2017-01-18T09:53:31-08:00On the surface, they’re not exciting. Below the surface, they’re not exciting. But this is exactly what the A’s should be doing. Over the past week and change, the A’s added two new players. First was former Athletic Santiago Casilla. If you don’t remember seeing that name on the back of a jersey, you’re forgiven. Casilla used to go by Jairo Garcia. The change in name and subsequent change in teams did him well, and he’s coming off seven excellent season in San Francisco. The A’s also added Trevor Plouffe, a third baseman coming off a bad and injured season in 2016. If you’re uninspired by these moves, you’re not necessarily wrong. But they are exactly what the A’s should be doing. Here’s why. The A’s budget isn’t fluid year to year We’ve been over it before, but it’s always worth repeating. The A’s spending $5 million on Trevor Plouffe in 2017 doesn’t mean they have $5 million less in 2018 to spend. The A’s money can go in one of two places each year: to some jabroni who plays a childhood game for money the average human being could retire on, or effectively into the pockets of ownership. That doesn’t mean that every signing is a good signing, but it does mean that the money needs to be spent. The A’s tried their hand at a big name splash, coming up just short of signing Edwin Encarnacion. What’s a team to do when they’re declined by one of the few good bets on the market? Gamble on a few bounce back candidates that can’t possibly hurt the team long term, but could provide a spark in the short term. This might be the worst free agent class in history Casilla isn’t Rich Hill and Trevor Plouffe isn’t Coco Crisp, and there’s a reason for that. This free agent class is a hot pile of garbage from top to bottom. With the pickings being so slim, and they are that slim, it’s a win for the A’s to snag a reliever who had a 2.42 ERA in seven full seasons across the bay, and a third baseman one season removed from being an average third baseman. Big time free agents often suck Last year, Jason Heyward was paid $23 million to hit 28 percent worse than league average. He was basically Eric Sogard at a different position. Here’s how the top 10 most expensive free agents from 2015 fared. Name Position 2016 Age 2015 fWAR 2016 fWAR Years Dollars David Price SP 31 6.4 4.5 7 $217,000,000 Zach Greinke SP 33 5.8 2.2 6 $206,500,000 Jason Heyward RF 27 6 1.6 8 $184,000,000 Chris Davis 1B 30 5.6 2.7 7 $161,000,000 Justin Upton LF 29 3.5 1.4 6 $132,750,000 Johnny Cueto SP 30 4.1 5.5 6 $130,000,000 Jordan Zimmerman SP 30 3 1.3 5 $110,000,000 Jeff Samardzija SP 31 2.6 2.6 5 $90,000,000 Wei-Yin Chen SP 31 2.7 0.8 5 $80,000,000 Mike Leake SP 29 1.7 2.5 5 $80,000,000 Of those ten, six or seven could be conceived as disappointing. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking analysis, and it doesn’t make free agents a bad investment. But for teams not on the verge of contention, the risk in signing big money guys is amplified, and that's propagated by the loss of a draft pick. There is a world where the A’s are better off not signing EE. We all wanted him, and he would have been a great bet, but history tells us diving in the free agent pool is a risky business. Attaching a draft pick to that dive on a team thats unlikely to really benefit from a single free agent can be a recipe for disaster. Small money free agents often sometimes don’t suck Perhaps more germane would be to look at players who fit the mold of the guys the A's did sign. What's the upside for a Trevor Plouffe? Go back a year and look at David Freese, a third baseman who signed a one year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to 2016. Last season, he put up a wRC+ of 110 with solid defense, grading out as an average player on an absolute steal of a deal. The Pirates were so happy with his performance, they extended him for two additional years. Plouffe's career mirrors Fre[...]
It’s that time of year again! The Baseball Hall Of Fame will announce its 2017 class on Wednesday, and this could be a big one. According to Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, as many as six players could be elected on this ballot.
Of those players, the only one with any A’s connection at all is Tim Raines. The speedster played 58 games for Oakland late in his career, as a 39-year-old in 1999. The others listed by Bloom as having realistic chances: Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, and Edgar Martinez.
There are a couple more former A’s debuting at the bottom of the ballot (likely one-and-done), including Matt Stairs, Arthur Rhodes, and Orlando Cabrera, but only one of those names made you happy to think about. If you really want to reach deep on the Oakland connection, Manny Ramirez is on the ballot for the first time.
Who would you vote for this year? Share in the comments as we wait to see who makes it!
