Crisp to Sign, Miller Dealt
The past two days I have featured two posts surrounding why I didn’t think that the A’s should sign Cody Ross. My line of thinking being that as a team the A’s don’t need another outfielder, now is the time to see what we have and blocking someone with a person expected to start everyday isn’t a wise strategy. Today’s brings to fruition an ever worse reality than a potential one-year deal for Ross (and it isn’t Ross specifically but anyone who matches him) the re-signing of outfielder Coco Crisp to a two-year contract that will guarantee him as per ESPN,
“$6 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013 with a club option of $7.5 million for 2014 that has a $1 million buyout…[and] a one-time bonus of $250,000 from Oakland should he be traded”
This move is terrible. The two-year aspect is awful as it guarantees a valuable plate appearances being stolen from young potential future pieces for not only for a single season which I felt was too much but more than one. To make matters even worse than that, there is an inexplicable option for 2014. All this is terrible just talking about the years involved with the contract, it hasn’t even broached the subject of value.
Assuming roughly $5M per win on the free-agent market, the deal seems reasonable as in his past two seasons in Oakland, Crisp put up 3.3 and 2.2 WAR respectively. Let’s assume that drop tapers off to a 0.5 WAR loss per year, that means 2012 is a 1.7 WAR year with 2013 being a 1.2 WAR year. At $6M for 2012 he ought to pay for himself with production and while closer at $7M for 2013 he ought to be worth about what he is paid that year as well. That all said, we need to look no farther than two of Crisp’s Oakland teammates to see what we missed out on. If you felt that signing an outfielder was a good idea – which as readers know is not a thought I had – the A’s could have had David DeJesus, a far greater talent, someone capable of playing center field as well, for what the Cubs paid: $10M over two years. Four less than what the A’s offered the inferior Crisp today. DeJesus had a miserable 2011 campaign but still managed to equal Crisp’s 2.2 WAR. The two players born a month apart otherwise could not be more different, with Crisp having a career slash line of .275/.330/.406 to DeJesus’ superior, .284/.356/.421. While Crisp has accumulated more WAR than DeJesus (24.1 to 22.1) much of that has been on the back of crazy UZR numbers from early in his career, numbers he hasn’t even approached since 2007. Yet we are paying him nearly a third more than DeJesus is getting from the much flusher Chicago Cubs organization.
Then there is Josh Willingham who signed with the Minnesota Twins. While his deal is a three-year commitment (though conceivably with the set up Crisp’s could be too) the average annual value of it is $7M – equal to the average annual value of the guaranteed money in Crisp’s two year contract. Willingham’s signing would have made more sense as he could’ve potentially bounced between left field, designated hitter and perhaps even first base, but Willingham who was slightly behind Crisp at 2.1 WAR in 2011 (largely owing to poor defense and the absence of baserunning) was allowed to walk.
The only justification for this deal is that a young pitching staff could be ravaged by continual balls in the gap and that Crisp’s addition allows the pitchers a slight reprieve from what could’ve been a very porous outfield defense. That would justify maybe a one-year deal. There is absolutely no justification for a two-year deal. A’s fans have lamented what seems like a never-ending cycle of rebuilds, while that perception doesn’t hold any merit as acquiring Matt Holliday certainly did not represent a “rebuild” move, this sort of move like the signing of Crisp jeopardizes a rebuild in much the same fashion that the Holliday signing did. Playing good competitive baseball and rebuilding are mutually exclusive – unless perhaps you are the Yankees or Red Sox, though even then when they can’t buy everyone and they must trade from their future in order to win now – and the mistake we made in 2009 was to pretend that wasn’t true. This deal makes me again question whether or not there is a full commitment to a complete rebuild because this move makes no sense from a baseball standpoint, let alone we frankly just signed a player who truly isn’t very good.
In other A’s news today. The clock was ticking on the ten days since both Landon Powell and Jai Miller were designated for assignment. I still have yet to see any reports regarding the fate of Powell but Jai Miller today was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. I have no complaints about this move what-so-ever. In his twelve plate appearance career with the Oakland A’s, Miller stuck out 41.7% of the time (five times), never walking, while cracking one home run in the season finale in Seattle. Of the 49 pitches he saw while wearing the green and gold, he offered at 61.2% of them, while missing 43.3% of those. It was a different story for the River Cats, where while Miller struck out 37.7% of the time (a whopping 179 times), he took free passes a respectable 11.4% of the time while cracking a PCL-assisted 32 home runs.