Saturday, January 16, 2010


  • ...or in 2010 Oakland A's parlance, 73-89:

Baseball's resident "genius" struck again last night as the Athletics acquired third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and infielder Eric Sogard from the Padres for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.

The A's needed a third baseman desperately after they whiffed on attempts to get Adrian Beltre and were faced with the prospect of minor league journeyman Jake Fox as their everyday third baseman. Kouzmanoff has pop and is a very good fielder; but how much does he help a woeful A's offense?

Kevin Kouzmanoff is an ancillary piece who'd be a better fit on a club where the holes in his game would be more easily negated. He strikes out a lot; doesn't get on base; and the thought that getting away from the cavernous Petco Park will help him in Oakland is ignoring the fact that Oakland isn't exactly a home run haven either. There were 11 more homers hit in Oakland than there were in San Diego. Add in that he is a notorious up-the-middle hitter and his power isn't going to improve in Oakland.

He's an okay player. That's it. He's never fulfilled the expectations that came with a year in Triple A for the Indians that could only be described as ridiculous (.379 average; .437 OBP; 22 homers; 75 RBI in 94 games); then he made things worse for himself (in retrospect) when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues for the Indians. Getting away from the Padres is a positive step for any player at this point; but going to the A's in that hellish AL West isn't that far a step up for him or the team.

The other player heading to the A's, Sogard, is a middle-infielder who's shown an ability to get on base in the minors and has a little power; he'll be 24 in May.

Objectively and without ridicule based from the Moneyball nonsense, it's about time to question A's boss Billy Beane's abilities not only to judge players based on their physicality, but based on his beloved stats.

The failures of the players he got for Dan Haren and Tim Hudson to name two are sullying his reputation more than the dreamworld of Michael Lewis ever could. Daric Barton was the centerpiece of the trade of Mark Mulder to the Cardinals and has done absolutely nothing in the big leagues. The haul he got from the Diamondbacks for Haren included Cunningham, whom he dispatched in this trade. They got no use at all from the players acquired for Hudson.

The A's have a load of young pitching and the potential to be pretty good if the pitching matures and performs----that's a big if; and when a team can't score to counteract any hiccups for a young pitching staff, they're going to have trouble winning. That division has the potential to be a nightmare and the A's have shown neither the ability nor the wherewithal to deal with their issues in anything other than a baseline manner of scotch taping it together and hoping for the best.

For years, Beane's "genius" allowed him to get away with doing whatever he wanted with impunity as the firewall of Moneyball protected him. That firewall has been breached; and if the A's stumble again, Beane's going to be in trouble. Big trouble.

  • As for the Padres...

Trading Kouzmanoff was a salary dump, but in fairness, it made plenty of sense. Kouzmanoff was due for a big raise from $432,000 to around $3 million; plus they have a cheap replacement in Chase Headley who'll hit his 15 or so homers and get on base at a better clip than Kouzmanoff.

Aaron Cunningham is moving onto his fourth organization in three years, but that doesn't mean he can't play. His minor league numbers indicate he can hit and be productive if given the chance. With the Padres situation of slashing payroll, it made sense to make this move.

Then we get to Scott Hairston.

I always find it funny when there are certain players whom the stat zombies repeatedly deal to-and-fro. Hairston----like Russell Branyan; Milton Bradley; Jack Cust; and J.D. Drew----is bartered back-and-forth for some unfathomable reason that they'd be able to justify with some obscure, out-of-context stats.

Hairston has some pop and some use, but on a good team, he's a fourth or fifth outfielder; on the Padres, he'll get 450 at bats, especially if and when they trade Adrian Gonzalez at mid-season and shift Kyle Blanks back to his natural position of first base.

  • Fake Billy Beane quotes:

Back to Twitter-inspired hilarity (or moderate chuckling). After the Kouzmanoff trade became public, I began a series of #fakebillybeanequotes on Twitter. Some of the better ones follow. It is to laugh!!!!