When: Noon-4 p.m. PT, Wednesday, Jan. 18 (announcement at 3 p.m.)
Channel: MLB Network
The Houston Astros “have remained in contact with the [Oakland A’s] on Sonny Gray,” reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
I don’t have much to say about this, but we’re an A’s site and this is technically an A’s rumor involving the team’s biggest star, so I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. We already knew the A’s are willing to listen on Sonny. We already knew the Astros are looking for top-notch rotation help. Now we know for sure that these particular dots have also been connected by the two teams.
All the normal caveats apply: Sonny had an off-year in 2016, the A’s shouldn’t sell low on him, and it’ll be tough to convince a team to assign him peak value in a trade. In my opinion, there probably isn’t a match out there and Sonny will almost certainly be on the 2017 A’s. But it’s still interesting to know what suitors exist.
For more, here is our previous reporting on Sonny from this winter:
Nov. 27: Sonny a questionable fit for Braves
Dec. 14: Sonny receiving little interest
2017-01-17T13:22:41-08:00The Oakland A’s acquired an impressive haul of prospects last summer in exchange for their impending free agents, and two of them have already cracked the Top 5 of our Community Prospect List. The latest addition is flamethrower Frankie Montas, in our first somewhat close election so far. Here’s the current list, including their winning margins (the difference between their % of the vote, and the % of the runner-up): Franklin Barreto, SS (+67%) Matt Chapman, 3B (+26%) A.J. Puk, LHP (+38%) Jharel Cotton, RHP (+60%) Frankie Montas, RHP (+12%) There are three things you need to know about Montas, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the July blockbuster for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. First, there’s his fastball, which is arguably the single best raw tool owned by any player in the A’s whole system. It’s 70-grade at least on the 20-to-80 scale, easily capable of hitting triple-digits on the radar gun. At the Arizona Fall League a couple months ago, he topped out at 102 mph, en route to an impressive performance. Second, there’s his health. He missed most of the 2016 season due to a rib injury. On the bright side, it wasn’t an arm injury, and he did return for that aforementioned stint in the AFL, all systems go. Finally, there’s his role. Will he be a starter or a reliever long-term? If he can bring his heat reliably to a rotation then he could be devastating, but even moving to the bullpen wouldn’t be the end of the world because he has the stuff to potentially be a lockdown closer. For now, the A’s are planning to let him start and see what happens. Here is the process (please read, there are minor changes): Five candidates will be listed on the ballot. The voting will take place in the comments section. I will start with a comment listing all five players, and then I will respond to that with five new comments in the style of "Vote: Player Name" for each candidate. Please do not reply directly to the official "Vote" comments, so that the ballot can stay together in one group. Choose your ONE favorite by Rec'ing the comment with his name. Please only vote for one. The player who receives the most Rec's earns the next spot on the CPL, while the remaining four players move on to the next ballot where they are joined by a new nominee. In the comments, below the official voting, commenters will nominate players to be put onto the ballot for the next round. Similar to the ballot, I will start with a comment calling for nominations, which can then be made as a response to my comment. The format for your comment should be "Nomination: Player Name". After the first nomination for a player has been put in, all other votes for that player will come from Rec'ing that comment. The player with the most Rec's earns the nomination. If a prospect is traded, his name will be crossed out, and all other players will be moved up a space. If a prospect is acquired, a special vote will be put up to determine where that player should rank. * * * The new nominee is Max Schrock. The second baseman was acquired from the Nats in a deadline deal for reliever Marc Rzepczynski, and he’s easy to fall in love with. He’s a little guy (5’8) from the 13th round of the draft, but he never strikes out and he’s gotten a lot of attention from FanGraphs as a sleeper prospect — he appeared (along with Jharel Cotton) on last season’s Fringe 5 prospect list. XBH = Extra-Base HitsHitter average rates: 100 wRC+, 8.0% BB, 20.0% Ks Max Schrock, 2B Expected level: AA | Age 22 2016 stats (A+): 552 PAs, 134 wRC+, 9 HR, 5.6% BB, 7.6% Ks2016 stats (AA + playoffs): 17-for-57, 4 XBH, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 90 wRC+2016 stats (AFL): 15-for-54, 6 XBH, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 95 wRC+ From John Sickels: Best tool is speed, lacks big natural power but know how to hit with good eye, clean swing and contact ability with gap pop; limited to second base by range and arm but he’s fairly reliable; could be ideal number two hitter eventually. ETA [...]