Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beane Count Part 6

The before last part of the Beane Count is up today since it's a slow news day as of yet, let's hope the action picks up later on!

Trade number 22: Mark Bellhorn to the Chicago Cubs for Adam Morrissey
Bellhorn, a former 2 nd round pick, was deemed expendable because of two emerging youngsters at his positions, Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez. The 27 year old was shipped to the Cubs in exchange for Morrissey, who would never have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He exploded onto the scene in his first season at Wrigley Field, establishing an OPS+ of 133 and VORP of 42.1 , with 27 home runs in 445 at bats. He regressed in the following season with an OPS+ of 69 in 139 at bats with Chicago before being traded in-season for Jose Hernandez (who was later utilized with a minor leaguer and Bobby Hill in the package to acquire Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton). All in all, Beane gave up a player making near minimum salary who gave another team good returns for nothing.

Trade number 23: Eric Hinske, Justin Miller to Toronto for Billy Koch
After letting his assistant, J.P. Ricciardi leave the organization to take over as general manager of the Blue Jays, Beane was nice enough to complete Ricciardi's first trade. In the process, he acquired a closer to replace the departed Izzy. Koch saved 44 games in Oakland in his only season, establishing a VORP of 24.2 and an ERA+ of 142 in over 90 innings of work. Miller barely threw for the Jays, however, Eric Hinske had an incredible season at third base in his first season, winning the Rookie of the Year award and establishing a VORP of 55.4. He would be signed to a long term extension and would never produce at the same rate again. Koch meanwhile was trade in the off-season along with Neil Cotts for closer Keith Foulke. All in all, this was a good trade by Beane giving up a good prospect who was blocked by Eric Chavez and an average pitcher for a needed commodity in Koch.

Trade 24: Mark Guthrie, Tyler Yates to the Mets for David Justice and $1.2 million
Apparently, Justice was not to be served at Shea Stadium. A week after acquiring the veteran outfielder from the Yankees, the Mets shipped him and some cash to Oakland for two pitchers. In Moneyball, it is stated that the Yankees picked up an additional sum so that Oakland only paid $3.5 of the $7 million owed to Justice. The outfielder was referred to as an “experiment” by Oakland assistant GM Paul Deposteta, whose study found that aging players were most likely to retain their ability to get on base than anything else. In his final season, Justice showed that he could still get on base (70 walks for an OBP of .376) and he established a VORP of 18.4, and an OPS+ of 106. The pitchers traded by Oakland both only spent one season in New York for a total VORP of 9.4. This may have been the experiment that made Oakland take a chance on Frank Thomas in 2006, something that paid off immensely for the team.

Trade 25: Jason Hart, Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwick, Mario Ramos to Texas for Carlos Pena and Mike Venafro
Sometimes teams are just looking to swap prospects which is exactly what happened in this trade. Beane had long coveted Texas ' 2 nd best prospect Carlos Pena and was able to acquire him along with left-handed reliever Mike Venafro. The deal with Texas was completed with former Oakland scouting director Grady Fuson who had overseen the drafting of the four prospects traded to Texas . Unfortunately, none of the prospects have made very significant contributions as of yet for Texas . The only prospect who had a season above replacement level was catcher Gerald Laird, who in 2006 had a VORP of 12.2 with an OPS+ of 102. Also, Ryan Ludwick was traded to Cleveland in a deal that saw Shane Spencer and Ricardo Rodriguez come to Texas . But these were not the returns the Texas organization was expecting from 4 of Oakland 's top 12 prospects at the time (according to Baseball America ) including their top two prospects. Meanwhile, Pena struggled as an Athletic and was shipped to Detroit by mid-season in a three-way trade we will examine tomorrow. Venafro spent one season with the Athletics and never contributed significantly in the Major Leagues after the trade.

Trade 26: Luis Vizcaino to the Rangers for Justin Duchscherer
After two seasons of under average pitching from Vizcaino, Oakland shipped him off to Texas in exchange for reliever Justin Duchscherer. Texas flipped him to Milwaukee for Jesus Pena almost immediately and Vizcaino thrived with the Brewers; throwing 81 innings with an ERA+ of 134 and even gathering five saves with his 2.99 ERA. Pena never threw in the Majors again after the trade, leaving Texas without anything valuable. Duchscherer started three games in his first season with Oakland before becoming a reliever in 2004. He has been a positive contributor coming out of the A's bullpen with ERA+s of 129, 143, 204 & 152, along with VORPs of 4, 30.2, 30 and 19.6 in his four seasons in Oakland while earning near league minimum for everyone of those seasons. His ERA+ of 204 in 2005 was second on the team to closer Huston Street . This has been a great trade by Beane and co. by trading a reliever who had been effective for one that has been very effective for the team while earning near the league minimum.

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