Tag Archive | "Oakland Athletics"

Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore.  Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman,  Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.  What a difference a year makes.

Jim JohnsonIf the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams.  What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”

The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production.  Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season.  For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.

Jemile WeeksAs for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point).  After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013.  Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.

But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million?  Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.

Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely.  If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form.  But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.

Jim JohnsonThe same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade.  As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.

Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.

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O’s and A’s Weekend Series is Matchup of Improbable Playoff Contenders

Posted on 24 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

Friday’s series opener between the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics marks a key matchup between two potential, yet improbable, playoff teams.

It certainly was not a series anyone expected to be exciting in late July, but here we are staring a key playoff matchup between Baltimore and Oakland in the face in just three days. Sure, they may not be the two most exciting teams in the entire world. Despite the shortcomings of both, they provide and interesting boost to the baseball world looking for more parity.

Neither team is perfect by any sense of the word. The Orioles rank 20th or lower in every offensive category with the exception of slugging percentage, where they rank 17th. Miraculously those numbers are still better than the A’s, who rank 25th or worse in absolutely every offensive category.

Now maybe the Orioles are not one of the best pitching team’s in the league, as they are rank 17th or lower in all categories there too, the A’s are in the top-five in every major statistical category other than quality starts. With so many good arms in the A’s organization, it is clear the O’s are going to have to do what they do best, hit home runs, as there aren’t going to be many sustained rallies.

It has been a long road back to relevance for both fan bases. Most A’s fans would have to go back to 2006 for the last time they really challenged for anything and Baltimore fans, well they have to go a lot further back. As they stand today though, Baltimore is a half-game behind the A’s for the final Wild Card spot and while Friday will not determine who will it, there should be some fierce competition.

What the series could determine most importantly, is what each team does at the trade deadline in seven days. Both teams seem to perceive they can compete for a postseason birth. A series win or loss though could go on to determine whether or not the owners and general managers of both organizations feel as if selling or buying is a worthwhile cause at this point. Like it or not, both teams are deeply flawed and all of those flaws cannot be rectified with one trade, but fixing just one or two of them at the deadline could be enough for them to make it to the postseason.

Baltimore is leading the league in one-run wins and has a negative run differential and the A’s can’t hit their way out of a paper-bag. Yet here they are as two of the three teams atop the race for the two Wild Card spots and baseball fans should love it. Both team’s are great stories, organizations who have come up short in just about every way the last decade, but appear to be back to the cusp now. Baseball fans and the baseball world should reveal in this weekends series no matter who wins, it is good for baseball, good for competitive spirit and it should be just good plain fun.

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