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Suzuki and the Rays

March 25, 2012

There have been talks of the Rays and A’s hooking up on a trade centered around A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki. Most of these trade talks however have come from fan sites and appeared to be of the more “the Rays need a catcher, the A’s are trading everyone away, voila!” variety. But today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe brought up the possibility of a trade writing in his weekly column about the ongoing around Major League Baseball,

“The Rays have been trying hard to get him [Suzuki], but Oakland isn’t crazy about Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann in return. As one National League GM pointed out, ‘The Davises and Niemanns are the type of pitchers that [Billy] Beane winds up trading. He wants a higher grade of pitcher.’’ Right now, the Rays aren’t willing to go there.”

Buster Olney of ESPN.com quickly put the rumor to rest tweeting succinctly – though I guess to a degree all tweets are succinct,

“Rays say they haven’t talked with Oakland about Kurt Suzuki.”

It isn’t a real or imagined deal of Suzuki that is most intriguing to me. In my mind Suzuki’s days become numbered once Derek Norris is ready to take over the backstop duties, and though I am a big fan of Suzuki’s and think he is better than the A’s have allowed him to be due to overuse, I think that is how it ought to be. Today the A’s have just Anthony Recker and subsequently Josh Donaldson to handle catching duties so a move involving Suzuki would seem premature. Say what you will about Landon Powell – and in fairness I’ve said quite a bit – had he been here it might be possible because at least you’d have one guy with a little experience that the club could fall back on to a degree. But to me what makes this article interesting is the quote. That Davis and Niemann are the type of pitchers that Beane ends up trading.

What the heck does that mean? Wade Davis is someone I’d have no interest in. He is a third starter at best, and while I have long said that of Trevor Cahill let’s just say Wade Davis is more third starter at best than Cahill is. Davis’ career mark is 3.2 BB/9 while his K/9 has fallen year after year from 8.9 to 6.1 to 5.1 last year. Not something I’d want to invest in. His FIP went from a stellar 2.90 in 2009 when he had his 8.9 K/9 to a pretty pathetic 4.79 the next year, followed by 4.67 in 2011. Not the kind of guy I’d want plying his trade for the green and gold. If you believe in trajectories, at least Niemann is going in the right direction. Since his debut in 2008 he has seen his xFIP fall every year from 4.80 to 4.46 to 4.18 to last year’s 3.73. I’m not as big a fan of xFIP but his FB/HR numbers had some dramatic variance. Still, while I might like Niemann a little more, I don’t like him all that much. But what does that comment say about other A’s pitchers? Is it a commentary of Cahill or Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey? Cahill has his flaws, Gio’s walk rate is certainly one to cause distraught, and Bailey’s only concerns are staying on the field rather than his play on it. I’m glad the A’s have no interest in this deal, but it is interesting the perception that the A’s only want top-flight talent. That is a good thing.

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