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June 29, 1998

The Bip Menace

A closer look at a very bad deal

by Gary Huckabay

Oakland Athletics: Acquired OF Bip Roberts from the Detroit Tigers for a PTBNL.

I have a great deal of respect for Billy Beane. He's a competent, confident young executive who has an idea of his goals for the A's, and he's got a plan attain those goals. But everybody has a bad day. To say that Bip Roberts is completely worthless is unfair -- to those that are, in fact, completely worthless. Roberts is a 34 year old bad corner OF who, if necessary, is capable of standing around at a number of positions.

The worst thing about the Roberts signing is not actually having to watch Bip play ball -- it's the message it sends to players like Mark Bellhorn, who now appears doomed, along with Ralph Milliard, Roberto Petagine, and the rest of the Ken Phelps All-Stars before them, to spend an eternity toiling for the Irkutsk IceKats, trapped behind inferior players.

If Roberts gets any PAs in Oakland, it'll be at the expense of people who could actually use the development time and/or perform well. If you're Art Howe and dancing to keep your job, this sort of move has to give you some sort of anaphylaxis. It's not time to keep stalling with tepid meatsacks like Roberts; it's time to build. Call up Eric Chavez, stop starting Raffy Bournigal, and work the phones to get Jason Giambi and Mike Blowers out of town. If Roberts has two career months and hits .330/.420/.500, who cares? More likely, he'll hit like a flaccid Willie McGee, field indifferently, and soak up some money.

What a simply dreadful maneuver, even if the PTBNL turns out to be Dave Revering.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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