Over Spilled Milk: 2007 Draft – AL West

Each year, with the draft approaching, I look back at a previous draft to see how the players drafted have worked out.  Essentially, most of the players that will be regulars in the majors will be up within five years of when they are drafted.  So I will be reviewing the 2007 draft.

Reviewing every draft pick by each team would take forever and would consist of a large amount of, “….didn’t work out”, or “….is out of baseball”.  So I’ll just review the picks of the first three rounds for each team and notables from each team’s later rounds.

Now we’ll look at the American League West:

LA Angels

The Angels didn’t have a first round pick in 2007 due to their ill-fated signing of Gary Matthews Jr. They did receive a supplemental round pick for the loss of Adam Kennedy in free agency, with that pick they took righty Jon Bachanov. They’ve been cautious with the former high school pitcher from Florida, he’s also had his share of injury concerns. Bouncing between starting and relieving, Bachanov doesn’t give up many hits and strikes opposing batters well, but he also has a high amount of walks. There may eventually be a role in relief for him.

The Angels also lost their 2nd round pick. In the third round, the Angels drafted pitcher Matt Harvey. Harvey wouldn’t sign and eventually was redrafted in 2010 by the Mets.

Shortstop Andrew Romine, the older brother of the Yankees’ Austin Romine, was drafted in the 5th round. He’s had a couple cups of coffee in the Majors and could turn into a decent utility infielder.

Oakland A’s

The A’s had three picks in the first and first supplemental rounds in 2007. Their first round pick was utilized on right-hander James Simmons. As a starter he held a decent walk rate, but got hit around plenty. This season, his first full season in relief, he’s limited hits well, but his walk rate is high. He still has a chance as a middle reliever, but it’s limited. In the supplemental round they selected first baseman Sean Doolittle and outfielder Corey Brown as compensation for the loss of Barry Zito and Frank Thomas to free agency. Outside of a nice 2008 season at High-A, Doolittle did little to impress and is now out of baseball. Brown rose through the system before being traded to the Nationals in a package for Josh Willingham. He’s had a total of 6 PA in the Majors, he’s unlikely to grab a solid job in his career, but Corey’s off to a good start at Triple-A this season and you never know how things really will turn out.

In the second round, the A’s had a total of two picks that they used on outfielder Grant Desme and shortstop Josh Horton. Grant flashed an impressive 31 home runs with 40 SB for two levels in 2009, but hung up the spikes after the season for another following. Horton hasn’t hit well enough to believe that he’ll reach the Majors.

Third rounder Sam Demel, a right-handed reliever, drew the attention of the Arizona Diamondbacks when they traded Conor Jackson and cash to the Athletics for him. He’s since pitched two seasons in the pen for Arizona.

The A’s tried for Daniel Schlereth in the eighth round and Collin Cowgill in the 29th round, but to no avail. Both went back to college.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners first pick was high school righty Phillippe Aumont who pitched well enough to draw the attraction of Philadelphia in their trade of Cliff Lee to the Mariners. Aumont has since switch to relief and stalled out at Triple-A. He’s still young, so he could land a job in the Philly bullpen eventually.

Supplemental round pick Matt Mangini rose through the Mariners system and saw 41 PA with Seattle after a nice 2010 season in Triple-A. But he’s since been released by the M’s and picked up by the Rays. Second round pick Denny Almonte has succumbed to a massive strikeout rate, unlikely to make it to the show. In the third round the Mariners selected another high school outfielder, this time it was Daniel Carroll. But like Almonte, he had trouble hitting enough to be a viable prospect.

Righthander Shawn Kelley was found in the 13th round, he has helped the Mariners out of the pen over the past four seasons.

Texas Rangers

Although the Rangers lost their original first round pick for the signing of Frank Catalanotto, they gained two more for the Astros’ signing of Cliff Lee and the Angels’ signing of Gary Matthews Jr. The Rangers were poised to add a bevy of talent with five picks before the start of the second round. They spent their two first round picks on right-handed high school pitchers in Blake Beavan and Michael Main. Beavan was included in a deal for Cliff Lee….who else? He’s now eating innings for Seattle. Main showed early promise, but injuries ruined his career and he is now out of baseball.

