Furcal No Longer Athletics’ Top Priority

First, I confess I am writing this post mostly to tease Jon for his wishywashyness.

I suppose I need to say something about Rafael Furcal, then.  He was obviously Billy Beane’s Plan A for fixing the shortstop hole, but Plan A failed, even though Beane offered more money and years to Furcal than any other team.  I suppose it’s hard to sell a player on moving in to your city when you’re working really hard to move out.

Wolff/Beane:  Move to Oakland, it’s great!

Furcal:  If it’s so great, why are you trying to move to San Jose?

Wolff/Beane:  Umm…uhh…

The question now is, is there a Plan B that would bring the A’s back to competitiveness in 2009, or are we back to the old 2010-12 target date now?  Orlando Cabrera is the only other significant free agent shortstop left, but he will cost a 2nd-round draft pick, and he’s not nearly the upgrade over Crosby that Furcal would have been.  The Braves could presumably make Yunel Escobar available in a trade since they now have two shortstops, so we’ll look at him, and the perpetually trade-rumored Jack Wilson.

(I love that Fangraphs now has +/ numbers for offense and defense, so we can compare.  I’ll use the 2009 Marcels wRAA for offense and the career UZR/150 for defense.)

Player Offense Defense Total
Crosby -19.3 +3.7 -15.6
Wilson -7.6 +2.2 -5.4
Cabrera -9.9 +7.2 -2.7
Furcal +1.2 -3.4 -2.2
Escobar 7.8 +4.9 +12.7

Marcel dings Furcal because he missed large chunks of 2008 and played hurt in 2007. If he’s healthy, he probably performs more like a +10 to +15 player offensively.  So I’d group the talents like this:

Escobar
Furcal
— big gap–
Cabrera
–small gap–
Wilson
–big gap–
Crosby

With Furcal or Escobar, you’re looking about a three win improvement over Crosby.  Cabrera gets you about half that.  Does it take all three wins to improve the A’s enough to compete in 2009?  If so, should the A’s give up good prospects for Escobar?  If it only takes a win or two, should the A’s go after Cabrera or Wilson?  Sorry, I’ve got no answers.  I don’t have time to do that kind of math, that’s what I pay Billy Beane for.

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5 thoughts on “Furcal No Longer Athletics’ Top Priority”

  1. 3.  I think Cabrera is one of those guys I could hope to fail even as a player on my favorite team. A rare thing indeed.

    Escobar would be sweet, so long as the Braves would take a couple above average prospects and not look for Cahill, etc.

  2. 5.  Well, suddenly Escobar looks a lot less available and Hu from the Dodgers looks more available. He’s 25 already, and he’s blocked for the next three years.

    Using the same numbers as above, over a full season, he’s about -14 on offense and +4 on defense, so he’s like a half-win upgrade over Crosby. That said, he’s got much less of a body of work to build those numbers from, so if the scouts say that he’ll hit better than Crosby or field better than his major-league numbers indicate so far, maybe he’s worth making a run for.

    Then again, to the extent personalities and feelings matter, it’s one thing to replace Bobby Crosby with an accomplished player like Rafael Furcal. It’s a whole other thing to bring in Chin-Lung Hu and tell the team “that guy you spent the last five years with? He’s gone. Here’s a new guy who’s maybe a smidge better.”

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