Oakland Finishes Outfield With Seth Smith

It seemed like only a matter of time until Seth Smith was shipped out of Colorado. The Rockies have depth in the outfield and the demand for a player of Smith’s caliber was there. A suitor finally stepped forward Monday, as the Oakland Athletics acquired Smith in exchange for starting pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman.

The acquisition is just another in a makeover offseason for the A’s. Billy Beane spent much of December and early January bringing in a bevy of young starting pitchers to fill the starting rotation between Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Jarrod Parker. Monday, Beane shifted his attention back towards the outfield, and by trading a couple of surplus pieces, he landed the final piece of what could be a surprisingly good outfield corps in 2012.

In Colorado, Smith was largely limited to a platoon role, but it was one he filled quite well. In three seasons and change, he managed a .275/.348/.485. Even with the lift provided by Coors Field, Smith was a clearly above-average hitter, sporting a 113 wRC+. Although his fantasy numbers will certainly take a hit on the move from Colorado to pitcher-friendly Oakland, the characteristics that made him an above-average hitter — good (not great) power and slightly above-average contact and walk rates — shouldn’t disappear.

The bigger question will be how Smith handles everyday at-bats should the Athletics commit to him in a full-time role in left field. The Rockeis were careful to limit his exposure to left-handed pitching — of his 1449 career plate appearances, 1209 (83.4%) have come against right-handers, as opposed to the league average of 70.4%. Smith’s splits show this was done for good reason — in his 240 plate appearances against righties, Smith only owns a .202/.269/.319 line. Although the split is likely exaggerated due to sample size, the split is so huge — 115 points of wOBA — it isn’t difficult to envision Smith struggling mightily against right-handers in an expanded role.

Perhaps this explains why the asking prices never quite matched up with teams like the Braves, Rays, or Reds. The Rockies may have been asking for value equivalent to a full-time starting left fielder, whereas these teams — all playoff contenders — were all unwilling to part with said value in exchange for a big question mark in nearly one-third of his plate appearances as a starter.

As the market collapsed, the Athletics were able to pounce, giving up two surplus starters with shiny ERAs and little else. For a minimal cost, the Athletics picked up a good platoon outfielder with the chance to earn a role as a starter. It’s but a small step forward in Oakland’s rebuilding process, but every little bit counts, and the A’s are in better shape now than they were this morning.



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Rob
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Rob
4 years 8 months ago

I have Smith for $6 in a 20 team keeper. I’ve looked at his road splits and their not bad, but I’m still concerned about him hitting in Oakland. I’ve got him similar to Cuddyer. Anyone got thoughts as to whether I should keep him? I’m not really sure waht to do.

rainiers
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rainiers
4 years 8 months ago

That seems like a very cheap price for a guy who’s going to get 500 at-bats. I’d definitely keep him.

Rob
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Rob
4 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the reply, that’s what I was thinking

Herbalist
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Herbalist
4 years 8 months ago

They have limited his exposure against lefties***

I dont know, two serviceable back of the rotation starters with many years of team control for an exceedingly expensive platoon outfielder? Seems like more Billy Beane funk

Matt
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Matt
4 years 8 months ago

“Serviceable” is a generous way to describe Moscoso and Outman.

Buck turgid son
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Buck turgid son
4 years 8 months ago

Barring the plague those two weren’t going to sniff oakland’s rotation going forward.

bjoak
Member
bjoak
4 years 8 months ago

They suck. If anything, it’s addition by subtraction that the A’s won’t feel pressured to play Moscoso after he caught electrical discharge in a decanter last year.

Peter
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Peter
4 years 8 months ago

“Smith’s splits show this was done for good reason — in his 240 plate appearances against righties, Smith only owns a .202/.269/.319 line. Although the split is likely exaggerated due to sample size, the split is so huge — 115 points of wOBA — it isn’t difficult to envision Smith struggling mightily against right-handers in an expanded role.”

