A's link roundup, 12/13/11

By Jason Wojciechowski on December 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM

A hopefully recurring feature: A's links!

danmerqury, whose real name I've forgotten, breaks down the very little PITCHf/x data we have on Jarrod Parker. The most interesting takeaway for me is the truly huge velocity differential between Parker's fastball and his changeup in his one September start in the big leagues.

Dallas Braden signed a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration with the A's, but Jesse Sanchez's story doesn't mention dollar amounts. I've seen tweets saying a bit over three million, which is just fine. If he's healthy, Braden should be worth well more than that.

David Wishinsky looks at cERA and cFIP to ask whether Landon Powell's reputation (if indeed he has one) as a good receiver is deserved. David mentions the problems with pitching-to-catcher stats, and I question their utility as well. I'd love to go to the source and tell you what Mike Fast's research on catcher framing ($$$) or Bojan Koprivica's work on pitch-blocking says about Powell, but he isn't mentioned in either article's list of stats. For what it's worth, Landon Powell comes in a bit above-average in Matt Klaassen's catcher defense metric, which measures stolen bases, pitches that get past the catcher, and errors. Who knows whether success in these areas are correlated with the other skills of a catcher, or how well the PB/WP metric matches up with the PITCHf/x-data-driven method that Koprivica uses.

D.J. Short utters the dreaded "Johan Santana" in discussing Dallas Braden's one-year contract.

Julian Levine, who was kind enough to link to my post from yesterday about Trevor Cahill, links to Danny Knobler's tweet noting that the A's asked for Mike Stanton in a Gio Gonzalez trade. This is one in a long line of "oh ho ho look at how much they're asking for!" reports by bored reporters who aren't finding enough actual news to talk about. If you're looking at trading the top pitcher left on the market, and not just by default, and you don't think it'll completely close down negotiations, why not float the idea of engaging in total robbery? Teams have made silly trades in the past.

Matthew Pouliot posits that the Josh Willingham deal with Minnesota (three years, $21 million, for what it's worth) could start a chain reaction involving Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Beltran, and a variety of lesser options, with the A's possibly reaching into that latter barrel (Cody Ross? Ryan Ludwick?) to see if there's someone on the cheap to provide some insurance against Michael Taylor falling flat on his face. Me, I'd be happy if the team signed a fourth outfielder, but I'd be just as happy letting the fourth man be Jai Miller and starting a Sweeney/Cowgill/Taylor configuration. Make sure there's AAA depth in case of injury, but even if Cowgill is hitting 220/290/360 in July, I'd rather the A's save their pennies than pay a Cody Ross any money at all to be more adequate. Ross won't be here in 2015. Maybe Cowgill won't either, sure, but that's a "maybe." Ross is a certainty.

Joe Pawlikowski notes the obstacles to an A's-Yankees deal for Gio Gonzalez, mainly that Oakland wants outfielders and the Yankees aren't terrifically strong in that position in the minors. I'm not sure the A's would be so targeted in their trading, though. Would they take a B+ outfielder over an A- pitcher? I'd guess not, though of course that's just a guess.

Joe points out that while Trevor Cahill is cost-controlled, Gio Gonzalez has some potentially large arbitration paydays ahead, and thus, given the similarity of their performance, Cahill is "quite a bit more valuable." While it is certainly true that Cahill and Gonzalez have nearly identical career ERAs and that both have career innings totals that get into the territory where ERA is a better predictor of future ERA than fielding-independent metrics ($$$), Gonzalez's recent performance (two straight years with an ERA below three and a quarter and an FIP below three and three quarters) might give one more heart than Trevor Cahill's bouncy castle act (2.97 ERA, then 4.16, but with basically a 4.15 FIP both years) in terms of future excellence, particularly if you have any kind of fetish for stuff (Gonzalez's fastball from the left side is very nice, while Cahill's pitches sometimes come in looking like so much undifferentiated slop).

I'm not sure what the answer is, honestly, but I'm pretty certain in my lack of certainty. By which I just mean this: it would not surprise me at all if the A's get at least as good a package for Gonzalez as they got for Cahill -- I do not believe it to be quite as far out of the question as Joe appears to believe.

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