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Are the A’s Interested in Koji Uehara?

February 5, 2012

This morning in his weekly column at the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo had one of the crazier rumors of the year saying that the Angels to free up space were talking with the Nationals about a one-for-one trade that’d send Peter Bourjos to our nation’s capital in exchange for John Lannan. I can’t see any universe in which the Angels would agree to such a move – perhaps they would’ve in the Tony Reagins era. In it following that wild rumor that Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports tweeted,

“Sources: Athletics among teams pursuing Rangers’ [Koji] Uehara.”

I cannot imagine why the A’s would ever want Uehara. He is a very good player having been worth 4.3 WAR over the past three seasons with a 3.13 ERA and even better 3.07 FIP. He has featured incredible control (1.3 BB/9) coupled with a very high strikeout rate (9.6 K/9). As a reliever he has been incredible posting 45 shutdowns to only nine meltdowns. Last season was on track to be even better than the previous two, but he struggled when he arrived in Arlington following a midseason trade from the Orioles. The main problem for Uehara was the HR/9 which went from a reasonable 1.1 with the O’s to a sloppy 2.5 as a Ranger explaining the wide gap between his 2.56 FIP with the O’s and his 4.25 FIP with Texas. He also had a wide gap in his HR/FB rate (10.3 with Baltimore, 25.0 with Texas) so his xFIP actually improved in Texas from his 2.45 xFIP in Baltimore to a lower 2.03 with the Rangers.

Uehara’s role in Oakland’s bullpen if they acquired him would be unclear. He is a righty with a minimal platoon split. Uehara is being paid $4M in 2012, which makes him an expensive and very unnecessary piece to Oakland’s bullpen which is already expensive and full of (for a non-contending team) unnecessary pieces. The only way I could see this rumor has having any sort of validity is if Billy Beane were to try inserting himself into a three-team trade as there seems to be mutual interest in a reunion between Uehara and the Orioles. If that isn’t the case, I really don’t understand what this rebuilding plan is at all.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Danny permalink
    February 6, 2012 12:01 pm

    I wouldn’t have any problem for Beane picking up “good” high priced talent, if it would be to flip them at the trade deadline. So picking up Uehara, Harden, Oswalt, Colon, Smith/Gomes or even Manny wouldn’t upset me if they produce enough for another team to be willing to give up top level prospects for them.
    Especially with the pitchers, they could keep the clock from starting on the young pitchers we received.
    I would like to see Taylor and Carter get a solid look this year though. (catch 22).

    • February 6, 2012 12:54 pm

      While I agree with you in principle, I don’t see a middle reliever bringing in “top level” prospects. Ziegler got us Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto, both of whom have high upside but lots of question marks. I can’t imagine Uehara netting much more than that. While Uehara net the Orioles Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter last year, Texas was basically assured his option would vest so they had a year and a half commitment from him. So for a two month rental, I can’t imagine Uehara would net much in return. I am totally in favor of adding another pitcher akin to a Rich Harden for the reasons you stated. But with the offense, I’d rather let the young guys play just as you say.

  2. Hungary4A'sNews permalink
    February 6, 2012 2:27 pm

    R.E. Second to last Paragraph: I can’t imagine why the A’s would want him either!

    Was it just me..didn’t everybody see this guy getting shelled whenever he was on TV?
    come on guys….forget the stats and flippabilty … In your division sometimes you know who is a killer opponent… and who gets KILLED.
    Anybody have similar memories of Uehara?

    • Danny permalink
      February 6, 2012 3:35 pm

      I would only want a player if he was good enough to be able to net us a decent prospect(s). I would hope Beane and his staff would be able to sort that one out. I didn’t watch Uehara when he wasn’t playing the A’s. From what I remember, he did pretty good against us (then again my memory has often been misled by my fan goggles).

    • February 7, 2012 1:50 pm

      Uehara had a rough go with the Rangers, mostly he was just surrendering the long ball, otherwise his FIP was better than it was in Baltimore. If the A’s were competing he is the exact type of pitcher I would want. I just don’t see spending money like this on a piece that is of little consequence to a non-contending team. Why have a 70-win team with a lock-down pen? San Diego recognized this and used their bullpen pieces to improve in other areas on the field.

  3. Kasper & Ghosts permalink
    February 6, 2012 3:42 pm

    After resigning Coco Crisp, This is clearly NOT a rebuild. I’m guessing they got the news “No baseball in San Jose”. Something had too have changed the long term game plan.

    If this is not a rebuild, then Koji Uehara is an GREAT sign. He’s an excellent relief pitcher, who would excel at the Oakland Coliseum.

    I was originally against all the veterans coming to our team. However, seeing we don’t have enough good prospects to compete in 2015, I’m all for band-aids until they can stick with a game plan.

    • February 7, 2012 1:52 pm

      I think they do have the go ahead for San Jose. I think they are running into two things: 1) they are running into this minimum salary floor and 2) I think they’re trying to put an entertaining team on the field. The floor is a circumstance beyond their control, but the idea of putting an entertaining team on the field to me is sort of nonsensical. I still think this is a rebuild, but the pieces we have at Triple-A aren’t very exciting. Most of our talent is further down in the system. I just don’t see the value however of finishing with 70-80 wins or so.

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