How Much Better Does “The Trade” Make the A’s?

There is something to be said for getting the jump on the trading deadline. You get an opportunity to set the market, rather than react to it. Making a big move for pitching in advance of the trading deadline has other, salient benefits, such as the ability to get an extra start or two from your newly acquired arm(s) as you restructure your rotation going into, and out of the All Star break. This rings especially true to me personally, having been with the Brewers the year of the C.C. Sabathia trade, when we wound up needing almost every exceptional start and inning he gave us.

The A’s jumped the gun on this year’s deadline, getting not one, but two of the premier available arms, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, albeit for a hefty price. The A’s are obviously playing for now – so how much better does this deal make the A’s in the short term, and does it materially increase their chances of finally bringing home some hardware this fall?

One can make a fairly convincing argument that the A’s did not need to make this trade. They’ve been rolling along with the best record in baseball for most of the season’s first half, and possess a deep, talented and versatile roster that would seem to be relatively slump/matchup-proof. Their offense paces the AL in runs scored, OBP and walks, and ranks near the top in virtually every meaningful category except for doubles. Their overall run prevention ability is stellar as well – they have the best staff ERA in the AL, and are a well above average defensive club. They were very likely on their way to 95+ wins before their two new additions came to town.

Jeff Samardzija has come a long way since being signed to a massive major league contract after being drafted on the 5th round by the Cubs in 2006. Baseball was arguably his second sport at Notre Dame, where he was a star quality wide receiver in the fall. I saw Samardzija pitch several times during his draft year, and liked him a great deal – but he was extremely raw. He could get his fastball up to 95-97 MPH and keep it there, but his secondary pitches were quite crude and his command came and went. The athleticism, projectability and competitiveness were readily apparent, however, and made you worry a little less about his lack of consistent dominance. One figured it would all come together once he made baseball his sole focus.

He wasn’t much better for much of his minor league apprenticeship, however, posting a very ordinary 4.30 ERA in 485 1/3 innings, with a nondescript 339/208 K/BB ratio. He turned the corner with a dominant season out of the bullpen in 2011, and was then a very productive member of the Cubs’ rotation afterward.

Jason Hammel was never a big fish as he worked his way through the Tampa Bay system after being tabbed on the 10th round of the 2002 draft out of noted baseball hotbed Treasure Valley Community College, in Oregon. The key seasons in his development were 2004 and 2005 – he experienced success at both Class A levels in the former, and both upper minor league levels in the latter season. Major league success in his initial major league organization was not meant to be for Hammel, who first thrived in the unlikely environment of Coors Field as a member of the Rockies.

Hammel is now in his sixth season as a full-time major league starting pitcher, and truth be told, there are a great number of inconsistencies in his profile. His K rate has been at or above league average most of that time, but was way below the mean in 2011 and 2013. His control has been well better than league average at times, but he has not been a particularly good contact manager for most of his career. Coors Field obviously did him no favors during his tenure there, but his 2013 season as an Oriole was a nightmare, when in addition to his subpar K rate, he allowed a well above MLB average .336 AVG-.546 SLG on all BIP, with the contact authority he allowed supporting an even higher level of production. An inflamed pitching elbow cost him some time late in the season, and limited his free agent possibilities afterward, as he was only able to secure a one-year, $6M deal with the Cubs.

The first thing one must do in an analysis of the impact of this deal upon the A’s is to identify the players being replaced by Samardzija and Hammel, and assess their relative talent level. In this case, Tommy Milone and the three-headed monster of Dan Straily, Brad Mills and Drew Pomeranz – we shall henceforth call them Dan Mileranz in this article – were the odd men out. Let’s take a closer look at both the incoming and outgoing group of hurlers’ 2014 plate-appearance outcome frequency and production by BIP type data to learn a little more about them. First, the frequency information:

FREQ – 2014
Hammel % REL PCT
K 24.2% 119 79
BB 5.4% 68 13
POP 7.7% 100 53
FLY 31.2% 112 87
LD 22.5% 108 93
GB 38.6% 89 13
———– ———- ———- ———-
Samardzija % REL PCT
K 22.8% 112 75
BB 6.8% 86 36
POP 5.0% 65 3
FLY 24.8% 89 17
LD 20.7% 99 41
GB 49.5% 114 89
———– ———- ———- ———-
Milone % REL PCT
K 15.1% 74 8
BB 6.4% 81 32
POP 13.8% 179 99
FLY 30.3% 109 77
LD 18.2% 87 5
GB 37.7% 86 6
———– ———- ———- ———-
Mileranz % REL PCT
K 21.0% 104 51
BB 9.7% 122 86
POP 11.2% 145 94
FLY 26.9% 96 34
LD 22.4% 108 93
GB 39.6% 91 24

Hammel has experienced significant success this season despite a high line drive rate (93 percentile rank). The bad news here is that regression in this department is not a given, as he has had liner percentile ranks of 89, 60 and 97 in three of the previous five seasons. His K rate percentile rank has spectacularly bounced up and down since 2010, from 59 to 13 to 83 to 19 to this year’s level of 79. He has shown much more of a fly ball tendency in 2014 than in any previous season, with his 87 percentile rank far exceeding his previous high of 51.

