Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th Outfielders are the New "Moneyball"!

The Oakland A's traded RHP Ryan Webb, RHP Craig Italiano and a player to be named later (who'll almost certainly be RHP Sean Gallagher) to the San Diego Padres for OF Scott Hairston.

I don't get this trade. I mean, I didn't "get" the acquisition of Matt Holliday either, but at least he was an All-Star caliber player in Colorado brought to Oakland by our boy-genius GM in a foolhardy attempt to contend.

Here are Scott Hairston's career numbers entering the 2009 season:

PA: 1,056 BA: .246 OBP: .303 SLG: .453

And, here are Scott Hairston's numbers this season:

PA: 216 BA: .299 OBP: .358 SLG: .533

Hairston, 29, is a low-ceiling outfielder whose significant body of work prior to 2009 indicates some serviceable talent (.893 OPS vs. LHP in his career), but an otherwise unexceptional player. And, I know us light-skinned bruthas are supposed to stick together, but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em.

Predictably, most of my fellow A's fans can't look past Hairston's 2009 season and are convinced that he's "coming into his own" and "an upgrade to our offense". In reality, Hairston played out of his mind in April (.390/.468/.756) and while his numbers since May 1 (.276/.327/.474) aren't anything to sneeze at, he still isn't hitting RHPs all that well.

More discouraging is his
batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which is hovering around .350 at the moment. BABIP is one of those esoteric stats that tends to normalize over the course of a long season with .290 considered "league average". Simply put, Hairston's "breakthrough" is the product of the hottest eight-week stretch of his entire career.

What really gets me is that the A's are just a few warm bodies shy of being able to field an entire team of offensively-limited outfielders. Hairston brings the exact same skill set to the plate as guys like Travis Buck and Aaron Cunningham who the A's have absolutely buried at Triple-A. Ryan Sweeney and Rajai Davis are speed and defense players who won't make anyone forget the all-natural power stroke of Jose Canseco, either.

A straight RF platoon with the left-handed Buck and the right-handed Cunningham could've provided a bump to the offense, while moving Jack Cust's sh*tty glove to permanent DH duty.

That the A's are giving up nothing of consequence (Webb's allowed more than 11 hits per nine innings in his last three minor league stops; Italiano was drafted in 2005 and still hasn't risen above Single-A and Gallagher…heh, well good luck that gutless load, San Diego) isn't much of a consolation.

Then, again, what do I know? Hairston homered off of Josh Beckett in his first Oakland start earlier this evening. Maybe he stays hot and the A's will flip him for more league average talent with steep platoon tendencies.

Can't get enough of that.

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