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Jason Rice and a Bigger Discussion on the 40-Man Roster

September 6, 2011

I am moving to California, driving across the country, so that is why the Live Blogs are few and far between and that is why the recaps too have fallen a bit by the wayside. Once life is settled post frequency will be back to what everyone has come to know and love! That all said, Jason Rice has a little life uncertainty too. Just five days after being traded by the Red Sox to the A’s for Conor Jackson, he was placed on outright waivers by Oakland and then claimed by Cleveland. So Jason Rice is the newest Indians pitcher. Aaron Gleeman of put it best when he wrote,

“Rice threw 85 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 89 strikeouts at Pawtucket, but the former 11th-round pick also walked 42 batters. All of which is a long way of saying that the A’s basically just gave Conor Jackson to the Red Sox for nothing. And considering his .634 OPS during the past three seasons that seems like the right price.”

Can’t disagree at all with that.

Overall however we do need to ask ourselves how could this happen? Young high K pitchers (even those with high walk rates) are valuable commodities to clubs. I am actually a little surprised he got by so many other teams before Cleveland was able to claim him. Clearly Billy Beane and Co, thought they could sneak him through, but alas he didn’t make it. Time to start looking at some of the guys on the 40-man roster and questioning whether or not they should be cast-free as we are out of 60-day disabled list transfer candidates to open up space with. Two spots scream out to me. Those held by Sean Doolittle and Pedro Figueroa.

Doolittle is an appropriate name for this 26-in-less-than-three-weeks-year-old because he hasn’t done much. In fact since 2009 he hasn’t done anything. In 2009 he only played in 28 games for Sacramento swinging for a .267/.364/.448 slash line with four home runs good for a strong 111 wRC+ (though that is subject to a very small sample size). In 2008 he slugged 22 home runs in split time between Stockton and Midland indicative of why he earned the promotion come 2009. Since then knee problems have sidelined him again and again. The A’s have enough fragile players and with Brandon Allen, Chris Carter, Daric Barton and Michael Taylor all possibly available at first base (Taylor is thrown in there by me) do we need Doolittle on the 40-man roster? No.

Another soon-to-be 26-year-old, Figueroa has pitched in two games this year for a total of two innings. That is it. It is impressive that every out he has acquired has been via the strikeout but that is hardly a reason to keep someone who is very much so out of the prospect stage on the 40-man. The highest level Figueroa has played in is Double-A ball at Midland. Last year he pitched 72 2/3 innings in the Texas League getting 7.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9. Pedestrian numbers that amounted to a pedestrian 4.07 FIP. He also just hasn’t pitched very much. After being listed by Baseball America as the #5 prospect in the A’s system going into 2010, he completely dropped off the chart and didn’t even receive a mention come the 2011 update. John Sickels didn’t have Figueroa in his Top 20 in 2011 over at Minor League Ball though he did garner an “honorable mention” in the “others of note” section. Why he is on the 40-man roster at this point is beyond me. Rice, though of limited upside, seemed a better fit and one more ready to contribute with the big league club.

While giving up Conor Jackson for nothing is a move I don’t object to, we did in fact get something back for him Jason Rice. While far from a perfect pitcher and far from a stud prospect, he could possibly have utility and for that he had value. Saving spots for Doolittle and Figueroa is needlessly gumming up our 40-man roster flexibility, next time their spots should not be so secure.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2011 1:18 am

    According to Melissa Lockard, Doolittle is being converted to a pitcher

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