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Guillermo Moscoso or Phil Humber? A Year Later

March 25, 2012

The A’s fans may remember that the A’s had Phil Humber last offseason. He was designated for assignment when the A’s acquired Guillermo Moscoso from the Rangers. The A’s, as do many teams, frequently claim a guy through waivers then expose him to waivers again as they must be calculating that they were the only team interested in these unwanted players. Sometimes, as the A’s did with Cedric Hunter and Evan Scribner it works out, other times it does not. Phi Humber was an “it did not” as he was claimed by the Chicago White Sox shortly after being exposed to the waiver wire. Looking back, who would you have rather ended up with?

Moscoso had a superficially great year in 2011 with a standout 3.38 ERA. That belied the fact that he got luckier than lucky can be, with a .221 BABIP, a meek 5.2 K/9 and pedestrian 2.7 BB/9. Only 6.2% of his fly balls crossed the outfield fence, despite the fact that only 26.8% of his hits ended up on the ground. So he was certainly lucky indeed.

There are two ways of looking at what happened next. Either the  A’s took this luck and fooled the Rockies into thinking it was a real talent level by getting a potentially good to above-average outfielder in Seth Smith in a package that included Josh Outman; or if you come from a different mindset than I do the Rockies knew they were getting an OK but not great pitcher along with Outman whom they perhaps viewed in a similar light, and accordingly they sent us an OK but not great outfielder in Smith. But what if the A’s had held onto Smith and when given the up/down vote on Moscoso or Humber went Humber?

The A’s got Humber in December of 2010, claiming him on waivers from the Kansas City Royals. The former third overall pick in the draft by the Mets in 2004 (and as an aside, how many highly vaunted and ultimately failed Mets prospects are there? This is a long line from Oakland’s own Billy Beane through Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher to Lastings Milledge, and more recently, Fernando Martinez. Even those who do do well initially seem to destruct at some point and fall far short of their potential like, Dwight GoodenRey Ordonez, or Scott Kazmir) had a 5.26 ERA and weak 6.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9 in very limited time split between the Mets, Twins and Royals. The Twins thought so highly of him that he was a key component of the trade that sent Johan Santana to Flushing. The A’s took a flyer on the former prospect and kept him on their roster for a short period of time in the winter until they got Moscoso from the Rangers – himself DFA’d by Texas when they signed Adrian Beltre. The White Sox claimed him and he put up a 3.5 WAR season on the South Side (Moscoso’s was a mere 1.3) with a 3.75 ERA that was higher than his 3.58 FIP. Humber doesn’t become arbitration eligible until after this season making for a nice little pick up by Kenny Williams.

Essentially in the end the deal boiled down to Moscoso for Humber straight up. Hindsight is of course 20/20 but if I had my choice, I’d have gone with Humber. I am sure the A’s could’ve created a package to extricate Smith from the Rockies with Outman and someone else and I think Humber today looks to have more staying power than Moscoso who is looking pretty terrible this spring for the Rockies at Salt River Fields. Time will tell, but Humber is looking like one that the A’s met have let slip away.

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