Monday, March 16, 2009

30 A's in 30 Days – Dallas Braden

Acquired: Drafted in 24th round, 2004.
Contract: One year thru 2009. Eligible for arbitration after 2010.
Position: #2 or #3 Starting Pitcher

Projected ERA: 4.15

Over/Under: OK. It's only Spring Training. No one should put a lick of stock into anything they see in Spring Training. But, on Saturday, m'man "JPinAZ" and I watched Braden toss four innings of one-run ball in which the Giants took one bad, off-balance swing after another. And, if I'm going to sacrilege against one of the prime stats-based beliefs, I might as well go all in: Braden finally LOOKS like he belongs in bigs. Dude's always carried himself with a false swagger, but now said swagger appears sincere. I'm going UNDER (an ERA lower than his projection) and, potentially, a huge fantasy sleeper if he gets decent run support.

By the Numbers: 209 – The area code for Braden's hometown of Stockton, California. The Spring Training program I purchased at the A's game on Saturday included a picture of Braden wearing an oversized "209" jersey while volunteering at a food bank over the holidays. Nate Dogg started the Area Code craze in 2001. I'm pretty sure Ruben Studdard asphyxiated it in '03.

Surefire '09 Prediction: At some point in the season – maybe at the start, maybe in the summer – the planets will align and Braden will reel off something like six wins in a row. The rest of you will be subjected to at least one soft-focus feature on ESPN or the MLB Network that focuses on his difficult upbringing, random tattoos and/or his awful hair.


SHough610 said...

This is sacrilege (because Cole Hamels is the guy who inspired this: the character Squints in The Sandlot is loosely based on Cole Hamels as a child. Except Cole could swim, outsmarted the Beast and got Wendy Peffercorn pregnant by simply making eye contact. She would eventually give birth to Tim Lincecum, Ryan Braun and every other player who made an appearance in the 2008 All Star Game giving even more evidence to the theory Cole Hamels is indeed the father of baseball, not Abner Doubleday.) But this dude sort of reminds me of Cole Hamels.

That Bootleg Guy said...

In a more established rotation, Braden is probably closer to a #4 or #5 starter. He's not Hamels-ian good (and he's not pretty enough to land a centerfold g/f like ol' King Cole), but he's fun to watch when he's dealin'.

Also, Hamels is from Rancho Bernardo, where I currently live. Even, I'm sick of seeing his mug plastered everywhere.

SHough610 said...

He didn't win a World Series for you. If I had a kid born on Nov. 1, 2008 his name would probably be Cole Utley Howard Hough. I really can't understate how much I love this group of Phillies.