Scouting The Trade Market: The A’s Rotation


Yesterday I took a look at Gio Gonzalez, the Athletics left-hander that might be on the trade market and of interest to the Yankees. Today I’m going to follow up and look at some other members of Oakland’s rotation, since apparently everyone on their roster other than Jemile Weeks is available. I am leaving Dallas Braden out of this post because a) he’s insufferable, b) he’s rehabbing from major shoulder surgery, and c) he’s a soft-tossing, fly ball machine. Not exactly an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium. Here are three other guys in Oaktown’s starting staff…

Brett Anderson

In terms of raw talent and upside, Anderson is best pitcher on the Athletics’ roster. Unfortunately, he just can’t stay on the field. He missed half of the 2010 season due to a flexor strain and inflammation in his left elbow, then hit the DL with more inflammation this past June before eventually having Tommy John surgery in mid-July. He’s expected back at midsummer, but since control is the last thing to come back after elbow reconstruction, he’s unlikely to be 100% back to normal until Opening Day 2013.

When right, the 23-year-old southpaw (24 in February) can throw strikes (2.23 BB/9) and generate a ton of ground balls (career 53.5%) with a pair of low-90′s fastballs (two- and four-seamer) while missing bats with a devastating low-80′s slider. His strikeout rate (6.94 K/9 with 6.9% swings-and-misses) in 371 big league innings isn’t great, but his minor league numbers (9.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9) and raw stuff suggest he could improve with better health and more experience. Anderson is locked up through 2013 at a reasonable price ($8.5M plus club options for 2014 and 2015), but he’s very risky. The upside is considerable though.

Trevor Cahill

Cahill, 24 in March, broke out in 2010 thanks in part to a .236 BABIP-fueled 2.97 ERA across 196.2 IP. His 4.19 FIP told a much more accurate story, and sure enough, the righty pitched to a 4.10 FIP in 2011 and saw his ERA climb to 4.16 thanks to a much more normal .302 BABIP. He still got a ton of grounders (56% in 2010, 55.9% in 2011), though his strikeout and walk rates climbed more than one full event per nine innings to 6.37 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9 this past season.

A sinkerball specialist, Cahill gets opponents to beat the ball into the ground with a two-seamer right around 90 mph. He backs it up with a low-80′s changeup and a high-70′s curve, and will occasionally mix in a slider. Cahill is signed through 2015 ($28.7M) with club options for 2016 and 2017, so his contract situation is favorable. He has the potential to beef up his strikeout rate (9.9 K/9 in the minors), but he doesn’t really have that go-to offspeed pitch and instead relies on that two-seamer to get outs, one way or the other.

Brandon McCarthy

Do you know who led the American League in FIP in 2011? It wasn’t CC Sabathia (2nd) or Justin Verlander (4th). It was McCarthy. The 28-year-old right-hander returned to the big leagues with the A’s after missing most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons with stress fractures in his throwing shoulder. Sure enough, he spent about seven weeks on the shelf this summer with another stress fracture in that shoulder, though he still made it to the mound for 170.2 stellar innings.

McCarthy spoke to FanGraphs’ Ryan Campbell (part one, part two) recently about how he’s reinvented himself following his injuries, specifically by lowering his arm slot, scrapping his curveball, and adding a two-seamer and cutter to go along with a four-seamer and slider. It really is a must read; I can’t recommend it enough. McCarthy misses a few more bats (6.49 K/9 and 7.7% swings-and-miss) with his new approach, and he drastically improved his ground ball (46.7% after years around 35%) and walk (1.32 BB/9 after years north of 3.00) rates. That helped cut down on the homers (as did Oakland’s park) and prolonged at-bats, allowing him to throw fewer pitches per inning and more innings per start.

MLBTR projects a bargain bin salary of $2.6M for McCarthy in 2012, his fourth and final time through arbitration as a Super Two player. He’s risky just because the healthy of his shoulder is such a gigantic question mark, but the cost shouldn’t be exorbitant since you’re only trading for one year of him. I’m a fan, much more than I am of Gonzalez, Anderson, and Cahill in terms of expected production vs. cost (both salary and acquisition). As an added bonus, McCarthy is must-follow on Twitter, one of the few interesting baseball players out there.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • theboogiedown

    What’s your take on these four guys and their stats given the fact that Oakland plays in a football stadium where nothing is out of play. Inflated stats or not a real factor?