In the supplemental first they selected outfielder Julio Borbon, another high school righty in Neil Ramirez, and college pitcher Tommy Hunter. Speedster Borbon hasn’t been able to secure a spot in the Rangers’ outfield yet, but he’s off to a decent start at Triple-A and may become trade bait at the deadline. Ramirez has made it to Triple-A, but a switch to relief will be needed to get him to Arlington. He too could be trade bait. Speaking of trade bait, Tommy Hunter was. After some success in Texas, Hunter was traded to the Orioles in 2011. They sent him and Chris Davis for Koji Uehara and cash. Although he’s eaten innings, Tommy hasn’t fared so well in Baltimore.

Third baseman Matthew West and righty Evan Reed rounded out the next two rounds. West could handle the hot corner, but his bat never rose to expectations. Reed was traded to the Marlins in a package for Jorge Cantu, but he has yet to see time in the Majors.

Eleventh round pick Anthony Ranaudo moved on to college and was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox. Like Ranaudo, the Rangers picked a high school pitcher in the 12th round that spurned them for college. This time it was Drew Pomeranz who was taken with the fifth overall selection by the Indians in 2010. Then there’s second baseman Matt Lawson, who was part of the a trade that sent Cliff Lee (of course) to Texas. There’s also reliever Josh Lueke, drafted in the 16th round, who’s seen some time in the Majors as a reliever. With who? Why yes, his first chance was with the Mariners due to his inclusion in the trade for ______. By now you should be able to fill in the blank. First baseman Mitch Moreland was picked up in the 17th round. It was a very good value pick if he keeps hitting like he has this season.


Over Spilled Milk: Harden to the Cubs

Earlier this week the Oakland Athletics announced that Scott Sizemore tore his ACL and would be out for the entire 2012 season. As the Athletics don’t have many other options, they stated that they are going to try converted catcher Josh Donaldson at third. The notion rose an eyebrow here as Donaldson’s has had experience at the hot corner, in the past, but overall it is pretty limited. Then again, they brought Scott Hatteburg out from behind the plate a decade ago, so “why not”? (They don’t have Ron Washington around anymore to tutor him though) Regardless, Donaldson’s name piqued my interest as he was involved in a trade a few seasons ago.

As we neared the trade deadline in 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers were in a division title race with the Chicago Cubs. In a bold move, the Brewers traded for ace starting pitcher CC Sabathia. With little on the trade market of Sabathia’s caliber, the Cubs took what they could get and acquired Rich Harden, a starting pitcher that had been known to possess the stuff to compete with Sabathia, but never put it all together for a completely healthy season. At the time I stated,

“Rich Harden is a game changing starter when healthy, when rarely healthy that is.  He has electric stuff, but he really hasn’t turned into a star because of his injuries.  Although he’s only pitched 77 innings so far, it’s the most since 2005.  But he’s also dominated this season as he has carried a 2.34 ERA with 92 strikeouts, while compiling a 5-1 record.”

That level of dominance was enough to draw the Cubs’ interest with the hope that he’d stay healthy the rest of the season. Then GM Jim Hendry traded Matt Murton, Eric Patterson, Sean Gallagher and the aforementioned Josh Donaldson for Harden and and reliever Chad Gaudin.

Harden would go on to post 12 more starts in a Cubs uniform, with even more dominant numbers (5-1, 1.77 ERA, 0.972 WHIP, and 89 K in 71.0 IP). The Cubs certainly got what they were looking for and it helped keep them in the lead in the NL Central, ending with a league-leading 97 wins. However, the Cubs were swept by the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs that season. Harden came back the following season, but didn’t pitch as well. In 26 starts, Rich only gave up 122 hits in 141 innings, while striking out 171. But he also gave up 67 walks, pushing his WHIP up to 1.34 and his ERA to 4.09. Between the increased walks and the fact that Harden still couldn’t get close enough to the 200 inning plateau, it was being realized that Harden couldn’t become the dependable ace that the Cubs envisioned. He was granted his free agency in the winter of 2009 and posted two seasons of 5.00+ ERAs with the Rangers and the Athletics since.

Gaudin had bounced between starting and relief in Oakland and the Cubs were intent on keeping him in the pen. But things didn’t work out as Chad posted a 1.427 WHIP and a 6.26 ERA after the trade. He was released by the Cubs in the spring of 2009 and has bounced around to five other teams since.

The Cubs’ return on the trade was a post-season birth that they (would likely have gotten to anyway), a 4.0 WAR for 1.5 seasons of Harden and a -0.5 WAR from Gaudin.

