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The Plan All Along

April 10, 2012

As we all know, Daric Barton was activated from the disabled list and Brandon Allen was designated for assignment. But late last night prior to the game and after my commenting on the roster move, it was reported by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that Bob Melvin and the A’s brass’ decision to make Barton starting first baseman was,

“the plan all along. He was going to have the time off. Whenever we felt he was comfortable coming back and playing here, he was going to be in the lineup.”

Furthermore, Melvin added about Barton,

“It was based on what we saw from him before. I wasn’t here. I have to rely on people in the organization. I didn’t see much of him before. I’ve seen his numbers. At his best, he’s got an on-base (percentage) over .400, gives you gap to gap power with an occasional long ball, and he play plus defense.”

I liked Barton’s 2010 season. I was a full, 100% fan of it. I believed in him and thought he would be even better in 2011. Of course that was not the case as he participated in 280 plate appearances adding to a .212/.325/.267 slash line with such pathetic numbers like .273 wOBA, 70 wRC+ and -0.3 WAR. While I feel quite strongly that that was mostly the result of his probably playing with an injured shoulder all year, I agree with Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News who says the move is

“a head-scratcher to me. The A’s are placing a lot of faith in a player who has posted just one truly productive major league season.”

Not only did Barton have just one truly productive major league season, his 2010 campaign, if last year he did in fact play with an injury that directly effected his ability to produce on the field and covered it up, that is a dangerous precedent right there. He needs to be monitored by medical staff to ensure there are no other injuries he could potentially be hiding. While I am a big fan of Barton’s and think that despite his lack of power he has the potential to be a very productive hitter, it seems very dangerous to put all your proverbial eggs in one basket, especially when the odds of Kila Ka’aihue passing through waivers seems higher than Allen’s doing so. The A’s do not anticipate him to pass through waivers as Stiglich tweeted,

“Melvin said it was a tough call to DFA Allen. Says Ka’aihue just had played better to this point. Sounds like he expects Allen to be claimed.”

In essence the A’s are giving up on a player in Allen who has just 374 career plate appearances. Granted he has not done much with them, as he is a career -0.2 WAR player with a mere .205/.291/.375 slash line and pretty anemic .291 wOBA and 76 wRC+, the point is that 374 plate appearances is about three-quarters of a season. Outside of Barton’s 5.1 WAR 2010, he has been worth a total of 2.1 WAR across 1,079 plate appearances – which is not exactly setting the world on fire. So I find it perplexing that Oakland has such strong sentiments regarding Barton when he has done quite a bit to dissuade people from believing him, myself included as I have growing skepticism over his ability to contribute and would not have bailed on Allen so quickly with options remaining on Barton.

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