Gio Gonzalez Dealt To Washington for Four Prospects
Gio Gonzalez‘ tenure as an Oakland Athletic has come to its end as Billy Beane sent the southpaw to the nation’s capital in return for Nats prospects, A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris and Brad Peacock. It is a significant haul as Cole (#4), Norris (#9) and Peacock (#3) were all in Baseball America’s recently released Top 10 Prospects for the Nationals, and while Milone did not make the cut, he was rated as having their organizations best changeup and control – in stark contrast to Gonzalez who walked more hitters than any other pitcher in MLB the past two seasons. Gonzalez, the unquestioned ace on the 2011 team – despite Brandon McCarthy‘s better defense-independent statistics – had been rumored to be traded for a good chunk of the offseason after a season that saw him go post a 3.12 ERA, with a 3.64 FIP in 202 innings of 3.5 WAR work featuring 8.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9. For his career in Oakland, the 2011 All-Star had an ERA of 3.93, FIP of 4.06, with 7.3 WAR over 535 1/3 innings where he managed 8.6 K/9 to 4.4 BB/9 surrendering 0.9 HR/9.
I for one, love the package the A’s received in return for Gonzalez. On the podcast TarpTalk: An Oakland A’s Podcast that is in a sense a sister to this blog I had commented that two players I’d be interested seeing coming back to Oakland are Cole and Peacock so I am thrilled with their inclusion in the deal. Cole, has only 90 innings of work in his career, and all but one inning of it came in 2011. Pitching for the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, Cole had some misleading numbers a 4-7 record with a 4.04 ERA. When delving further however we see a pitcher who posted an incredible 10.9 K/9 to only 2.4 BB/9 (4.5 K/BB!) and just 0.6 HR/9 for an impressive 2.53 FIP – also he was just 19. Cole’s ERA likely suffered from a .342 BABIP and 63.1% strand rate as he pitched far better than the results indicated.
Peacock, meanwhile at 23 is someone who could find their way in the A’s rotation this year. He pitched in three games for the ’11 Nationals including two starts posting a 0.75 ERA and a more realistic 3.86 FIP (though an alarming 6.27 xFIP on account of the fact he did not surrender a home run and a 0.67 K/BB) in twelve innings of MLB work. He really stood out in the minors though, splitting his time between the Harrisburg Senators and Syracuse Chiefs with a combined 10.9 K/9, to only 2.9 BB/9 (both these guys in that sense are sort of the antithesis of Gonzalez with control who had 10.3 K/9 in his MiLB career but matched to 4.1 BB/9). Peacock was particularly impressive in Harrisburg where in 98 2/3 innings he posted a 2.01 ERA, bettered by a 1.87 FIP with an incredible 11.8 K/9 to just 2.1 BB/9 with 0.4 HR/9 against his Eastern League foes.
One might feel happy just stopping there, but as they say in infomericals: “wait there’s more!” Derek Norris, a catcher, spent all of 2011 in Harrisburg where he had a mixed slash line of .210/.367/.466. He suffered greatly from a .251 BABIP as reflected in the average but during his 423 plate appearances he managed 20 home runs adding to an impressive .237 ISO for an organization that has a decided lack of high wattage bats. His .371 wOBA and 129 wRC+ quickly put to bed any questions about the low batting average. The bat-first catcher who entered 2011 as Baseball America’s #72 overall prospect, hasn’t been terrible behind the plate catching 40% of would-be basestealers. He instantly becomes the A’s best catching prospect.
Milone, does not have the high vaunted status of the other three but still has incredible numbers and also could figure in the 2011 A’s rotation which again now appears to have a surplus of very good (though very young) pitching. If you are like me and hate walks and love strikeouts (not sure that anyone wouldn’t fit that mold) Milone is the guy for you as last year in Triple-A Syracuse he posted an incredible 9.7 K/BB as he posted 9.4 K/9 to just 1.0 BB/9 en route to a 148 1/3 inning year that saw him post a 3.22 ERA but even better 2.24 FIP. His strong pitching earned him a shot with the big league club in Washington where he went to the hill in five starts for the Nats throwing 26 innings of 5.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 work adding up to a 3.81 ERA and 3.56 FIP with him being worth 0.4 WAR.
This move should be exciting for all A’s fans. While there are many who are upset over the rebuilding and claim that this rebuilding demonstrates a lack of a “commitment to winning” which I see on all corners of the internet discussion, this move is a clear an unmistakable sign of a rebuild being done the right way as these four players are all people who can contribute in the very near future to a very high caliber club. While many would want more offensive players in return, a fair criticism given Oakland’s inability to draft and/or develop hitters, this package of young players in addition to Jarrod Parker arguably have a higher ceiling than the cohort of pitchers that were just vacated to initiate the rebuild. 2012 will most definitely not be a banner year for the A’s, but the future is indeed looking much brighter for the Oakland A’s, Christmas has come early.