring Training (0.341 BA / 0.440 OBP / 0.537 SLG - 7 BB to 10 SO), whereas Goleski decidedly does not (0.162 BA / 0.205 OBP / 0.189 SLG - 37 AB, only 2 BB to 13 SO). I've always said Spring Training stats don't count for too much (look at Kendall and Chavez in Spring Training) but it's obvious that Goleski's weak performance at the plate is lowering his chances of sticking with the A's.Geren's comment about versatility being a big part of the A's success this year is important. It ties in nicely with this article from Sports Illustrated yesterday about the same subject:Is there any team in baseball that adapts quite like the A's? They are the Sultans of Scramble, the Masters of Making Do. We're still two weeks away from the 2007 regular season and Oakland -- the reigning American League West champ, a playoff participant in five of the past seven years, going for a ninth straight winning season -- already is in full improv mode. It's as if the A's plan to wing it. Or at least plan on having to wing it. If you want to praise Billy Beane, the team's outside-the-box general manager, for the A's ability to adapt, that's probably a good place to start. He has built a team of moveable and manageable parts, a roster stacked with versatile and largely selfless players. That's helped a lot these past couple of years and, already, it looks like it will be coming in handy again this one.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Scutaro and, especially, Swisher have demonstrated just how important a willing, versatile player can be. Decent infield utility players like Scutaro who can play for long stretches of time are hard to come by. And a guy who can play both first and the outfield like Swisher -- often flipping back and forth in the same week or the same game -- is even harder to find. "I talk to them all about the team-first type of play," says new manager Bob Geren, who also points out his bendable pitching staff (Joe Kennedy can be anything from a lefty setup man to a starter) and said he's talked to young infielder Antonio Perez about playing outfield. "We don't have selfish players in this organization."Emphasis mine. The message is clear: we value versatility and if you want to play for us and you want increased playing time, then be prepared to juggle more than one position. That's why there's been talk of Melhuse spending some time at 3B occasionally. That's why we'll once again see Swisher bouncing back and forth between the OF and 1B. Marco Scutaro will once again reprise his role as super-sub for the infield and [...]

Does Joe Kennedy deserve to be the fifth starter?


Update: Here's more on the subject from Susan Slusser and Mychael Urban. Key quote from Urban: Shouldn't the A's be more concerned than they seem to be about Joe Kennedy's awful spring? And who would get the call if they dumped him from the rotation?-- Samuel T., Pleasanton, Calif. I think they are, whether they say it or not, and Kennedy knows it. He's got three starts left this spring, and if he doesn't turn things around fairly dramatically, he's going to have an awfully short leash come the regular season. Going into Spring Training it was assumed that Joe Kennedy was a lock for the A's fifth starter. Thanks to a long string of bad outings in Spring Training, however, there could be some cracks in the wall:The fifth-starter role is Joe Kennedy's to lose, the A's keep saying, and if that's really the case, his job security is getting shakier and shakier.------------------------------------------------------------------Kennedy has a 20.48 ERA and opponents are batting .543 against him. Another candidate, lefty Brad Halsey is 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA, while Triple-A Sacramento right-hander Jason Windsor has a 10.38 ERA. Fellow minor-leaguer Shane Komine has the best ERA of the bunch, at 5.14. It's hard to imagine, barring a trade, that Kennedy won't claim the fifth job. As outfielder Nick Swisher stage-whispered to a bunch of reporters clustered around Kennedy, "It's spring training." True. It is Spring Training, and I try not to put much stock in Spring Training numbers, but in 9.2 IP he has given up 31 hits, 22 earned runs, walked 6, and has a WHIP of 3.83. Nobody else, and I mean nobody, has worse Spring Training numbers than Kennedy's. What's really scary is that now that people are openly questioning whether he truly deserves a slot in the rotation it could get into his head and affect his performance even more. Or, hopefully, it will motivate him to really buckle down and get his act together and pitch his butt off. The good news is that if Kennedy struggles during the season, the A's have plenty of backup who should pitch just as well if not better. Halsey could easily step into the same role as last season, as a fill-in starter. Both Komine and Windsor are on the 40-man roster and could be called up for a stretch, if need be. Last season our 5th starters (Halsey and Saarloos) combined for 12 wins, and had almost identical WHIPs (1.63 and 1.66). Even their ERAs were eerily similar (4.75 and 4.67). And they weren't really all that much worse than 4th starter Esteban Loaizia, he of the 4.89 ERA which would have been upwards of 6.00 if it weren't for an incredible August. So with a (hopefully) healthy Harden, a solid Haren, and a steady Blanton who should improve on last year's numbers, there isn't really a whole lot of pressure on the 5th starter, which makes it all the more imperative that Kennedy not blow this chance, particularly considering this is his walk year. The A's acquired reliever Alan Embree with the idea that Kennedy would shift from the bullpen to the rotation. But he has yet to distance himself from fellow lefty Brad Halsey, surrendering 21 hits and 13 earned runs in three starts (7 innings). "As long as guys are getting sharper and crisper with their breaking balls, that's all I'm looking for," Geren said. "I'm not looking for spring training stats. As long as whoever needs to be ready for that fifth start, (what's important is) we feel like he's ready." Emphasis mine. Not exactly a vote of confidence from the skipper. [...]