Samardzija’s greatly improved control is his most significant 2014 development – his 36 percentile rank compares quite favorably to the 75 and 61 marks posted in 2013 and 2012, respectively. He has steadily evolved into a fairly extreme ground ball generator, with his grounder percentile ranks escalating from 48 to 69 and now to 89 in his three years as a starter. So far, 2014 marks his first season with a below average line drive rate (41 percentile rank). There are signs of growth dotting his frequency profile.

Milone’s chief strength is his ability to generate popups, and lots of them, as suggested by his 99 percentile rank in that category. He has posted a popup mark in the nineties in each of his three seasons as an MLB starter. Milone hasn’t allowed hitters to square the ball up very often this season, as suggested by his liner percentile rank of 5, but that is way out of line with previous career norms, so regression would have been expected if he had remained in the rotation. As with most any popup pitcher, there is a corresponding fly ball tendency (77 percentile rank) and the added risk for damage in the air that it brings. More on that in a bit.

Now for our fictitious amalgamation of a pitcher, Dan Mileranz. He has a high popup rate (94 percentile rank), though some of that is a home park effect. There is a high liner rate (93 percentile rank), which would have been ripe for at least some regression. There is also a high BB rate (86 percentile rank), which is a problem when not accompanied by a similarly high K rate – good ol’ Dam Mileranz has an average 51 K rate percentile rank. The displaced #5 starter is looking pretty mediocre so far.

Obviously, we can already see that the former two profile represent an upgrade over the latter two, but we already knew that. Next, let’s look at the production by BIP type allowed for these pitchers, both before and after adjustment for context, and attempt to quantify the upgrade:

PROD – 2014
Hammel AVG OBP SLG REL PRD ADJ PRD ACT ERA CALC ERA TRU ERA
FLY 0.169 0.517 44 75
LD 0.688 0.969 114 110
GB 0.227 0.236 85 108
ALL BIP 0.296 0.471 86 104
ALL PA 0.219 0.262 0.349 73 87 2.98 2.78 3.28
————- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-
Samardzija AVG OBP SLG REL PRD ADJ PRD ACT ERA CALC ERA TRU ERA
FLY 0.278 0.658 88 90
LD 0.667 0.833 97 91
GB 0.215 0.259 85 99
ALL BIP 0.317 0.471 92 94
ALL PA 0.238 0.290 0.353 83 84 2.74 3.15 3.19
————- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-
Milone AVG OBP SLG REL PRD ADJ PRD ACT ERA CALC ERA TRU ERA
FLY 0.300 0.811 120 143
LD 0.630 0.759 84 105
GB 0.214 0.241 80 103
ALL BIP 0.295 0.487 89 107
ALL PA 0.247 0.296 0.408 97 114 3.55 3.65 4.30
————- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-
Mileranz AVG OBP SLG REL PRD ADJ PRD ACT ERA CALC ERA TRU ERA
FLY 0.347 1.097 196 176
LD 0.650 0.750 86 106
GB 0.217 0.226 78 138
ALL BIP 0.313 0.532 103 123
ALL PA 0.240 0.313 0.408 103 120 4.10 3.89 4.53

The actual production allowed by each hurler on each BIP type is indicated in the AVG and SLG columns, and is converted to run values and compared to MLB average in the REL PRD column. That figure is then adjusted for context, such as home park, team defense, luck, etc., in the ADJ PRD column. In the three right-most columns, the actual ERA, calculated component ERA based on actual production allowed, and “tru” ERA, which is adjusted for context, are all presented. For the purposes of this exercise, SH and SF are included as outs and HBP are excluded from the OBP calculation.

Limiting fly ball damage has not been a strength of Hammel’s in the past, but it has been a centerpiece of his fine 2014 season. There is some skill and some luck at work here. His actual production allowed on fly balls is a remarkable 44 REL PRD. Hammel has amazingly not allowed a single fly ball single this season – basically, no bloopers have fallen in to date. That is good fortune, pure and simple. Still, after you adjust his fly ball production allowed for context, he has a very strong 75 ADJ PRD on fly balls, a major improvement over his 2013 figure of 117.

Interestingly, Hammel is allowing relatively authoritative line drive and ground ball contact, and even with his hard fly ball suppression, has an overall adjusted contact score of 104 on all BIP, which aligns with career norms. Add back the K’s and BB’s – a real strength for him this season, and you have an overall ADJ PRD of 87, and a “tru” ERA of 3.28. That’s 0.30 higher than his actual ERA, but good enough to call him a #2-3 starter. He’s a perfect guy to get on a one-year deal, as he has been unpredictable from season to season. The A’s will worry about the long term down the road a bit.

