Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

With the trade deadline less than a week away, I think it's time to start thinking about potential additions/subtractions.

There seems to be this misconception that our mighty Athletics need to add a power, right-handed bat. Even Mychael Urban, in his recent interview on Athletics Nation, said that he would make a move for some right-handed pop if he were GM. I, too, used to think that we could use a slugging right-hander to stabilize the middle of the order. Then I checked at the stats. We're pretty damn good against lefties.

Just look at the line-up we could throw out versus a lefty with the current guys on our roster:

2005 Stats vs Lefties

C. Kendall (.304 Avg/.368 OBP/.343 Slg%/.712 OPS)

CF Kotsay. (.314 Avg/.359 OBP/.424 Slg%/.783 OPS)
SS Crosby. (.322 Avg/.394 OBP/.576 Slg%/.970 OPS)
3B Chavez. (.280 Avg/.338 OBP/.441 Slg%/.778 OPS)
DH Kielty. (.340 Avg/.417 OBP/.500 Slg%/.917 OPS)
1B Johnson (.361 Avg/.457 OBP/.528 Slg%/.984 OPS)
LF Payton. (.318 Avg/.359 OBP/.482 Slg%/.841 OPS)
RF Swisher (.192 Avg/.276 OBP/.321 Slg%/.596 OPS)
2B Ellis.. (.297 Avg/.375 OBP/.453 Slg%/.828 OPS)

The only regular who clearly struggles versus lefties is Swisher. But there's about three guys who absolutely crush lefties and a couple more that can more than hold their own. Does that really merit a trade for a right-handed slugger? I don't think so.

If there is a right-handed bat we could use, it's one for the bench. It's time to give up on Keith Ginter. He sucks. Trade him, send him down, whatever. Just get rid of him. Given what he's shown this season, I don't want Ginter pinch hitting for ANY of our lefties in a close game. Not Hatteberg. Not Johnson. Not Swisher. And considering that he only has five pinch hit appearances all season, neither does Macha. So what's Ginter good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Now IF we had a quality righty on the bench, I think pinch hitting for Hatte or Swisher late in close game would be the "right" move. But that isn't an option right now.

So if I were Billy Beane, I'd be looking at Olmedo Saenz. I'd love to see him back in an A's uniform. The guy can still hit. And I think he'd be the perfect guy to have coming off the bench and starting at DH versus lefties.

Is he available?

I'd say yes.

Even though, the Dodgers are just five games back of the division lead (just like our mighty A's), they're 45-54 (unlike our Athletics, who are 54-45). DePodesta has to realize that his team just isn't very good. And given Saenz's age, I'd have to think that DePo would move him if the player he got in return made it worth his while.

I don't see why Seth Etherton couldn't get it done. He's got a 2.72 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 75 K's and only 25 walks in 86.0 innings down in AAA. With the plethora of starting pitching we all of a sudden have, I don't think he's got much of a future with the big club. So he's expendable, imo.

What I think we really need is someone who can hit righties. Check out the line-up most likely to be out there versus a right-handed pitcher:

2005 Stats vs Righties

C. Kendall.. (.263 Avg/.348 OBP/.318 Slg%/.666 OPS)

CF Kotsay... (.250 Avg/.306 OBP/.391 Slg%/.697 OPS)
SS Crosby... (.308 Avg/.374 OBP/.474 Slg%/.848 OPS)
3B Chavez... (.268 Avg/.333 OBP/.472 Slg%/.805 OPS)
DH Hatteberg (.293 Avg/.371 OBP/.378 Slg%/.749 OPS)
LF Kielty... (.244 Avg/.356 OBP/.356 Slg%/.712 OPS)
1B Johnson.. (.282 Avg/.360 OBP/.479 Slg%/.839 OPS)
RF Swisher.. (.265 Avg/.329 OBP/.515 Slg%/.844 OPS)
2B Ellis.... (.303 Avg/.350 OBP/.382 Slg%/.731 OPS)

There's a couple of guys who are pretty bad and a lot of guys who are just pretty meh. Adding a power, left-handed bat would do A LOT more than adding a slugging righty.

