Showing posts with label Cautionary Tales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cautionary Tales. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What happened to the A's last year?

In today's Hot Links post we referred to an article in which Jeff Luhnow used the 2014 A's as a cautionary tale:

We saw Oakland trade away pretty good players last year to win a division and they ended up getting eliminated in the wild-card game.

Yeah...that's right. The A's traded:

*Billy McKinney, Dan Straily, and Addison Russell to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on July 5, a day in which they had a 3.5-game lead in the division. On July 31 the A's traded Yoenis Cespedes and a Comp B pick to the Red Sox for Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester. On August 1 the A's had a 1-game lead in the division. 

There are some other transactions in there, but those were the big ones. We know Handsome Dan Straily quite well. The 20-year old McKinney was the A's 1st Round pick in 2013 and is currently in Double-A with a .741 OPS after dominating the Carolina League to a .976 OPS and was Baseball Prospectus' #81 ranked prospect coming into 2015. You know Addison Russell - the Cubs' shortstop of the future - who ranked as a top-5 prospect in MLB.com, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus' 2015 rankings. Yoenis Cespedes had put up 2.8 WAR in 101 games for Oakland before he got traded. He's currently with the Tigers, hitting .289/.319/.486 with a 3.2 WAR. 

It's useless to speculate whether the A's would currently be better than their 44-52 record were they to have Addison Russell and Yoenis Cespedes in their lineup, but let's try to see how the A's managed to add Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and Jason Hammel to their team and lose the division, ending up with the play-in game, which Jarrod Dyson won. 

Well, it's pretty simple, actually: From August 1 to the end of the season, the A's were the worst team in the AL West. Check the record:
Angels: 33-21
Mariners: 31-22
Astros: 25-27
Rangers: 24-29
A's: 22-32

So...how? When the A's traded for Lester, I emailed my cousin and said (yeah, I checked this): "Welp. Looks like the A's are your 2014 World Series Champs." He wrote back: "Yep." That's deep, man. 

Pitching

These trades were about bolstering their rotation. They added Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, and Jason Hammel to the rotation, replacing three-fifths of their starters with an SP1, SP2, and an SP4, to go along with Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. That's ridiculous. But check it out...

Mar 31-July 5: .232/.294/.349 allowed, 3.16 ERA/1.17 WHIP
July 6 - Sep 28: .234/.286/.365 allowed, 3.30 ERA/1.12 WHIP

It's the same pitching staff. Trading away what they did resulted in a loss of 8 OPS points (.643 before the trade, .651 after the trade). 

Offense

Let's take the overall offense from the beginning of the season to July 31, when they traded away Cespedes. Cespedes, in particular, was hitting .256/.303/.464, a 116 wRC+. The team as a whole hit .253/.329/.405. From Aug 1 - end of the season, the A's hit .225/.301/.331...So yeah, the offense went from a .767 OPS at the Trade Deadline to a .632 OPS after it. 

Who dropped the ball? From March 31-July 31, here are your nine leaders in PAs (in descending order):
Josh Donaldson: .247/.330/.467 (.797 OPS)
Yoenis Cespedes: .256/.303/.464 (.767 OPS)
Jed Lowrie: .241/.323/.358 (.681 OPS)
Brandon Moss: .259/.340/.503 (.843 OPS)
Alberto Callaspo: .234/.307/.307 (.614 OPS)
Coco Crisp: .274/.372/.416 (.788 OPS)
John Jaso: .285/.358/.465 (.823 OPS)
Derek Norris: .300/.401/.476 (.877 OPS)
Josh Reddick: .243/.301/.400 (.701 OPS)

Now from August 1 - September 28:
Josh Donaldson: .271/.368/.432 (.800 OPS)
Coco Crisp: .203/.277/.280 (.557 OPS)
Derek Norris: .228/.299/.297 (.596 OPS)
Sam Fuld: .210/.275/.312 (.587 OPS)
Josh Reddick: .294/.337/.510 (.847 OPS)
Brandon Moss: .162/.321/.254 (.575 OPS)
Jed Lowrie: .272/.316/.344 (.660 OPS)
Stephen Vogt: .186/.244/.305 (.549 OPS)
Alberto Callaspo: .193/.248/.246 (.494 OPS)

HOLY CRAP. The A's went from a lineup with six batters with an OPS over .750 at the Trade Deadline, to a lineup with six batters with an OPS under .600. Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo, Coco Crisp, and Derek Norris' OPS's each dropped over 100 points. Moss, Crisp, and Norris all experienced OPS drops over 200 points. 

I don't know that you can adequately plan or foresee a team OPS drop of 135 points. But with the benefit of hindsight we can see that Billy Beane strengthened the wrong aspect of his team. Why are we - an Astros blog - posting this? Mainly to show that making the big trades don't always pan out. Because of the drop in offense, the Angels lapped the A's, forcing them to the Wild Card game where - oddly enough - the A's had a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th, a 7-6 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th, and an 8-7 lead heading into the bottom of the 12th before the Royals won on a walk-off, and the A's Go-For-It season fell short. 

So in the end it was their pitching that kept them out of the next round of the playoffs. And now they don't have Yoenis Cespedes, Addison Russell, or Billy McKinney. Sometimes baseball is a faithless whore. GMing is hard. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cautionary Tales: 1.1 edition

In the history of the MLB draft (48 years, since 1965), six #1 overall picks have not played in the Majors. Two of those players are 2011 and 2012's 1.1 are Gerrit Cole and Carlos Correa, who haven't played in the Majors due to the fact that they're too young at this point. This leaves four 1.1s who just haven't played in the Majors. What happened to them? These are your cautionary tales.