Samardzija has allowed a little less than MLB average authority on all BIP types to date this season, which combined with his positive grounder-centric frequency profile gives him an adjusted contact score of 94, almost mirroring his 2013 mark of 95. Add back his strong K/BB profile and he has an overall ADJ PRD of 84 and a solid 3.19 “tru” ERA. Like Hammel, that’s a bit higher than his actual ERA, but in the range of a solid #2-3 starter. Given his stronger underlying fundamentals and greater year-to-year consistency than Hammel – Samardzija’s 2013 overall ADJ PRD was 86 – I’d be more inclined to call him a #2.

Those are the replacements……how about the replaced? Milone not only gives up a lot of fly balls, he gives up a lot of hard ones. His 143 ADJ PRD on fly balls was exceeded by only three 2013 ERA qualifiers, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Ian Kennedy. The actual damage allowed by Milone this season has been mitigated both by his ballpark and a strong outfield defense.

Context also does quite a number on his liner and grounder ADJ PRD figures as well, pushing them into the worse than MLB average range. Overall, he has an adjusted contact score on all BIP of 107, which is in line with his past history. His unimpressive K rate causes his overall ADJ PRD to increase to 114, giving him a “tru” ERA of 4.30, fully 0.75 above his actual ERA. Milone is a #5 starter.

How about our departed three-pitcher hybrid? They have given up an obscene amount of hard fly ball contact, good for a stratospheric 176 ADJ PRD. Again, defense and ballpark have lessened the actual damage on all BIP types, but actual line drive and grounder authority were both also well above MLB average. The adjusted contact score on all BIP is a hefty 123, and once K’s and BB’s are added back, the overall ADJ PRD remains poor at 120, good for a “tru” ERA of 4.53. That’s pretty much replacement level in the current run-scoring environment.

So the A’s are basically improving by 1.18 earned runs per 9 IP if you swap in Hammel and Samardzija, and swap out Milone and Mileranz. Probably a touch less than that, as the NL/AL difference counts for something. If the two new guys pitch 90 innings apiece the rest of the way, that’s about 24 runs saved the rest of the way, or between 2 and 3 wins added to the A’s cause. WAR tells a similar tale, as Hammel and Samardzija have combined for 4.5 wins to date, with the four replaced hurlers combining for 0.9, a difference of 3.6 wins over a little over half of a season. It’s not the 2.5 to 3.0 additional regular seasons wins that represent the A’s reason for making this deal, however.

The A’s, with or without this trade, had a very high probability of reaching the postseason. They had a very high probability, though a bit less, of winning their division. This trade was not about the regular season – it’s about the part that comes afterward, the part that has bitten the A’s time and time again over the last decade-plus. Come October, the A’s regular season starting pitching advantage over their playoff counterparts – which was rooted in depth rather than individual excellence – would have largely evaporated once the playoffs began and the rotations were scaled back from five to four, with aces getting a second, often pivotal start.

Seattle has Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the Angels have Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards and C.J. Wilson, and even the Royals, Yankees and Blue Jays came trot out top twos that would compete with the pre-trade A’s.

Then there’s the A’s chief nemesis, the Tigers, who have taken them out the past two seasons. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, etc.. As good as the A’s pitching has been, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir would have been solid in the #1 and 2 playoff holes, but wouldn’t necessarily have given the A’s a true advantage. Placing some combination of Gray, Kazmir and Hammel in the #3 and 4 slots is a totally different story, with Jesse Chavez and a recovered Pomeranz fortifying an already strong bullpen.

Too many teams attack the trading deadline one-dimensionally, scouring both leagues in a singleminded attempt to shore up weaknesses, instead of realizing that further bolstering existing strengths can make as much or more difference in the end. The A’s know better than anyone that exceptional regular seasons often end in disappointment, and are redoubling their efforts to improve the chances of a different result this time around.




Print This Post





96 Responses to “How Much Better Does “The Trade” Make the A’s?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. over/under on how many comments for this one? says:

    275?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Kody says:

    Eno has written on these very pages before that teams will need more than just the five starters they start the season with, sometimes up to eight, nine, or even ten pitchers. Just ask the Braves how they feel about their pitching right now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Brazen Reader says:

    I love the change to a 1-game Wild Card playoff. The Division title is now meaningful, you don’t have to burn your ace on a roll of the dice game, and promotes trades like this.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TB31 says:

      It’d be nice if we could make the Divisional Series 7 games next.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • joser says:

        And still be playing baseball in mid-November? Or do we automatically advance only the teams from the south or with domed stadiums?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          Two more games won’t do that. If it worries you, start the season for everyone on April 1.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Plucky says:

          I’d do it by starting the regular season a week earlier, and have the first week of reg season games played in loacations where weather won’t be an issue

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • joser says:

          Regardless of the length of the postseason, MLB should have the Twins and Indians play the first two weeks on the road, just to be safe.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nick says:

      It was just as meaningful as in every other sport; you get home field advantage and play the “lowest seeded” team from your league. They at least should have made the wild card play-in a 3 game series. One game in baseball is so meaningless as to be almost worthless.

