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A's Get ByrnedóWitasick Bunch of Trades!
2005-07-14 22:24
by Mike Carminati

Remember those woebegone days when Billy Beane had that Midas touch. Every deal he made turned to gold or at least gold and lime green, especially the midseason ones. And every year seemingly the A's would turn in a stellar second half and storm into the playoffs in which they would lose in the first round. Just look at how he revamped the team with a series of deals on May 22, 2002.

And now in 2005, he brings the Oakland faithful….Joe Kennedy AND Jay Witasick, wow! What, was John Wasdin unavailable?

In a series of trades, the A's swapped, essentially, multi-position outfielder Eric Byrnes for multi-position outfielder Jay Payton, rehabbing sinkerballing Chad Bradford for long-time stiff reliever Jay Witasick, and starting pitcher Joe Kennedy for former hot prospect Omar Quintanilla.

In arguably Witasick's best season (2002 with the Giants), he showed his true colors by continually crumpling in the playoffs and World Series. Kennedy is young (26) and left-handed but aside from what is looking more and more like a fluke season, last year, has never had an ERA under 4.44.

On paper Payton for Byrnes looks like a pretty good swap. Byrnes was out the door after 2005 anyway and has enjoyed only one full season as a starter (2004). Payton, though three years older, has averaged about the same numbers as Byrnes over a longer haul. Sounds like an OK swap, right? Well, consider that Payton has spent a good percentage of his career in hitter's parks and owns an OPS that is exactly the same as the park-adjusted league average. Byrnes, who has always played in a pitcher's park, has adjusted OPS that's 9% better than the league average. Besides, Payton was no more happy on the bench, where he'll seemingly spend a good deal of time in Oakland, when he was on the Red Sox than Byrnes was on the A's.

Kennedy could turn into the pitcher he was last year or he could continue to stunk up the joint. Again, he is young and left-handed. If Bruce Chen can do it, so could Kennedy. But after owning one of the better rotations in the game for a number of years and then dismantling it for youth, gambling Kennedy seems an act of desperation. Besides, Quintanilla is also young and may come back to bite them.

The shame of it was that Payton-for-Bradford seemed a decent move given Bradford's woes on the mound last year, his injury status, and the Red Sox desperation to a) shore up their pen and b) divest themselves of Payton (he was designated for reassignment, so Crazy Theo had to let him go somehow). It was the springboard for moving Byrnes, but then Beane became the desperate one.

That appears to be the difference in Beane this season: he may have acted out of desperation before but you could never see it. The Mulder and Hudson deals changed that and this midseason deal, that is dwarfed by previous years' similar moves, seals it.

Comments
2005-07-15 10:18:34
1.   Nick from Washington Heights
wait a second. The Mulder deal seems to have worked all right for the A's. Isn't Haren having a better year than Mulder and at a much cheaper cost? The Hudson deal hasn't been all that bad either. Didn't Hudson spend a substantial period of time on the DL? Beane stocked the farm with that trade.

These trades boiled down to Quintanilla for Kennedy. It seems you're right about Payton for Byrnes costing the A's some offense, but doesn't Payton make up for that loss on the defensive side. And while Witasick can be awful, he has a tendency to alternate between awful and good from one season to the next. I'm guessing he can maintain his solid pitching in the comfy confines of the coliseum. Bradford struggled mightily last year and is coming back from back surgery. That seems to be a pretty decent upgrade in middle relief.

Back to Kennedy for Quintanilla. Besides the fact that he plays a position that is filled by Bobby Crosby, and that the A's have another SS prospect ahead of him in the organization (and his name escapes me), his value as a prospect has degraded considerably from last year. Kennedy of course has been awful in pitcher hell, but his upside is pretty high. His time in the minors was similar to Harden's. It's a gamble but not an unreasonable one.

I'm not sure making well-reasoned trades is a sign that Billy has become desperate.

2005-07-15 12:02:43
2.   scareduck
Mike: The A's are better than .500 and coming up fast on the Angels and Rangers. At what point do you back off from the "Beane has jumped the shark" trope?
2005-07-18 12:11:43
3.   Mike Carminati
When they they take control of the division lead.
2005-07-18 13:14:15
4.   Mike from Hoboken
Gee Mike, they're now just 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race. I think Beane deserves some credit, no?
2005-07-19 05:43:44
5.   Mike Carminati
MfH,

They are now 3 game back, but with 5 teams ahead of them. The Phils are 4.5 out, with one team to beat. I would say that Beane is doing at least as good a job as Ed Wade. How's that for cred.

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