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A’s Acquire Neshek and Move Roster Around

August 3, 2012

The A’s sent one of their least vaunted “prospects” (cash considerations) to the Baltimore Orioles today in exchange for side arming right-handed reliever Pat Neshek. Neshek, last pitched at the MLB level last year with the San Diego Padres, and in his career owns a 3.15 ERA and 3.91 FIP backed by 10.0 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 across 157 1/3 MLB innings spanning 2006-2011 mostly with the Minnesota Twins. This year with the International League’s Norfolk Tides, Neshek has thrown 44 innings swinging 10.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.2 HR/9 to a 2.66 ERA and 1.81 FIP in 35 appearances including acquiring 11 saves.

Along with the much better Kurt Suzuki trade, this deal fit in with a flurry of roster moves that ended up with a 25-man roster with 25-men. Seth Smith was placed on the 15-man disabled list for the first time in his career with a strained left hamstring. He injured it yesterday running out a groundout against Toronto. Smith has been solid this season in his 92 games and 325 plate appearances hitting to a .237/.342/.424 slash line with 11 home runs which while not outwardly particularly noteworthy has given him a .329 wOBA and 109 wRC+. He will replaced in practice by Michael Taylor, hitting .301/.413/.471 with Sacramento with a .400 wOBA and 136 wRC+ in 433 plate appearances across 95 games. Taylor in his first stint had 16 plate appearances for a .188/.188/.250 slash line while striking out a miserable 43.8% of the time. I am not high on Taylor, I don’t buy into the Sacramento numbers and he looked miserably fooled his first time up with Oakland so hopefully things look a lot different this time around.

Now while in practice Taylor will replace Smith, the move of Smith to the disabled list allowed the A’s to replace Suzuki with Derek Norris despite his not being in MiLB ten days. Norris, has in 84 plate appearances in Oakland hit to a .195/.262/.325 slash line for a wOBA of .264 and a wRC+ of 65. So the catching situation will be a combination of George Kottaras and Norris which is how I sort of figured it would end up somehow, though I wouldn’t have expected it to be because Zuk would be dealt to the Nats.

The other addition to the roster was also a big one as Dan Straily was added. The MiLB strikeout leader (actually all of professional baseball), he has 175 in just 138 1/3 innings (11.4 K/9) was recalled from Sacramento and will make tonight’s start against Tampa Bay. In eight starts in Sacramento he pitched 53 innings getting 11.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 for a 1.36 ERA and 2.20 FIP. In fact his consistency on the strikeout front was quite remarkable as with Midland in 85 1/3 innings he got 11.39 K/9 with that number “falling” to 11.38K/9 with Sacramento. To make room for Straily and for new acquisition Neshek, the A’s optioned two pitchers: Jim Miller and Evan Scribner. That all is fine and dandy, as Miller has a relatively weak 33 1/3 innings. While to the unsophisticated baseball fan they will see a sparkling 2.16 ERA, the reality is he has been far weaker than that with a 4.64 FIP care of a solid 8.1 K/9 but poor 4.9 BB/9 and relatively high 1.1 HR/9 demonstrate he is nowhere the pitcher his ERA says he is. He has benefited from a low .250 BABIP but truly insane 94.1% strand rate that is in now way sustainable (though one could argue the .250 BABIP could be).  Scribner has thrown 14.0 innings for a 1.93 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9, pretty solid stuff but someone had to go and the A’s seemingly believe in Neshek more than Scribner.

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