Wednesday, March 3, 2010

30 A's in 30 Days – Jack Cust

Acquired: Traded from San Diego Padres for cash considerations (May 3, 2007).
Contract: One year thru 2010 ($2.65M)
Position: Starting DH

Projected BA/OBP/SLG: (.261/.382/.461)

Over/Under: Wow. If there was actually a means to wager real money on an individual player's 2010 OPS, I'd bet Stately Bootleg Manor on the UNDER. Cust was actually non-tendered back in mid-December, as the A's didn't want to pay him upwards of $4 million in arbitration. His strikeouts, poor defense, solid OBP and power – in relation to the rest of Oakland's anemic offense – combined to make him one of the most polarizing players in team history.

His detractors were dancing in the streets of Oakland (hopefully, not after dark, for God's sake) at the news of his non-tender, while even his staunchest supporters – citing Cust's declining offensive production and already legendary rally-killing tendencies – had made peace with his departure. And, then the A's re-signed him a month later. This prompted's Buster Olney to write that the A's value Cust "in a way that many other teams do not". Ugh.

By the Numbers: .912, .851 and .773 – Cust's OPS in each of the last three seasons. A closer look at the stats shows that Cust hit .256/.395/.428 after June 30 last year. I actually like this
big galoot, but I can't remember a 25 home run season that was more unwatchable at times.

Surefire 2010 Prediction: Cust is blessed with what observers often refer to as "old player skills". He takes walks, swings violently at everything and strikes out in spades. There's a reason names like Sam Horn, Bob Hamelin and Phil Plantier show up as Cust's comps on
Baseball This'll be his last year as an everyday player. (But, I wouldn't put anything past our boy-genius GM.)

Tupac Track for the Season:
I'm Losin' It


Troy said...

There's more to Jack Cust's 2009 numbers than what you see at fangraphs. I specifically remember during last season that Geren told Cust that if he wanted to bat higher in the order(Cust batted 6 or 7th opening night), he had to cut down on his strikeouts. Cust tried the new approach, he successfully started cutting his K's, but it also significantly cut down his BBs. Also, since he was more aggressive at the plate, he was swinging at worse pitches, and making worse contact. This is evidenced by the fact that the 2 months he changed his approach(May and June), he had the lowest LD% of the year, leading to the lowest BABIP of his career. I'm expecting somewhat of a comeback year for Cust now that he realizes he should just stick with what he's been successful with.

Oh and Cust's "rally killing tendencies"....That's an urban myth. Cust has been better with men in scoring position and grounds into an infinitesimal amount of double plays. Cust makes less outs than anyone else on the team despite his high K rates.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I've been one of Cust's biggest defenders. All of your excellent points are ones that I've also been making since he arrived in Oakland back in May 2007. I read/heard the same things you did about Cust changing his approach early last year.

That said, his skill set traditionally doesn't age well and there were enough chinks in his '09 armor that I wouldn't have protested if the team looked elsewhere.