He struggles against lefties, not righties.

wahooo
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wahooo
4 years 8 months ago

If you watched him much against LHP’s, you would know that Smith’s splits aren’t that exaggerated by sample size. He looks awful against lefties.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 8 months ago

Wow, Moneyball 2.0 (or whatever version we’re watching) just isn;t all that exciting without the jackpot drafting.

It would be VERY interesting to see how Oakland’s drafts have compared pre-2002 to post-2002. I picked those dates because 2002 is the draft where Beane declared they were going to use his “performance-based” (rather than tools-based) methods, explaining “We can’t do any worse than we did before”. I’ve never understood that comment, given that the way they did it before had to be one of the most successful runs of drafting around.

I’m not being a turd or anything, just that when re-reading the book this summer, that quote nearly floored me.

cable fixer
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cable fixer
4 years 8 months ago

i don’t think the drafts have been the problem in oakland of late. there is always talent in the organization–as recently as last january, a non-trivial number of experts had them as a division contender.

the problem IMO has been talent evaluation, especially in trades. beane seems to be losing a lot more than he’s winning recently. on that note, there was a terrific rany jazayerli piece in december about the cahill for parker deal.

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
4 years 8 months ago

How many position players that were, say, top ten overall in MLB at their position in any single season has the Oakland organization developed over the past ten years? The answer has to be pretty close to zero. So I’d say the drafting and developing of players has been a huge problem for Oakland over the past decade. I will say that Billy Beane has mastered the trick of flipping a starting pitcher coming off of a good season or two for a starting pitcher who is 3-4 years younger and who turns out to be just as good. That seems to be about the only thing that he does right these days.

T-Baggy
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T-Baggy
4 years 8 months ago

The problem is absolutely the drafting. We know about the money issue re: signing decent free agents. Hence, the team (until they move) needs to draft well to have a chance – see the successful teams of the early 2000s. The A’s havent had a decent position player in many years except for Jemile Weeks.

john
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john
4 years 8 months ago

The problem in Oakland is because Lewis wrote that book. You no longer have a unique advantage when everyone else is now doing what you did before.

Baltar
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Baltar
4 years 8 months ago

Good point, John.
Perhaps Beane has some consistency in his moves of the last few years, but I certainly can’t see what it is.
They appear to be almost random.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 8 months ago

I don’t see this helping their playoff chances all that much.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
4 years 8 months ago

lol

jim
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jim
4 years 8 months ago

gee, jack moore takes an uneducated and blind dump on a (now former) rockie? what a shocker

Fiery Furnaces
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Fiery Furnaces
4 years 8 months ago

Well, I think I’d rather have Smith hit for me than DeJesus any day a lefty isn’t pitching. But yes, Smith gives up some defense to DDJ.

Vision
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Vision
4 years 8 months ago

Where did he take a dump on Smith? Sounded like he praised him to me.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 8 months ago

Smith for Jason Bay?

bstar
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bstar
4 years 8 months ago

Bay’s untradable. He’s still having concussion issues.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 8 months ago

Yes. Also known as “permanently and completely forgotten how to play the game of baseball” issues.

Spike
Guest
Spike
4 years 8 months ago

according to whom?

Spike
Guest
Spike
4 years 8 months ago

don’t be surprised of Bay has a good comeback year. He had a monster September. And with the fences coming in at Citifield he should resemble the Jason Bay we used to know.

Phil D.
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Phil D.
4 years 8 months ago

I’m sorry, but I have to strongly disagree with every piece of this analysis. First, every sort of piece like this ought to begin with a projection for the players involved. Getting into details like platoon advantages and park effects is fine, but you need to lay all the cards on the table first.

Looking at Bill James, Oliver and RotoChamp, here is what I get for an average of projected WAR for 2012 for the three players involved:

Moscoso: 1.8 WAR (~180 IP)
Outman: 0.6 WAR (~130 IP)
Smith: 1.5 WAR (500 PA, +5 offense, -3 defense/running, -7 position, +20 replacement)

I don’t see how you can reach a conclusion that the A’s got the better of the deal, particularly when you consider the pitchers have less service time and will cost less. This is Moscoso’s second year and Outman’s third, so neither is arb-eligible. Smith will earn $2.415MM next year.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 8 months ago

Doesn’t it make more sense to project the entire length of the team’s control, rather than just one season, though, if you’re going to go there?

suicide squeeze
Member
Member
suicide squeeze
4 years 8 months ago

You’d also have to take into account the team’s comparative advantages. Oakland has clearly been better at developing pitching than positional players, so it makes sense for them to give up surplus pitching value to get positional talent.

