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The Trading A's: Who Do You Want Back?

The Trading A's. How have the recent trades worked out for Oakland the last few years? Did your favorite player or can't miss prospect get away? We all have favorite players, some fans even have favorite minor league players. Players flame out, get traded, or just get cast aside for new favorites. Today I look at recent players and prospects after they left the Athletics system. I also look at some recognizable trade patterns and hope to show why the Burns trade may be one of the A's best.

A.J. Cole. Future #1 starter?
A.J. Cole. Future #1 starter?
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Trading A's- Part 1

The A's have made a lot of moves the last few years and I was curious which ex-A's are doing well or started off hot this year. I looked up some former A's prospects and also some former A's players from the 2012-2013 Athletics.

For the players recently departed, 3-weeks is an extremely short amount of time to grade or judge anything. However, if you thought the ex-A's were very good or very bad to begin with, 3 weeks can help confirm your suspicions. It's been about 1/9th of a season. I have broken down this exercise in curiosity by each trade over the last few years to see if there is any recognizable trade patterns.

There does seem to be a trade pattern and it's nothing unusual for a team expected to make the playoffs. Current Playoff odds: 75%The A's want consistency right now, not questions. Not questions of youth, not questions of age. More trade patterns in part 2.

Statistics used this article: (wRC+) a players total offensive contribution with the bat. (FIP) Fielding Independent Pitching. What era the pitcher should be, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average. I also use (OPS) on base percentage (obp) + slugging percentage (slg).

Rating wRC+ OPS FIP
Excellent 150 .900 2.90
Very Good 125 .800 3.25
Above Average 110 .750 3.75
Average 100 .700 4.00
Below Average 90 .650 4.20
Poor 75 .600 4.50
Awful 50 .500

1) Jed Lowrie Trade:

  • Jed Lowrie: currently 3rd in wRC+ among qualified MLB shortstops (162). Was 2nd in SS wRC+ in 2013. The A's gave up a lot for two years of Jed. He rewarded them with a career year in 2013.
  • Chris Carter (HOU) Carter hit 29 HR in 2013 and did nothing else on the way to ( .4 WAR) in 150 games. This year he has started off worse.  2014. 0 HR. 36 wRC+ and a .461 OPS. Fan's and pundits have called for a benching, a beating and even the dreaded DFA. But one thing Carter has continued to do is hit LHP. 128 wRC+. It will probably be about three more weeks, but if the A's were thinking about replacing Barton, and the Astro's are done with Carter, could Carter be a platoon fit again with the A's?
  • Max Stassi (HOU)-.279/.342/.588 in 76 plate appearances in his first taste of AAA. (132 wRC+). The Astro's are high on Stassi. His defense is plus and his power has spiked since leaving the A's. Max hits RHP well, so he should be a starter. Will it be Max or Castro traded next year if Stassi proves ML ready? Max Stassi is my dark horse to end up with more WAR than anyone else the A's have traded away in the last two years. The Book on Max Stassi.
  • Brad Peacock (HOU). Brad didn't seem to make the A's miss him last year. 2013 (5.18 era /4.5 fip). But apparently Brad went back to AAA and learned a new pitch.  He pitched to a (3.64 era/3.9 fip) in the second half of 2013, respectable. Thats down from (8era/6 fip) the first half of 2013. In 2014, Peacock has a 6.14 era/4.17 fip, and has started only one game.

2) John Jaso Trade:

  • John Jaso's was a disappointment to some in a concussion filled 2013. They felt he should have trained his head to be harder. A .387 OBP in 2013 speaks to why the A's wanted John.
  • 2014. 107 wRC+ .702 OPS. Has not hurt the A's on defense just yet. The A's traded three A ball minor league pitchers away for three years of Jaso control. The Nationals did their homework.
  • A.J. Cole (WAS) 2014. 2.63 era/3 fip in AA. 2.18 era in 2013 AA. #2 Nationals Prospect. #1 starter ceiling. 22 y.o. My favorite for "the one who got away". The Book on A.J. Cole.
  • Ian Krol (DET) The 23 y.o. lefty relief pitcher has a (2.84 era/6 fip) to start his second ML season. (3.95/4.69 in 30 2013 MLB relief innings). Could still start someday.
  • Blake Treinen (WAS) Treinen started off the year as a RP in Washington. (1.35era/1.85 fip). He was sent down recently and started one AAA game ( 0 runs).

3) Jerry Blevins Trade:

Jerry Blevins- (WSH) (3.86 era/3.36 fip). The Washington Nationals will have two years of Blevins.

Billy Burns- AA Midland. Burns is what we thought he was; so far.


The Good Burn.

