Thursday, March 26, 2009

30 A's in 30 Days – Russ Springer

Acquired: Signed as free agent (January 29, 2009).
Contract: One year ($3.3M) thru 2009.
Position: Obligatory Ancient Reliever.

Projected ERA: 3.89

Over/Under: Springer spent the last two seasons in St. Louis where he posted a 2.24 ERA in 116 1/3 innings. However, our friends at Baseball Prospectus note "…roughly two-thirds of his appearances came when the Cards were either trailing or ahead by four or more runs". By my count, in Springer's 70 appearances last year, he faced five or more hitters in only eight of those games. His fastball/cutter repertoire should play well enough in the AL as a 7th or 8th inning guy who ideally enters the game with nobody on base. UNDER.

By the Numbers: 20-22 – The W-L record over two seasons (1993-94) of Jim Abbott, who the New York Yankees acquired from the California Angels for Springer and J.T. Snow. Honestly, I cannot understate how (figuratively) big Abbott was 20 years ago, kids. We were still a year or two away from the ESPN-ification of sports coverage, so "hype" was still mostly organic. EVERYone was rooting for the guy. And, when the Angels flipped him for a package of kids, the fans nearly rioted. (Fortunately, Southern California was all rioted out by the end of 1992.) In hindsight, it's hard to believe any of us thought the quiet, sensitive Abbott could've survived Buck Showalter and a still-lucid George Steinbrenner.

Surefire '09 Prediction: T.J. Matthews, Jim Mecir, Kiko Calero. Over the past 10 years, the A's have done a bang-up job of employing unspectacular, occasionally awful right-handed relievers. Springer won't be as effective as he was in St. Louis, which means m'man Smitty – a fellow A's fan – will have a new target for his late inning ire this year. I think the honeymoon will end before Memorial Day.

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