1966 - Steven Chilcott

In the second-ever Major League Baseball draft, the Mets passed on a guy named Reggie Jackson to sign catcher Steve Chilcott (because, according to an interview with Jackson in Dayn Perry's biography, Jackson had a white girlfriend - which has been denied) Based on a Mets' scouting report from Casey Stengel, they gave Chilcott a $75,000 bonus and he reported to Marion in the Appalachian League, where he hit .226 in 14 games. He advanced to Auburn in the New York-Penn League, where he hit .155 in 25 games. He spent 1967 in the Florida State League where, as an 18-year old, he hit .290/.370/.467. In his 79th game of the season, Chilcott was on second base when the pitcher attempted a pick-off throw. Chilcott dove into the bag with such force that it dislocated his shoulder and ended his season - he played in 26 games total over the next two seasons. Chilcott was released by the Mets in 1971. He played in the Expos and Yankees system until 1972 when, at the age of 24, he retired.

1991 - Brien Taylor

Drafted with the 1st overall pick by the Yankees, who offered him a $300,000 bonus. Taylor and his family, advised by Scott Boras, advised that they hold out for "Todd Van Poppel money" ($1.2m). Steinbrenner was suspended at the time of the negotiations, but allegedly said that, if the Yankees let Taylor get away, "they should be shot." He signed a $1.55m offer the day before classes were to begin.

Brien Taylor was the #1 prospect heading into the 1992 season. He went 6-8 with a 2.57 ERA, striking out 187 batters in 161.1IP. As the #2 prospect heading into 1993, Taylor went 13-7 with a 3.48 ERA in Double-A. But during the off-season, on December 18, 1993 got into a fight defending his brother (the details are - predictably - sketchy, and suffered a torn labrum and dislocated left shoulder. Though he made it back to the minors in 1995, he only 108.2IP in 41 games from 1995-1998 with serious control problems (11K:43BB in 16.1IP in 1996).

He was released by the Yankees after the 1998 season and finished his career in 2000 with Cleveland's Single-A team in Columbus, where he allowed 5H/11R (8ER), 2K:9BB in 2.2IP. Taylor returned to North Carolina where he worked for UPS. He was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in January 2005, and was sentenced to 38 months in prison in November 2012 for cocaine trafficking.

Matt Bush - 2004

Selected by the Padres at 1.1 in 2004, originally as a shortstop, for $3.15m. The Padres wanted Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver, but San Diego owner John Moores wouldn't negotiate with Scott Boras, who represented both Drew and Weaver. But before Bush ever took the field, he was involved in a June 20 fight outside a Peoria, AZ bar when a bouncer wouldn't allow him into a nightclub, and arrested on one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges. The felony charge was dropped and Bush was allowed to join Rookie-league Peoria.

In 29 games for Peoria and Low-A Eugene, Bush would hit .192/.296/.253. Joining Fort Wayne of the Midwest League in 2005, Bush hit .221/.279/.276  in 126 games. He would play in 22 games in 2006 before converting to a pitcher, playing 36 games in 2007 (seven as a pitcher) before tearing a ligament in his elbow, requiring Tommy John and missing 2008. He was designated for assignment in February 2009, after allegations arose of an incident in a Granite Hills High School campus of assault involving members of the Granite Hills boys lacrosse team. According to a witness, Bush was drunk, threw a golf club into the dirt, picked up and threw a freshman lacrosse player and hit another player before driving over a curb when leaving and yelling "I'm Matt (F***ing) Bush!" The Padres traded him to the Blue Jays later that month.

At a party in Dunedin, Florida - home of the Blue Jays' Spring Training facility - on March 30, 2009, Bush reportedly threw a baseball at a woman's head and banged on her car window after he accused her of drawing markings. He was released the next day.

On January 28, 2010 Bush signed a minor-league deal with the Rays. Bush played in 10 games for the Rays Rookie-level and High-A teams. In 2011, Bush pitched for Double-A Montgomery, posting a 4.83 ERA/1.43 WHIP, and was set to join Triple-A Durham for 2012.

But on March 22, 2012 Bush (allegedly) stole his roommate's SUV, got drunk, rushed the stage at a strip club, got kicked out, and hit a 72-year old motorcyclist, collapsing his lung, breaking his back, ribs, and wrist, leaving him with a brain hemorrhage. Reportedly, Bush ran over the head of the man he had just hit as he peeled out. His blood alcohol level was .18. Bush was charged with three felonies and is currently serving a 51-month jail sentence.

Tim Beckham - 2008

Drafted out of Griffin High School by the Rays, where he was teammates with Lancaster's Telvin Nash, Beckham is a less-terrifying/depressing tale. He's just not hitting all that well. Signing for $6.15m, Beckham spent all but two games in the Appalachian League, where he hit .243/.297/.345. In Low-A in 2009, Beckham hit .275/.328/.389 - the hitting and OBP had improved, but the power was lacking (33 doubles, five homers).

Still, he advanced to High-A Charlotte in 2010, where he hit .256/.346/.359. He was hitting .275/.339/.395 for Double-A Montgomery in 2011 before being promoted to Triple-A Durham. In 24 games he hit .255/.282/.462 for a career-high 12 HRs. Beckham took a step back in 2012, posting a .686 OPS while getting suspended for 50 games for a second positive test of a drug of abuse. Currently, in 49 games in his third stint at Triple-A, Beckham has a .719 OPS (though he did have a pretty sweet home plate move a few days ago). He's just 23, but John Sickels said of Beckham, "He looks like a utility guy to me, which would be just fine if he'd been a ninth round pick, not someone the Rays invested $6,150,000 in."