      It’s pretty lame that a team can potentially win 95 games in a strong division and have to play a coin flip one-off game, while an 87 win team from the AL East can coast into the divisional round.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chel says:

        Wow! How quickly things can change.
        This is basically what the AL East teams had been saying for a long time about the other divisions

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wally says:

        Even 3 games isn’t enough to really change anything, though I suppose if the team with the better record plays all three games at home that would help. Though on the other hand, it gives the team that wins that series a chance at getting their ace back on the mound by at least game 2 of DS and then again in a potential game 5, depending on how the off days would go.

        I know it will never happen, but now with the playoff rounds expanding it would be nice to see each round greatly lengthened, and the regular season move back a week. Back in “the good old days” the best teams won more often because the regular session did a good job of finding the best teams, then they only had 1 or 2 rounds of playoffs and all 7-game series to fight though. Now we have potentially 4 rounds of playoffs with a 1 and 5 game series. So, we could see a team as dominate as Ruth’s Yankees and they may never even enter a WS.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Shut up, bat sixth and get your arse in left says:

          Traditionalists are going to wanna hang me but how bout Eastern and Western conferences 117 in conference games and 45 out of conference games. No divisions, just the top 5 teams advancing from each conference. Seeds 1-3 get a bye to the Divison Series while seed 4 plays the one game play-in with seed 5. Every team would play either 8 or 9 games against in conference opponents and 3 games each against the other conference. The scheduling would be tough but doable with some 2 and 4 game series mixed in.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • John C says:

        They can fix that problem anytime they want to, by simply getting rid of the divisions, having two 15-team leagues, and taking the top five teams in each league, with 4 and 5 playing off for the last spot at the end of the regular season.

        Since they haven’t even proposed doing that, they clearly don’t think there’s a problem.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Eric Sogard says:

    That’s right…bolster existing strengths!

    +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. mario mendoza says:

    Why not just go with Drew Pomeranz as the #5 for your comparison? Yes, the other 2 have been used, but only while Pom was either a RP or injured. And Pom’s numbers must be taken with a grain of salt because his first few starts had very low pitch limits.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Professor Ross Eforp says:

      Because he hasn’t pitched since 6/16 I imagine.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Doug Lampert says:

        The fact is that without Hammel and Samardzija, the A’s not only gave Mills a start, they BOUGHT Mills specifically so they could give him a start.

        The assumption that the circumstances that lead to this were a unique confluence of events and that Mills would never get another A’s start without this trade strikes me as unjustified.

        Mills was one of their starters, he’s noticeably less likely to get a start now.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Doug Lampert says:

          Hmm, this showed up as a reply to the wrong post. Sorry, it’s intended to agree with Professor Ross Eforp and disagree with mendoza and his line about how the others are only used when Pomeranz is injured.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Fred says:

    This article could have just been the content from the 5th to last paragraph, through to the end. I’m not sure what the point was of the rest of it.

    I accept that it might just me being too distracted, impatient or dumb to understand the rest of it. But I saw the wall of text and dense tables and just skipped ahead to the end, to be honest.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joser says:

      Well, a good way to not know the point of text is to skip over it.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • nickolai says:

      yes, it’s just you.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Prince Fielder's naked arse says:

      I’m guessing this isn’t the website for you.

      You can find a full two page spread of me on ESPN.com if you’re more of visual kind of fellow!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      I understood all of it, but my conclusion is similar to yours. A bunch of detailed tables that I’ll never remember anything from and the dead horse beaten once again.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. joser says:

    Love your articles, Mr. Blengino. Along these same lines, I’d be really interested in your insights into what goes into trading a marquee player in a lost season (eg David Price, Troy Tulowiski). Obviously these trades don’t always happen, but whenever they’re speculated about I wonder how the team holding the prize goes about evaluating the trade-offs and offers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Johnston says:

    I was looking for an actual number that would quantify the improvement in percentage chances of winning the WS that the trade gave the A’s, but did not see it. Does anyone have such a number, backed up by real data and sound methodology? (I’ve seen four percent mentioned but without any documentation.)

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wally says:

      The playoff chance page has basically answered this question for you now. While the A’s have won some games since the trade (in part thanks to a very nice game from Samardzija), they haven’t put any extra distance between themselves and the Angels. However their WS win probability went from ~12.4% to ~16.8%. So about 4.4% increase. Much of that came from the chance at having to play that 1-game playoff going from 27% to 20%, but they also saw slight increases in the chance of winning each series should they make it.

      As an A’s fan, I’ll take it. Russell is only a chance at a valuable player himself, and he’s probably not going to be that productive until 2016, if ever. And in 2016 and beyond, the A’s will likely be a very different club and who knows if they could surround Russell with enough talent to compete for the playoffs anyway.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        Man I interpreting that correctly, in that you think the team is doomed to collapse anyway, so that it doesn’t need to worry about its long-term future, and instead should go all in and go out in a blaze of glory?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          That was supposed to be “Am I,” not “Man I.”

