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July 16, 2007 at 6:15 PM

A’s pack it in

One of the Billy Beane acquisitions I’ve never quite understood just got sent packing to the Chicago Cubs. I hated the Jason Kendall deal the moment it was made in 2004 — I actually used it to pronounce the “death of Moneyball” at the time. Not everyone liked that column. That’s OK, we live in a democracy.
“On Saturday, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane completed a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that brought catcher Jason Kendall to the team that prides itself on seeking value,” I wrote in the Toronto Star at the time.
“Kendall is owed $34 million in salary over the next three seasons. While Beane did shed $15 million in salary commitments by shipping pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman to the Pirates — and will net another $3 million in cash payouts. The most striking thing about the Kendall deal is that Beane opted for the trade rather than signing Blue Jays free-agent Gregg Zaun to step in behind the plate. Now Zaun is no Kendall, but even at a hefty raise to his $400,000 salary from last season, he seems the epitome of the low-budget, undervalued position replacement that Lewis so championed in his book.”
Now that the Kendall era is over with in Oakland, I hate the deal even more. Kendall has proved to be one of the least productive major league regulars out there. One Oakland official I spoke with just after the deal was done, at the 2004 winter meetings in Anaheim, was ripping his hair out over the lack of any RBI men in Oakland’s lineup and vowed that Kendall would not help that problem.
His on-base-plus-slugging percentage was at a ghastly .542 before the deal and was at it’s highest in Oakland at .709 last year. This was an awful acquisition from start to finish. Anyway, he’s gone. Look for more dumping by the A’s in weeks ahead because — as we mentioned last week — this Oakland club has given no sign that it’s capable of another magical second-half run.
Anyway, Richie Sexson down to No. 6 in the order tonight. Let’s see how he responds at the plate. Ichiro is in the lineup as a DH, giving him at least a partial night off in the field to get over that bruised thigh.
Yes, I know the internet was around in various form before the 1990s. But not in the mass-usage, public consumption form we know of today. Just because fellow Canadian Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in the 1800s doesn’t mean they had speed dial around in 1920. Know what I mean. LOL. Thanks for the Wikipedia links.
As one of you mentioned, there are rumors the Mariners are taking a look at Matt Morris of the Giants. This newspaper story from California says the M’s had a scout at his last start on Saturday. Do I see Morris coming here after spending his career in the NL? No, I don’t. Do I see the M’s having to give up a ton of prospects for a rent-a-pitcher? Yes, I do. Will this deal get done. I highly doubt it.
Morris repeating his NL numbers in the AL would represent an upgrade over the back of this rotation. But by a significant amount? Not sure. When I wrote today that the M’s might look at acquiring setup help, that was in absence of a starting arm that could help the team significantly in the rotation. That is obviously a bigger need. But assuming those arms aren’t out there, or can’t be acquired? Then, you make the rotation better by making the bullpen so good that you only need the starters for six innings.
I don’t think this bullpen is at that point. Maybe Sean Green is the answer in the eighth. I’m not convinced. I’ve looked at his splits, just as you all have. A .977 OPS against versus lefties. Small sample size yes, and that’s another problem. The unknown. The thing is, going forward, is a team’s best shot in going with the unknown, or a guy who has handled the eighth inning role before? I’d contend it’s the latter. But I appreciate your feedback. We’ve had a good discussion today from both sides of this debate without some of the silly baiting that’s gone on before.



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