Ball Will Just Drop in the OF…
Oftentimes we have a conversation with someone, then we relay the details to someone else and a few things get lost in translation. Paraphrases alter meanings, things are misheard or misunderstood, it is situations like this that led to the game “Telephone” that kids play around a campfire or at school (a game I must admit I nearly always sabotaged by turning frog into handkerchief only for everyone to share confusion as to how a word like frog could result in something so garbled on the other side). That is why this entire piece is written with a grain of salt, because the original interview has not been posted anywhere that I can find online so we only hear about it via the tweets of Jim Bowden the interviewer on Inside Pitch on MLB Network Radio on XM. The tweets come from an interview by Bowden of A’s assistant general manager David Forst. Bowden tweets,
“David Forst AGM A’s told us @mlbnetworkradio they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball and that the new CBA Draft rules will help”
“Forst AGM A’s told us @mlbnetworkradio that besides Michael Taylor they have no ML OFers [and] if season started today ball would just drop in OF”
“David Forst AGM Oak told us @mlbnetworkradio that OF is team’s #1 priority and that pitching staff will be used to trade for it”
A lot to digest there. First off, I find it astonishing that Forst would describe the farm system as one of the worst in baseball – after all he is part of the architect of said farm system and it isn’t like he has some big graduating class so a once full system is depleted. That is a pretty out there comment, and I have to feel that it really is just a signal that the A’s are looking to revamp their system as part of the rebuild – which would make sense.
Next Forst goes to the ten million dollar question of who is going to be in Oakland’s 2012 outfield and either he or Bowden in his tweet, omit the only outfielder Oakland has with any sort of true MLB experience: Ryan Sweeney. Either this is an omission by Bowden (see: Telephone) or an omission by Forst (a pretty bad one if that) or is it a signal that Sweeney’s low-wattage hitting has finally caused his stock to fall enough for Oakland to not see him as a part of the future? As of right now, I don’t see how Sweeney is not starting in the outfield in 2012, but does this statement – or non-statement really – mean something? Otherwise it now seemingly is a lock that Taylor gets a long look with the big league club, a move that is wise.
The competition for first is not surprising, what is surprising is that with the exception of Barton these guys also should be competing for the starting designated hitter role, particularly Carter whose glove seems ill-fitted for a baseball field let alone any given position. This again can be a transcription, he said this, Bowden wrote that sort of thing but it seems like two of these players (if not three with Allen in left field as the most athletic of the bunch) will be in the starting lineup as of Opening Day in Tokyo.
I am surprised with the locked in positions comment. I loved the play of Sizemore and thought he was a savvy midseason acquisition by Billy Beane and Forst however, it also seems premature to not look for an upgrade at all when third base has been such a black hole for Oakland since Eric Chavez became irreparably injured. Furthermore, if you are in a full out rebuild Pennington is a potential valuable trade piece with non-tender candidate Adam Rosales a potential fill-in at shortstop. In his last two seasons, his only two full seasons in MLB his 5.4 WAR is fifth in the AL at shortstop behind only Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, Jhonny Peralta and Yunel Esocbar. With ample players who could back him up guys like Eric Sogard or the aforementioned Rosales, it’d seem foolish not to consider him a trade piece if going into full rebuild mode. The same logic applies to Suzuki. Though he has been a big disappointment with a very weak stick, since 2008 when he became a full-time backstop his 10.0 WAR ranks 8th among all catchers in baseball over the same period so at the very least one can argue he is above average at a premium position – another position where the A’s have relative depth if they bring back non-tender candidate Landon Powell and mess around with Josh Donaldson or Anthony Recker.
It makes sense that the number one priority for the A’s is the outfield – any team that loses their starting left, center and right fielders would have that be a top priority. It is interesting that that is what pitching could be dealt for. If we are rebuilding, why get MLB-ready OFs? How much would have to break right for the A’s to be competitive? The offense was anemic and thus far looks to be worse. The pitching while largely the same as of right now – and good, looks to erode in value if a starter such as Gio Gonzalez or key reliever like Andrew Bailey is dealt (and I anticipate both are gone in the winter meetings). Why get a MLB-ready outfielder by trading away pitching?
All in all, this interview – which I wish I could listen to – was shockingly revealing and transparent by the A’s front office, or appeared such via misleading tweets from Jim Bowden. Regardless it will be interesting to see how this offseason unfolds though regardless Forst hit all the concerns dead on.
UPDATE: Part of the interview is indeed available online. It doesn’t however cover the topics I found so riveting in Bowden’s tweets instead talking a lot about Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden‘s timetable for getting back in the rotation and the value of Bailey on the trade market. Still worth a listen.