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Moneyball Drafts & Temper Tantrums


Sept. 13: I can't remember the last time I saw a player -- in any sport -- throw anything into the crowd, let alone a folding chair. Well, Frank Francisco crossed into the realm of idiocy. He's a rookie, so it's not like he's got deep pockets to turn inside out in a lawsuit. Having had raw fish thrown on my entire team while playing hockey, I can't really imagine what projectiles professional players have to face. But if it's just some fool swearing at you from the crowd? That's something you have to overcome before you get out of Little League.

And what's with Buck Showalter trying to defend his team? I'm sure he loves being a "player's manager," but there are times when you have to admit that your behavior is utterly unacceptable. This was one of them.

If there's such a thing as karma, it came in and shut down the Rangers. Eric Chavez drove in the winning run in the bottom of the tenth, neutralizing Alfonso Soriano's 9th-inning home run and Mark Teixeira's huge triple and home run.

Moneyball in the minors

Can we see the hand of Billy Beane at work in the A's minor league franchises?

Looks like the hand of Billy! In particular, the Rivercats led the PCL with 35% more walks than the second-place team.

And the chief contributor of all those walks...

With Jermaine Dye on the shelf, Nick "Moneyball" Swisher got his long-awaited callup. Swisher absolutely destroyed the PCL -- he hit 29 home runs (11th in the league) despite playing half his games at sea level. He was 8th in OBP. He led the league in runs with 109 and led the league in walks with 103, 14 more than the next guy, teammate Dan Johnson, of course. Judging by his AAA statistics, we can expect him to hit like Bobby Crosby: low average, 30 homers, except with way more walks.

I saw an interesting thing in the A's-Rangers game on Monday. With the switch-hitting Swisher coming to the plate, Texas manager Buck Showalter took out his left-handed reliever and brought in a righty so that Swisher would have to bat left-handed. Maybe Showalter's working off something I don't know, but I sure don't get it:

1) The lefty (Mahay) is a better pitcher than the righty (Almanzar)
2) There are very few tough lefties in the minors, so Swisher's got very little experience against them
3) Swisher's a natural left-handed hitter, and likely a stronger hitter from that side.

So why would you want Swisher to bat right-handed? In the end, it didn't matter, because Almanzar plunked Swisher with his second pitch.

What about the Moneyball drafts?

First Round, #25: Bobby Crosby -- likely AL rookie of the year
2001 - First Round, #26: Jeremy Bonderman -- packaged in the Ted Lilly/Carlos Pena deal: 350 career MLB innings, 5.37 ERA with Detroit
2001 - First Round, #37: John Rheinecker -- AAA Sacramento Rivercats
2001 - Second Round, #69: Mike Cotts -- sent to Chicago White Sox in the Keith Foulke deal, 50 relief IP in 2004

First Round, #16: OF Nick Swisher -- September callup to the A's
2002 - First Round, #24: P Joe Blanton -- good season with AAA Sacramento Rivercats
2002 - First Round, #26: IF John McCurdy -- poor season with AA Midland
2002 - First Round, #30: P Ben Fritz -- tough season with AA Midland
2002 - First Round, #35: C Jeremy Brown -- same deal as previous two, though he nearly lead the Texas League in walks
2002 - First Round, #37: P Stephen Obenchain -- mediocre season in A-ball
2002 - First Round, #39: 3B Mark Teahen -- traded to Kansas City in Octavio Dotel deal. OK hitting in AAA.

Let's compare to the Giants last two drafts:

2001 - First Round, #25: Matt Cain - HS Pitcher -- Good season in AA
2002 - First Round, #22: David Aardsma -- 30 baserunners in 10 MLB innings, not quite ready yet!
2002 - First Round, #31: Craig Whitaker - HS Pitcher -- good season in A ball

For whatever reason, the Giants decided to take big gambles with their first round picks. High school pitchers (remember Brien Taylor?) often don't work out because of injuries. Oakland, on the other hand, for less than $10 million in signing bonuses, got seven players to AAA or the majors within two and a half years. Ponder that the next time Brett Tomko takes to the hill.

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