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.