          Damn you, AutoCorrect.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Am I interpreting it correctly that you want reduce my argument that was discussing probability distributions of team and individual success to one finite outcome?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Johnston says:

    By the way, after watching Hammel stink up the Giants game last night, my negative opinion of the trade has plummeted further.

    -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wally says:

      gosh, you watched one game, that settles it

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JosephK says:

      Applying similar logic, you should be ecstatic about the trade. Addison Russell is 0-9 since joining the Cubs org. Bust!

      +26 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wally says:

      And Shark went 7 IP the other night with a FIP of 2.17 for a W.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Helladecimal says:

      Despite Shark’s excellent first start?

      You actually are a moron.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        Oh, grow up. We paid a fortune for a half season of this guy and he nearly had a WHIP of 2.

        If this is what half of the “win now” team looks like, we won’t.

        (Yes, I know all about small sample size and stabilization. For a pricy item he was totally underwhelming in his debut.)

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          So you know about SSS and all, then why even bring up one start that really wasn’t THAT bad (as far as poor single game efforts go) anyway?

          I’d have liked to see some more Ks, but a lot of those hits found just the right spot and the A’s defense missed a few plays even on top of the Cespedes error. Its not like he was giving up line drive after line drive, nor giving up a five runs or so and being forced to leave after 3IP. When I hear a single start described as “stinking it up”, it needs to be worse than 5IP 3BB 3K 3R 2ER. His start last night was merely “meh”, not awful.

          And he’s not half of the win now. At best he’s 1/4, since he’s here just this year and Shark is here next. Plus, Shark is going to be given a front line spot, while Hammel is largely here to add some flexibility in the back of the rotation.

          After seeing your comments for the past two weeks, and to put this nicely, you don’t display a lot of level headedness or logic…

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • El Duderino says:

          Yes, and Kershaw got lit up by a terrible Diamondbacks team, then got hurt shortly afterwards. We should have known that he was doomed right then and there! Oh, wait…

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • LOL says:

          You’re a fucking stupid piece of shit.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • baycommuter says:

        Hello moderator, are you home?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. bflaff says:

    IMO, the biggest point of contention with the trade isn’t ‘Do the A’s need better pitching for the postseason?’ The team should always be looking to upgrade. The question is whether or not you reach a point where the price you’re paying for incremental improvements is worth it. In particular, because you never (realistically) reach a point where you can dramatically improve your chances of winning a SSS postseason series. So do you really want to be looking to add front line players who are going to cost you top prospects?

    The ace advantage is not necessarily a difference maker. The A’s had an advantage in the playoffs back in the 00′s when they could run Hudson, Mulder, and Zito (the good years) out there in a series, but it didn’t win them anything. Ditto for the Phillies when they ran Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt out there.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • GMH says:

      You’re right! You are so much smarter than Billy Beane and all 29 of his peers. A team should never, never, NEVER make a trade that involves top prospects. Rather, the only trade Billy Beane should have made was for David Price and cash in exchange for a bag of shit. And even then, that trade wouldn’t be worthwhile, because adding “front line players” doesn’t equate to success in the postseason. Billy Beane would just as well trot out that bag of shit to the mound every five days.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Hank says:

        Would like to see a 3 game series.

        1 game at the 2nd WC, doubleheader the next day at the 1st WC (or give the 1st WC the option of either or).

        This would make things a little less variable, and put the WC teams at a further disdvnatage while adding only 1 day to the schedule.

        I’d also not allow teams to reset the roster between the WC game and the LDS.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        If they were going to mortgage the future for pitching, then they should’ve at least got an ace instead of what, a #3 and a #6?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          ROS projections for A’s SP:
          name era fip war
          Jeff Samardzija 3.86 3.74 1.0
          Sonny Gray 3.71 3.59 1.1
          Jason Hammel 4.09 4.11 0.6
          Scott Kazmir 3.72 3.58 1.0
          Jesse Chavez 4.00 3.87 0.6
          Tommy Milone 4.04 4.13 0.2

          Notice anything? Samardzija is expected to roughly equal our aces’ (Gray and Kazmir) WAR total from here on out. He’s now a co-ace of this staff. Hammel is tied with .6 with Chavez to make up the co-4-5 guy. He’s a clear upgrade over Milone and he provides just the 6th real starting option if you acknowledge that Mills wasn’t going to be of any real value.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bflaff says:

        Didn’t mean to send you into an incoherent troll rant. Apologies.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. What 2,683 words says:

    tldr

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. See, to me, the A’s are such a fascinating case that proves the flaws of the Bud Selig Wild Card era playoff format. Tony touches on the fact that Oakland has routinely had fantastic regular seasons that have ended in first round exits; 2000-2003 and 2012-2013, five times having Game 5 at home, only to lose all five times (losing another Game 5 in NY in 2001).

