By Jason Wojciechowski on January 7, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Thursday night's piece about Jonah Keri's Grantland article was meant to be the beginning of a link roundup (which is why it starts "First" -- oops), but I ended up writing for an hour just on that article, and then my plane was boarding, so I never got to the rest of the links. Here, covering the last N days for some N that I'm too lazy to look up, are those links. Powered by a bunch of free rap downloaded from the Internet ...
As you already know, Coco Crisp is back with the A's on a two-year deal for a guaranteed $14M. You can see my non-analysis of the move at Baseball Prospectus. That piece is essentially in two parts -- the first part is about respecting uncertainty in baseball analysis, and the second part is an application of that respect to the Coco Crisp deal. I also had some words about this in the last link roundup.
David Wishinsky really does not like the deal. Also, congrats to David for reaching one year of his blog. I think a lot of blogs are like small businesses, with an extraordinarily large failure rate. To manage a year of consistent, good, focused content is a real accomplishment.
Joseph Lopez says that the Crisp signing "goes against everything we've read in Moneyball, but I'm not entirely sure how that works.
Matt Klaassen's analysis at FanGraphs comes down to: "someone has to play center field." I agree with the essential tone of Klaassen's analysis, which is "this isn't that big a deal."
As to the prospect of a salary floor being a problem for the A's, David recommends signing Rich Harden. I'm not sure that David's right about the marketing (if Harden's out for half the year again, can you market him?), and I'm also not sure you can reasonably sign Harden to a $7M deal. It probably is easier to slot in a veteran pitcher in a way that doesn't take away young guys' development time since there are so many slots for pitchers and because injuries are so prevalent, but I'm not sure if that's enough justification.
elcroata would rather the A's sign Edwin Jackson than Coco Crisp, which seems fine to me, except insofar as Jackson might be unwilling to sign a one-year deal unless the dollar amount is absolutely astronomical. In the comments, though, he makes clear that Roy Oswalt could serve these purposes just as well, and I'm hard-pressed to disagree given Oswalt's apparent (via press reports) willingness to sign for just one year.
In news that caused some consternation and mockery on Twitter, Crisp says he chose Oakland over Tampa Bay. To be fair to Crisp, he said he wanted to play for a contender, but he also said there were other factors (money, familiarity with the players, coast, spring training location, and the fact that he thinks the A's are better than many others believe) and he chose Oakland after balancing all of that.
One interesting note from that article is that Crisp named Joe Maddon as a positive of playing for the Rays. It makes you wonder how much value the Rays extract from having a player-friendly manager who is also apparently a plus tactically. Maybe this is like Nichols's Law of Catcher Defense, but it often seems that the managers with good tactical reputations (Buck Showalter, say) are the ones with bad clubhouse attitudes. I'm pretty sure we'll never be able to quantify the psychological effects of clubhouse atmosphere fostered by a manager, and we have a hard time even with basic things like lineup construction and sacrifice bunts, but Maddon may be an enormous value for the Rays relative to the salary he's paid.
Billy Beane told Jane Lee that he didn't want any old veteran for the outfield: "I think a veteran doesn't help you if he isn't any good." This totally explains Conor Jackson.
Kevin Goldstein publishes his Top Eleven A's Prospects ($$$) at Baseball Prospectus, which actually goes twenty deep. Michael Choice is #1 and the only five-star prospect for Goldstein.
Also, the capsule on Sonny Gray says, and you'll forgive me: "He has a small package, but big stuff." Ahem.
I already linked this article above in the Coco Crisp section, but down at the bottom of the piece, it mentions that the A's lost Dan Kantrovitz, a leader in the front office on the international front, to the Cardinals, where he becomes the director of amateur scouting, replacing Jeff Luhnow, who left to Houston to take the general manager job. Oakland is replacing Kantrovitz (who is only 33, but has a playing (drafted by the Cardinals), scouting (obviously), and statistics (masters from Harvard) background) in-house, promoting Sam Geaney, who had previously been a coordinator in the scouting department.
Googling Geaney doesn't turn up much. I don't know if this is his Twitter profile, but Jason Parks, John Manuel, and Kevin Goldstein all follow him, and he follows 184 accounts, including, of relevance, Andrew Bailey, Amanda and Brandon McCarthy, Sonny Gray, and Athletics Nation. Maybe give him a follow just in case he starts Tweeting interesting stuff about the A's.
This ESPN High School piece talked about the A's Area Code Games tryouts and mentioned that Geaney was the man running them.
This Bay Area Sports Guy interview with Billy Beane has a funny story about Beane pranking Geaney in his first month on the job.
Lyle Spencer has a column sympathetic to the A's plight or completely buying the line Billy Beane and Lew Wolff are feeding him, depending on your perspective. He does say this about A's fans, though, which ought to make those of you who read this blog (and are thus in the group he's talking about) happy:
They may not be impressive in number, but hardcore A's partisans might be the most loyal in the sport. They remain faithful to their club even as they're trying to figure out what the new lineup and rotation might look like.
Aw, thanks, Lyle. I don't know that it's true (the hardcore fans of any team are probably about equally hardcore -- there's only so hardcore you can get), but it's nice that you said it.
Jane Lee's mailbag has some fun questions as always, including a hope that the A's might sign Vlad Guerrero or Derrek Lee to provide pop at the DH. I'm ... oh god. It is nice to see that Jane Lee has as much faith in Bob Melvin as she does, though:
... believe manager Bob Melvin wouldn't allow for a 100-loss season, so perhaps it's best to settle somewhere in the middle and project about 63 victories for the green and gold.
Bruce Jenkins has a sort of mini-profile of Billy Beane, with what I think is the heart of the idea coming right in the middle:
This is a different kind of cat. As Beane weighs the elements of lifestyle and family, he's obviously willing to trade prestige for a challenge.
YonYonson has an awesome list of the best A's players by first letter of their first name. We'll have to root for Yordy Cabrera to make it to the A's and make an impact so that we'll have a Y player.
Almost-Athletic Hisashi Iwakuma signed a cheap one-year deal with the Mariners. Mike Axisa analyzes for FanGraphs here.
Ronit Shah mentions four minor-league signings, including The Merkin.
Chris Creamer's roundup of MLB uniforms in 2011 includes correctly rave reviews for the A's gold alternates and their '80s throwbacks. Leave the black tops in the closet, please.
Eno Sarris figures Josh Reddick might be a starting-quality outfielder. I don't know if he's right, but I do know that he means "jibes," not "jives."