  • 9 SB. #1 in Texas League. #2 has 6 steals. 1 SB/1.5 games in 2013. 1SB/1.5 games in 2014. 90% success rate in 2013. 90% success rate in 2014.
  • 20% walk rate. (4th in AA Texas League, Max Muncy is #1 at 25%). Burns had a 15% walk rate in AA last year, 4th in the Eastern League).
  • .397 OBP. #9 in the Texas League. Burns is younger than five of the eight players ahead of him in OBP.

The Bad Burn.

  • 2014 .685 OPS. With his low slugging % Burns will never be high in OPS. 111 wRC+. Better than average. But average doesn't get you promoted.
  • OPS is crude because OBP has been shown to be around 1.7 times as valuable as SLG*. ( Craig Gentry, Coco Crisp and even John Jaso say Hi). wOBA does a much better job, but for just three weeks in, crude is ok for now. * wOBA explanation.

  • wOBA and wRC+ no longer take into account base-running. Burns and Gentry will be undervalued (wOBA/wRC+) or severely undervalued (OPS) by most statistics. If you add Burns base-running to his wRC+, it goes up 10-20 points. A 121-131 wRC+ isn't average at all.

  • Let me beat you over the head with it one more time: With a high on base percentage coupled with a high SB% and good defense, OPS does not matter for Burns. His wOBA/wRC+ may still be above average. Adding in his base-running skills could make him well above average .

  • The difference for Burns to succeed or fail? Probably K%. 9.2 K% in A+ in 2013. 12.3 K% in AA 2013. 20 K% in Spring training. 17.1 K% in 2014.
  • If Burns can keep his K% down, he can walk, bunt hit and infield hit his away to a respectable OBP and all the nice things that happens after that.

Blevins for Burns doesn't scream win now. But Blevins was replaced and then some rather easily by the quartet of Fernando Abad, Joe Savery, Drew Pomeranz and Eric O'Flaherty. Burns may also be helping the A's "win now" in 2014. If now means September 2014. The 2014 playoffs could also be a very good Burn as well. 14 position players, four SP, and seven RP ought to allow Burns to light the playoff fire. 

4) Brett Anderson Trade:

  • Brett Anderson (COL)- (3.60 era/4.28 fip), 15-Day D.L. Expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Because he bats. The A's gave up two expensive years ($8 and $12m) of Anderson for:
  • Drew Pomeranz- Somewhat of a surprise to make the A's because of his remaining player option, he has succeeded ( 2.16 era ) where advanced stats say he should fail ( 6.00 fip).  I really like having Pomeranz as the long man because he is an extra lefty with options. I will like it even more if he becomes an effective 5th starter when needed either this year or next.
  • Chris Jensen (AA MID)- The second piece of the Brett Anderson Trade. The 23 y.o. RH starter has done well in his first taste of AA with a (2.31 era/3.17 fip) in two starts. A low walk rate is his calling card. Scouting Report.

5) Jim Johnson Trade:

  • They can't all be green colored roses. Jim Johnson (7.0 era/4.04 fip) was traded for:
  • Jemile Weeks (BAL)-.268/.436/.416 in 41 at bats in AAA.  Steve Lombardozzi shouldn't keep Weeks down for too long. But J.J. was also traded for another player:
  • PTBNL- If its contingent on performance, the A's may have nothing to worry about.  But it's probably a 2013 draft pick; forcing the A's to wait a year to complete the trade. Lets hope Jemile is still the headline when that day comes.
  • Grant Balfour- (TB) (2/$12m). For awhile it looked like the A's and O's traded closers. Then the O's screamed bloody elbow or knee, hurting Balfour's market until signing with T.B.  2.35era/5.52 fip. Four saves. No blown saves. The A's traded in two years of a 36 y.o. closer for one year of a 31 y.o. closer. Results have not been great the first three weeks.

6) Michael Choice trade:

  • Craig Gentry 160 wRC+ and .876 OPS) in 9 games after back strain.
  • Michael Choice (TEX) ( 70 wRC+ and .636 OPS) in 24 at bats in MLB. The Book on Michael Choice. I was a really big fan of this trade not because Choice isn't good, but because Craig is the best 4th OF in the game. He fits the A's perfectly.
  • Josh Lindblom ( Despite looking decent in his one emergency Oakland start (3.86 era) Lindblom has struggled in AAA so far. ( 7.79 era/5 fip in 17 IP).
  • Chris Bostick (TEX)- (.204/.279/.296) 54 at bats in A.

In Part 2-

Is there an "age" sweet spot the A's are pursuing? Seth Smith, Chris Young, Grant Green, Kurt SuzukiTyson Ross, Cash Trades, minor trades, DFA's and more. My analysis overall on how the A's have done with trades the last few years.


*Must Reads*  Oakland Athletics Extension with Sean Doolittle is Not that Weird

Doolittle Contract Announced: 5 years/13.75 million. ( I calculate he will be a super-2). Doolittle was a 1st round supplemental pick in 2007; losing Frank Thomas gained the A's this pick.