Also, Moscoso’s 1.8 WAR projection seems generous. He’s a flyball pitcher who had a low HR/FB last year. I think he gives up a lot of homers in COL next year.

GrittleTeeth
Guest
GrittleTeeth
4 years 8 months ago

You make a fair point, Phil D., but you’re looking at the trade out of context. Moscoso and Outman aren’t going to be mainstays in the Oakland rotation and have basically become superfluous pieces due to all the young arms the A’s just acquired. Conversely, the A’s need all the offensive help they can get.

Phil D.
Guest
Phil D.
4 years 8 months ago

Isn’t the same true of Seth Smith? Given that the A’s already have Cowgill, Crisp, Reddick, Taylor and Michael Choice in the fold, there’s no gaping hole for Smith to fill, short-term or long-term.

And given the attrition rate of pitchers, including some of the A’s pitchers (Colon, Anderson, Braden), it pays to have more than 5 capable starters. I’d also wager that Moscoso projects roughly as well as Peacock, Milone and Parker over the next 4 years.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
4 years 8 months ago

Looking at Moscoso, he seems to be the perfect trade candidate — his ERA was almost 100 points lower than his FIP which was nearly 100 lower than his xFIP — but I’m also not at all impressed by Smith. As a Dodger fan, lefty with large platoon splits and a little power who’s a slightly above average hitter at a terrible position sounds very familiar… and not in a good way.

Hmm
Guest
Hmm
4 years 8 months ago

Ethier?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
4 years 8 months ago

Loney. Ethier more than a slightly above average hitter, with a career wRC+ of 122 and two seasons where he topped 130. He’s been worth between 2.0-3.5 WAR over his whole career. Loney’s career wRC+ of 107 is closer to Smith’s 113. Looking at it another way, Smith has about the same WAR per PA as Ethier, both of which are much higher than Loney’s so maybe Ethier is a better comparison and I’m underestimating the difference in value between first base and left field.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 8 months ago

‘Outman’: Still the best pitcher name since “Strikefucker.”

Spike
Guest
Spike
4 years 8 months ago

LOL

Cuban X Senators
Guest
Cuban X Senators
4 years 8 months ago

Apparently an editor’s not reading as this error’s been noted in the comments already: “in his 240 plate appearances against righties, Smith only owns a .202/.269/.319 line.”

And that error sure plays upon the sloppy ambiguity of this sentence: “The Rockies were careful to limit his exposure to left-handed pitching.”

IvanGrushenko
Guest
IvanGrushenko
4 years 8 months ago

I guess Cowgill isn’t a starter anymore….or do they platoon him with Smith? Reddick? It seems like Allen, Carter, Barton and Kila will have to fight it out for 2 positions rather than 3 now, which may be just fine.

rbt
Guest
rbt
4 years 8 months ago

I don’t get this trade for either side. The A’s already had Reddick, Crisp, Taylor, and Cowgill for the outfield. Why acquire Smith? Let the kids play if you’re ostensibly selling off everybody and building for the future. As for Outman and Moscoso, two pitch-to-contact fly ball pitchers who are not likely to thrive in Coors. Very strange for both sides.

psychump
Guest
psychump
4 years 8 months ago

Go Rockeis!!

bjoak
Member
bjoak
4 years 8 months ago

I have to say that maybe the reason Seth Smith couldn’t hit lefties was that he never got to hit lefties. It isn’t that 240 plate appearances is a small sample as much as that the sample happened over 5 years! It makes sense that he wasn’t prepared when he got the rare opportunity.

shthar
Guest
shthar
4 years 8 months ago

How can you get rid of a pitcher named, OUTMAN!

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