Both Yoenis Cespedes and the A's have surpassed all expectations for 2012.
The Weekend Takeaway Yoenis Cespedes made a name for himself months before the Athletics signed him to a four-year, $36 million deal this past offseason. His workout video took care of that. But the 26-year-old rookie didn’t just want to be known—he wanted to be remembered. And, on Sunday, in the 126th game of his major-league career, Cespedes began etching his name in franchise lore.
The A’s went 4-6 on their recent 10-game road trip through Detroit, New York, and Arlington, doing just enough to avoid putting their hold on the American League’s second wild-card berth in jeopardy. They beat the Mariners in the first two games of a six-game, season-ending homestand, inching closer to a postseason spot that just months ago seemed unfathomable. But on Sunday, after the Rays had defeated the White Sox and the Angels had taken the first game of their doubleheader with the Rangers, the A’s came into the eighth inning of their series finale against Seattle in a 2-2 tie.
Earlier this year, Derek wrote about what to expect from the most-hyped foreign players. Did the players comply?
Prior to the season, I spoke with a number of scouts and talent evaluators to try to get a read on the various international imports fantasy players would have to make decisions on in their drafts. Today, I wanted to take a look back and see how well we were able to predict their performance here in the United States.
Yu Darvish | Texas Rangers | SP
Darvish was the most hyped international product to make the jump to Major League Baseball in years, and for the most part, I advised optimism in regard to his chances for success, and I even wound up drafting him on one team. As I summarized when I did my midseason check-in, my preseason Darvish sentiment boiled down to three main points: “1) He has ridiculous stuff and upside, 2) He has just average command, and 3) He has terrific makeup, which should help with the multi-faceted, often-difficult transition to MLB.”
Despite his current late-season swoon, Yoenis Cespedes has exceeded expectations and hit well in Oakland's ballpark.
It has been a while since I've thought about Yoenis Céspedes. That isn't entirely true. I think about him quite often, in a purely platonic way, but it has been a while since I've put those thoughts into words. The last time came toward the end of July, while marveling at Oakland's ability to win games at the last possible moment. Included in that piece was the tale of a Céspedes walk-off homer against the Dodgers on June 21.
I also wrote about him back in April, when we all still wondered why the A's would sign a 26-year-old outfielder from Cuba to a four-year, $36 million deal. Between those two articles, Céspedes displayed his abundant talents and made it apparent that Billy Beane—backlash in the wake of being portrayed by Brad Pitt in Moneyball notwithstanding—might know a thing or 52 about baseball.
Is it too soon to write the obituary for the 2012 Oakland A's?
As an A's blogger, I've considered it a point of honor, my sacred duty, really, to avoid writing in this space about the Oaklands. At this point, though, even after a 12-1 whipping of the best team in baseball on Monday, a whipping that included Jarrod Parker carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the team is so bad that I feel compelled to put my misery on display.
As I write this, in the evening on Tuesday, June 5th, the team with the 11th pick in the ongoing draft sits at 24-31, the third-worst record in the American League and the sixth-worst in baseball. That's bad, but probably not bad enough to justify an essay on a general-interest website of this caliber about their badness. The Cubs still exist, after all.
How have the winter's top foreign imports done in their first months in the majors?
Over the offseason, I spent a good deal of time writing about what to expect from the various international players Major League Baseball would be importing. It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many imports with the potential to have fantasy value come over in one offseason, so there was a lot to be excited about. Let’s check in on how these players are doing in the early goings, compared to our winter expectations for them.
Yu Darvish | Texas Rangers | SP
The discussion of newly-Americanized prospects can’t begin anywhere but with Darvish. The prize of the offseason (aside from Albert Pujols), Darvish came with quite a bit of hype, but there was also some skepticism given the high failure rate of Japanese starting pitchers (case in point: Daisuke Matsuzaka). I spoke with several scouts who’d seen Darvish pitch and watched some video myself over the offseason, and the final conclusion boiled down to three points: 1) He has ridiculous stuff and upside, 2) He has just average command, and 3) He has terrific makeup, which should help with the multi-faceted, often-difficult transition to MLB.