Outfielder Matt Murton was the first player mentioned in the Athletics’ return for Harden. He showed some promise for the Cubs, producing good OBPs early on, but lacked the power to really be considered a starting corner outfielder. But in 2008 he fell apart and the Athletics must’ve thought they were buying low with the thought that Murton would bounce back. Yet he sank even lower, batting .100 with a .262 OPS (-0.2 WAR). In February of the following year he was dealt to the Colorado Rockies for infielder Corey Wimberly. Like Murton, Wimberly had interesting OBPs in the minors, but never received a call-up. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Mets.

Eric Patterson rose through the Cubs system as a second baseman and put up some good OBPs along the way (see a trend here?). However some scouts questioned his defense and, although he has spent some time there in the majors, much of this time defensively has been in the outfield. Cast into a utility role, the Athletics kept him around for three seasons to see how well he fit into that role for them. Although he wasn’t hitting well when he was traded, Eric fell apart at the plate after the move to Oakland, batting .174 with a .269 OBP. He rose to a career-bast .287/.373/.394 line in 110 AB in 2009. Yet he hasn’t hit above .226 since and he’s shuffled around to Boston and San Diego as a result. The Athletics received Fabian Williamson from the Red Sox for Patterson in a December 2010 trade. The lefty hasn’t been able to post a WHIP below 1.70 since he was traded to the Athletics.

Gallagher was a right-handed starting pitcher that was at one time highly regarded. Yet Sean gave up too many hits and had some control issues. After the trade to the A’s, Sean gave up 9.5 H/9 and 5.7 BB/9 that resulted in a 5.88 ERA. He was switched to relief the following season and his statistics didn’t show an improvement from at as he was pounded to a 1.953 WHIP. He was eventually shipped off to San Diego in a package with two others in a trade for Scott Hairston. Sean has since moved around and is now with the Cincinnati Reds on a minor league contract.

That brings us to the man of the hour, John Donaldson. Donaldson is a former first round draft pick (48th overall) of the Cubs. A catcher since he was drafted, Donaldson has been tried out in the infield and outfield corners since he was traded for by the A’s. He’s displayed some pop in the minors and seems to be progressing with the bat overall. So far, he’s played a total of 53 games at third base in the minors, so his defense is surely in question at this time.

As it sits, Donaldson is Billy Beane’s best chance at coming out ahead on this deal, and the chances are slim. Although moving back out from behind the plate may allow for Donaldson’s bat to improve, I’m not sure if he will hit enough to warrant regular playing time. So far Beane’s efforts have resulted in a -2.6 WAR from the four players, much of it from Gallagher’s struggles.

At the time of the trade I stated in a post:

“Although other writers are claiming this an even trade for the teams or even a win for the Athletics, I believe that the Cubs will come out the winners if Harden can stay healthy long enough to get the Cubs into the playoffs.”

For this trade I give Jim Hendry a hearty B+ due to the fact that Harden was instrumental to the Cubs reaching the playoffs that season and that he didn’t give up anyone that has moved on to produce even league average in the majors. The grade would’ve been higher if there was a decent impact beyond 2008. As for Beane, this trade gives him a D grade that could quickly drop to a D- if he’s unable to get anything out of Donaldson. The players he traded had a cumulative negative WAR impact on the ball club. His only saving grace is the fact that he likely wouldn’t have been able to keep Harden after the 2009 season, especially if Rich had stayed healthy.


The GM of the Month Award – December 2011: Billy Beane

The GM of the Month Award has been on hiatus for a while, but it seems appropriate to start it up again.

December is always a busy month for GMs as the annual Winter Meetings take place and numerous trades and signings go down. With the flury of activity this winter, there are plenty of candidates for the Award. One could argue for Miami Marlins GM Michael Hill with all of that rejuvinated team’s signings. You could also point out Jerry DiPoto’s work in Los Angeles since taking over the reigns this fall.

However, the GM of the Month Award will be going to Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics. He has been tasked with the development of a team that would be able to compete in three years to coincide with a stadium that hasn’t even been approved of yet. Once again, the team must itself down and reconstruct itself for anotehr run. Considering how tough Texas and L.A. are going to be next season, it may be better to set the A’s up for contention as players on those teams start to show their age.

Also, trades carry a greater weight (good or bad) in my eyes when considering the winner of the award. Over the past month, Billy Beane has traded away pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey for 10 players. In Cahill, Beane received a potential rotation anchor in Jarrod Parker, a fringe starting outfielder (one of my favorites of this type though) in Collin Cowgill, and a decent relief prospect in Cook. With the Gonzalez trade, Beane picked up three solid pitchers including A.J. Cole who could front the A’s rotation with Parker in the future. They also receive Derek Norris, a former top catching prospect that many think (though I’m not one) will still develop into a viable hitter. Finally, Bailey brought the A’s another outfielder for the near term along with a couple lower level prospects with decent upsides.