The most high-profile name floating around the rumor mill is Adam Dunn. No doubt this guy can mash. He hit 46 homeruns last season and is on pace to reach that number again this year. And he's only 25 years old.

Adam Dunn has the patience and power that a lot of teams covet, but I thought maybe his homerun total was inflated by that bandbox of a park the Reds play in. I'm still not sure. In 2004, 21 of Dunn's homeruns were hit on the road. However, this year only seven of his 28 homeruns have come on the road. Either way, he may not be a 45 homerun a year guy in EVERY ballpark, but I think it's pretty safe to say that in ANY park, Dunn's a legitimate power hitter.

Now for the financial side of things. Dunn's arbitration-eligible for another two years. I'd say he's scheduled to make anywhere from $14 to $17 million in that time. That's a lot of money.

Would that sum keep us from re-signing Zito?

I don't know.

If we assume that we'd only keep Dunn through his arbitration years and that we'd sign Zito to a contract extension (which could be a WAY OFF assumption, but bear with me here), Dunn's arbitration-determined salary would only overlap with Zito's new contract salary in 2007. 2007 also happens to be the final year of Jason Kendall's contract. And a stipulation in Jason Kendall's contract has Pittsburgh sending us $5 million in cash. So IF we could afford the contracts of Kotsay, Kendall, Chavez, Zito and Dunn in 2006, I'd have to think that we could afford the contracts of Kotsay, Kendall, Chavez, Dunn and Zito in 2007.

On the flip side, Zito might be out of our price range anyway (moreso because of the number of years he'd undoubtedly be looking for than because of the yearly salary he could get) . So any deadline deal that involves ownership taking on salary wouldn't effect Zito's situation one way or the other. If that's the case and Dunn isn't out of our price range, I don't see why he wouldn't be an option.

Now IF the salary ownership takes on before the deadline will effect what happens with Zito, then I say there are probably better options than Adam Dunn. The guy at the top of my list would be Aubrey Huff. He might be at the top of my list anyway.

Huff won't provide as much power as Dunn, but he WILL provide some pop and should hit around .300. And he's spent his whole career in the AL, so there shouldn't be any prolonged adjustment period, like there might be with Dunn.

Not only is Huff an exceptional hitter, but he's extremely versatile. He can play the outfield, first base and, most importantly, third base, which would allow Chavez to rest his bum shoulder every once in a while without a significant drop off in offensive production.

Huff's only under contract through next season and in that time is scheduled to make about $9.5 million, which is still A LOT of money, but not as much as Dunn is looking to make. Now if that amount of money would keep us from signing Zito, I say ef him too.

I don't know if there's anyone else out there who's available that could really help the club. Moises Alou and Rondell White, a couple of right-handers, are some other names I've seen linked to the A's. Maybe oft-injured Nick Johnson, who's currently on a rehab assignment and arbitration-eligible for a couple more years. Maybe Lyle Overbay, who I believe is just entering his arbitration years. But those guys can only play first base and DH, which would mean the end of the Scott Hatteberg era. And, for whatever crazy reason, I don't think Billy Beane wouldn't do that to Hatte. Maybe you guys can think of someone I'm forgetting.

That our mighty A's are only one or two players away from being REALLY good THIS year is pretty damn surprising. Even more exciting is that Billy Beane always makes that one or two moves necessary before the trade deadline to put the team in the best position possible to win down the stretch.


Blogger Greg said...

Who gave you permission to post something? hfg

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 5:54:00 PM  
Anonymous smac said...

The scuttlebutt is that Chuck LaMarr has recently lowered his asking price for Huff (and his .260 avg.). Considering he's been depserate to deal the guy for 18 months now, this is the time to strike.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:39:00 PM  

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