    I hate the best-of-5 first round. It encourages upsets, and the reward for having the superior regular season is mitigated severely. I wasn’t around much during the 1969-1993 era, but I can at least give some slight defense to the best-of-5 then because it was only two teams, and with the exception of abberration years (1973 NL East, 1987 AL West, etc.), the two teams facing each other were often the two best teams in the league (think about 1980 with 100+ win Kansas City and 100+ win New York, for one example). In the wild card era, it is far too frequent where one team might be substantially worse in the regular season, and yet because they only need to win three of five games, and might have an ace who can be counted on to deliver two of those wins, well, you do the math from here. As a Yankee fan, the 2009 Tigers terrified me because, despite being 17 games worse in the regular season, they had Justin Verlander, and Verlander presented a threat in a Game 5 scenario and in a situation where-in if one other Tigers pitcher delivered a great performance, that could spell the end of the season.

    Basically, Selig’s playoff format with the introduction of the wild card in concert with the best-of-5 first round totally devalues the regular season, and this rubs me the wrong way. Only four times since 1995 has the best record won the World Series (’98, ’07, ’09, ’13), and only three times has the best team in each league in terms of W-L’s been in the World Series (’95, ’99, ’13). It’s horrendous. In the case of the Oakland A’s, I’m not going to guarantee that they win their playoff rounds in those aforementioned years even in a best-of-7 situation, but at least it would help give more value to the fact that they have fielded deeper rosters. My philosophy has long been one that believes top-heavy teams are at an advantage in the playoffs (*cough*Detroit*cough*) because star power plays up in small sample sizes. Oakland was seven games better in 2012 and three games better in 2013, both times in tougher divisions, yet I never gave them much of a chance of beating the Tigers in those LDS meetings. That sucks. It shouldn’t be this way.

    I guess I just really don’t like it when the best team doesn’t win. If the Yankees can’t win the World Series this year (and, fwiw, there’s a better chance that I’m the fricken’ Dalai Lama than the Yankees have at winning the World Series), then I would really like to see the best team win the World Series this year. That team has clearly proven to be the Oakland A’s by this point.

    But, until further notice, I can’t pick them to beat the Tigers. I’ll have to see them win three-four games against Detroit before I actually think they can do it.

    Thanks, Bud.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wally says:

      I’m with you. I like upsets, and often root for the underdog if I don’t have any other rooting interest, however I generally want good teams to win or if a lesser team does win, I want them to really “prove it”. Catching a few lucky brakes and winning 3 games against a much better team isn’t that hard in baseball.

      The 1 game series sucks if you’re the A’s or Angels position but in general it does help mitigate the chance of a hot wild card team winning a DS. Overall, I supposed I’d like to see that kept, then the DS lengthened to 7 games and the WS to 9, maybe even CS to 9. That way lesser teams have to win that many more games to “prove it”. It only adds 4 or 6 games, and if you switch to a regular season like schedule (meaning less off days*), it will only add 2-3 days.

      * And it is those extra off days that now allow the “star power” to play up like you say. With two days off the DS is perfect for 1 or 2 aces to take over. Last year Scherzer and Verlander can start game 1 and 2, then 4 and 5 with Scherzer on 3 days rest and Verlander on regular rest? That greatly changes the team dynamic and ideal roster construction from the regular season. While the A’s still lost game 4, they did beat Scherzer up a bit on short rest. If game 5 is played so the Tigers either have to throw Verlander also on short rest or their 5th guy in the rotation, what happens? I know it sounds like sour grapes, but I honestly feel its a general quality of these playoffs that I don’t like. Playoff baseball is just a little too different from regular series baseball because of the off days, which is especially annoying given the small sample size.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • foxinsox says:

        In 1993 the Giants won 103 games and didn’t make the playoffs because ATL won 104 in the same division.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • My personal preference would be to eschew divisions and just take the two best teams in each league in the playoffs, a hybrid of the two preceding playoff formats, but that would never happen so I really just have no interest in presenting the idea.

          Because, yeah, you look at 1993 with 104-win Atlanta and 103-win San Francisco, and that sure would’ve made for a tantalizing NLCS. Kinda funny how Atlanta spit the bit vs. Philadelphia in that playoff series.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          I’m not exactly sure what that has to do with my points above. In any system there is always the chance that that some really good team is going to be 1 win out of luck in some way.

          In the current system, two teams in the same division with 100+ records leaves one team in the 1-game playoff potentially with a team that is hardly over .500. What is the reaction going to be when the 105 win team loses to the 85 win team in the 1-game playoff?

          Heck that could happen this year with the M’s and Felix facing off against the A’s/Angels.

          Anyway, what’s your point?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • foxinsox says:

          My point was to point out the type of scenario that led to the WC and that getting rid of it creates other problems. I personally liked the WC without the 1-game playoff, and would like to see the Division Series extended to 7g.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • I think the part that really strikes a negative nerve for me is that that, for the past 20 years or so, there are several instances where it can be argued, quite easily I may add, that the best team did not win the World Series. I’ve been thinking a great deal about this stuff lately, and it bewilders my mind.

        I mean, a couple of Yankee tidbits from 1996-2013:

        *In 1996, ’98, ’99, and 2000, they only had the better record ONCE in the World Series matchups.

