A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Jason Kendall!

The Kendall deal was finally completed today, as all three players involved passed their physicals: Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes for Jason Kendall. Redman and Rhodes figured to be little if any better than their replacements, and Kendall gives them a top-notch catcher, filling their only hole (assuming Ellis can come back to full strength.)

The money reports I hear have $1M going to Pittsburgh in 2005 and 2006 and $5M coming to the A's in 2007. If these reports are accurate, the A's just added Jason Kendall for 3 years and $14.6M. Even though Kendall is on the wrong side of 30, this is a pretty good deal.

It's not a phenomenal one. 3 years and $14.6M should be able to get you a decent catcher; admittedly, though, that player doesn't really exist on the market. Let's say Redman and Rhodes would have gotten $1.5M per year on the open market for 2-year contracts signed right now; then you're talking about 3 years, $20.6M for Jason Kendall. Is that a good deal? I think so, but it's hard to know what Billy would have done with that money otherwise. For instance, if that could buy you two extra years of Tim Hudson (unclear), it's a pretty close call.

But as a fan, obviously, I like the deal. The A's lineup is now very solid. Kotsay has said in the past that he is more comfortable hitting second, but that screws with the LR nature of the lineup. So my guess is:

L Kotsay
R Kendall
L Chavez
L Durazo
B Swisher
L Hatteberg
R Byrnes
R Crosby
R Ellis

That is a pretty good lineup. If Crosby has the breakout year I expect, he will make a good #5 hitter. And the defense is of course still excellent -- Kendall's numbers and reputation put him at about average as a defensive catcher. I'm excited about 2005. Street and Blanton are the front-runners for the new spots in the pitching staff, making it:

R Tim Hudson
R Rich Harden
L Barry Zito
L Mark Mulder
R Joe Blanton

R Octavio Dotel
R Huston Street
L Ricardo Rincon
R Chad Bradford
R Justin Duchscherer
R Jairo Garcia (or R5 pick, or free agent signee.)

Assuming the A's go with 11 pitchers, that leaves room for five on the bench, perhaps:

C/B Adam Melhuse (side note: Melhuse is gently asking Billy to be traded to a team that will start him, but said team likely doesn't exist; we'll keep you posted)
IF/R Marco Scutaro
IF/L Mike Rouse / IF/R Adam Morrissey / 1B/L Dan Johnson / FA signee / R5 pinch-runner
OF/R (nominally B) Bobby Kielty
OF/L Matt Watson

That bench is not very good, but this is not very important in the AL. Kendall is one of the most durable catchers in the game, and none of the other A's players are brittle with the possible exception of Chavez's occasional back problems and Ellis. Perhaps more to the point, the A's do not have a whole lot of players one would pinch-hit for, and aren't running any platoons, so they don't really need a deep bench. About all the pinch-hitting you are liable to see in any A's game is one plate appearance for Ellis.

Anyway, Jason Kendall! Yay.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Damian Miller going to Miller Park

In a Sf Chronicle story there is a report that Wisconsin native Damian Miller will sign with the Brewers today. The A's are reportedly working to get a deal done to bring Jason Kendall to the A's. I like Damian Miller, I thought his professionalism and solidity behind the dish in 2004 was exceptional. The guy was better than I thought he would be on offense and defense. If I was a Wisconsin native and my home state team, the Brewers, hadn't been competitive in years, and I was on the A's, who have been consistently good in this millenium, I might be less inclined to take a 3-year deal with the Brewers. But Damian is getting up there, he's won a WS ring, if he wants to go, that's cool. I hope this Kendall deal works out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Bill James Handbook 2005

Heeding the advice of another baseball blog, I purchased the Bill James Handbook 2005 from Amazon. If you read here regularly, you probably know who Bill James is. I thought it would be fun to see what kind of new and interesting stats might be in this book. The FIRST PAGE was filled with interesting things I never knew about the 2004 Oakland A's:
  • The A's spent 97 days in first place, the highest total of any team that didn't win it's division
  • The A's led the divsion later in the season (9/30) than any other club not in the postseason.
  • The A's were 23-20 vs the East, 27-16 vs the Central, 31-27 vs the West, 10-8 vs the NL, 29-18 vs left handed staters, 62-53 vs righties, 36-24 in the daytime, 55-47 at night, 82-67 on grass, 9-4 on turf, 33-19 in one run games and 12-7 in extra innings, 47-39 before the all star break and 44-32 after the break.

In fact in every breakdown there is on the first page of stats, except the monthly breakdowns, the A's are over .500 in EVERY COLUMN. The season had such a anticlimactic ending, I guess I forgot this team was really good. Maybe not great, but quite a bit better than average. I guess we are used to sheer greatness.

In the pitcher's stats section was this list:

Pitches thrown 95+ Velocity in the AL in 2004

1. Rich Harden Oakland .....746
2. C. C. Sabathia Cleveland.509
3. Francisco Cordero Texas..507
4. Jorge Sosa Tampa Bay.....472
5. Kelvim Escobar Anaheim...460
6. Jorge Julio Baltimore....454
7. Jesus Colome Tampa Bay...388
8. Frank Francisco..Texas...383
9. Bartolo Colon Anaheim....377
10.Jason Davis Cleveland....337

I knew Harden threw hard, I didn't know he led the league in pitches thrown over 95 mph by a margin of 46%. That's pretty cool. I am just astounded by the number of tables in this book. There are funny parts in it too, like injury projections and the 2005 season projections and career projections. Bill James writes a disclaimer at the beginning of this section because he had to try to preemptively defend his computer's prediction that in his career Bonds would hit 918 home runs. It sure is worth the $20 I spent on it.

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