Monday, February 4, 2013

Hot Stove Update: A's Acquire Jed Lowrie

Trader Billy was at it again today shipping power hitting first baseman Chris Carter along with 2 prospects, RHP Brad Peacock and C Max Stassi to new division rival Houston Astros for Jed Lowrie and RHP Fernando Rodriguez.  I've gotta say, this one has me scratching my head a bit on several levels.  Not that it means anything because I scratched my head at some of Billy's moves last year and it all worked out swimmingly for him in an exciting playoff run.

The centerpiece for Oakland is, obviously, Lowrie.  Lowrie has always had tremendous potential to be a power source at SS, but he is coming into his age 29 season and has yet to stay healthy enough to reach 400 AB in any season.  On top of that, the A's already spent $6.5 M on a two year contract with Hiroyuki Nakajima ostensibly to be their SS.  So who is it, Billy?  Nakajima or Lowrie?  Maybe Billy sees either Nakajima or Lowrie as more of a utility guy, but it seems like an awful lot to spend in $$$ or trade for a utility guy.  Maybe he sees Lowrie as a third baseman?

It's quite easy to see why the Astros made this trade.  Chris Carter has the potential to become an elite power hitter and is not even arbitration eligible yet.  His contract is controlled through 2018!  Peacock may or may not be a serious pitching prospect, but Stassi is a legitimate catching prospect who hit 15 HR's last year for Stockton in the Cal League.  So the Astros take in a very nice haul for a guy who has been injured in every season of his career so far.  It's not clear who is going to play SS for the 'Stros, but who cares?  They aren't going anywhere this season anyway.  They are just trying to accumulate talent, and they got talent in this trade.

The trade also has significant fantasy impact as it frees both Chris Carter and Brandon Moss from a 1B platoon in Oakland.  Suddenly you can add 2 pretty exciting first basemen to your fantasy rankings where really none existed before.

What do you think of this trade?


  1. Competitive advantage in accessing medical expertise is not talked about much. But I feel that could be very rewarding.

    I remember one year, they took a flyer on Frank Thomas and that paid off big for Billy. But then, you have all those injury cases, like Anderson, Hardin, etc. So, it's hard to say what will happen here.

    I don't think this is the way to build a winner - constant trading. Like a country is prosperous with a manufacturing base, and not through trading, a team benefits from producing players, instead of tradig players. The former is more profitable, unless we are talking about trading derivatives, with 20 to 1, or 100 to 1 leverage. But how do you do that with baseball players?

  2. Wow, the A's just keep on accumulating SS. THT has a great take on this:

    The thing for me is that I feel that the A's were lucky last season, getting performances above expected from players, and that regression to the mean will push them back in 2013. Similar to how the Padres had their great 2010, but then hasn't been much since. Though I could be off on that since the surge was at the end of the season, not the beginning, so that does bode well for the A's in 2013, unlike the Pads in 2011.

    Still, two games over their Pythagorean, +7 in one-run games, that's a lot of regression to make up for with these trades, plus that the Rangers and Angels weren't standing still either and presumably improving as well.

    Also, looking at their pitching staff, while their bullpen looks rock solid, their starting rotation is a bunch of control guys, not strikeout guys. BP's study of the playoffs found that a high walk rate did not affect a team's success chances in the playoffs, whereas having a subpar strikeout rate does. The A's were 3rd from last in K/9 last season, and their rotation consists of guys with strikeout rates 7.0 and lower, nobody is above 7.0 K/9. League and majors average, if I recall right, is 7.7 K/9. Instead, they have traded away two strikeout guys in Cole and Peacock, deciding to go for it in 2013.

    Maybe Wolff decided that since they got good last year, may as well push hard to win in 2013? Lowrie, because of his injury history, makes more sense as a super-utility guy, playing SS, 3B, and most probably 2B, while he is healthy (his 96 games last season was a high for him!). Maybe the hope is that giving him a lot of rest in-between games would keep him and his good bat healthy enough to contribute regularly, though not full-time.

    This is just the A's yo-yoing of the past few years, they jump back and forth on their objectives, reflecting the lack of long-term vision and guidance from up top.