        *Their 1996 and 2000 records (92-70 and 87-74, respectively) were their 15th and 17th best records in that time span.

        With all due respect, the 2002 and 2003 teams that won 103 and 101 games (2nd and 4th best records in that span) rate much better than either 1996 or 2000, yet what happened? Ran into buzzsaw-hot teams along the way. This isn’t meant to sound like complaining, just a means of providing further context to my point.

        I might sound like someone who would’ve enjoyed 1903-1968 the most, and maybe I would have, but I feel introducing two divisions and having LCS was a pretty good idea. It increased competition and, like I said in the original post, it would generally feature the two best teams in the league, and I can deal with that pretty well. The best teams facing each other to go to the World Series; that’s good stuff. Years like the 2003 National League where two teams won 100+ games (Atlanta and SF) and were knocked off in the NLDS against 88 and 91 win teams? Gah. That’s just not good for anybody, as far as I’m concerned.

        Sure, you could argue that the best team didn’t always win between 1903-1968, and a bit more between 1969-1993, but with respect to 1995-present, the frequency of the best team winning the World Series was sure a hell of a lot higher than it is in the present time. That is, unless someone wants to try and tell me the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals were the best team in baseball in those respective seasons.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ruki Motomiya says:

          Don’t forget that there were, in general, less teams in baseball in the past then now, which artificially raised how often the best team would win the World Series (by lowering the amount of teams it must compete against).

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          But if playoffs are done in such a way to minimize the effect of random events on the outcome, increasing the number of teams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing having the best team (or at least arguably the best team) win more times than not.

          Adding 4 extra playoff teams with all 8 teams entering a best of 5 round naturally lead to this. Now the 1-game playoff means the 4th and 5th team in each league are disadvantaged slightly once in the ALDS, but this is offset by the fact that it also means the 5th best team is given a shot, when they weren’t before.

          However, extra teams could have been added and have the addition of an extra round in the playoffs, but used a bye format might have worked to maintain the best team winning the WS. In baseball there just isn’t enough games to be added or home filed or silly one game playoffs to really reduce the chance of the better team losing by much. Byes are probably the only real solution. So make the teams that prove them selves less in the regular season prove themselves in an extended playoff then face the best team in a longer series before entering the WS.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Clay Bucholes says:

      rubbed the wrong way? get with the times and switch to sun-screen

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • I use Sonic the Hedgehog avatars and have a teal jacket in my closet that I still like to wear when it’s cold enough to wear it (which is never in damned Florida).

        Frankly, I’m not sure the ’90s ever ended, in my mind.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wallysb01 says:

        I still play Mario on my Gameboy.

        Just because this is the way it is now, doesn’t mean I can’t advocate for changes in the future.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MRE says:

      You know, I actually like the current system. One of the things I like about baseball is that anything can happen at any time, and that even the worst team in the league has a fighting chance at beating the best on any given day. I think the uncertainty of the playoffs is fun.

      It also bears pointing out that if our definition of “best” team is “team with the best regular season record,” then couldn’t we bemoan the fact that the regular season record isn’t immune to random variance? Sometimes fewer than five games separate the top 3 teams in any division. A few lucky breaks, and that 3rd place team makes the playoffs. Travesty!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John C says:

      Actually, in 1980, the Yankees won 103 games and KC won 97. But the Baltimore Orioles went 100-62 and stayed home.

      I hate the best-of-5 format too, but I think the argument about a team having a stud pitcher like Verlander and riding him to victory is a little over-stated. A lot of people wrote off the Red Sox last year, even though they were the best team all season, because they didn’t have anyone like that; their best pitcher was Jon Lester, who’s good but not as good as Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander were for Detroit. It didn’t matter; they won anyway, because they were able to bring their own strengths (they were better in basically every phase of the game except starting pitching) to bear.

      Those Oakland teams that lost in the playoffs were basically unlucky. If you could have the ’62 Mets play the ’27 Yankees in a best-of-5 series, the Mets would win every once in a blue moon. Not often, obviously, but there are times they would win. Put two teams with true talent levels of 93 and 95 wins in a short series, and the 93-win team is going to win nearly half the time. And that’s how it went for the A’s more often than not, even though they were usually the slightly stronger team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. FASTPIECE FANTASIA MCADDAMS says:

    TL;DR LMAO :D

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

    I was expecting Rest Of Season Zips. I don’t even know what I’m looking at here.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      Well, I’m just here to bitch about Billy Beane mortgaging the team’s future for a ~4% better chance at winning the World Series.

      And also about the A’s still-sucking chest wound at second base.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. A different Mike says:

    Also, getting both Shark and Hammel in the same trade removed two pitchers from those available for the teams their competing with to get to the playoffs, and against once in the playoffs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ned says:

      That’s overstated IMO, because now i could argue that trade might encourage the Mariners to reach for David Price. And a felix, price, iwakuma playoff rotation is terrifying.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ed says:

        the mariners getting price does not really hurt the A’s in the regular season.