For this masterful dealing of the month, Billy Beane wins the December 2011 GM of the Month Award.


Trade Bait: Athletics gutting continues with Bailey to Boston

Billy Beane has continued his assault on the complete tear down of his roster. The team’s closer, Andrew Bailey, has been shopped around for a while and is now in the hands of the Boston Red Sox. The Sox also land outfielder Ryan Sweeney in the package that sends Josh Reddick, Miles Head, and Raul Alcantara to the Athletics.

Bailey brings the Red Sox a solid closer and pushes new acquisition Mark Melancon to a setup role, a good 1-2 punch late in the game. There is speculation that the Sox will now move Daniel Bard to the rotation, taking them out of the Matt Garza bidding. I guess Ben Cherington’s old boss is asking too much for the Cubs’ starter.

The Red Sox also obtain outfielder Ryan Sweeney in the deal. Once a top prospect, Sweeney is now more of a fourth or fifth outfielder on a good team. He should passify as replacement for Josh Reddick‘s defense in Boston.

Josh Reddick had a very nice debut in Boston last season, but I’m not too fond of his minor league statistics. His offense may struggle in the spacious ballpark in Oakland. Josh is still young though and can develop into a reliable offensive cog, but don’t look for stardom out of him. Defensively, Reddick will fit in fine for the Athletics, some scouts say he has the range for center but his arm is perfect for right field.

Miles Head is a 20-year-old first base prospect that hit .299/.372/.515 between A and High-A ball last season. He was drafted as a third baseman and some dream that he could return there with his good arm strength, but the reality of his range, or lack thereof, forces him to stay at first rather than third or a corner outfield spot. Right-handed 1B/DHs with limited range seem to be a dime a dozen, Beane has collected more than his share alone in his tenure. But he will have to excel in the upper levels to remain a viable prospect.

If he develops as hoped, pitcher Raul Alcantara could be the catch of this deal. At 6′-3″ and 180 pounds, the young hurled has some projectabilty to his body. He already throws in the low to mid 90s, but it he has been unable to sustain high velocities, something that should be resolved as he fills out. He has two mediocre off-speed offerings, but he’s also plenty young and could improve on those relatively fast. He could turn into a starter, but I see him as more of a two-pitch reliever down the road.

In addition to the prospects brought back, the Athletics will clear out nearly $5 million in salary with this deal. Bailey’s projected $3.5 million and Sweeney’s projected $1.6 million post-arbitration figures will be coming off the books, with only Reddick’s currently on the major league roster.

With concerns over Bailey’s elbow and the reliever market overflowing, Beane wasn’t going to get top dollar in return for his closer. But he did marginally improve his outfield while taking a gamble on a couple risky low-level young prospects with upside. All that while shedding some salary as well. If Bailey’s arm holds up, Boston made out really well too. They now have a very strong back end to their bullpen. I’m just not sold on Daniel Bard possibly moving into the rotation.


Trade Bait: National GIOgraphic

The Gio Gonzalez sweepstakes are over and the Washington Nationals have won. With their bid of Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, and Tom Milone, the Nats were able to add the valued lefty and minor league righty Robert Gilliam. The Blue Jays, Mariners, Marlins, Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees were all rumored to be interested in Gonzalez before he was dealt.

Gio is under team control through 2015 and has pitched over 200 innings each of his last two seasons. But it is likely that his high walk rates will catch up to him sooner or later. He will be relying on Ryan Zimmerman and the rest of the Nationals infield to turn plenty of double plays to keep his ERA down. But if he makes progress with his walks, Gio could vault the Nationals’ rotation towards the top of a tough pitching-centric NL East.

Gilliam is more of a throw-in on this deal. Although he has decent strikeout rates in the minors, his peripherals aren’t that great. He may be decent for the Nats in a relief role. Sure, his stats this season were from a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Stockton, but still, I’m not sold on him becoming a significant contributor.

The return for Gonzalez isn’t completely Latos’-esque, but it is still very good.  Peacock and especially A.J. Cole are the top finds of this deal for the A’s. Peacock has a four-seam fastball in the 92-95 mph range, a 2-seamer, and a change-up that has shown signs of improvement. But his best pitch is a nasty plus knuckle-curve.

