By Jason Wojciechowski on May 3, 2007 at 10:27 PM
Billy Beane is pulling out all the stops. First, Ryan Langerhans for basically nothing. Then he flips Langerhans to the Nationals for Chris Snelling. And then on top of that, he adds Jack Cust in the wake of Mike Piazza's injury - Cust was in the minors for the Padres, and Beane gave up the same thing he paid for Langerhans.
Are they superstars, Snelling and Cust? No. But am I actually excited about them being on the team? Absolutely! This is like Matt Stairs and Geronimo Berroa. Forget this Shannon Stewart and Jason Kendall and Mark Ellis team. Some good ol' on-the-cheap sluggin' A's are back!
That might be a little overstated. Snelling, the former Mariners prospect out of Australia, hasn't really hit for power since he was 20. But his lines in the low minors at ages 17-20 were really exciting: 306/388/498, for instance, or 326/429/506. That second line was as a 20-year old in his first taste of Double-A. He made the majors briefly that season, but since then has seemingly had trouble staying healthy: the most games he's played in a single season since 2002 were the 105 he put in between AAA and the majors last year for Seattle. Still, he's just 25 and his career minor league line is 312/396/476. Guys like that don't just not hit, do they?
Plus, in the few times I've seen him in person, he reminds me physically of Nick Swisher. He's listed at 5'10" and 165 pounds on TheBaseballCube (Swisher's listed at a generous 6'0" and 200 pounds), but I don't think he's that light.
Speaking of Swisher, check out his career minor-league line: .261/.381/.476. Basically, more patience, more isolated power, but because of the lower batting average, their OPS's pretty much even out. This Snelling, I'm excited about this. This would be a happy-making pickup even if the A's didn't have major outfield health issues. And for what? Ryan Langerhans? Goodness.
As for Cust, he was of course with the A's two years ago, but he spent the entire season in Sacramento, where he put up a 257/402/438 line that pretty much typifies his career: tons of walks, good power, but real trouble making contact. He's 28 already, and he's managed to get a total of four major league at-bats in the last three years. He's a no-risk pickup from the Padres (where he hit 293/467/549 - look at that OBP! - in Portland last year) with the chance to be a really useful player at DH.
It isn't clear to me whether Cust is coming in to be the full-time DH for the next four-to-six weeks (while Piazza heals) or what the deal is, but really, how can A's fans who remember the mid-to-late '90's not be excited about this development?