  • the golden thong

    There can be only one. Cain. Montero gets it done and he’s by far the best option – now and next off-season. Hamels would be better but the phillies will re-sign him.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Is it his mediocre strikeout rate or his career 44 percent FB rate that intrigues you so?

      • the golden thong

        He’s better than greinke and danks. If you don’t like any of them then the Yankee rotation won’t be upgraded any time soon.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          He’s not better than Greinke but I’ll give you Danks. Thing is Cain will cost a lot more than either of them and he’s not gonna do it in the AL East.

          • the golden thong

            Why should he cost more? All have one year left and the giants need the bat. Funny how there’s been no comment here on the trade. The royals got a better pitcher for melky than the yankees got for melky and vicaino. Face palm.

          • the golden thong

            And if he’s not better than greinke its a push. Cain has been more durable and has played in more meaningful games. Plus check out greinkes road numbers.

    • FIPster Doofus

      You have to wonder if Cain would keep defying his inflated xFIP if he came to the Yankees. Going from the park that allowed the fewest HRs last season to one known for homers wouldn’t be easy, nor would switching from the NL West to AL East.

      I’m not saying he wouldn’t continue to be really good if the Yankees acquired him, but there are legit reasons for wariness.

      • the golden thong

        His road stats are identical to his home stats.

        • FIPster Doofus

          He’s not pitching at Yankee Stadium, or in the AL East.

          • the golden thong

            Neither are greinke or danks or Wilson or darvish or …

            So what?

            I know! They should sign Javier Vazquez! Or trade for josh Beckett!

            • Mike Axisa

              It’s pretty sad that you keep crawling back.

              • Slugger27

                crawling back from what?

                • Jesse

                  My guess is he got banned and he’s using the same e-mail or something. I don’t know.

            • FIPster Doofus

              Because I totally mentioned Vazquez and Beckett, right? Nice straw man.

              BTW, Greinke > Cain, and you’re not giving up Montero for either Darvish or Danks.

    • Slugger27

      cain isnt worth montero, not even close

      • Mike

        I agree. I wouldn’t give up Montero for Cain

      • FIPster Doofus

        I wouldn’t either.

        • FIPster Doofus

          *wouldn’t give up Montero for Cain, that is.

      • Mike HC

        I think we have to take Montero out of the “prospect” category. He should basically be an everyday player next year, so trading him for a top notch pitcher isn’t necessarily even guaranteeing improvement for this upcoming season at the expense of maybe 2-3 years from now. It is taking something (huge) away for this season to fill in another area.

        If we are looking to trade prospects for a big time pitcher, Montero should be untouchable, and the available guys should be the Banuelos, Betances, Romine, etc … group.

        • Monteroisdinero

          Thank You. Let us all pray….that Jesus is regarded as a 22 year old Miggy-rookie next year and the powers that be do not trade him for an older, more expensive, non #1 ace. Oh, we already have an ace.

          In other words,

  • MannyGeee

    Cahill please.

    • Preston

      I really like Cahill too. He’s not an ace, but he’s been durable and keeps the ball in the park. For us a guy who takes the mound and can stop the team from having big innings due to HR’s is more valuable than a guy who can be lights out but is injury prone (Anderson) or wild (Gonzalez). Him and Nova with our offense would unspectacularly eat up innings and ring up what others would call undeserved win totals for years to come.

  • Brian Paul

    What is a comparable trade for a player like McCarthy Mike? You mention the cost is low, but what could we expect?

    • Mike Axisa

      I have no idea. One year of a guy with major injury concerns that reinvented himself and may or may not be a fluke?

  • http://none Favrest

    We know we got hosed on the Javier Vazquez deal. Melky turned into the player all of us hoped he would be. Vazquez reverted back into the player some of us always knew he
    was. Gotta go after tough guys to win a World Series. Mark Buehrle is tough as hell. I’d love him in pinstripes. Jackson and Wilson are wild. Buehrle could give us a Pettitte like effort.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Melky could be a fluke for all you know, so you can’t say he has turned into anything yet.

