MLB Market Movers
|| May 17
|| Jeremy Accardo
Investors jumped on the Accardo train--did you ever think you'd read that?--following his promotion from setup man to the not-so-elite fraternity of closers, and it's paying dividends. He's converted his first four save opportunities in a row, not allowing a run in the process, while pitching 22 shutout frames to begin the season. While GM J.P. Ricciardi has to be pleased that such a viable option was available in-house--and only cost them the rotting corpse of Shea Hillenbrand last summer--one can only imagine the exec's overall frustration, given what they're paying B.J. Ryan to rehab now. Is there a lesson here about not paying market value for a closer? Nah, couldn't be.
|| Dan Johnson
The prodigal son returns after exile and injury. Two years ago, Johnson joined the A's after tearing apart the PCL, and raked to the tune of .275/.355/.451 in 434 PAs. Entering 2006, Johnson seemed firmly entrenched as the starting first basemen, but that was before a horrific slump got him shipped back to Sacramento. With the team reeling from more injuries than Antonio Alfonseca has fingers, Johnson has stepped back into a starting role, and given the A's a .323/.440/.548 line as a reward for their confidence. Johnson isn't this good, but it should be equally obvious that he's nowhere as bad as last year either.
|| Byung-Hyun Kim
It seems so long ago that Kim was a fearsome closer, but I guess that's what a couple of seasons in Denver will do to your reputation. Acquired by the Marlins a couple of weeks ago for the latest failed Jorge Julio experiment, Protrade investors are keen on BK's prospects as a Florida starter, but one can only imagine how much value he'd generate (both real and imagined) as an end-of-game shutdown artist. After all, his stuff is still there, if only in flashes, and if there was any candidate to move back to the pen based on his game-progression stats, it would be Kim: opposing batters hit .219/.318/.344 against him the first time through the order, but .309/.379/.499 the third.
Cust isn't as good as his blistering start might suggest (.273/.467/.764), but he can hit the baseball, which he's long since proved time and time again throughout his long minor league career. If nothing else, it's nice to see him succeed because, along with Dan Johnson, the A's are now utilizing their best on-the-cheap TTO combination since John Jaha and Matt Stairs in the late 1990s.
|| Sammy Sosa
No, this isn't the Antiques Roadshow, but shares of this relic have soared as of late. He still has the patented Slammin' Sammy power, as evidenced by his 10 homers, but there's little else going on with the former Cub and Oriole, as he's only reaching base about 32% of the time. Yes, there are worse options for your lineup than an outfielder who can slug .526 (plus .655 on the road), but one wonders if Sosa's lunge for 600 home runs isn't just a whole lot of sound and fury signifying next to nothing for his Hall of Fame chances. After all, the type of BBWAA member who's not going to vote for him now certainly won't be swayed by a pretty little '6' at the front of Sosa's career long-ball total, would he?
|| Carlos Pena
It's 2002 on the horn, and it says, "Told ya so!" Actually, that's incorrect. After all, while Pena underwhelmed some of the high expectations that prospect mavens had for him at the beginning of the decade, his career line of .247/.333/.467 is hardly without its uses. Now that he's hitting for average in Tampa Bay, fans are a lot more likely to appreciate what he brings to the table than before, which is nice to see, frankly. At 29, he's no spring chicken, but when a relatively mobile first baseman with a demonstrated ability to pop the ball out of the park who's still under 30 is the elder statesman of your infield, you could be a lot worse off.
|| Alex Gordon
I know that sending Gordon down to Triple-A might do a number on his confidence, but I'm beginning to wonder if that's not the only option they have left. After all, it's not like his batting average is the only problem: through seven full weeks, he's accumulated just 10 extra-base hits, and he's still striking out three times as often as he walks. Southwest of Kansas City, Kevin Kouzmanoff seems to have righted himself despite an equally ugly start to his 2007, so I don't think you can posit that it's a mystical third base thing. No, there legimately seems to be something wrong with Gordon's approach, and it's not going to fix itself.
|| Kip Wells
There's no way around it, Wells has been bad this season. Really, really bad. His peripheral stats are in line with his career averages, but he's had difficult getting outs with runners on base. With men on, opponents are batting .287/.396/.609 against him, and with RISP they're batting .268/.395/.554. I haven't see him throw often enough to know if this is a matter of luck or a new issue he's having with pitching from the stretch. Either way, he needs to right himself soon, lest he be kicked to the curb like Jeff Weaver.
Batting a robust .330/.390/.495 in his second season for the Braves, Renteria has managed to stay under the radar following a disappointing one-year stay in Boston and an underwhelming contract year in St. Louis. His current BABIP of .366 is very high, even when compared to his already above-average career mark of .323, but on some level I think that just shows us that his speed hasn't left him quite yet. A slight regression is in the cards, but he possesses a sufficiently well-rounded skill set that I think it's unlikely fate will smite him down like he's Freddy Sanchez or something.
At what point do you just say "fuhgeddaboudit" to Kendall's contract and let Kurt Suzuki have his shot? The former Pirate catcher has aged about as well as a bowl of cottage cheese left out in the Las Vegas sun. Sure, his insanely low BABIP of .219 is a sign that fortune isn't exactly smiling on him, but when you're only generating one extra-base hit per month, you're not exactly doing yourself any favors, either. When you get right down to it, I'm sure that explains Kendall's career-low walk percentage of 3.7 as well, which is nearly half his career rate. After all, if you were a pitcher, what exactly would be keeping you from going right at him on every single pitch?