#fakebillybeanequotes E=MC squared and there you have......Kevin Kouzmanoff and Coco Crisp. Or as the A's 2010 record will put it, 73-89.

#fakebillybeanequotes No, I didn't write Moneyball. Moneyball wrote me. And it made me look like a dick.

#fakebillybeanequotes Yes, Paul DePodesta and I have again joined forces to rock the baseball world by trading Scott Hairston back and forth.

#fakebillybeanequotes Michael Lewis is combining The Blind Side 2 with the sequel to Moneyball. It's called "Moneyblind". No, it's not good.

#fakebillybeanequotes What's your problem with Coco Crisp? Oh.....yeah. He's Coco Crisp.

#fakebillybeanequotes We're gonna win with pitching and defense. That's why we re-signed Jack Cust.

#fakebillybeanequotes Why do people keep comparing me to Caesar? I don't even like pizza.

The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many powers and abilities that some would consider...unnatural.

  • How stupid do the Braves look now?

Adam LaRoche made a huge gaffe in misreading his market as he turned down a 2-year deal from the Giants for about $17 million; instead, he wound up with a year and an option from the Diamondbacks for a guaranteed $6 million.

This is a great, low-cost pickup for the Diamondbacks. LaRoche has long been underrated. He hits the ball out of the park and is an excellent defensive first baseman.

So, what are the Braves thinking as they look at the team-friendly deal LaRoche was forced to sign as they didn't even tender him an offer? They instead went the cheap/risky route and gave the oft-injured Troy Glaus $2 million to be their first baseman.

With their solid pitching and need for a power bat from whom they could at least know what to expect in terms of offensive production, defense and durability, you tell me whether the Braves would rather have Glaus manning first base or LaRoche.

Why is no one savaging the Braves for this hideous off-season in which they've taken a championship contender and plundered it to this point due to nothing more than stupidity?

  • Viewer Mail 1.16.2010:

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes:

"Laughing and cheering at the misfortune of others is great until that call to figurative and literal vengeance is heard and its consequences underway."

That's a really nice sentence.

I saw that Johnson signing and looked at the structure of it and thought to myself, "I know what's goin' on here..." and felt smarter than everyone else. That's a pretty common occurrence in my world.

Thanks RE the sentence. I swear, sometimes I write stuff that I have no idea from whence it came----then I don't even remember it after the fact.

With Johnson, this is the exact same deal the Marlins would've offered him no matter what. You'd have to think that while the settlement between the club, the PA and the league was being negotiated, the Marlins were holding off on the Johnson extension to make it appear as if it wasn't business as usual. They're the geniuses of baseball.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Mets:

So are you predicting that the Mets will win it all in 2010? Is that what your "unexplained good feeling" means?

I haven't come to a final conclusion on my World Series pick yet (I have a preliminary pick, but that's staying with me for now); it's highly unlikely I'm going to pick the Mets. The "unexplained good feeling" might just be a season that's free of calamity.

Truthfully, I'm glad everyone's dumping on them so viciously because that only adds to the thought that they'll have a massive turnaround. I really believe (and this is non-partisan) that they'll have a big year and that includes a playoff spot *pending the other moves they make this winter*.

  • My Podcast appearance:

On Wednesday, I was on Sal's SportsFanBuzz podcast. Here's the link----Prince on the Podcast.

Reaction has been, shall we say, enthusiastic? My voice has been called "raspy/sexy" and credited for waking certain people from their doldrums. Click on the link and give yourself a thrill!!


Jeff said...



I believe there's some sort of cosmic harmony in the back-and-forth-edness of Beane and Podesta's dealings with one another. It's like they're at the party no one else was invited to... but instead of feeling privileged, now they're both just miserable.

Gabriel said...

Brilliant quotes indeed.

On my weekly ramblings about the Blue Jays, it's said that they're scouting Ben Sheets. I'd like another bat, but I don't think it's a bad idea to give Sheets a cheap deal with incentives.