By Jason Wojciechowski on December 27, 2011 at 2:00 PM
With no link roundup since the twenty-first and an intervening trade of the A's best healthy pitcher, this one's going to be big. I'll try to categorize and organize it as best I can.
First, the basic news from Susan Slusser at The Drumbeat: Gio to Washington for A.J. Cole (RHP), Brad Peacock (RHP), Derek Norris (C), and Tom Milone (LHP).
Jane Lee quotes Billy Beane saying that right up to the end, there was another team involved in the Gio Gonzalez talks with a different type of package on the table. Presumably this means something that was very hitting-focused, compared with the three pitchers the A's got. He also says my favorite thing a major-league GM has said:
We were pretty clear from the start that we were going to leverage one team against the other. We were transparent about that.
Isn't that awesome?
The John Sickels look at the prospects is here. Cole has big upside, Milone is crafty, Norris should be "a productive regular," and Peacock's better command in 2011 appears to have come from more polished mechanics.
David Fung uses Oliver to show the A's projected WAR in 2012-2014 vs. the Nats from the players involved in this trade. Of course, the Nats actually have control over Gonzalez for 2015, but if you extend out that far, you're also assuming an extra year of major-league performance from A.J. Cole and Derek Norris.
There's something that makes me uncomfortable about this analysis, though. The issue of confidence intervals is brought up in the comments to the post. Shouldn't some discount be applied to future wins? Is that already accounted for in the projections? What about accounting for open or closed-off roster spots? What about money? I see a lot of open questions, along similar lines to the Dave Cameron brouhaha over his proposed trades of Reds minor leaguers for Mariner pitchers.
Marc Hulet ranks A.J. Cole behind Jarrod Parker and ahead of Sonny Gray in the A's system, though notes that those two are ahead of him on the ETA to Oakland. He slots Peacock in fourth and says he could be a #3 starter or a high-leverage reliever. I get no sense of the odds of either occurrence from this write-up. Of course. The comments on Norris and Milone are unremarkable.
Overall, Hulet does not like the deal, viewing Gonzalez as a solid #2 for the next four years. He cites a 4.40 road FIP, but I have no idea where that comes from. Gonzalez is at 3.97 for his career and 4.00 in 2011. In any case, I think very few people in or out of baseball are extremely confident that Gonzalez will be a top-fifty starter for the entirety of his arbitration years. He can be that, but he can also lose a tick off his fastball without making up for it in location and be knocked out of the league. I don't think that expecting Gonzalez to be at his ceiling for the next four years is wise betting.
Bernie Pleskoff says that Brad Peacock has an above-average knuckle-curve and a hard fastball, that Norris has a strong arm, quick feet, and good mechanics but can't hit the curve, that Cole has a hard fastball and a slurvy breaking pitch, and that Milone's cutter is the key to his success.
Amanda Comak writes that Peacock is down-to-earth, Milone's curve and change are his best pitches, and that Norris worked closely with Bob Boone on his defensive technique. So what I'm getting on Milone so far is that no one has any idea which his good pitches are.
Todd Boss has some best-case and worst-case for the four prospects, including comparing A.J. Cole to Justin Verlander, though he also appears to think that Tom Glavine was only a back-of-rotation starter.
Harper at Nationals Baseball also has some analysis of the four minor-leaguers, including an argument that Brad Peacock has had just one great year and could fall apart at any time. Kind of like every prospect.
The Nationals Review argues that neither Brad Peacock nor Tom(my) Milone will be starters in the long term, citing Peacock's issues controlling his curve and Milone's lack of velocity. Of course, we're all dead in the long run, but it'd be nice if these two could hang around the starting rotation in the meantime. In terms of soft-tossing lefties coming back in mega-deals for established starters, I think we can all hope that Milone isn't Greg Smith.
Joe Drugan notes that only A.J. Cole projects to the top of the rotation, with Peacock and Milone looking more like back-end guys if things break right. That's valuable for a minimum or arbitration-controlled salary, of course, but one does wonder whether these two will even be around by 2015 or whenever the A's move to San Jose or Mexico City. Churn for those spots in the rotation can be pretty harsh.
Lucas Apostoleris takes a PITCHf/x look at Tom(my?) Milone for Fangraphs and notes that his arsenal, which is light on velocity but heavy on control, might make him a fly-ball oriented pitcher. This would not be such a horrible thing pitching half his innings in Oakland, assuming the outfield defense is reasonable. Minus Coco Crisp, though, and with a real possibility of Brandon Allen spending time in a corner, that's in question.
Brian McNally's article at the Washington Examiner on the Gio Gonzalez trade quotes Mike Rizzo saying a month ago that Derek Norris's "feet are working." Apparently they were not before. (In a moving-them-to-block-pitches sense, not an injury sense.)
Dave Nichols at District Sports Page cites A.J. Cole's A-ball WHIP to three decimal places. That is all.