It is Cole that I really like about this trade. The young 6′-5″ starter still needs to finish growing into his body and refining his change, but A.J. has the potential to be much better than Peacock, though he’ll reach the majors much later. Along with the change, Cole possesses a hard-cutting curve and a mid-90s fastball that could get faster as he fills out. A.J.’s ceiling is the tops amongst the players in this transaction. But he’s so young, its still certainly possible that he gets injured or fizzles out before reaching the Majors.

Derek Norris has been a top catching prospect of the Nats for a while. But he’s had two very down seasons the last two years and his stock has dropped significantly. Analysts still love his walk rates and power, but I’m not sold on his ability to hit above the Mendoza Line in the big show.

Milone is the wildcard for me. He might not have the blazing fastball of the other top pitching prospects, but just just knows how to pitch. For his entire minor league career, Milone has carried a BB/9 of 1.5, unlike Gio he keeps away from the free passes. As a Greg Maddux fan, I’m always rooting for those who know how to pitch beyond blowing hitters away with their heat. He may not be a future #2 starter, but Milone should log some quality innings for the A’s while the rest of the top young pitching prospects in the Athletics minor leagues develop.

The more I look at this trade, the more I like it from the Athletics’ side. In my eyes, Cole has the most upside of all the players involved in the Latos and Gonzalez trades. But he also has significant risk as a young arm. The Nationals are certainly in a win-now type of mode with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and that Bryce Harper guy all on the cusp of breaking out with Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.

Pretty nice trade for both sides considering their situations, but I like the long-term return for the Athletics better.


Over Spilled Milk: Huddy to Georgia

Over Spilled Milk is a feature where we will look back on previous drafts and trades to see how well the teams involved fared.  Essentially, we will rehash issues like the Scott Kazmir trade to the Devil Rays that are still making Mets fans ‘cry over spilled milk’.

The break up of Oakland’s Big 3 was one of the major story lines of the 2004-2005 off-season.  The Oakland A’s sent Tim Hudson to the Atlanta Braves and Mark Mulder to the St. Louis Cardinals, leaving Barry Zito in Oakland until he left via free agency.  It was hard for the A’s to deal the pitcher with the second-best record of the decade in Tim Hudson, but it was highly doubtful that the team would be able to retain him long-term.  So Billy Beane traded Huddy to the Atlanta Braves for pitching prospect Dan Meyer, reliever Juan Cruz, and outfielder Charles Thomas.

The season before, the Braves were relying on Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton for the top two spots in their rotation.  Although they racked up the wins, they weren’t true aces.  So the team moved John Smoltz back to the rotation and decided they needed to trade for a surefire ace-type pitcher to help shore up the top of the rotation.  The move was ideal for the Braves as it gave the team a rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, John Thompson, and Horacio Ramirez, a relatively solid looking rotation on paper.  It also brought them a player that was born in Georgia and raised in nearby Alabama, increasing the odds that they could work out a long-term contract with him.  Tim settled in and signed a four-year, $46 million contract in March of 2005, the deal also included an option for 2010 at $12 million .

Hudson would go on to win 54 games for the Braves from 2005 to 2008 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.  The recovery sat him out for most of 2009, but he did come back and pitch 42.1 innings for the Braves in 2009.  It was  a very quick recovery for a Tommy John surgery patient.  The Braves extended his contract once again after the 2009 season, giving him $28 million over three years, with a 9 million option for a fourth year.

The only prospect Oakland acquired in the deal, Dan Meyer was considered by some scouts to be one of the top five starting pitching prospects that were ready for the majors at the time of the deal.  Meyer was in the running with Yeiichi Yabu for a rotation spot in Oakland at one point, but a shoulder injury that was finally exposed in Triple-A early that season derailed his career.  He never had success in the majors as a starter after that injury and the Marlins claimed him off of waivers after the 2008 season.  The Marlins moved him to relief where the lefty has seemed to thrive.   Meyer went 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA out of the pen in 2009, allowing 47 hits in 58.1 innings while striking out 56. 

Outfielder Charles Thomas had a very nice rookie season for the Braves in 2004, but he fell on his face in 55 plate appearances for the Athletics the following season.  After hitting .288 with 7 home runs, 4 triples, and 8 doubles in 236 at-bats in 2004, Thomas hit only .109 in limited duty and never saw the majors again after that season.