    • Mike HC

      I didn’t like the Javy trade at the time, and obviously hated it in hindsight, but Melky’s loss is really meaningless. He sucked for Atlanta, and the Yankees had the chance to simply sign him for nothing last off season, which we passed on and choose Andrew Jones instead, who clearly also had an excellent season. That young top pitching prospect we gave up is really the guy who could come back to haunt us, but even he was obviously 3 plus years away from the majors at the time, and is no guarantee of anything.

      I do like Buehrle and am not crazy about Wilson or Jackson, so agreed there.

    • pat

      So which Melky is the real one? .255/.317/.354 or .305/.339/.470

  • http://NYBronxBombers24-7 Brian

    Agree but Melky is really seems to becoming a real solid player

    • Mike HC

      I’m with you, and even before his breakout last year, its not like he wasn’t a useful player when with the Yanks. But there are a lot of guys out there, and Melky really is better placed on a team in need of hitting, or a team that is not as stacked offensively as the Yanks.

  • Johnny O

    These articles are great, thanks Mike and crew. The more I read them the more I think the best move is no move. I’m not even really prospect hugging but I think if the Yankees make any acquistion this off season it will be a FA (Garcia/Yu/EJax/CJ in that order of likelihood). Otherwise, wait til 2012.

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      John Danks would be a great move if they don’t give up Montero or Betances.

      • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

        That should say Banuelos…

        • Jesse

          I’d offer two packages for Danks. One being Betances and Romine and the other being Sanchez and Phelps.

          • Bavarian Yankee

            yeah but I doubt the White Sox would do this. I think Betances, Romine and Phelps may get it done.

      • Mike HC

        Banuelos headlining a package for Danks seems like a relatively fair trade to me. Not saying it is a no brainer, but definitely something I would put more thought into if I were the Yanks.

        Definitely not Montero.

        • FIPster Doofus

          I think Banuelos is too much for, theoretically, one year of Danks. Betances? OK.

          • Mike HC

            Agreed that for only one year it would not be worth it. I guess my fairy tale trade would have to be more of a sign and trade, or extension type situation.

          • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

            I wouldn’t trade either of them, to be honest, but the consensus seems to be that Betances is expendable because he has more serious control issues.

            I’d head a package with Romine for Danks and keep Russell around for a few more years.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    I thought Trevor Cahill already played for the Yankees. *zing*

  • Fin

    It seems to me that the Yankees can’t really take another shot on a pitcher like AJ while AJ is still under contract. Therefore, I dont think they will really make a big play for Wilson. Oswalt would be a possiblity on a one year deal but I think thats going to be market driven, it will only take one team to over pay for him. The Yankees have managed to hold on to their top prospects this long while still making the playoffs and having a legit shot at the world series. With the DH spot open, I cant imagine them trading Montero at this point. I think in the end if the Yankee scouts like Darvish that is the way they go. He solves alot of issues: alot of his cost wont count towards the luxury tax, keeps the annual payroll down, allows the Yankees to keep thier propects for one more year to see who is really going to impact the Yankees and he wont cost them a draft pick to sign.

  • Tino is cool

    Im tired of hearing people trading away our prized talents. Keep montero, banuelos and co. Teams beat us bc they have tremendous girth of cheap, homegrown talent in the majors. I want burhle, and frankly, that’s it. Yankees should concentrate on next years FA class. And infuse players like Monty, with someone like hamels. And ppl talk about trading for Cain. Hello! He’s a FA after this upcoming year. We can keep our future studs and claim Cain into out rotation. Patience my friends. Patience

    • Bavarian Yankee

      I agree but I also think that we need to add AT LEAST 1 reliable starter. If we can’t find that one on the FA market we have to trade for someone. I also agree that we should keep Montero and Banuelos no matter what but imo Betances will end up as a reliever and it would probably be smart to trade him while his stock is high.

  • cranky

    I like McCarthy a lot, too.
    There were times in 2011 when he was as good as anyone.
    But what to offer for a guy like that?

  • Bavarian Yankee

    If I HAD TO trade for a pitcher from the A’s it would probably be McCarthy. Anderson clearly has the highest upside of their staff but his injury history doesn’t look good. Cahill is okay tbh but I’d prefer McCarthy because he’d cost less prospects and if he fails or gets injured we’re off the hook after 1 season. Gio is the guy I’d absolutely avoid, he can’t throw strikes for dear life.

    My order would be this: McCarthy > Cahill > Anderson >>> Gio