Susan Slusser's source doesn't think the A's could have done better than this. Also, Dallas Braden calls Gio his "baby boy." Braden is, of course, a whole two years older than Gonzalez.
royhobbs at Talking Chop, a Braves blog, says he "winced" when he heard the news, but it's not clear if he means from the perspective of the Nats suddenly looking good or if he thinks Washington gave up a ton of talent for the lefty hurler. He does invoke Mark Teixeira.
Michael Jong at Fish Stripes writes that the Marlins likely did not have good enough prospects to get Gio Gonzalez, despite being linked to him many times. To match the level of package the Nationals traded away, using John Sickels's grades, would have meant Florida giving up their top four minor-leaguers, something that's very difficult to do given that Gonzalez, despite a favorable service-time situation and good performance, isn't a top-N pitcher in the majors for a small enough N.
Frank Campagnola at Pinstripe Alley wonders whether a somewhat comparable package of Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Austin Romine, and Adam Warren would have landed Gio Gonzalez. I have few thoughts about this.
Adam J. Morris also does the "similar package" game with the Rangers system. Martin Perez sure is tasty, but I don't know anything about the other three guys.
I don't know what thunder-gunning is:
Wow. Oakland just thunder-gunned the Nats for quality prospects. Really like this deal for the A's.— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) December 22, 2011
I have no idea what to make of Kevin Scobee's post on the trade, as he refers to xFIPs of 3.99 and 3.51 as being "nearly the same" while also calling a BABIP difference of .014 "staggering."
An Al Yellon story at Baseball Nation about the move is here, and it includes Bob Nightengale's tweet that started the whole explosion of blog posts (very few of which actually say anything, so I'm going short on this section).
David Wishinsky mentions something very similar to how I'd feel about the move, calling it "bittersweet." We're both fans that are nowhere near driving distance from Oakland or San Jose, and as such are likely more invested in the team being good than the team being in any particular radius from our homes. That said, the Coliseum hosted three World Series in my fandom, so a teardown and move all the way to another city might cause some strain in my feelings for the team.
Still, as long as they keep wearing white shoes, I'll probably be a fan.
Nick Cafardo lists Andrew Bailey and Grant Balfour as two of the top five available relievers. He also lists Coco Crisp third among outfielders, and links him to the Cubs, Nationals, and Rangers. (Via Federal Baseball.)
This isn't a rumor, but Brandon C. proposes Brandon McCarthy to the Yankees for some packages. I'm not opposed to this, though I see no reason to take on Francisco Cervelli.
They're not ex- just yet, but Landon Powell and Jai Miller were both DFA'd. I can't tell you how sad this makes me. I love those guys as an irrational fan. There's no reason to think that Josh Donaldson and Anthony Recker can't do exactly the job that Powell did, and Jai Miller would strike out 400 times in a full MLB season, but still: Powell was always great fun to watch, and I had this weird hope that Miller would get a shot to break the single-season strikeout record. Alas.
Before those DFA's, David Wishinsky took a look at Sean Doolittle, Pedro Figueroa, and Neil Wagner as guys who might get cut to make room for the horde of pitchers coming from Washington.
Beane does say to Jane Lee that he hopes Powell will make it through waivers and be able to stay with the team.
Grant Brisbee says at Baseball Nation that Gio Gonzalez brings the Nationals to "contender" status. It involves pterodactyls.
Gio Gonzalez is already recruiting for his new team:
Now that we are in the Nations Capital, we need a Prince. Come on Fielder!— Gio Gonzalez (@GioGonzalez47) December 24, 2011
Susan Slusser says at The Drumbeat that the A's interest in Hisashi Iwakuma is "lukewarm." The article also mentions that Iwakuma missed time with a shoulder injury this year, that Tom(my?) Milone has a good shot of making the A's rotation this season, and that Bob Nightengale's tweet about the A's moving to San Jose is merely consistent with what everyone's been saying all off-season, no more.
FreeSeatUpgrade has a photo essay about butts.
Al Yellon predicts that Kosuke Fukudome will sign a cheap one-year deal with the A's, which doesn't sound so far-fetched to me. They do need someone to stand around in the outfield. If he's willing to sit in the event that the A's have a real potential future outfielder they'd rather play instead, then sure, why not?
Jane Lee has her top five stories from 2011, including injuries, Jemile Weeks, and Bob Melvin.
"When do you stop rebuilding?" said John Coyle of Los Angeles, 73, a fan since the club was in Philadelphia. "Do Billy and the owners want a major-league team or don't they? I know it's not an easy situation without a new stadium, but in the meantime, there's no one out there to watch."
Kurt Suzuki reportedly responded to this diss by sobbing.
Jason Leary thinks Grant Green is a lock to hit Oakland at some point in 2012, though I'm not so sure. The A's should be thin in the outfield, as always, but if they have any hopes of Green still becoming a solid regular in the majors, they'll wait to start his various service-time clocks until 2013, especially in light of his underwhelming season at the plate and the fact that he's learning a new position.
/checks WAR on Fangraphs
/checks WAR on Baseball-Reference