By Jason Wojciechowski on August 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM
The Twitter says that Landon Powell has been optioned to Sacramento, with Anthony Recker coming up to Oakland. I don't remember whether Recker has perhaps been called up in the past (Baseball Prospectus says he has zero service time), but he has not had a plate appearance in the majors.
Recker has had a good year at Sacramento, boosting his walk rate to never-before-seen heights and amping up his power as well, resulting in a .287/.388/.501 line. The batting average is tied (at least to three decimal places) with his minor league single-season high, but the OBP and SLG are 30 and 29 points higher, respectively, than he's ever put up before.
Recker's not young, though, so he's not really a prospect (anymore, anyway) -- neither Kevin Goldstein nor John Sickels listed him in their top 20 prior to this year. (I don't have my Baseball America book handy, so I can't tell you about their thoughts.) PECOTA is also underwhelmed -- the projection system pegged Recker for a .242 True Average (from a .230/.285/.353 slash line). On the other hand, Kurt Suzuki's rest-of-season PECOTA projection for TAv is just .248 (.244/.302/.351 slash). Further, the average major league catcher this season has hit just .245/.315/.385. (I apparently cannot get TAv by position, which is weird.)
So PECOTA figures that Recker is basically Kurt Suzuki with the bat, and further, that both of those guys are basically league-average for their position. Landon Powell, though, a switch-hitter, is also basically Kurt Suzuki with the bat. He hasn't hit this year (an ugly .184 TAv), but he's only had 113 PAs. PECOTA, looking at the 397 PAs Powell has had in his career (and possibly looking back to the whomping he put on Midland in 2008? (I don't know how much PECOTA takes into account)), figures him for a .240 TAv over the rest of the season (after a .249 weighted mean projection in the preseason).
Add all that up and you get this: ?????? I can see the A's deciding that Recker is their backup of the future, but it's a weird time to make the move. Sacramento will start its annual playoff run (they're thirteen games up in their division right now) in just over two weeks, and the A's are obviously going nowhere. And how much is Recker going to play, anyway? If the A's give him fifteen starts over the rest of the season, including a couple of times where he starts a few days in a row, then maybe this will be worthwhile -- they may not get any information in a big enough sample stat-wise, but they can at least take an eyeball look at what they have against major league pitching. If they use Recker the way they've used Powell, though, then I don't know why they're even bothering.