Durazo making a case for 1B


Durazo had a breakout season in 2004 and was looking forward to another great year in 2005 before a freak arm injury while preparing to play 1B sidelined him for the rest of the season. He was let go and spent 2006 bouncing around the Minor Leagues for 3 different teams. The A's were wise (and lucky) to pick him up on a minor league contract for 2007 during the off-season, where he absolutely murdered the ball in the Mexican Winter League.

It's doubtful the A's will be carrying Durazo on the 25-man roster come opening day, particularly since, well, they did sign him to a Minor League contract, but the man is certainly making things tough for the A's:

Erubiel Durazo, who is trying to make the team as a non-roster invitee, provided the most impressive swing of the day in a game against the Mariners. He hit the first pitch he saw from left-hander George Sherrill over the right-center-field fence, the deepest part of the stadium, for a three-run home run.

What makes the drive even more impressive is the fact that Sherrill did not allow a home run in 72 appearances for the Mariners last year and left-handers hit .143 against him.

"He's playing like a big-league player," Geren said. "He's the most diligent of anybody in getting his work in this spring. It's going to be tough, and I hope we have a real tough call."

So far, Durazo is certainly making it a tough call. It will be interesting to see how things work out for the big guy and I'll certainly be watching no matter where he ends up.

Javier Herrera optioned to AAA Sacramento and other news


I have a post up over at A Minor Consideration with a quick run down of the players from Spring Training who have been optioned to AAA Sacramento or Minor League Camp. Herrera has been optioned to Sacramento after spending the bulk of last season in low-A Kane County. From my post:

Touted as one of the A’s top OF prospects since he joined the A’s, I think it’s a combination of high expectations and the fact that the A’s are going to need all the OF talent they can get after this season. Bradley is in his walk year and his performance will most likely price him out of the A’s budget. Kotsay has a bad back, regardless of how successful the surgery is, and 2008 will be his last year with the A’s. Swisher is fine in either RF or LF, but I have a feeling he’ll be spending more time at 1B in seasons to come. Kielty will most likely be gone in 2008 as well, as there is only so much the A’s should be paying for a part-time lefty masher. And Stewart is most likely hoping he can win comeback player of the year which means he’ll go for the heaviest bidder in the offseason. Conclusion: the A’s are going to need all the OF help they can get in the near future.

Read the whole thing.

A's beat SF 5-3


Harden is looking downright dominant so far this Spring. Today he pitched 3 strong innings, giving up 3 hits, no walks, and striking out 4 with zero runs earned. So far he has not allowed an earned run and has struck out 9.

Another hot hand for the A's? Milton Bradley: 1 double, 2 triples, 3 BB to 1 K, and a line of 0.571 / 0.647 / 0.929. Now it's only been 14 AB and as I have said so many times before, I don't put much stock into Spring Training stats, but it's nice to see Bradley keep up the hot hitting he displayed in the playoffs.

Glad to see Piazza bouncing back so quickly from being hit in the arm earlier this week. He was 2 for 3 with a double.

