Offseason Comparisons: Former vs. Current A’s

With the Oakland Athletics going on the road for their first series of interleague play this season, a familiar face will be set to go game one when they enter CITI Field. Bartolo Colon, the 40-year old wonder who came in sixth in the AL Cy-Young voting last year signed with the New York Mets this offseason (2 yrs/$20M), a move that at the time looked like it would hurt the A’s rotation. Ironically, he will be going up against the man that was brought in to replace him, Scott Kazmir, who has done more than respectable (9-2, 2.08 ERA) in Colon’s stead. However, this matchup between two men who were thought to be “past-their-prime” experiments in a risky Moneyball scheme bring up questions about Billy Beane’s offseason decisions, specifically in 2014. In order to break down the players that have left and entered the confines of O.Co Coliseum between this season and last, I will compare them based on their performance so far this season.

1) Michael Choice (and Chris Bostick) for Craig Gentry (and Josh Lindblom)Image

Choice was a Top-5 prospect in Oakland, but the decision to trade the previous 10th overall pick for Gentry has proven to pay off. Although A’s history has not seen too many trades where they acquire age in exchange for youth, giving Bob Melvin extra depth in the outfield has contributed heavily to the team. Gentry has stepped in to play left, right, and center field with a near identical range factor (2.64) as the A’s best defensive outfielder, Coco Crisp (2.65). He also has provided a spark in the leadoff spot whenever Crisp has not been in the lineup. His slash line is .287/.349/.331 (56 games) in comparison to Choice’s .189/.268/.355 (60 games), so from this alone you can see he is a much better fit for Melvins scheme offensively as well as defensively. Yet, he also contributes on the base paths which is something that the Swingin A’s have not been known for. A perfect 15-15 on SB attempts so far have given the offense a different dimension and is the icing on the cake as to why this trade was great move.

2) Fernando Abad (for John Wooten), Trading Jerry BlevinsImage

For the last 7 years, Jerry Blevins had generally been one of the go-to lefties out of the bullpen, yet after the acquisition of Abad, he became expendable. It also didn’t help that he was entering an arbitration year and would probably demand a raise from his $1.6M salary after maintaining a 3.15 ERA in 60 innings pitched in 2013. Despite being seen as a wild card, Abad has stepped in and filled Blevins role quite effectively. He’s thrown 31 innings so far, posting a 2.32 ERA and he even started the season without giving up a run through his first 13 innings. Considering Oakland gave just up a single-A prospect for this production makes the transition between lefties even sweeter.

3) Brett Anderson for Drew Pomeranz (and Chris Jensen)Image

What looked like a staple for the rotation for years to come, Anderson had been plagued with injuries after his rookie year, spending more than half of his last 3 years in Oakland on the DL. At the time, this swapping of “not-panned-out” early picks seemed to not favor either team but almost halfway through the season, the A’s have appeared to come out on top. While Anderson has only made 3 starts and is on the DL again for the Colorado Rockies, Pomeranz has been all that Oakland could’ve hoped for. Beginning the season as a long-reliever, he stepped right into the starting position when Dan Straily struggled early on. Although he recently hurt his hand and is now on the 15-day DL, he had posted quality numbers for the “Green and Gold.” 5-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 55 2/3 innings pitched, Pomeranz has done all that the A’s have asked and then some, putting this deal with Colorado in the win column.

4) Jemile Weeks and David Freitas for Jim Johnson, Not Signing Grant BalfourImage

Once Oakland determined that Grant Balfour’s price tag would be too high for them this past offseason, they went out and traded their former 1st rounder, Weeks, who hadn’t really met the club’s expectations, for Baltimore Orioles Jim Johnson. Coming off leading the MLB in saves two years in a row, Johnson regressed severely, losing the closers role just 3 weeks into his time as an Athletic. He currently stands at a 5.58 ERA in 30 2/3 innings and his $10M contract has also made it difficult to justify his performance this season. Yet, Balfour has not seen much more success. He also lost his closers title a few months into the season and has had a non-impressive 5.52 ERA in 29 1/3 innings of work to show for it. While one could argue Balfour would have had better days if he stayed in Oakland, the fact of the matter is this transfer of ex-closers has favored neither side because of their ineffectiveness to get outs this season.

5) Seth Smith for Luke GregersonImage

This was an interesting move as it was mutual for both parties. The San Diego Padres needed more depth in their lineup and the A’s needed more help at the back end of their bullpen. So far, Smith has had a greater role than he had last year in Oakland, playing in 65 (of the 77 possible) games. He’s slashing a very effective .290/.398/.524 with 8 HR’s, 24 RBI’s and 17 2B’s. Meanwhile, Gregerson has also contributed heavily, appearing in an AL-leading 39 games (39 2/3 inn.), garnering a 2.04 ERA, while striking out 37 batters and only walking 7. This deal has worked out for both sides, with each ball club improving in the areas they meant to.


Looking at all of these past offseason decisions, it is clear than Billy Beane made almost all of the right moves, which is probably one of the reasons for the 47-29 record Oakland currently holds.

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