Jake Fox to the A’s

As a Chicago Cub, Jake Fox was a swing-from-the-heels slugger without a defensive home.

The 6-0, 210 pound Fox roamed around the diamond in the minors, logging time at catcher, first base, the outfield corners and third base.

But the Cubs are set at the infield corners with Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. Alfonso Soriano, he of bum wheels and -0.7 WAR in 2009 (only five years and $90M left on that contract!), will patrol left field. Kosuke Fukudome could shift back to right field in 2010 if Chicago adds a center fielder. And, Fox hasn’t really been taken seriously as a backstop.

As such, a trade to the A.L. seemed likely. Yesterday, Fox was indeed shipped to the Junior Circuit. The Oakland A’s acquired the 27 year-old righty batter and IF Aaron Miles for RHPs Jeff Gray and Ronny Morla and OF Matt Spencer.

Fox famously went all Babe Ruth on the Pacific Coast League in 2009, blasting 17 HR and posting a .409/.495/.841 line in 194 PA. The University of Michigan product holds a career .293/.357/.528 triple-slash in the minors, with a .235 ISO. Fox has mostly hacked and asked questions later, walking in 6.9% of his plate appearances.

With the Cubs in desperate need of some offensive thump, Fox logged 241 PA in the big leagues while shuffling between third base, the outfield corners, and first base (he logged a few innings at catcher, too). He compiled a .259/.311/.468 line, popping 11 homers with a .208 ISO.

Fox remained ultra-aggressive, chasing 37.7% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone (25% MLB average). He also took a cut at 77.8% of in-zone offerings, compared to the 66% major league average. His 56.7% swing rate ranked in the top 10 in the majors among batters with 240+ PA. Fox walked in just 6.1% of his PA.

It’s not a good idea to put too much stock in less than half a season’s worth of pitch data, but Fox was greeted with plenty of off-speed stuff in 2009. Big league pitchers tossed him a fastball just 44.5% of the time, the lowest percentage among hitters with 240+ PA. Chicago’s 3rd round pick in the ’03 draft hammered heaters (+0.51 runs/100), while posting negative run values vs. curves, sliders and changeups.

Now in Oakland, Fox could figure into the competition for AB’s at DH and third base. Jack Cust, coming off of a .342 wOBA season, is a possible trade/non-tender candidate. Fox’s qualifications at third are suspect. But with Eric Chavez and Dallas McPherson his primary competition (assuming Brett Wallace opens the year in the minors), Fox could hold an advantage by simply being ambulatory.

For 2010, Bill James projects a whopping .284/.339/.546 line for Fox in limited playing time. That strikes me as wildly optimistic. CHONE’s forecast appears much more reasonable, with a projected .257/.316/.452 performance. Fox’s power and newfound opportunity in Oakland make him a more appealing fantasy target. Just don’t get too giddy over a couple dominant months in the cornfields of Iowa.

Print This Post

A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

10 Responses to “Jake Fox to the A’s”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Tim says:

    Question I have been asking, could the Cubs possibly have gotten more for Jake Fox? I am a White Sox fan, got to see a lot of Fox this season, seemed like they could have gotten a little better.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • odbsol says:

      Probably but because of Fox’s lack of defensive skills and an everyday place to play, he projects out better in the AL as a DH for which the market is limited. Questionable trade but Hendry might have maxed out what he could get in trade anyway. The bullpen was/is a major weakness for the Cubs so I get that they need to add some new faces to the mix. I’m not sure what their opening day roster is going to look like but I can almost guarantee right now that you can add another year to the longest WS drought.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. DW0304 says:

    I’m not expecting him to play much 3B. I’m thinking either 1B or LF.
    Just a hunch.

    Thanks for the info on what he’s swinging at :-)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Paul says:

    Pointless deal unless they at least try him at 3B. Btw, if you look at his career splits he handled lefties better, but had a bizarre reverse split last season in both AAA and MLB. This along with an increase in BB% even though it is still low. Perhaps he has made some pretty major adjustments? I think Beane is looking at this as a buy low opportunity on a potential breakout, especially at a position of need for them, which is what Bill James is also apparently seeing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. More in the name link, but…

    Sadly, the Cubs just traded the cost-controlled slugging 1B, who could have replaced Derrek Lee’s $13 million salary after this season, in addition to that piece of shit Aaron Miles and $1 million cash for A’s reliever Jeff Gray and two random prospects. On the plus side, Gray does not walk batters, making him a welcome addition to the Cubs walk-happy bullpen. On the downside, however, Jake Fox had more value to the Cubs than a cost-controlled reliever.

    And vincente padilla? why are the cubs trying to sign him??

    Scouting report for the cubs:
    * RP Jeff Gray, the centerpiece of the deal, has superb control and efficiency, but average strikeout potential. Gray seems to have a lot of potential as a reliever and has 31 IP of major league experience.
    * OF Matt Spencer has a high power ceiling and average power, but below average plate discipline and a high tendency to strike out. Spencer spent most of 2009 playing AA ball.
    * SP Ronny Morla has good stuff and high strikeout potential with above average control, but he is somewhat hittable (barley below average efficiency rating). Morla has not even played above A ball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • odbsol says:

      Ditto on the Aaron Miles comment. His 2008 numbers were fairly respectable including high OBP but he apparently left his game in StL. Hopefully this will open up a roster spot for some homegrown talent.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JoeyO says:

      Couldnt disagree more on Fox.

      It took pitchers about 40 PA to figure out the holes in Fox’s game that season. .230/.293/.421 his final 200 PA. The OBP even enhanced by a IBB and freakishly high 4 HBP. And at 27 years old, this is his peak.

      Career 4A guy who was out of options and cant field any position. Trading him was the right thing to do for the Cubs. Keeping him on staff would have meant the team was forced into a year long bench of Hill/Fontenot/Blanco/Fuld/Fox as all but Fuld (the one guy who can field the OF) would have been out of options. When your starting outfielders are Soriano (cant stay healthy), Fukudome (cant hit Lefties) and Byrd (4th OF being given the starting CF job) you cant have a no-OBP, no-fielding, no-braking-pitch-hitting hole on the bench like that.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Chris (somewhere in the cornfields of Iowa) says:

    Good article David. It’s nice of you to say that Fox’s qualifications at third are “suspect”. I’m not sure if I would have been nice enough to say “suspect”.

    But I have one small correction, the I-Cubs are in the hitter-friendly PCL not the IL. He should be a good, cheap replacement for Cust though.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. David Golebiewski says:

    Whoops! Thanks for pointing that out, Chris.

    Vote -1 Vote +1