Bad news (depending on how you look at it): Loaiza left the game with tightness in his shoulder and said he didn't feel good out there. If serious, someone else on the A's roster would need to step in. Everyone knows how I feel about Loaiza, where I gave him an "F" in my season review:

Tossing your fastball in the low 80's when you normally hit the low-mid 90's enroute to an ERA of 8.35 with ZERO wins in April does not endear you to the fans as a new player. No one forgot his dismal performance either, even when he pitched an outstanding August amidst a bunch of sub-standard or downright terrible months:
April: 8.35 ERA
June: 4.91 ERA
July: 7.26 ERA
Aug: 1.48 ERA
Sept: 5.11 ERA

Take out that August, which was CLEARLY an anomaly, and you have a 2006 ERA above 6.00.

Loaiza's entire career is a bunch of sub-par performances with the occasional diamond in the rough - he has had only 2 full seasons with an ERA under 4.00 and his career WHIP is 1.42. I don't know what kind of numbers the A's were looking at when they decided to sign Loaiza, because everything I saw said this was a disaster in the making.

So if Loaiza doesn't start opening day, I won't lose any sleep over it. And looking at his numbers just about anyone can fill in for him and not have to worry about meeting any high expectations - just give us 5-6 innings of batting practice and you'll be just fine.

How will Kotsay's absence affect the A's?


By now everyone is aware that Kotsay, after checking with 3 different doctors, has elected to have back surgery to hopefully fix his ailing back once and for all:

Kotsay, who has had a chronic lower-back problem since 2003, said the arthroscopic surgery will be performed today by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles.

"We have a solution," Kotsay said in a phone interview Wednesday night, adding he'll be out of action eight to 12 weeks. He wouldn't be cleared to begin light rehabilitation until after a three- to four-week healing process.

This means, best-case-scenario, we can expect Kotsay to return to action sometime in June. The question is: how is this going to affect the A's?

While it certainly isn't good news for the A's, on the bright side it opens things up for some players who were probably wondering about their standing with the team. Ryan Goleski, acquired through the rule 5 draft, just became a likely certainty to make the 25-man roster, which I discussed over at A Minor Consideration. Dan Johnson can probably relax a bit knowing that Swisher will spend the bulk of his time in the OF now and not have to worry about the A's demoting or trading him (neither of which, in my opinion, he would deserve). Geren won't have to worry, at least for the near future, about giving enough playing time to Shannon Stewart and Bobby Kielty.

With Kotsay (0.988 FPCT / 2.66 RF / 0.877 ZR) out, Milton Bradley will move to CF (0.986 FPCT / 2.70 RF / 0.891 ZR) with Swisher in right and Stewart in left. As long as Bradley's health holds up, CF defense should be fine. Bradley's back up for CF, should an injury befall him, will be Swisher (0.981 FPCT / 1.77 RF / 0.862 ZR - right field), who would be a defensive downgrade from both Bradley and Kotsay.

One other area Kotsay could be missed is leadership. He is widely accepted as one of the clubhouse leaders, if not THE leader, and sometimes consults with Beane & Co. The jury's still out on how his absence will affect team chemistry but luckily they still have guys like Kendall, Piazza, and Chavez who are also leaders in their own right.

Dan Meyer


Over at A Minor Consideration I have a post up discussing the brief history of prospect Dan Meyer (who? oh yeah, that third guy we got from the Tim Hudson trade, what happened to him?), questioning whether he is still a prospect or a bust. You be the judge.

A Minor Consideration


Just a quick note to let everyone know that "A Minor Consideration" - the Oakland A's minor league site that Ryan Armbrust and I are co-authoring - is finally up and running. You can access it here or via the Links in the sidebar. As mentioned before, we'll be covering all the A's minor league affiliates and hope to bring some unique perspective on the A's farm system. So please click on over frequently and enjoy!

New A's minor league site coming soon


As already mentioned by Ryan Armbrust over at The Pastime, he and I are partnering on a new A's minor league site over at MVN. We'll be covering all the A's minor league affiliates throughout the minor league season. We've got a lot of ideas for the site and will let you know once it's up and running, which should be soon.

And be patient here at Condition Oakland, soon I'll have (I hope) a much better looking site at its own domain. It's just a matter of (again, I hope) a few weeks before it becomes a reality.

Spring Training is Here!


