Skip to content

Powell to be Non-Roster Invitee to Spring Training

January 12, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do – for some at least. The A’s continue to have trouble cutting ties with their light-hitting, only-available-for-a-backup-role-as-he-is-unable-to-start catcher Landon Powell. A few days after outrightng him to Sacramento a move which gave Powell the option of opting for free-agency Jane Lee of tweets that he,

“has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A. He’ll be a non-roster invite to big league camp.”

Well zippa-dee-doo-dah, zippa-dee-ay. I have long advocated for the A’s to not have Powell be their backup catcher and time and time again he has proven why that thinking has been sound. He has had a straight trajectory downwards in his career, going from 0.7 WAR in 2009 to 0.1 in 2010 to -0.2 last year. I have been over these numbers before. I have refuted the claim that Powell suddenly brings a huge boost to the pitching staff as one of those beloved “pitcher’s catchers”. Why are we holding onto this guy? Especially at a $620K MLB salary – which while not high, seems needlessly high for a guy to play in Sacramento. And why are we holding on to this guy given we are carrying four catchers on the 40-man roster already?

The flip-side produces an equal amount of questions. Powell and his agent have to be concerned that the A’s won’t want to have Triple-A’s best compensated backstop and will release him prior to the start of the 2012 season thereby forgoing that $620K in a non-guaranteed contract that he has earned himself. Why not test the market to go somewhere we you have a better opportunity to play at the MLB level without four guys ahead of you on the depth chart? (While I think Powell would clearly be ahead of Derek Norris on the depth chart, his not being on the 40-man roster and Norris’ not being taken off of it, do provide an obstacle to Powell).

As I said last year, I’d like to see Josh Donaldson get the backup role. This winter he is playing with the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Republic (along with Graham Godfrey) and in time split between catcher and third base (much needed versatility for the A’s – though I believe Scott Sizemore will really capture that position and be a key piece of this team) owns a .286/.318/.413 slash line in 63 at bats. While his strikeout rate is very high (there is no information regarding plate appearances so a K% would be higher than it should be, and not enough data to figure out the plate appearances either – he has struck out 21 times) and walk rate low (he has walked just three times) the versatility alone and the fact that he isn’t served by another year at Sacramento where he put up an OK .348 wOBA and 95 wRC+ campaign that featured a .261/.344/.439 slash line with a 10.1% BB% and 19.9% K% in 503 plate appearances in 2011.

Why the A’s feel willing to keep Powell around at this inflated cost – and let’s put it into perspective: it does not take much to “earn” $620K in MLB baseball yet FanGraphs has his salary value being a combined negative $500,000 the past two seasons, with his $400K value in 2010 offset by a -$900,000 last year – is beyond me given that they do have other options who seem to be of equal quality. Powell will be a non-roster invitee to spring training.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. EddieVegas_NRAF permalink
    January 13, 2012 3:01 pm

    But . . . but . . . he caught Braden’s perfecto! And he hit that homer to beat the Giants last year! (FTG.) And he seems like a nice guy!

    Perhaps that $620k might be going toward the so-called “salary floor”? Ever since that concept came to light, I just assume the A’s keep or dump layers for reasons other than making the team better.

    • January 14, 2012 12:36 am

      I can’t imagine it is to get us to some sort of floor. Its $620K, barely $200K over the minimum right? But yeah, Powell does seem like a nice guy, I have no problem with him as a person, if he stays with the A’s I’d rather be wrong and see him do great. I just don’t see that happening. Better off elsewhere.

  2. EddieVegas_NRAF permalink
    January 13, 2012 3:02 pm


  3. MogulMan permalink
    January 13, 2012 11:56 pm

    Fun with semi-small sample sizes….

    Powell caught Cahill quite a bit more than any other individual A’s pitcher last year (348 batters vs. 145 with Gio pitching).

    Cahill’s 12 games last year with Powell catching: 84 1/3 IP, 6-3, 2.45 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 159 GBs to 96 FBs, 5 SBs, 4 CS

    Cahill’s 22 games last year with Suzuki catching: 123 1/3 IP, 6-11, 5.33 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9, 220 GBs to 189 FBs, 23 SBs, 4 CS

    • January 14, 2012 12:46 am

      Fun with semi-small sample sizes 2010 edition…

      Cahill, a better pitcher that year…

      Cahill had 4 games with Powell catching: 21.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 2 SB, 2 CS

      Cahill had 21 games with Suzuki catching: 169.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 13 SB, 3 CS

      Results matter! Look at the awful ERA (despite every indication saying he ought to have been better haha)!

      • MogulMan permalink
        January 14, 2012 1:36 am

        Mine is semi-small….yours is small! 🙂 4 fewer ERs in 2010 and Powell would have had a lower CERA than Suzuki when catching Cahill… would have taken Powell 27 more in 2011 to have a higher CERA than Suzuki. Or put the two seasons together….there’s still an ERA gap of over a run even though Suzuki caught Cahill so much more in his better year.

        My tongue is firmly in my cheek with most of this, but Cahill DID get run on a lot more than most A’s pitchers, giving up about TWICE as many SBs/9IP than all others combined. Opps don’t run much on McCarthy or Moscoso or Harden or Anderson or Braden (when they are healthy)….they did run a fair amount on Gio and quite a bit on Cahill but those guys are of course now gone. How much did whatever value Powell had in controlling the running game alone drop with their departure?

      • January 14, 2012 3:08 pm

        True and I shared it tongue in cheek.

        I just don’t buy cERA. It looks nice on the surface but so much goes into it that is outside of the catcher’s control that is seems foolish. I suppose if you could create some comparison of catcher/pitcher outcomes over a comparable mix of hitters, teams, situations etc it might be indicative of something but there is no way for that sort of scenario to happen in the sort of number of innings that’d allow it to be instructive. Given that, I think the bat speaks volumes and any pitchers pitching better is marginal if at all existent and offset by the very very weak offensive production. Maybe one day he can become a pitching coach?


  1. Landon Powell Released « The Todd Van Poppel Rookie Card Retirement Plan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: