Brian Wilson Could be One of Those Leftovers


Aug 29, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson talks to umpire Tim Timmons (95) during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A turning point in the Academy Award nominated film, Moneyball, was a scene that showed Oakland general manager Billy Beane approach designated hitter David Justice and explain that the Yankees were paying half of his salary to play for another team.

We’re seeing a real life example of that, only it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers who are the ones paying their former players to play against them.

They traded center fielder Matt Kemp along with millions of dollars to the San Diego padres, a division rival. They also just designated Brian Wilson for assignment and are preparing to eat his $10 million  salary.

In a fantastic assessment of the Athletics’ position this offseason, Jesse Spector of Sporting News explains how Beane’s strategy is playing out.

"“By making two big trades early in the offseason, Beane effectively walked into a cafeteria, gave handfuls of melting bonbons to a couple of kids, then yelled “FOOD FIGHT!” and walked out. That he picked a couple of kids who would normally sit out of such a fray meant that the ensuing chaos would be that much greater. Other teams have had to react to Chicago and Toronto making bold moves to improve themselves. Meanwhile, the Padres are doing the same, and the Dodgers – under the direction of Beane’s former lieutenant Farhan Zaidi – are doing all kinds of business.By starting the chaos and pointing it in a certain direction, Beane positioned the A’s to be able to slide in and pick up the scraps. When all of the moving and shaking is done, there will be useful players who no longer fit with their teams, or free agents who simply have been forgotten about and wind up looking for work at a discount.”"

He goes on to note that, although he may not be one of Beane’s typical “guys”, former Dodgers and San Francisco Giants fan favorite, Brian Wilson could be one of those leftovers the A’s crave.

Wilson is coming off of the worst year in his career. His HR/9 skyrocketed to 0.93, nearly twice his career average of 0.52. His BABIP was an uncharacteristically high .336 last season, and his ERA and FIP were both well above 4.00.

His fastball won’t average the 96 MPH it did during his peak years with the Giants, but he sits in the low-to-mid 90s. All of his pitches graded as below average last season, which was a first for him.

Dayn Perry of CBS Sports does not feel optimistic Wilson can contribute in 2015.

All that is to say that Wilson could make for a very nice speculative buy-low grab for Beane to add to an already strong bullpen.

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All-star closer Sean Doolittle enters 2015 with the closer title for the first time in his career. We expect big things from him.

Dan Otero has carved out a unique role that has him as a long reliever, closer, and set-up man whenever the situation calls for it.

Fernando Abad, Eric O’Flaherty, and the newly acquired Eury De La Rosa combine for a formidable stable of lefties.

Newcomer R.J. Alvarez, who the Athletics just got from the Padres in the Derek Norris trade, looks like a closer in waiting. With a K/9 of 13.4 in the minors and 9 strikeouts in 8 innings pitched in the majors last season, he is someone who can contribute to the back end of the bullpen now.

That doesn’t even include the plethora of long-relief options left over from whoever doesn’t make the rotation, which remains a mystery.

It would be tough enough as it stands now to find a spot for Wilson in the bullpen, but it is an idea that intrigues me.

I have been outspoken in my distaste for Brian Wilson.

He is a former Giant. He is strange. And he can be a distraction with things like this.

Nevertheless we saw the power arms of Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis mow down the American League in the playoffs. Wilson has the track record of being successful power arm. And where else would a pitcher want to pitch in an effort to restore his value?

He is three-time all-star and two-time World Series champion. And his beard would fit in very well in Oakland. So there’s that.

This is probably not something the A’s would ever consider, as Mr. Spector points out in his article. The A’s already have a solid bullpen and there are plenty of cheaper options available.

But with Billy Beane, you can never be too sure.

Next: Nobody Even Noticed This Acquisition