Springing the A’s

Add another quality arm to a bullpen chocked full of them. Russ Springer appears close to signing a one-year, 3 million dollar deal (with incentives) and joining the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics relief corps contributed roughly 5 wins, that’s more than the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Twins, and Rays bullpens and more than the Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals, Mets, Orioles, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Nationals, and Padres combined. and only have two notable members to replace – Alan Embree (4.53 FIP) and Huston Street (3.47 FIP).

Over the last three years Springer has recorded win values of -0.1, 1.1, and 0.6, or an average of ~0.5, which puts him worth just under 2.5 million. Springer could very well see an increase in leverage situations, and thus an increase in value. Springer had a 3.51 FIP last season and moving forward CHONE projects 3.97 while Marcels spits out 4.01. We’ll say a 4 FIP and 50 innings, that puts him pretty close to being worth 3 million. It’s important to remember that Springer is going to a pitchers paradise, meaning his out-by-air methods will play better, but it’s a bit hard to imagine Springer having a sub-6% homerun per flyball percentage for the third consecutive year.

Given the current personnel in the A’s pen, we can probably expect the construction to involve Joey Devine or Brad Ziegler in the 8th and 9th, Jerry Blevins as the LOOGY – although he can face righties with more success than most left-handed pitchers – and Springer pitching in the 7th. I’m curious if Billy Beane would attempt to “build a closer” using Springer, and then potentially spin him off if the Athletics were out of contention in July.

Since the Cardinals chose against offering Springer arbitration, this move won’t signal the loss of a draft pick, leaving the Athletics in position to add Orlando Cabrera if they so choose. Such an addition would leave the Athletics creeping even closer into contention for the American League West.

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10 Responses to “Springing the A’s”

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  1. Paul Thomas says:

    Serious question: has it been demonstrated that elite relief pitchers can limit HR/FB consistently?

    Not that I’m arguing Springer is “elite,” he probably isn’t. Just curious.

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  2. Danny says:

    If you’re judging Springer by his projections, why would you be looking at projected FIP instead of projected ERA?

    And, to echo Paul, what of Springer’s fondness of inducing a ton of infield flies and not allowing many HRs despite being a flyball pitcher? Is that a repeatable skill?

    At the very least, shouldn’t it help that he’s going to a park where outfield flies become HRs at a lower than average pace, and where a big foul area allows more infield flies to be caught?

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    • FIP is more of an indication of true talent, rather than being heavily influenced by outside factors.

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      • Danny says:

        Last year’s FIP, sure. But these forecasting systems are well aware of the reasoning behind FIP, and they use that reasoning in their projections. If you’re wondering how many runs a pitcher will allow, and you turn to a projection to answer your query, you should be looking at the projection for ERA/RA.

        Thankfully, the better forecasting systems aren’t stuck on DIPS 1.0, so I’m not sure why Fangraphs is.

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  3. Tom Au says:

    “The Cardinals chose against offering Springer arbitration,” which means that they don’t gain, and the A’s don’t lose, a valuable draft pick. That may be the deciding factor in Springer’s value to them. But the A’s (mostly) keep their draft picks, which is why they are the A’s.

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  4. Jason T says:

    If you’re wondering how many runs a pitcher will allow, and you turn to a projection to answer your query, you should be looking at the projection for ERA/RA.

    Why? I suppose if you’re setting up for your fantasy baseball draft, yes. But teams should be more concerned with the true talent/performace of the pitcher, not the guys behind him.

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    • Danny says:

      None of those projections are directly considering team defense. The difference between the ERA and FIP projections are not due to the defense behind them.

      Springer’s projected to have a better ERA than FIP in every system I’ve seen because he 1) has a low BABIP due to being a FB who also induces pop flies at a high rate, and 2) allows few extra base hits–unlike most FB pitchers.

      The whole point of a projecting a pitcher is to predict how effective he’ll be at preventing runs from scoring relative to other pitchers, not guessing what his FIP will be. When forecasters compare their system to others, there’s a reason they use the accuracy of their ERA projections as the measure.

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  5. WY says:

    Those win values don’t pass the smell test. He had an exceptional ability to come in during tight situations with runners on and record strikeouts or otherwise get the team out of the inning unscathed. I know that’s not factored into the win value formula, and some might argue that this doesn’t represent a repeatable skill, but the discrepancy does point to some fishiness in terms of how win values are calculated for relievers. And it’s not the first example I’ve seen on here.

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