Sorry for the lack of posts. Several reasons:1. I can't stand the new Blogger.2. Been super busy at work.3. Did I mention I dislike the new Blogger?4. I am in the middle of transitioning my blog to its own domain. This will accomplish several objectives: getting away from Blogger (did I mention I don't like the new Blogger?), allow me more control over the site's layout and improve the design, and allow me to introduce (hopefully) more features. Originally I stopped posting because I thought the change would be imminent, but circumstances have delayed me until sometime in March, so I figured I better go back to posting here until everything is transitioned.Anyways, anything I post about Spring Training may be old news to some of you, but let's go 'round the blogosphere:Blez has an excellent interview with the new A's manager, Bob Geren. He certainly seems more talkative than Macha and at this time does not appear to be a robotic construct - he actually expresses emotion and independent thought! Part I. Part II. Part III. He also has a nice Q & A with A's prospect Brad Ziegler. Here's an excerpt:At the time I was with the Phillies, there were major differences in the philosophies. The Phillies seemed to draft more high-risk, high-reward guys...guys that threw hard but needed a lot of refinement to get to the upper levels. The A's tended to draft more polished pitchers who weren't necessarily projected to be future aces but were much closer to helping out a big league ballclub.I, personally, think that translates into better minor league teams - and, thus, better player morale. The Phillies short-season team in Batavia, NY, hasn't had a winning record since 2000. In 2003, when I was there (I pitched 6 innings of relief that summer), we were 30-45. Conversely, every team I've been on with the A's has made the playoffs (excluding my one-month stint in Sacramento last year - and that team finished 12 games over .500).Elephants in Oakland breaks down the bullpen. I like his take on The Duke, my personal favorite:Many, FINALLY, are asking the question why Duchscherer shouldn't get the ball every 5th day as a starter. Previously the A's were about exposing him to hitters a 3rd time through the batting order because his "stuff" didn't lend itself to the starter's role. When your breaking ball, change-up, fastball, make-up, pickoff move, defense and hair is better than Barry Zito all that is left to judge is what arm they fling the ball at the plate. The A's need to lock-up Duchscherer long term and they need to do it now.Susan Slusser reports on what's really on everyone's mind at Spring Training over at The Drumbeat: How do they look and how much do they weigh?Street has been particularly proud of his weight gain as he pushed 200 pounds. He checks daily and noted a one-pound increase one morning. At a reporters' behest, he took off his shoes, and was precisely at 200. Joe Blanton, whose weight always seems to be a focal point, told Street that the scale in the A's weight room is actually heavy by 7 pounds, because he said he was 247 at the doctor's office and 254 at the A's complex. He and Street decided to go whichever weight suited them best, so Blanton is sticking with 247 and Street with 200. Or 201 with his shoes on.And over at The Pastime, my soon to be writing partner (more on that in my next post) has a post on Guys to Root For: Marcus McBethAfter reading Mychael Urban’s interview with Marcus McBeth, the first selection in the “GTRF” category was easy. McBeth, as many Oakland fans already know, was an outfielder selected in the famous 2002 “Moneyball” draft. After three years in the system carrying subpar offensive numbers, McBeth was on his way out of baseball. He approached his pitching coach, and asked if he could work his way towards co[...]

