The A's surprisingly effective starter serves as a lesson in the right way to handle a pitching prospect.
If I had predicted that Chad Gaudin would find himself as the A's No. 3 starter, #24 among American League pitchers in Value Over Replacement Player with a week left in June, I would have been called crazy. Yet that is just where Gaudin improbably finds himself the year after he was a reliever with more walks than strikeouts for these same Oakland Athletics. How has Gaudin found success so far, and is it something that will last for a team struggling to hold on in the American League West?
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It's an in-house disagreement between the analysts and PECOTA--who got it right?
Bobby Crosby had some big shoes to fill when he was first brought up to the Athletics to take over at shortstop. Miguel Tejada-the Most Valuable Player award winner and a productive player for Oakland over the years-had jumped ship to sign with Baltimore, and Crosby was given the job of replacing him after a breakout year in Triple-A. Despite some initial promise, Crosby has yet to really put it together, and is worse off than ever during the current season. What went wrong with Crosby, or was there never really anything going right in the first place?
In four seasons as manager of the Oakland Athletics, Ken Macha led the low-budget A's to a pair of Western Division titles and two second-place finishes. His teams posted a winning percentage of .568, but in the eyes of general manager Billy Beane, it wasn't enough. Citing a "disconnect" between the manager and his players, Beane unceremoniously fired Macha after the 2006 season. Looking to recharge his batteries, Macha is currently working as a pre- and postgame studio analyst for the New England Sports Network (NESN), the Red Sox television network.
The highest high-profile free agent pitcher left on the market may have an arm that's older than his 29 years would suggest.
Barry Zito was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 1999 out of the University of Southern California at age 21. That season in college, Zito had 154 strikeouts in 113.2 innings, and earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honors. He was previously drafted by the Mariners in 1996 and then the Rangers in 1998, but declined to sign with either, as I'm sure both clubs have tried to forget every time Zito has taken the hill against them in one AL West stretch drive after another.
Zito would start his professional career at High-A Visalia, but found himself in Triple-A Sacramento before year's end:
Even Alexis Gomez came from somewhere (Kansas City). Kevin tells us how the Tigers and A's acquired the rest of their postseason difference-makers.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
The A's are trying to convert a little-known minor leaguer into a Chad Bradford-style submariner.
In 2005, he led the Oakland organization in pitching strikeouts. This year he had the second-best ERA in the Texas League. If anything, however, Athletics righthander Brad Ziegler is a realist.
"I'm just a generic overhand righty," he jokes. But the A's see something in the minor league veteran who turns 27 years old next month, and Ziegler has come around to the idea as well. Oakland still remembers how valuable Chad Bradford was in the A's bullpen for four years; while other teams stay away from unconventional pitchers like the plague, and while many minor leaguers are preparing for the offseason or winter ball, Ziegler is back in the instructional leagues, working on a submarine delivery.
Between Curt Flood and Andy Messersmith, a key case moved baseball closer to the end of the reserve clause era.
In the winter of 1974, however, a different set of circumstances set one pitcher free on the open market. Jim "Catfish" Hunter's freedom was the product of a unique scenario.
On February 11, 1974, Hunter signed a standard MLB player contract that stipulated a two-year agreement with the Oakland Athletics. While negotiating the contract, Hunter requested, as an addendum, that his attorney J. Carlton Cherry seek Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approval to defer $50,000 of the annual salary. The provision called for half of Hunter's salary to be paid into an insurance company fund during the season, intended for the purchase of an annuity for his benefit following his playing career.