Saturday, March 7, 2009

30 A's in 30 Days – Jack Cust

Acquired: Traded from San Diego Padres (May 3, 2007).
Contract: One year ($2.8M). Eligible for arbitration after 2009, 2010.
Position: Starting DH

Projected BA/OBP/SLG: (.231/.384/.443)

Over/Under: Ken Phelps shows up as Cust's #3 comp over at Baseball Prospectus. Like Cust, Phelps got a late start as an everyday player, but in each season from 1986-1988 his OPS was 52, 47 and 62 percent better than the league average. Cust's performance in 2009 depends on where the A's opt to slot him in the batting order. If he's hitting third (with Matt Holliday behind him) Cust could top that projection. If he's hitting fifth with the decaying remains of Eric Chavez behind him…yikes. I like Cust more than a lot of A's fans, but I've got a feeling that there'll be more valleys than peaks for him this year. UNDER.

By the Numbers: 58 – The percentage of Cust's 1105 plate appearances over his two seasons in Oakland that have resulted in a home run, walk or strikeout. M'man Smitty and I were at the May 1 game last year in Anaheim when Cust – hitting .176 at the time – went 4 for 6. For the next six weeks, Cust hit .292/.432/.547. Then, for the following seven weeks, he hit .185/.305/.384. He's like a box of chocolates…! Who doesn't love chocolate?!

Surefire '09 Prediction: Less informed A's fans will continue to bang their tired drum of batting average ("too low!"), RBI ("not enough!") and strikeouts ("197!") in their criticism of Jack Cust. This year, however, their movement (and collective IQs) will be strengthened by us awesome fans who know that Cust has, thus far, been a nice piece on a non-contender. On a good team, his flaws will be even more pronounced.

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