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Brandon Wood – A Long-Term Solution at Third?

April 20, 2011

Kevin Kouzmanoff‘s struggles since coming to the Oakland A’s are well-documented. This year he is off to a terrible start (.188/.192/.313) and while it is only April 20th, he only seems to be getting worse as time wears on. He currently seems to be threatened with losing his job to Andy LaRoche, who continues to pick up more and more playing time at the hot corner. There were rumors in the offseason that Toronto could be a team interested in the third baseman, and possibly they still are interested as their primary third baseman thus far has been Jayson Nix and perhaps the A’s could swing another trade with a team they exchanged players with already twice in the past few months. But of course that leaves the question about what to do at third?

I know many like me who are big fans of sabermetrics will discount the psychological aspect of baseball, but I truly feel it is a big part of the game. I am sure guys like Steve Blass, Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch and Rick Ankiel all would agree. While the park factor of playing in the Coliseum could go a long way to explaining why a hitter newly arrived in the East Bay would struggle, it doesn’t explain Kouz’ struggles because he came here from Petco Park which is perhaps one of the few stadiums unfriendlier to hitters. Likewise in the Southern California another slugger has struggled and I wonder if it too is the result of a lot of expectations being put upon his shoulders from the fans of his organization, that man is Brandon Wood.

Yesterday Victor Rojas – color analyst for the Los Angeles Angels – tweeted this:

“Just got word Brandon Wood has been designated for assignment in order to make room for Erick Aybar coming off DL tomorrow.”

Of course Brandon Wood‘s story is well-known and uber-can’t-miss-prospect who swung and missed, and swung and missed again in fact he swung and missed 153 times. Wood’s batting line is a scary: .168/.197/.259 in 173 MLB games spread across parts of the 2007-2011 seasons. His “best” year was 2008 when in fifty-five games he posted a .200/.224/.327 slash line with five home runs. Not exactly stellar stuff. But it contradicts with his out of this world numbers he posted in the minor-leagues where he is a career .284/.352/.536 hitter.

At Triple-A alone with the Salt Lake Bees he has a career mark of .283/.350/.536 with 77 home runs in 330 games or an a home run every 16.7 at bats. It is clear that Wood has the ability to play baseball. He has been a Baseball America top ten prospect twice, and the Angels initially selected him 23rd overall in the 2003 amateur draft. I wonder if for him if the issue is that he has long been viewed as the future of the Los Angeles Angels, that pressure is a lot and it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility to assume he has cracked under it. Wood is twenty-six years old and someone will give him another shot, I just wonder with a hole at third, is this the kind of person we take a flyer on? Could he be a breakout player like Nelson Cruz or Jayson Werth, where they take a bit longer to put it all together?

Several things need to happen for us to even consider this. First, we’d need to either work out a trade with the Angels (I don’t see that as likely given they are division rivals who care of their financial situation can quickly become contenders in a very short amount of time) or claim him on waivers if they try to move him back to Salt Lake. I can’t imagine another club not beating us to this punch. I also don’t see Los Angeles releasing him because if he clears waivers they might as well hold onto him at Salt Lake. If all these things somehow go right (and one could argue all these things going right aren’t really right when it is so you can acquire a career .168 hitter) and the A’s acquire him, we then have a 40-man roster problem with someone needing to be moved off of it. Is it worth losing a player to acquire Brandon Wood? I feel a change in scenery might help a club tap that potential that Wood has shown all these years, maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dangerous Dean permalink
    April 20, 2011 9:54 am

    Hard to say if Wood will ever figure it out. Much smarter men than I am have been baffled by enigmas like Wood.

    I’ve never seen him play, so I don’t know if his mechanics are whacked and can be fixed. Does he flake out when he steps onto an MLB field or was Salt Lake City just the kind of place that grossly inflates hitters’ stats?

    • April 20, 2011 10:01 am

      Basically his swing is pretty jacked up. While Salt Lake does inflate hitting stats, he is a guy who also holds records for Arizona Fall League home runs and California League home runs (two other inflated number leagues), but they inflate everyone’s numbers but he still did far better than most. The problem with his swing is he has poor plate discipline (a problem in the minors as well, though there you can take advantage of weaker pitchers) and that has continued throughout the majors where he strikeouts 33.0% of the time. Because his swing is so off timing wise he has a terrible .222 BABIP for his career and it leaves a lot of holes that a marginally skilled pitcher can exploit. So he would certainly be a project but you have to think there is something there that can be fixed though there is as you said a long line of enigmas that have yet to be sorted out and made into productive MLB ballplayers.

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