        After the ASB, the A’s play the mariners in only 3 games. The mariners play the Angels 10 times, 7 in septemebr (three just after the ASG). If anything, the M’s getting price hurts the angels chances more

        AS of July 11, 2014 the mariners are 9 games out. While not insurmountable, its certainly a tough row to hoe.

        Of course, the M’s get through the play in game, they are tough with or without price. (if they can score runs)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Paul M says:

    We all did talk this out the other day. But we have another analysis, so I’ll make one more attempt to underscore the value of the trade.

    There are four factors either ignored or barely touched on in this piece:

    1. Losing the division was (and still is, only less so– perhaps by 2-3 games which could mean everything) a clear and present danger. Forget the April-May records and run differential– from roughly June 1 on the Angels have been every bit the equal of the A’s. And still only trail by 3.5 games. Avoiding the play-in game– which might be against the guy Shark faces tomorrow at Safeco– some guy named Hernandez– is no minor consideration;

    2. A’s got something that their rivals– particularly LAA– cannot. There is an advantage there, even if it simply raised the “price of Price” even higher;

    3. Beane now has even more pitching depth with which to spring a quality middle-infielder loose by July 31– to plug the one real hole in the A’s lineup;

    4. As to the notion that having aces is no guarantee of success in the postseason– true dat.. But having them hurt or less effective due to injury or overuse is a clear drawback. The little-noted aspect of the A’s playoff failures from 2000-03 was that a) Mulder was hurt and unavailable in 2000; b) Hudson was hurt and ineffective in 2002; and c) Mulder was hurt and unavailable in 2003. Kazmir and Gray were and are simply too significant of injury risks for the A’s to put all their eggs in those two baskets.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BubbaBiscuit says:

      Completely agree, this was a horrid article. He spent the majority of the article going into minute detail about how this improves the A’s by around 2.5 Wins and then completely dismisses that those 2.5 Wins have any value at all. Then he mentions this was obviously a move for a short playoff series and goes into no detail about how this new staff lines up against potential playoff teams outside of stupid cliches about #1 & #2 starters. He then sums up this massive article by saying this trade was obviously about improving the A’s chances in the playoffs without one single bit of data supporting that conclusion of either the intent of the A’s or that it actually does improve the A’s chances in the playoffs. That is even if you buy into these projection systems holding up to the tiny sample size of a 7 game series.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Jon says:

    Folks around the baseball world are going to have to take A’s fans word for it as to how much it was necessary to trade for SP.

    I understand how it looked from the outside. A’s with best record, great run differential. But after losing two SPs to Tommy John in Griffin and Parker in spring already making them thin, having Pomeranz amazingly come out of COL pitching oblivion and figure it out, and Chavez continuing to succeed with his relatively new-found level of play, it didn’t only seem likely to not be able to continue, as the innings piled up at least one of them gets exposed surely most likely. Milone went 190 innings a couple years ago, but the other two nowhere near it.

    So this was pre-emptive at the most important position, in the A’s case unproven despite early success.

    And now yeah, with these SP injuries popping up around the league the last few days, the A’s leverage to move maybe (sadly) a Milone goes up, if the right piece can be gotten. Or an offseason trade of SP for needs. Or a replenishing trade for the farm.

    A beautiful understanding by the home town GM, which is nice as an A’s fan (we all have teams with GMs who would have played it dangerously by putting too much faith in those SPs that helped carry the A’s before that trade. So nice that Beane saw that, despite how it looked to non-A’s fans that SP is “the last thing they need.” No, it was flimsy, at least it most likely was as we’ll never know now (but again, how can you risk all that this season when the shot for the ring it there. And it’s not like Beane can’t figure out how to reload when the year to comes anyway.)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul M says:

      Billy Beane was interviewed by Jim Bowden– it’s on ESPN.com. he says the following “It is presumptuous to think this was about the postseason… the Angels (and Mariners) are really good. We want to win the division and avoid the 1 game playoff– particularly since that game might be against Felix Hernandez.”

      from the horse’s mouth…..

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul M says:

        He also said he wasn’t necessarily done, and that if one more pitcher had gone down, he wasn’t sure the team could survive that… I.E, Kazmir and Gray injury risk….

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Paul M says:

          And King Felix owns the A’s– witness last night as the M’s held him back a day, essentially surrendering the game before with 6 relief pitchers throwing, and they won 3-2 despite 8 pretty strong innings by Shark. Angels beat hapless Rangers again, and the A’s lead is only 2.5– but this was all about the postseason, right??

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. gc says:

    If Hammel beats out Chavez for #4 and no one else gets hurt, I expect Chavez would be a good swingman/long reliever if someone gets lit up early and Milone gets left off the postseason roster entirely.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. jdbolick says:

    I mentioned in a previous column on this that Hammel’s strikeout rate is probably attributable to throwing his slider ~10% more often than in any previous season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. JD says:

    As a Rangers fan…the way this season is going…I’m already like “GO OAKLAND”!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Swfcdan says:

    “The Trade”?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *