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Open (pre) Game Thread: Game 147 - A's vs. Rangers


Texas Rangers @ Oakland Athletics

09/12/08 7:05 PM PDT

Texas Rangers Oakland Athletics
Joaquin Arias - 2B Rajai Davis - CF
Michael Young - SS Aaron Cunningham - LF
Josh Hamilton - CF Emil Brown - RF
Marlon Byrd - LF Jack Cust - DH
Nelson Cruz - RF Kurt Suzuki - C
Hank Blalock - 1B Bobby Crosby - SS
Gerald Laird - C Jack Hannahan - 3B
Chris Davis - 3B Jeff Baisley - 1B
Taylor Teagarden - DH Cliff Pennington - 2B

This thread will serve as a discussion board for today and then become the game thread once the action starts tonight.

The A's face the Rangers in game two of a four game series tonight at 7:05 p.m. Greg Smith (7-14, 4.05 ERA) faces the Rangers' Matt Harrison (7-3, 5.76 ERA).

Tonight's starters provide an interesting glimpse at the limitations of evaluating Win-Loss stats for pitchers:

Among qualifiers, Smith is 22nd out of 41in the AL in ERA, 27th in WHIP, and 8th in Batting Average Against (.242)...yet he's tied for 2nd in losses with 14.

Harrison, if he qualified, would be in the bottom four in the entire AL in WHIP, ERA, and BAA...yet he's 7-3 in his 12 starts.

One of Harrison's wins came in Oakland on July 26th, his fourth start as a big leaguer. The 23-year-old allowed only one earned run in five innings of work in a 9-4 Rangers victory. His other 11 starts haven't been nearly as successful, as evidenced by his 1.58 WHIP and 29-24 K-BB ratio.

A few conversation topics for this morning:

*The A's are in their final homestand of the season. This is your second-to-last weekend to catch them; the team's final home date is Sunday the 21st against Seattle. Will you go to see them one last time in '09?

*The A's may finish the season with the second-worst home attendance in all of baseball, ahead of only the woeful Marlins, who drew only 300 fans for a day game last week. If you clicked on the attendance link, you'll notice the A's are 27th, but that figure is inflated by the "home" games in Japan at the beginning of the year. Excluding Japan, the A's average attendance is 20,001 per game in '08. That's down 3,700 per game from '07, and might make the team wary of significantly raising payroll back up to the $60-75MM range. I think we'll see a sub-$45MM team on the field next year, which still allows for a low-profile FA signing or two.

*Mark Ellis is not the only Athletic that might net a compensatory pick in the '09 ML Draft. Did you know that Alan Embree is on track to earn Type B compensation status this offseason? This means that if the team 1) declines his 3MM option for '09, 2) offers him arbitration, and 3) he declines and signs with another team; the A's would receive a compensatory "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds. This is actually an extremely likely scenario, for a few reasons: The A's have a deep enough bullpen to make Embree expendable, and the draft-pick scenario is attractive, and also, Embree's pitched at least well enough to be useful to another team, and he won't cost the team he signs with a draft pick, since he's not a Type A free agent. This also helps explain why the A's pulled Embree back when the Twins claimed him on waivers earlier this season.

So, yes, Mark Ellis and Alan Embree have the same compensation value(!), and could potentially net the A's a pair of draft picks right around slot #40-50 overall, approximately. Ellis and Embree's "equal" value is quite an indictment of the ridiculous compensation rankings, and an obvious indicator of how much they need to be revised in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. I wouldn't be surprised if this had been a small factor in the A's signing Embree two offseasons ago. Hell, if Embree had pitched as well this year as he did in '07 and picked up 15 more saves, he had an outside chance of being labeled a Type A and netting two high draft picks. Yet his real value doesn't come close to that of Ellis, or Suzuki, or Dioner Navarro, Carlos Quentin, Nick Swisher and Jermaine Dye (yep, you guessed it: all Type B's classifications, just like Embree).

*Embree and Ellis are the A's only two potential FAs who are in line to reach FA compensation (A or B) status (Frank Thomas, Emil Brown, and Keith Foulke will all fall signfiicantly short). However, if the A's hope to get compensation, this has 40-man roster implications.

While FAs that aren't offered arbitration (like Foulke, or Emil Brown) are removed from the 40-man roster, I think FA's that are offered arby are treated differently. If a player is offered arbitration, I think he has to remain on the 40-man roster until he declines or accepts the offer. This makes sense, because if Ellis or Embree accepted, he'd still be on the team in '09, and so they should be occupying a roster spot. But arbitration decisions don't have to made until Ellis and Embree would need to remain on the 40-man roster through the Rule 5 draft on November 21.

Edit, courtesy of jasonlbe and PT: All of the team's free agents are removed from the team's 40-man roster at season's end, but if the team hopes to receive draft-pick compensation for Embree and Ellis, the pair would need to be offered arbitration and if they accepted, would need to be added back to the 40-man roster by December 7.

That might mean 1-2 fewer slots that can be used to protect fringy prospects like Jesus Guzman, Brad Kilby, Jose Garcia, Ryan Webb, Jamie Richmond, and Donnie Murphy, all of whom and more were discussed in Paul's 40-man roster diary here. Now that Baisley's been added, if you could only protect one more Rule 5 eligible player not currently on the 40-man roster, who would it be?

*And about a poll? I know that Mark Ellis is extremely popular here, and there is still probably a chance he comes back in '09. But when you vote, I'm going to ask you to assume, as painful as this might be for you, that he will be gone, and that someone currently within the organization will be filling the starting 2b void in '09.

Who do you think that will be?