The Braves also sent reliever Juan Cruz to the Athletics.  Cruz had electric stuff and was emerging as a solid setup man for the Braves at the time of the trade.  But after posting a very nice 2.75 ERA with the Braves in 2004, he put together a horrid 7.44 ERA for the Athletics in 2005.  He was then traded in March 2006 to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Brad Halsey.  Halsey was used extensively in relief that season, with mixed results.  But he never made it back to the majors after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2007.  Cruz, on the other hand, flourished in the Diamondbacks’ rotation and signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals once he hit free agency.

This trade will make any devout A’s fan cry over spilled milk.  But looking back on it, Meyer was highly touted and Cruz had great stuff and was becoming a good reliever under Leo Mazzone’s tutelage.  It should have been at least half way decent for Beane, even then ESPN correspondent Peter Gammons felt that it was a win-win trade.   But it turned into a horrible disaster for Beane and the A’s.  Although the Braves likely paid heavily for his off-year in 2009 (doubt insurance covered a significant chunk of the salary), Huddy has paid big dividends for the Braves so far and looks like he’ll continue to pitch well for them in the near future.


Over Spilled Milk: Sandy Alderson’s Biggest Trade

As Sandy Alderson eases his way into the GM seat for the New York Mets, I felt it was a good time to look back at what was possibly his biggest trade.  Although I don’t have a complete trade history of Alderson at my finger tips (come on MLBTR, read my mind!), it’s looks as though his trade for Bob Welch may have “taken the cake”.

After coming close to winning the Western Division title in 1987, Sandy Alderson and the Oakland Athletics’ front office went all out to push the team over the top. The team acquired Bob Welch to be the team’s #2 pitcher and Dave Parker for his veteran leadership and still relatively viable bat. They also signed Glenn Hubbard and Dave Henderson to fill holes at second and center field.

On December 11, 1987 Alderson entered into a 3-team trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The key piece of the trade was pitcher Bob Welch, who along with Matt Young, went to the Athletics from the Dodgers. The Dodgers also sent Jack Savage to the Mets. The Athletics sent Alfredo Griffin and Jay Howell to the Dodgers. The A’s also sent Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst to the  Mets. Rounding the trade out, the Mets sent Jesse Orosco to the Dodgers.

Bob Welch had 10 good seasons with the Dodgers before he was dealt to the A’s.  He would go on to have three very good seasons for the A’s, winning 61 games over a three-year stretch, including 27 in 1990 when he won the Cy Young.  Although he would go on to win 35 games over the next four seasons, he took an obvious downturn after the 1992 season.  But he did help the team get to the post season four times, including winning it all in 1989.

Matt Young didn’t pitch for the Athletics until 1989, but he didn’t that well when given the chance.  In 37.1 innings pitched, Young posted a 6.75 ERA and a 1.955 WHIP.  He also gave up 31 walks while striking out 27.  The Athletics released him after that season.  After bouncing around some, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox and pitched in a very odd no-hitter.  On April 12, 1992 he allowed two runs on seven walks and an error by shortstop Luis Rivera on the way to becoming the fourth pitcher to throw a no-hitter and still lose the game.  It was not recognized as a true no-hitter though as he only pitched eight innings.

Although Jack Savage had decent ERAs in the minors, his peripheral stats weren’t promising.  After the trade he spent another two seasons in the minors with the Mets.  He had a pretty good overall season in 1988, posting a 1.18 WHIP, but was never given the ball at the major league level.  The Mets shipped him out as the PTBNL in a 1989 trade deadline deal that also involved Rick Aguilera, David West, Kevin Tapani and Tim Drummond in exchange for the Minnesota Twins’ Frank Viola.  Although the Twins allowed him a chance at the majors, Savage struggled and didn’t pitch in the majors again after 1990.

Once tabbed the “Ozzie Smith of the American League”, Alfredo Griffin’s defense was his greatest asset.  But the speedster didn’t draw walks well and was at times overly agressive on the basepaths.  In his first season with the Dodgers his bat fell apart, hitting just .199/.259/.253 in 316 AB.  Most of his regression could likely be linked to breaking his wrist on a Dwight Gooden fastball.  He would rebound and play three more seasons in L.A. and is now the first base coach for the Angels.

Although he had a down year in 1987, Jay Howell had just completed a season that saw him earn 16 saves and a trip to the All-Star game.  But he had some of the best seasons of his career in a Dodgers uniform after the trade, closing 81 games over four years.  He also closed one game for the World Series winning Dodgers in 1988.

