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July 29, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Kottaras to Oakland

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired C-L George Kottaras from the Brewers for RHP Fautino De Los Santos. [7/29]

The Athletics are making a second-half run, and Billy Beane just acquired a player who majored in on-base percentage and minored in isolated power. No, it isn’t 2002, though the addition of Kottaras does feel ripped from the pages of Moneyball. Kottaras is a 29-year-old with a .409 on-base percentage this season and three organizations in his rearview mirror, due in part to his inability to hit for average or field his position well. Kottaras is an undervalued asset in a world ruled by irrationality—that is to say, he’s Canadian-born.

Kottaras owns one of the weirdest lines in the league (.209/.409/.360), borne from more walks than strikeouts and nearly as many extra-base hits as singles. He tightrope-walks the line between passiveness and patience but keeps pitchers honest with his pull power. Whatever concerns there are about Kottaras’ walk rate being a result of his batting eighth are baseless; his walk rate from the eighth spot (14 percent) is lower than his walk rate from elsewhere (16 percent) in a comparable number of plate appearances since 2010.

More valid are the concerns about Kottaras’ defense; after all, the Brewers essentially chose to shed Kottaras rather than demote defensive whiz Martin Maldonado. Kottaras is bereft of the instruments required to control the running game. Even this season, with a career-high caught stealing rate (19 percent), Kottaras finds himself well below the league average. Kottaras also struggles with left-handed pitching, making him a platoon option at best.

That fits in just fine with Oakland, who can pair him with either Kurt Suzuki or Derek Norris—both right-handed batters. According to Slusser, a Suzuki trade is not imminent, meaning Norris could be heading back to the farm.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Fautino De Los Santos from the Athletics for C-L George Kottaras. [7/29]

De Los Santos entered the spring with a chance to become Oakland’s closer. He’ll exit the summer with a new organization. De Los Santos is a live arm with command issues. His fastball is considered plus-plus and his slider is a big-league-caliber outpitch. Despite this, De Los Santos has struggled, allowing more hits in the minors than a pitcher with his stuff should. There’s enough here to think he can be a useful reliever in the majors, though. It might just take longer than originally thought.


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

Related Content:  George Kottaras

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