A's get Stewart


The A's finally got a decent right handed bat to replace Jay Payton in the outfield: Shannon Stewart. Stewart has dealt with plantar fasciitis problems in both feet over the pastthree years. The injury limited him to 92 games in 2004. The A's were among anumber of teams that were on hand to watch the injury-prone Stewart work out inMiami last week.The right-handed hitting Stewart would join an outfieldthat now consists of starters Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay and Milton Bradley.Stewart and Bobby Kielty would give the A's two solid outfield backups. It's a pretty simplistic assumption that Stewart will be Payton's replacement, but really, what else could he be? He is an injury prone player who would most likely benefit from limited playing time as opposed to being a starter. Like Payton, he can play all 3 OF positions competently although the bulk of his time has been spent in LF, where I assume he will most likely split his time with Kielty, barring simultaneous injuries to both Kotsay and Bradley. The injury risk aside, I don't think the A's could have gone out and found someone more like Payton if they tried. Look at the offensive comparison:3 Years (2004-2006) : Breakdown = BA / OBP / SLG / HR / 2B / BB / KShannon Stewart:0.287 / 0.347 / 0.405 / 0.752 / 23 / 49 / 95 / 136Jay Payton:0.276 / 0.320 / 0.409 / 0.729 / 36 / 65 / 89 / 155The edge goes to Stewart in BA and OBP as he had fewer K and more BB with roughly 300 fewer at bats. Regardless, both are good contact hitters who may not walk a lot but also don't strike out too often. However, one area will Stewart will be a clear advantage is with runners in scoring position:Stewart - 0.343 / 0.418 / 0.517Payton - 0.288 / 0.358 / 0.424Let's look at their defense:Career : Breakdown = FPCT / RF / ZRShannon Stewart:As LF - 0.984 / 2.05 / 0.874As CF - 0.978 / 2.46 / 0.877As RF - 0.971 / 2.56 / 0.816Jay Payton:As LF - 0.992 / 2.18 / 0.846As CF - 0.986 / 2.66 / 0.887As RF - 0.980 / 2.31 / 0.884Here Payton has the edge, although Stewart has a better ZR in LF, which is where I assume he will play most of the time.In fact, while neither player may enjoy it too much, a platoon in LF of Kielty/Stewart would be ideal, and I wonder if Beane & Co. already had this in mind when looking at Stewart, knowing he could be limited by injury. Here are the splits for Kielty/Stewart below:3 Years (2004-2006) : Breakdown - BA / OBP / SLG / HR / 2B / BB / KKielty vs LHP:0.303 / 0.367 / 0.519 / 17 / 30 / 38 / 54Stewart vs RHP:0.299 / 0.350 / 0.424 / 18 / 39 / 61 / 88As has been mentioned time and time again, Kielty mashes LHP. While Stewart doesn't show a lot of power against RHP, he does show great contact and a decent OBP and certainly has more power against RHP (0.424 SLG) than against LHP (only 0.355 SLG). Perhaps Beane & Co. had all of this in mind when they got Stewart: Kielty should be in the lineup every single day against LHP and Stewart should be thrown in there against RHP.Overall, I think it's a nice addition and gives the A's plenty of depth in the OF, which is one of the reasons they were able to succeed last season. Not having to play everyday should help keep Stewart off the DL and he can spell Kotsay or Bradley if they go down with injuries. It also makes things easier to juggle 1B/DH roles should Geren want to move Swisher into those spots occasionally.[...]

The Pastime: Round Table parts IV, V, and VI


It's been pretty quiet here at Condition Oakland, and the blame completely lies with Sid Meier and his latest incarnation of the famed Civilization franchise, Civilization IV. I am hopelessly addicted, much as I was when Civilization II came out years ago (I hated Civ III). Anyways, I am trying to stay away from the game this week, hiding the DVD deep away in a cluttered drawer and trying to make myself forget where it is so I can keep up with life in general as well as blogging.

Anyways, The Pastime has been putting up further results of his A's offseason Round Table, of which Condition Oakland was a participant, covering a number of questions for A's fans everywhere.

Part IV can be found here and covers the question: Can Mike Piazza adjust to the differences of being a DH facing American League pitchers?

My reply was: hopefully. Blez was also hopefuly with a healthy amount of caution, most of the other participants seemed satisfied that Piazza could do it.

Part V can be found here and covers the question: Is Oakland's defense as good as most people assume, or is it overrated?

I think it's easily as good as most people assume and most of the participants agree on this point.

Part VI can be found here and covers the question: Are we at the end of the steroids era, or just the dawn of the HGH era in baseball?

I was surprised that some participants simply didn't care too much about the issue, a lot of varied opinions on this one.

Thanks again to Ryan @ The Pastime for including Condition Oakland in his roundtable discussion - we'd love to participate in something like this again.

Kirk Saarloos analysis at The Hardball Times


Wow. Sal Baxamusa over at The Hardball Times is really down on Saarloos:

Of course, pitchers can succeed without striking out every fourth batter. Some guys are as stingy with the walks as they are with the swings and misses. Saarloos is not one of those guys. But his walk rate is awful, both as ratio—he has walked more men than he has struck out over the last two years—and as absolute—had he qualified, he would have ranked third from bottom in BB/G.


He's quite hittable (in the sense that it is easy to make contact), so there's no need to attack the first pitch even if it is a strike. This corresponds to my memory of watching him pitch for my favorite team, the Oakland A's. It was extremely frustrating as a fan to watch him get ahead in the count on called strikes only to watch him nibble in an attempt to get the batter to pound his sinker into the ground. Without a way to put away hitters, the nibbling would often lead to walks, rarely lead to strikeouts, and occasionally lead to hits.

