2011 A's Retrospective #19: Landon Powell
Big ol' Landon Powell (I am required in my contract with [redacted] to prepend every mention of Landon Powell with the phrase "big ol'" -- there's nothing I can do about it) didn't have the greatest year of his life in 2011. He got fewer plate appearances than he received in 2009 and 2010, in part, presumably, because he hit just .171/.246/.225 in his 122 trips, posting his third consecutive season with a well-above-average strikeout rate. He got designated for assignment just before Christmas. Nobody claimed him on waivers, so the A's outrighted him off the 40-man roster. He's still in the organization, of course, but Kurt Suzuki is the starter now, Derek Norris is the starter of the future, and Josh Donaldson and Anthony Recker are both on the 40-man and will presumably battle to back up Suzuki/Norris (or even start for a while after a Suzuki trade if Norris is not yet ready).
Powell was well-regarded once upon a time, at least by the A's, as he was taken 24th overall in the 2004 draft. Notable names behind him in that round include Gio Gonzalez (38th), Huston Street (40th), and I guess J.P. Howell (31st). There weren't a lot of All-Stars picked in Powell's immediate vicinity, in other words. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL before the 2005 season and missed the entire year, so he didn't get a full year of play until 2006, by which time he was already 24. And a catcher with a bum knee. His total games played in his full minor-league seasons go like this: 102, 64, 88. Even for a catcher, that's not great.
In that limited time, Powell got on base at a nice clip (.362 despite just a .256 batting average), but he only hit for power in 2007 with Midland. That he managed to carve out a three-year career as a backup catcher in the big-leagues is pretty impressive, but it looks like that run is over. He'll turn 30 next month, he's about the size of the guy who played Jeremy Brown in Moneyball, and nobody seems to want him. He can still make some money mentoring folks in AAA, but it may be time for Powell to move into coaching, the front office, or selling insurance sooner rather than later.
Beaneball by Jason Wojciechowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.