In an excellent piece at Fangraphs, August Fagerstrom looks at the Athletics’ acquisition of Adam Dunn as the final piece of GM Billy Beane’s playoff roster. Fagerstrom notes that if the A’s play in a Wild Card game — which is very likely — they’ll likely face either Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Max Scherzer or David Price. Five of the six are right-handed, making Dunn a formidable weapon in such a matchup. Beyond that, Fagerstrom looks at the Athletics’ bench versus a right-handed pitcher and versus a left-handed pitcher, noting that each group is composed of entirely different players (with the exception of Sam Fuld). However, each group will also feature two catchers that can hit reasonably well, an infielder that can play all four infield positions, and a pair of elite defensive outfielders. The balance of the roster is truly impressive, and Fagerstrom’s piece highlights the roster construction particularly well.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- In a lengthy piece for ESPN The Magazine, Tim Keown spoke with Beane at length about his team’s bold moves this season and the competition they’re facing in their quest for the World Series. Beane referred to division rival Mike Trout as “the best player who has ever walked on the planet” and said he doesn’t care for the narrative that the A’s are “all in” this season: “Just assume that every move we make in the front office means we’re all-in. We can’t afford a five-year plan, so every move means we’re trying to win every game we possibly can. All-in — I never liked that term. For one thing, I don’t have that many chips to throw into the middle of the table.” Keown also spoke with Jon Lester about his trade from the Red Sox to Oakland, and his piece also contains quotes from assistant GM Farhan Zaidi and Jeff Samardzija. The entire article is well worth the read not only for A’s fans, but for baseball fans in general.
- Angels infielder John McDonald tells Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he may end up retiring following the 2014 season. McDonald says he’s more than aware of his dwindling playing time — he’s received just 81 PA despite appearing in 81 games this season — and knows the market for 40-year-old infielders isn’t great. “I got more out of my career than I ever thought was possible,” said McDonald. “I didn’t think I’d get a day in the big leagues, let alone parts of 16 years.” For the time being, he’s trying not to even think about the offseason, however, as it’s “just too much fun” to go to the stadium every day in the midst of a pennant race.
- In a second Fangraphs piece pertaining to the AL West, Tony Blengino (former special assistant to the GM with the Mariners) looks at Dustin Ackley’s batted ball data in an attempt to determine whether or not his second-half resurgence is legitimate. As Blengino notes, Ackley’s production has soared on pulled fly-balls, and his line-drive production has trended upward as well. The trade off has been some loss of authority on ground-balls, but as he notes, hitters will gladly make that swap. Blengino concludes that Ackley may never become a star, as his previously excellent walk rate now looks more pedestrian, but he’s capable of hitting .275-.280 with a .310-.310 OBP and a slugging percentage around .425 with solid-or-better defense in left field — an asset that seemed unlikely just a few months ago.
- Also of interest, Blengino discusses how those with the benefit of hindsight may wonder why Trout didn’t go at the top of the draft class when Ackley was selected, but most clubs felt he was too raw to select near the top of the draft despite being an obvious talent. The Mariners had Stephen Strasburg atop their board and Ackley second, and current Reds righty Mike Leake was “likely” their backup plan should anything go wrong with Ackley, whom he says was “considered a pretty obvious second selection back in 2009.”
Too early to say who takes the west. Anything can and has already happened. One game at a time. Go Angels!
Heres an interesting fact. The A’s are now closer to the Mariners in the standings than the Angels. By almost double.
Still think it was dumb to trade Ces. He meant too much to that lineup and he could have been helpful in rebuilding their minors in the offseason.
They were gonna trade Cespedes no matter what. No way they have the money to sign him after next year. They couldnt get what they wanted for him in the winter, so I loved the trade for a dominant #1 starter. It’s what we’ve been lacking the past few years when going up against the Tigers. Pitching wins championships, and I like our odds with the 3 we have now as opposed to Gray, Kazmir, Chavez, which it would have been without the deals Billy made. Gonna be an exciting race down the stretch!
It still was probably a mistake to trade him now instead of the offseason or later. The A’s have played .500 ball for 2 months now and a lot has to do with floundering offense and no defense to begin with. Trading Cespedes now downgrades both aspects of their game even further from here on out. They need to score some runs. What the A’s really should’ve done is bolster their infield depth. There’s not much there. Bullpen is where it really counts in the postseason. Most starters never get through the 6th inning in October.
Ackley just flat out looks better up there, and no longer seems like he’s overmatched. Before he would square pitches up from time to time, but then go through stretches where he looked lost. Now even a lot of his outs are hit hard. I cold easily see him becoming an above average left fielder. The Ms could certainly use the production.
Andrew van Laar
Johny Mac is and always will be my favorite baseball player. I loved having him here in Toronto for so many years seeing a highlight reel defensive play every time he took the field. I know he didn’t provide much offensively but he just played the game the way it should be played.
While he may not be my favorite player, I have long had considerable admiration for his humility, appreciation, and respect for the game. I wish more players — people, really — were more like him.
Andrew van Laar
I just remember his father day home run and every time I watch that it bring me to tears. Such a great man!
Dunn might be the first non-steroids player to hit 500 HRs and not be a HOFer. He could definitely play for 5 more years.
“each group will also feature two catchers that can hit reasonably well, an infielder that can play all four infield positions, and a pair of elite defensive outfielders.”
That’s not true, and it’s not what the fangraphs article says. Each bench group includes ONE catcher: either Vogt or Soto. Jaso cannot catch again this season because of the concussions.
‘Beane referred to division rival Mike Trout as “the best player who has ever walked on the planet”’ Babe Ruth. Anyone? Bueller?