Imperfect Players, Perfect Solutions for the Athletics
By Sean Davis
It’s a simple fact of reality, nobody or no thing is perfect. As much as one might strive to achieve perfection, that pursuit will always leave one disappointed. This is a principle that applies to everyday life, and also applies to the world of baseball. For the Oakland Athletics, despite their small resurgence this weekend in taking three out of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays, they are a team with obvious imperfections and shortcomings that need to be addressed. In the month of August, there remains opportunity to improve your club through the waiver trade process, and key components can be added that will make or break your season.
The players that tend to be available at this point in the season are commonly a step below the ones who are being bid upon prior to the non-waiver deadline. Simply put, the players who get traded before that deadline tend to be of higher quality than those who are dealt in August. The Oakland A’s are a team that could undoubtedly use an injection of offense, and chances are that offense cannot be found within the organization.
Aug 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn (32) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly during the first inning against the New York Yankees at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
There are a number of players who may be readily available right now who could help add some offense to the Athletics, and it would make sense for Billy Beane to at least kick the tires on acquiring a bat like that. Names like Adam Dunn, Justin Morneau, and Mark Reynolds are the first that come to mind. Those three represent perfect examples of players who have some value, but also have some serious flaws that might give some teams pause – but also would drive down the cost to acquire such players.
Adam Dunn is perhaps the highest risk/reward of the three. He comes with a hefty financial commitment, as he still has a year left on the 4 year/$56 million contract he signed with the Chicago White Sox before the 2011 season. As a player, he comes with his flaws as well considering he strikes out just as much as anyone… ever. But with those strikeouts comes some of the highest pure power potential in baseball. He started off this season very poorly, and looked like he may be repeating his dreadful 2011 season, but picked up his production in a major way in June and now posts a .229/.335/.469 line with 27 home runs. For someone like Dunn, a .229/.335 rate of reaching base is the equivalent of a .280/.375 line or so from a typical Major League hitter. Imagine inserting Dunn as a DH in the middle of the Athletics lineup, that’s a major threat.
Justin Morneau hasn’t been the same since a concussion suffered three years ago, prior to that he was one of the premier bats in the American League and has an AL MVP Award on his resume. His flaws come in the form of uncertainty about his health, and the impact the concussion has had on his ability. There’s no doubt he’s a shell of his former self now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help a team like the Athletics. The fact that he’d only be under contract through the remainder of the season makes him much more appealing to a frugal team like the A’s. The Twins may consider moving him to save a few bucks since his tenure with the team will likely come to an end at this season’s conclusion anyway. He has hit six home runs in the month of August so far, and has a hit in all but two games so he may be finding his stroke as we speak. He could DH as well, and play first base if needed. If Josh Reddick‘s recent hot streak fizzles out, Brandon Moss is more than capable of moving out to right field to make room for someone like Morneau.
The Cleveland Indians released Mark Reynolds after designating him for assignment a few days ago. Reynolds is something of a poor man’s Adam Dunn. He strikes out a ton, has tremendous power, but simply can’t make enough consistent contact to sustain that power. Reynolds’ season trajectory has been the opposite of Dunn’s though, he started off hot and cooled down considerably as the season wore on. The plus side with Reynolds is that he can be signed as a free agent, and would only cost a pro-rated portion of the league minimum, which is a huge plus for a team like the Athletics. He’s a defensive dunce, so a DH role would suit him best.
These three aren’t the only potential additions the A’s could make to their roster for the stretch run. The team could certainly use help on the pitching staff (both starters and relievers), and perhaps at catcher if John Jaso and Derek Norris can’t get healthy. Complacency may have played a big role on the Athletics’ slide from six games up to one game down in the AL West, and they can’t afford to slip futher back.