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The Todd Van Poppel Rookie Card Retirement Plan has teamed up with @oakfaninva to create a new A's podcast called The Todd Van Poppel Rookie Card Retirement Plan Podcast! Click here to give it a listen! It should be updated roughly every week or two so stay tuned!

A’s Send Ronald Herrera to San Diego as PTBNL

May 29, 2014

Well, this comes as a bit of a surprise. The A’s completed the trade for Kyle Blanks today by sending A-ball right-hander Ronald Herrera to San Diego. Herrera, who was ranked as the A’s 16th best prospect in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook is someone that has the makings of a big league starter as per scouts. Herrera was signed out of Venezuela and this year was slinging pitches for the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League putting up a 3.38 ERA and 4.68 FIP in 50 2/3 innings across nine starts. His numbers were backed by 6.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9.

For what it is worth, Blanks has looked alright since moving up the coast to Oakland. In six games in the green and gold he has put together a .286/.375/.500 slash line in 16 plate appearances for 0.1 WAR with a .388 wOBA and 152 wRC+. Despite those good numbers, six games a season does not make, and Herrera coupled with Jake Goebbert (who has struggled to a .170/.273/.340 slash line in 55 plate appearances for an anemic .278 wOBA and 59 wRC+ for El Paso) seems an awful lot to pay for a failed prospect who has bounced back and forth between the pros, Triple-A and disabled list. Herrera is far away from the pros and plenty could go wrong yet – and we aren’t hoping for that – and perhaps Blanks blossoms into the bonafide star he once seemed destined to become, but right now it is looking overpayish and a little too much “win now” from Billy Beane for my tastes.

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A’s Claim Jeff Francis Off Waivers

May 18, 2014

An interesting move was made by Billy Beane and the Athletics brass today as they claimed lefty-Canadian hurler Jeff Francis off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Francis will immediately join the Oakland bullpen as a long man, though I can see him inhabiting the role Travis Blackley held a few years back going from pen to rotation as needed. Francis had only one start in Cincinnati this season, a five inning outing during which he struck out four, walked no one, and allowed a home run and three earned runs getting the loss against the visiting San Diego Padres last Thursday. Prior to that he had spent the season with the Louisville Bats of the International League, tossing eight starts and 48 2/3 innings worth of 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 baseball for a 3.33 ERA and 3.08 FIP.

In his career which began in 2004, Francis has thrown 1,254 innings mostly in the thin air of Denver, posting a 4.94 ERA (4.39 FIP likes him a bit more) with 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 and a 44.6% GB%. He has appeared in 229 games, only 12 of them not being starts and all but one of those relief appearances coming in 2013. It’ll be somewhat uncharted territory, but basically this is where he best fits the needs of the A’s and hopefully he can pull it together – thus far his relief appearances have been a struggle results-wise with a 7.09 ERA though his peripherals have garnered him a far superior 2.92 FIP.

Joe Savery will be sent to Sacramento to make room on the 25-man roster, while Jake Elmore‘s placement on the 60-day disabled list clears a 40-man roster spot for Francis. I like the move, its cost effective as Francis’ contract is so miniscule as to not be found anywhere (he signed an MiLB deal with Cincinnati in the offseason so it wasn’t worth a ton) and with pitchers dropping like flies one can never have enough depth, especially ones with the experience he has had. Also Francis has always most pitched in terrible parks for pitchers so I think his career numbers mark a more worst-case scenario for what he can do.

Daric Barton Clears Waivers

May 17, 2014

Did anyone expect anything else? Really? Anyone?

Blanks Deal Brokered; Barton Bounced

May 15, 2014

They say where there is smoke there is fire, and alas again today that is true – especially in San Diego, I suppose. The rumors of a Kyle Blanks to Oakland deal today came to fruition as Billy Beane sent the Friars for Jake Goebbert along with the ever so famous PTBNL or cash considerations. To make room on both the 25 and 40-man rosters the A’s designated first baseman Daric Barton, potentially – though unlikely – ending his tenure with the club.

As discussed the other day, the A’s don’t get a heck of a lot in Blanks. Once considered to be a top prospect injuries have been blamed for his lack of MLB success though it could just as well be he wasn’t as good as everyone presumed. For the platoon-happy and multi-use happy A’s Blanks offers the ability to play both the outfield and first base. I talked about Blanks’ career numbers yesterday, so this season he has seen very limited action with the Padres going 2-for-10 in eleven trips to the plate, but has hit .265/.364/.651 with a .422 wOBA and 153 wRC+ in 99 plate appearances with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas – including belting nine dingers. Blanks could be yet another example of the A’s taking someone off the scrap heap and turning garbage to gold a la, Brandon McCarthy, Jesse Chavez and Blanks’ platoon mate Brandon Moss so who knows what to expect?

The move is really little risk because as oft-discussed one can really not do much than what Barton has put up the past few seasons. This year was no different as Barton is DFA’d sitting with a .158/.234/.175 slash line good for a .197 wOBA and 19 wRC+ in his 64 2014 plate appearances. Barton’s lauded defense has again not been “laudful” and overall he has been worth -0.5 WAR this year, important in a tight division and disastrous for someone with such little playing time. Giving up Goebbert is of little consequence as he is an aging prospect (if he could even be considered that any longer) and came to the A’s from Houston in exchange for Travis Blackley when the A’s found themselves with too many pitchers and too few roster spots last April. Goebbert put up solid numbers in Sacramento (.257/.371/.514 with a .382 wOBA and 127 wRC+ including six home runs in 132 plate appearances) but not enough to squeeze his way onto the A’s 40-man roster and therefore not really into the picture for the A’s yet this year – if he ever were to be considered for such a role.

Could this be the end of the road for Barton? I doubt it. Last year he went through the DFA process twice, surviving each time and this year he seems destined to do the same. The market for defensive underperformers with zero power and little ability to hit for average isn’t what it used to be.

A’s Interested in Kyle Blanks?

May 13, 2014

The A’s are interested in San Diego Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks according to CSNBayArea’s Joe Stiglich saying,

The A’s have shown interest in trading for San Diego Padres first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CSN California.”

I like the idea. Daric Barton has been a disappointment – how long has it been since that wasn’t the case? – hitting a scant .143/.222/.161 good for a stellar 12 wRC+ and .186 wOBA in his 63 trips to the plate. Of course his defense saves him right? Nope. Not this year and combined with anemic hitting and piss-poor fielding he has been worth a grand total of -0.6 WAR in 2014. That means since his one good season (2010) he has been worth – ready for it? -0.1 WAR. Yes, he has been worse than a replacement player, so maybe it is time to think about replacing him?

Blanks isn’t anything spectacular but he is intriguing enough and during that same period he has been worth 1.1 WAR making him better than Barton at least. Blanks (28.89 PA/HR) has a little more pop than Barton (69.47 PA/HR) despite their similar career HR numbers (28 for Blanks and 30 for Barton). In his career Blanks has hit .228/.310/.401 with just a 8.8% BB% and 30.0% K%, but this isn’t about finding a new starting first baseman it is about building depth. Blanks can play the outfield and first base and can also be stashed at Sacramento. There is no value to Barton anymore who went cast off last year and DFA’d each time ended up passing through waivers unclaimed. I can’t imagine the market for him has advanced since last year and even if it did who cares?

Blanks isn’t the answer but there is more to him to be interested in than in Barton so if the asking price weren’t high I think a change of scenery could do both of these players some good.