Reader email: Moss/Freiman, Donaldson, and Weeks

By Jason Wojciechowski on June 27, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Back on June 3rd (it slipped past me -- my fault), reader Dave emailed:

First, Josh Donaldson. How long can he keep this up? His BAPIP (if my calculations are correct) is .281, so his BA isn't currently a fluke. Did the A's see him as a potential star as he worked his way through the minors? I was never acquainted with his name until he got brought up a couple of years ago (before being promptly sent back down), so can we assume that he's only riding a hot streak right now and will soon return to earth?

Twice last week, Melvin pinch-hit Moss for Freiman in big moments (7th inning against Giants, 9th inning against the White Sox). In both cases a righty was on the mound when the decision was made, and in both cases the opposing manager promptly responded by going to a lefty from the pen. We can only assume that Melvin anticipated that move, so it shows us that Melvin would rather have Moss face a lefty than have Freiman face a righty. Maybe the career numbers support this, but as of late Freiman has been on fire and Moss has been in a slump. I rarely question Melvin, but I felt these were bad decisions (Melvin went 1-2 in his moves, Moss struck out once and walked the other time; 50 percent success would obviously support Melvin in this case, but of course only two at-bats aren't statistically significant). Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts on that.

And last but not least (and I know I've written this to you before and I know it's one of the most common questions you receive) but what needs to happen for the A's to bring up Weeks? I don't know how much more Sogard/Rosales I can take. Are we honestly to assume that Weeks doesn't bring more to the table than either of these two guys??

My response:

I don't have a lot of insight on Moss v. L against Freiman v. R. Platoon splits take such a long time to stabilize that we're essentially always in the world of scouting, and I think the angle at which baseball is televised can make lefties look more hopeless against lefty pitching than they might actually be. One issue that question raises: what does forcing (or "forcing") the other manager to go with a lefty do for the rest of the lineup/game? That is, suppose Freiman vs. a righty actually is a slightly better matchup in general -- do the A's gain some value from having a lefty in, or from having the next righty in after the one-batter lefty faces his guy, such that you're willing to take that hit?

Donaldson was never really a big prospect. My understanding at the time was that he was sort of a throw-in in the Rich Harden trade, a guy who would hopefully be a backup catcher with some stick, but nothing special. That he's played as a top-ten player in the league so far is a total shock, but it's also one where unsustainability doesn't immediately jump out -- his BABIP isn't .450 or anything, and his plate discipline has improved significantly to my eyes and by the numbers to the point where I don't think pitchers are going to start throwing him all junk outside the zone to get him out. He seems capable of laying off those pitches now.

It's probably unreasonable to expect him to finish in "could get MVP votes" territory, but I've significantly raised my expectations of him from "he'll regress to below average but marginally playable" to "he'll regress and be a nice average or slightly above-average player, well worth his small salary."

Weeks definitely seems to be on the outs, though it doesn't help that even in the PCL, he's got a slugging percentage of .371. He's got to do something to make pitchers afraid of him or else they'll just lay stuff right down the middle and shrug their shoulders when he bloops a single now and again. I also think that he might have some issues behind the scenes, even beyond the quotes when he was sent down last year, quotes that I frankly found pretty innocuous. He clearly believes in himself -- what pro athlete doesn't? But it's entirely possible that he's not presenting the sort of makeup/attitude/effort that a team with a middle-infield logjam wants to see.

If Eric Sogard were to get hurt, I think there's a decent chance we'd see Weeks just because the other options can't hit left-handed, but if Rosales gets hurt, I suspect Weeks is third on the list, behind Nakajima and Green (in some order, though I can't hazard a guess as to which order that is). I guess there's still Andy Parrino, but I don't know if I expect him to even survive the year on the 40-man, much less get another call-up.

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