Interview with Billy Beane


I wish I had the access to the A's front office like Blez does, but since I don't I'll simply have to enjoy the great interviews he does with Billy Beane and others. In this latest interview, Blez and Beane discuss the A's off-season moves.

Beane more or less skirts around the question of Ken Macha's hiring, despite pushing by Blez. The most interesting comments by Beane were on the hiring of new hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo:

We kept hearing his (Van Burkleo's) name come up from people who didn't know each other. As we were putting together a list of potential hitting instructors, we put his name on the list because we'd heard his name in several different places who all rave about this guy. So I knew the first indication that we'd hit on something when I called Assistant GM Ken Forsch and I said, "Ken, I'd like to ask for permission to speak to Ty Van Burkleo for our major league hitting job." He just groaned like I was afraid you were going to say that. To me that was a validation of what their own organization thought about him and the last time that someone had that reaction when I called to ask about another person is when John Hart had that reaction when I called about Paul DePodesta. His reaction and John's and the fact that Paul ended up being as great as he was, I figured we hit on the right guy.

The Pastime: Round Table parts II and III


Ryan Armbrust of the excellent The Pastime has parts II and III of his Round Table up, of which Condition Oakland was invited to participate.

Part II discusses the question "Bobby Crosby - Is he an injury-prone bust, or can he rebound to approach the Rookie of the Year Expectations? "

While no one seems to be too excited about Bobby Crosby, opinions differ on his future.

Part III discussed the question "How much will this team miss Barry Zito, in terms of pitching and/or leadership."

It's pretty clear that everyone feels a healthy Harden will actually be an upgrade over Zito.

Be sure to check out the answers, lots of interesting commentary from A's fans in the blogosphere.

Another way to look at pitching


I can't believe I missed this earlier at The Hardball Times, but J.P. McIntyre has broken down the starting rotations of all the teams, separated by league, in terms of their starting rotation's Net Win Share Value. For those of you who don't know what Net Win Share Value is:

Let's look at how teams did in 2006 in terms of payroll efficiency with their starters. I am using Net Win Shares Value, created by Dave Studeman. To paraphrase Dave's definition, Net Win Shares Value essentially estimates the "expected" production from a player based on how he was signed (as a free agent, arbitration-eligible or not eligible for arbitration) and how much he was paid, then compares that to how he actually did. The difference is multiplied by the average amount teams paid for each Win Share Above Bench last year. If the number is positive, the player was a relatively good deal for the team; if not, not.

Not surprisingly, number 1 on the list in the AL is the Detroit Tigers, with a $24.9 million Net Win Share Value based on their starting pitchers. As McIntyre explains:

The Detroit Tigers had the most cost-efficient rotation by a considerable margin because not only did their starters pitch well, but most were signed to inexpensive contracts.
             Net WS Value      GS
Verlander 8,003,000 30
Robertson 6,281,000 32
Bonderman 4,636,000 34
Rogers 3,282,000 33
Miner 1,378,000 16
Ledezma 1,362,000 7
Maroth -145,000 9
But the team that came in second in the AL? You guessed it, our 
beloved A's with a $16.9 million Net Win Share Value.

The White Sox had no starter who truly shined, even though management was
writing some large checks. A more efficient team was the Oakland A's:

             Net WS Value      GS
Haren 7,062,000 34
Blanton 4,332,000 31
Saarloos 2,096,000 16
Zito 1,087,000 34
Harden 1,101,000 9
Loaiza 988,000 26
Windsor -585,000 3

Because Harden was not receiving a large salary, his injury did not hurt the A's financially, unlike Mark Mulder of St. Louis, who had a -$9.9 million Net WS Value. Oakland general manager Billy Beane's market philosophy allows him to get a high yield on the money the A's pay their starters.
I think this is an interesting way to look at starting rotations in terms of the value their pitchers bring to the team. Thanks to the clever minds at THT for doing this nice analysis.

Kielty and A's finally come to agreement.


The A's and Kielty have finally agreed on a number: $2.1 million.

Kielty will likely be primarily a backup outfielder again for the A's, with Nick Swisher slated to start in left field, Mark Kotsay in center and Milton Bradley in right. Kielty, who is strongest against left-handed pitchers, batted .270 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 81 games for AL West champion Oakland last season.

His contract includes up to $100,000 in performance bonuses — $25,000 each for 300, 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. His batting average last year was the second highest of his career after he hit .291 in 2002.

