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The Rain, Braden, Morales and More

May 12, 2011

So today’s game between the A’s and Rangers didn’t happen. Rainouts are weird like that once the game has started. You know something happened, you watched it, yet it doesn’t exist forever erased from history. On it says “PPD” and you can’t watch the first three innings and one out that were played. Gio Gonzalez‘ ERA and FIP are the biggest victors from today’s mess of an outing. For the game he posted a 12.68 FIP that is erased from existence. Mitch Moreland who hit his first career grand slam, still has yet to hit his first career grand slam. (This did not happen.) That is the zaniness of a game that was not completed. For the A’s it was a good thing, because being down 7-0 when play was stopped in the top of the fourth, it seems unlikely they’d have emerged as victors. But they will be taking a mulligan on this one.

The relatively big news today in the world of the Oakland A’s was that Dallas Braden will be undergoing surgery on Monday in New York. Joe Stiglich reports in the Contra Costa Times that,

“An A’s press release that announced Braden’s injury was short on specifics other than stating the lefty was having a torn capsule repaired. A follow up release said that Braden’s injury is the same as that suffered by New York Mets pitchers Johan Santana and Chris Young.

Santana’s tear was to the anterior capsule, which is located in the front and bottom part of the shoulder, near the pectoral muscle. He had surgery Sept. 14, and still was throwing long toss as recently as May 1 – nearly eight months after his surgery.

Young has suffered the same injury two years in a row. He missed all but four starts last season, and is sidelined with the same thing again in 2011.”

I think it is safe to say Dallas Braden‘s 2011 has come to an early end especially if we are comparing him now to Santana and Young. As Stiglich notes later in the article of all the areas on the A’s roster that are able to withstand a major injury it is the starting rotation. In truth, Tyson Ross is likely better than Dallas Braden is and is doing better than him thus far this year – he clearly has a higher ceiling. I think Braden’s true value to the club is he is the team’s “veteran” arm and is a real leader. He isn’t afraid of anyone, whether it is pitching a perfect game or jawing with Alex Rodriguez and especially in a playoff race that is an intangible that is so important to have. That being said, I figure he will stay close to the team and still be a mentor and leader albeit not one on the field of play. He is a loss but – if you had to lose someone, his is a loss that can be more easily remedied.

Speaking of losses, elsewhere in the American League West, it is being reported that Kendrys Morales is out for the year. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes,

“Morales has elected to undergo a second surgery on the left ankle he broke last May 29, a procedure that will sideline the Angels first baseman for the entire 2011 season.”

The move I don’t think significantly alters the course for the 2011 Halos, as readers know, I picked Mark Trumbo to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award and he now will certainly have the playing time to do so as he’s expected to pick up the bulk of the time at first. I thought that a good year from Trumbo could make Morales very valuable trade bait midseason and it appears that that opportunity cost is all that the Angels have lost here as opposed to anything else as they’ve managed to be in first without the aid of Morales thus far anyhow.

In one final piece of news, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated had an article today about the best moves of the offseason along with some general notes from around the league. The Blue Jays’ ability to dump (the now-injured) Vernon Wells was not surprisingly the best offseason move. Despite listing twenty-two moves, he only has one A’s entry and inexplicably it is the trade of Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown to Washington in order to acquire Josh Willingham. I am a fan of Willingham – don’t get me wrong – but Brandon McCarthy? Hello? McCarthy is fourth in WAR among American League pitchers (1.5) and was signed for just $1M. Fangraphs has his value at $6.8M if he does nothing more this year meaning he’s already been worth $5.8M in surplus value. Easily better than the Willingham move and many of the others on the list.

In the same article Heyman also notes this,

“The Mets’ Carlos Beltran is helping his trade value with a .526 slugging percentage and an NL high 12 doubles. He recently “looked great going from first to third” on a single, one AL scout said, and he’s done pretty well in rightfield too, opening up the possibility he could interest a National League club as well as AL clubs. It’s early, but the White Sox, A’s and Tigers look like they could be possibilities, and if the Red Sox suffer any attrition, they’d make sense, too. Beltran is thought willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right team.”

I looked at Beltran as a potential target back in February and said then, “I think it is possible later in the season if we are contending and one of our three outfielders (all of whom were injured for good chunks of last season) goes down.” Well no one is injured and though Geren has sat David DeJesus more frequently than I’d expected, I just don’t see Beltran being added. Furthermore if he has a no trade clause, it’d take a lot to get him to opt to go to Oakland where his offensive numbers could swoon.

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