Kevin Tapani was a fast-rising prospect in the A’s system before he was dealt to the Mets.  He continued to pitch well in the minors for the Mets and even received a three game audition in New York before he was included in the same trade for Frank Viola that Savage was involved in.  Tapani would become a solid presence for the Twins, including aiding the team in winning the 1991 World Series.  The innings eater would go on to have further success in L.A. and with the Cubs before retiring.

After three decent seasons in the A’s system, Wally Whitehurst pitched better in the Mets’ system.  He received a call-up in 1989 and became an important member of the team’s pen in 1990.  That year he pitched to a 3.29 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 38 games.  The Mets converted him to a fifth starter/long reliever in 1991 and pitched there through 1992 before being traded to the San Diego Padres.

The last player to be noted as part of this trade is Jesse Orosco.  Yes, the rubber-armed reliever who pitched 24 seasons in the majors and won 87 games amongst the 10 teams he played for.  Orosco pitched to an impressive 2.72 ERA in his only season in Dodger blue, though he had a less-than-stellar 1.34 WHIP.  Jesse became a free agent after the 1988 season and would of course go on to pitch for various other teams until 2003.

It looks as though Sandy Alderson came out as the winner of this trade, finding a key piece to his rotation that would help him get the A’s to the playoffs four seasons out of five.  The Dodgers added two very good arms to their pen in Howell and Orosco and a slick fielding shortstop in Alfredo Griffin.  Griffin struggled mightily in 1988 with his wrist injury, but both pitchers played important parts in the team’s success in 1988.


Over Spilled Milk: 2005 Draft – AL West

Each year, with the draft approaching, I look back at a previous draft to see how the players drafted have worked out.  Essentially, most of the players that will be regulars in the majors will be up within five years of when they are drafted.  So I will be reviewing the 2005 draft.

Reviewing every draft pick by each team would take forever and would consist of a large amount of, “….didn’t work out”, or “….is out of baseball”.  So I’ll just review the picks of the first three rounds for each team and notables from each team’s later rounds.

Now we’ll look at the American League West:

LA Angels

In 2005, the Angels didn’t have a pick until the supplemental 1st round.  They took righty Trevor Bell with the 37th overall pick.  He’s moved steadily up to the majors and even had a “cup of coffee” with the team last season.  Although he’s still starting, a move to the pen may be in his future to stay with the big league club.  In the second round the took shortstops Ryan Mount and Patrick Phillips.  Mount hasn’t hit enough to get past Double-A and Phillips’ bat hasn’t been able to get him higher than High-A.  In the 3rd Round, righty Sean O’Sullivan was drafted out of in-state Grossmont CC.  Like Bell, he’s briefly made it to the majors, but he’s now back at Triple-A as well to hone his stuff further.

The Angels selected pitcher Brian Matusz with the 133rd overall pick, but Brian went to the University of San Diego before he was drafted in the first round in 2008 by the Orioles.  Speedster Peter Bourjos was selected in the 10th round (pick 313).  This past off-season Baseball America ranked him as the 97th overall prospect in MLB and 2nd in the Angels’ system. 

Chris Davis was selected in the 35th round, but as in 2004 when the Yankees drafted him in the 50th round, Davis decided to return to school.  The Rangers then drafted him in the 5th round in 2006.

Oakland A’s

With their first pick in the 2005 draft, the A’s took shortstop Cliff Pennington.  Cliff has steadily progressed through the minors and is now the team’s starting shortstop.  Although Cliff’s put up a relatively mediocre batting average, his walk rate and slugging percentage have been good.  He should be a decent 15HR /15SB player, maybe even this season. 

Supplemental round pick Travis Buck showed promise in a .288/.377/.474 rookie season in 2007, but injuries and inconsistency have derailed his major league career. In the 2nd round, the team took righty Jared Lansford. Jared was converted to relief in 2008 and has seen time as closer in the minors.  But control issues have kept him down in Double-A.  The 3rd round netted pitcher Vincent Mazzaro.  Mazzaro’s rookie season in Oakland last year wasn’t that great.  He posted a 5.32 ERA with a 4-9 record in 17 starts.  He has shown good numbers in Triple-A this season, but it still looks doubtful that he’ll survive as a starter in the majors.

In the 16th round the A’s drafted first baseman Justin Smoak.  He went to college and was eventually drafted by the Texas Rangers.  Baseball America ranked him as the 13th best overall prospect in MLB going into this season.

Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners had the third overall pick in the draft that year.  They took catcher Jeff Clement and almost immediately he was placed at the top of prospect lists.  But he struggled to hit enough during limited major league action.  The team eventually traded him to the Pirates in a package for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell.  He’s now playing first base in Pittsburgh, but still struggling to hit enough to warrant a starting job.  Clement was the team’s only pick in the first three rounds.