Kielty will be in the lineup primarily against LHP, as he absolutely clobbers LHP:

3 year numbers (2004-2006), via ESPN
vs LHP: 0.303 BA / 0.367 OBP / 0.519 SLG / 0.886 OPS
vs RHP: 0.214 BA / 0.314 OBP / 0.316 SLG / 0.630 OPS

I said it before and I'll say it again, Kielty should be in the lineup every time the A's face a lefty, I don't care if he thinks he can or should hit against righties. If Geren trots him out in the lineup too often against righties then he should keep an eye on the "help wanted" section of the newspaper.

The Pastime: Round Table Part I


The Pastime has put together a round table of sorts to discuss some questions about the A's as we get ready for the 2007 season. He was gracious enough to invite Condition Oakland to participate and I am honored to be considered among such a fine group of A's fans and bloggers. The five questions we were asked to discuss are as follows:

- In your opinion, what is the is the key factor that the A’s season will hinge on in 2007?

- Bobby Crosby - Is he an injury-prone bust, or can he rebound to approach the Rookie of the Year expectations?

- How much will this team miss Barry Zito, in terms of pitching and/or leadership?

- Can Mike Piazza adjust to the differences of being a DH facing American League pitchers?

- Is Oakland’s defense as good as most people assume, or is it overrated?

- Are we at the end of the steroids era, or just the dawn of the HGH era in baseball?

Today he posted Part One of his round table, where you can find my humble answer amongst the others. From reading everyone's answers, it seems the common consensus is health, primarily Rich Harden's, and pitching.

I want to thank The Pastime for including me in his project, keep checking out his site for further updates to the Round Table discussion.

Saarloos traded to the Reds for prospect and player to be named later


Hat Tip to Athletics Nation diarist oak1:

MLB radio reported that Kirk Saarloos has beentraded to the Reds for minor
league reliefpitcher David Shafer and a player to be namedlater. Saarloos is
making an appearance onMLB radio later on today. Shafer is a minorleague AA
pitcher with a 2.60 ERA and 26 saves.

Some notes on Shafer from the comments in the same diary:

Shafer, 25, was 1-2 with a 2.36 ERA (13er in 49.2ip) with 26 saves in 44
appearances for Double-A Chattanooga last season. He struck out 52 batters in
his 49.2 innings of work, issued just 16 walks, allowed just two home runs and
limited hitters to a .204 batting average. His 26 saves were tied for second in
the Southern League. Over the past two seasons, he has limited hitters to a .207
average (77-207). Originally selected in the 32nd round of the 2001 First-Year
Player Draft, Shafer has posted a 14-16 record and a 2.59 ERA (71er in 246.1ip)
to go along with 63 saves in 169 minor league appearances, including seven
career starts. He has struck out 269 batters in his 246.1 innings of work while
walking 74 batters and limiting opponents to a .219 (200-915) batting average. A
native of Flagstaff, Ariz., Shafer attended Central Arizona Community College.
He will be placed on Oakland's 40-man roster.

Here's his stats, etc from The Baseball Cube. I like his WHIP, K/9, and K totals.

It will be interesting to see who the player-to-be-named-later is. I was not too surprised, but a little sad, to see Kirk Saarloos go. While he certainly wasn't an ace, he was extremely versatile, filling in rotation spots and a multitude of bullpen duties with little griping or whining and decent performance. I definitely think he deserves a rotation spot on somebody's team and hope the Reds give him that chance. I think eventually he'll develop into a pitcher somewhere between Saarloos v.2005 and Saarloos v.2006, which isn't too shabby.

Update: The Pastime has these comments:
I’d guess Shafer will play in Sacramento most of this year, get a September
call-up, and then try to make the team as a set-up man out of Spring Training in

Further notes on the proposed Fremont ballpark


Via new A's ballpark. Excerpt:

Bo Magnussen of Magnussen Lexus inquired about the impact to the Fremont Auto Mall nearby. He had contacted someone at Coliseum Lexus in Oakland to see how much sporting events impacted their dealership. The traffic generated on event days was in fact detrimental, so Magnussen pleaded with the A's and the city to figure out a way to mitigate that impact on weekends. The obvious way at first would be to have Saturday games at 7 p.m. instead of 1 p.m.

Read the whole thing, lots of good stuff, as usual.

