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Non-Stop LGA to SMF for Daric Barton

June 22, 2011

For those of you unfamiliar with the airport codes de jour – LGA is New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, which is just beyond the left field fence of Citi Field where the A’s won their sixth straight game earlier tonight. While all the other A’s are headed to their hotel in midtown Manhattan (its the Hilton, I believe), Daric Barton will have a much shorter trip, because he needs that short cab ride from Flushing to LaGuardia where he is going to hop the next plane to Sacramento, and while metaphorically it is a non-stop flight, in reality he will be spending the late evening or early morning pondering his fate as he waits for a connector in Chicago or Denver or somewhere.

I have long hailed Daric Barton as a great hitter and a real undervalued resource on this club, and I still feel he holds that potential, but 2011 has been a nightmare. Excluding statistics from today’s games, Barton is being demoted as owner of a .213/.326/.268. His wOBA is a woeful .276 and his wRC+ a pathetic 73. He has been worth -0.4 WAR. Here are where those stats all rank among the 28 qualifying first basemen and the 163 qualifying position players in MLB.

#Qualified BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Among  1B 28 28th 21st 28th 28th 27th 26th
All Batters 163 158th 97th 162nd 150th 149th 151st

Pretty bad stuff.

This demotion if anything comes later than it should have. Hopefully Barton can go to Sacramento, work out the issues he is having and return to being the productive ballplayer he was in Oakland in 2010. In the meantime, this means your new starting first baseman will most likely most frequently be Conor Jackson, though it seems Adam Rosales would get a few shots there too and I would like to see them perhaps try Landon Powell there a bit though I think that’d be unlikely.

The corresponding move to this of course was the anticipated activation of Mark Ellis off of the disabled list. Ellis becomes a man who has lost his position in his absence. It will be interesting to see whether or not Bob Melvin uses him in a backup infield role (he hasn’t used Adam Rosales much in that role – and in fact there were some who suspected it might be Rosales optioned to Sacramento like Joe Stiglich who thought it might be him or Barton in today’s Inside the A’s post). Or could Melvin go a different route, and play Ellis more often than we suspect in order to showcase him as trade bait? Is there any truth to the Giants rumors? Might they want to see a healthy Ellis take some swings at MLB pitching? We will find out this week, but for now, Ellis is in, Barton is out.

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