Nothing else has really come out of the 2006 draft for the Mariners so far.

Texas Rangers

In the first round, the Rangers took outfielder John Mayberry Jr. with the 19th overall pick.  The son of former major leaguer, Mayberry rose through the minors sporting low batting averages and high strikeouts, but also put up good walk rates and decent slugging percentages.  He was traded to the Phillies in a deal for outfield prospect Greg Golson and saw limited action in Philadelphia last season.  John’s now back in the minors where he has a .268/.329/.474 line with 49 strikeouts in 217 at-bats.

Third baseman John Whittleman was the team’s 2nd round pick.  He hasn’t hit all that well while in the minors and hasn’t made it past Double-A.  Defensive wiz Taylor Teagarden was drafted in the 3rd round.  Although the catcher wasn’t known for his stick, he did post a .310/.426/.586 (1.012 OPS) between High-A and Double-A in 2007.  He’s fallen apart this season offensively, but the Rangers are still working with him to try to make him at least passable as a hitter.The only other player that seems to have made an impact to the team is 6th round pick German Duran, a light-hitting utility player that had a short stint with the Rangers in 2008.


Grady Fuson to the A’s

Grady Fuson, who made his name with the Athletics, has made it back to the A’s and Billy Beane.  A guy with a calling card earlier in his scouting/player development years of drafting the Big 3 (Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder), Grady has bounced to a couple other organizations before returning home to the A’s.  Now he’s reunited with Billy Beane in the desire to revamp their lackluster farm system.

Fuson originally helped Beane assemble a perennial contender with young talent such as Hudson, Zito, Mulder, Eric Chavez.  He was then lured away to the Texas Rangers in an Assistant GM role.  While there, the Rangers tried to develop their own Big 3 under Fuson’s direction.  The DVD trio of John Danks, Edinson Volquez (in the system before Fuson was there), and Thomas Diamond were expected to be the team’s future front-line rotation.  But Danks and Volquez were traded before they blossomed into stars and Diamond is struggling with his control in the minors.  The team also drafted Eric Hurley, Wes Littleton, Scott Feldman and Ian Kinsler during his tenure there.

But after a falling out in Texas, Fuson moved on to San Diego and was reunited with Sandy Alderson, who was with the Athletics when Fuson was in Oakland.  At the time, the Padres were was ranked 27th by Baseball America’s organizational talent rankings.  While in San Diego, Fuson has nabbed Chase Headley, Nick Hundley, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, and prospects Donavan Tate and Simon Castro.  Although the farm system isn’t a whole lot better, it’s mainly because needs at the major league level have pushed many of their prospects to the majors.  Sometimes too early.

With Jed Hoyer taking over the GM position in San Diego, Fuson was on his way out.  Now he’s reunited with the GM he made a name for himself with.  But he’s also with the GM that, as Fox Sports’ Tracy Ringolsby points out, belittled his efforts in the now famous Moneyball book.  You have to wonder if everything is patched between the two or not, but you also have to believe that other teams with ugly farm systems had to be chasing him and he still went back to Beane and the Athletics.  Hopefully Fuson will work well with Beane and Eric Kubota, the Director of Scouting, to return the A’s farm system to the splendor it was during the team’s seemingly regular pennant runs when the Big 3 were around.


Trade Bait: Taveras to Oakland

Yesterday the Oakland Athletics traded infielder Aaron Miles and a PTBNL to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Willy Taveras and infielder Adam Rosales.  It was a move that had me intially thinking they were wanting to move to a professional softball league.  The A’s were already overflowing with a batch of light-hitting 4th or 5th outfielders starting or coming in off the bench, why add another?

But Billy Beane quickly DFA’d Taveras, showing that he’d made the trade as essentially a $1.3 million purchase of Adam Rosales.  Once Taveras likely reaches free agency, he’ll be available to become someone’s fourth or fifth outfielder, a position more fitting to his abilities.

The Reds have cleared $1.3 million in this move that presumably opened up payroll space for them to sign Orlando Cabrera to play short.  Miles should be a somewhat useful utility infielder for the Reds and should hit closer to a .270/.315/.350 line if Baker doesn’t expose him too much.  The trade also clarifies that centerfield is Drew Stubbs’ to lose.

But just when Beane put me at ease with his DFA of Taveras, he goes out and signs Gabe Gross.  Billy Beane is officially off his rocker.