The Drumbeat: Live blogging the Fremont City Council meeting tonight


You can read the whole thing here. Excerpts:

5:49 p.m. Mayor Bob Wasserman said the question he was asked the most is who would pay for police services at the ballpark. Wolff said the A's would pay for police and ambulance services, as they do now at the Coliseum. He said two of the three Coliseum tenants pay for these now, and Wasserman responded "Guess which one doesn't?" to laughter.


6:12 p.m.:.........Wasserman asked about the team name, and Wolff responded "Whatever it is, it will be 'AT Fremont', and not 'OF Fremont.' "

The Pastime: 2007 Pitching Projections


And just like that, The Pastime has just posted his 2007 Pitching Projections based again on combining the projections from 4 systems (PECOTA, ZiPS, CHONE, Bill James).

I was surprised to see that no one is very high on Chad Gaudin, who came out of nowhere to pitch solidly all season long as one of the A's best relievers. I'm also hoping Joe Blanton can pitch better than projected and Rich Harden can do better than 131 innings. Loaiza is surprisingly projected to have a great year (compared to last year's dismal numbers) and Huston Street projects to have an awesome season.

Head on over to The Pastime for the complete list.

UPDATED: Even better, he has now included weighted versions of the same lists, weighing them in accordance with how well each projection system performed in 2006.
Weighted Batters
Weighted Pitchers

The Pastime: 2007 Offensive Projections


The Pastime has put together a great piece of work that must have taken considerable time and effort: combining 4 different projection systems (PECOTA, ZiPS, CHONE, Bill James) into one unified projection of the A's offense for 2007. Because, as he puts it, "I figure it’s better to have four experts reach a compromised consensus on how something will turn out, than to rely on just one or another." Dude, you have outdone yourself and you are spoiling A's fans - you know come 2008 I will be looking for the same thing from you again.

I haven't had time to look over the data he used and how he analyzed it to come up with his projections, but you can see the results by clicking on over to his website here. He also cross-posted his link in a diary at Athletics Nation, which you can find here. Like him, I have always been a Dan Johnson fan and was also surprised to see how high he projects. I like the addition of Mike Piazza but was never too high on him, but if he can hit 16 2B and 15 HR in roughly 300 AB then I will be more than happy. Most of the players projections are not too surprising, although I am personally a little higher on some than others.

Anyways, this is an invaluable service, be sure to head on over to The Pastime, take a look, and thank him for all his work. Can't wait to see the pitcher projections.

Erstad to the A's? UPDATE: Not happening


UPDATE: As per Ken Rosenthal at FOX Sports, it ain't happening.

Ok, somewhat old news, but once again I was out of town last week and had no access to a computer or the internet. (Being an internet junkie that was not an easy thing to cope with). Anyways, the big news recently is that Darin Erstad of the Angels has been offered a one year contract with the A's.

While some A's fans are skeptical of this move and some are downright hateful, I think it's a smart move on the A's part, provided the contract is relatively cheap, as it will only add to the A's depth. With the rash of injuries the A's experienced last season, both at the major AND minor league levels, depth is needed and is one of the reasons the A's had yet another successful year and made the playoffs in 2006. While not a fun problem to deal with, having too many players to fill a limited number of positions is better when injuries come rolling around. Hopefully the A's won't have to deal with the injury bug like they did in 2006 and can keep their key players in the field, but should anyone go down they should have plenty of more than adequate backups to fill in the gaps:

CF - Mark Kotsay, Milton Bradley, Darin Erstad
LF - Nick Swisher, Bobby Kielty, Darin Erstad, Milton Bradley
RF - Milton Bradley, Nick Swisher, Darin Erstad
3B - Eric Chavez, Antonio Perez, Marco Scutaro (slim chance, but still an option)
SS - Bobby Crosby, Marco Scutaro, Antonio Perez
2B - Mark Ellis, Marco Scutaro
1B - Dan Johnson, Nick Swisher, Mike Piazza, Darin Erstad, Erubiel Durazo
C - Jason Kendall, Adam Melhuse, Mike Piazza

As for Erstad's numbers, the offense isn't too pretty, but then again neither was Jay Payton's when he first came over, although I like Payton's overall numbers better than Erstad's. One thing not to overlook is Erstad's defense, which is above average. While Erstad will most likely be used as a situational and back up player, he is more than adequate for the role and this move would only add to the A's already significant depth.