Thoughts on the Ben Zobrist trade.

Hard to understand what Billy is doing in Oakland. Turning over the entire roster and then trading away a top prospect for what? A couple of decent guys with no real upside down the road? This is a very strange trade that somehow makes sense through the fog known as the 2015 offseason. Zobrist is the WAR poster boy–and this blog doesn’t put much stock in a statistic that NO ONE knows how to compute (yet clueless nerds seem to bring up endlessly) and ultimately makes no sense. WAR doesn’t work because it says Ben Zobrist is about as good as Miguel Cabrera or Robinson Cano. Bill James, the ultimate statistical guru agreed with my assessment recently:

“Well, my math skills are limited and my data-processing skills are essentially nonexistent. The younger guys are way, way beyond me in those areas. I’m fine with that, and I don’t struggle against it, and I hope that I don’t deny them credit for what they can do that I can’t.“But because that is true, I ASSUMED that these were complex, nuanced, sophisticated systems. I never really looked; I just assumed that the details were out of my depth. But sometime in the last year I was doing some research that relied on these WAR systems, so I took a look at them, and … they’re not very impressive. They’re not well thought through; they haven’t made a convincing effort to address many of the inherent difficulties that the undertaking presents. They tend to get so far into the data, throw up their arms and make a wild guess. I don’t know if I’m going to get the time to do better of it, or if it will be left to others, but … we’re not at anything like an end point here. I assumed that these systems were a lot better than they actually are.”

Why was he acquired? Because he can do the one thing that gets Billy Beane hotter than a truck stop hooker–play multiple positions.

Yunel Escobar, who is the epitome of a lazy player with little desire, stoked my own desire in the laziest way possible. A shrug. A “who cares?” My desire to drink hot apple cider and return to bed was an infinitely stronger emotion. I barely knew the guy EXISTED. There was also the incident in Toronto where he wore his eye-black emblazoned with the words ‘TU ERE MARICON.’

jaso

John, you will be missed.

The words can be translated to mean “you are a fag” or a “pussy.”

Strange considering one of the players he was traded for–John Jaso–is sort of a poster boy for gay men as the “cutest baseball player.”

You can’t make this shit up. We here at the ‘Fro certainly don’t condone that sort of behavior, and I’m sure most Athletics fans would agree. Paying money and being at rapt attention for a lackadaisical homophobe is far down my list of enjoyable pursuits, right above getting kicked in the nuts after a bad date.

assessment: starting SS with the other horrible acquisition, Marcus Semien being moved to 2nd base.

In the end, this isn’t a BAD trade. We acquired two starters for an often concussed catcher and two minor leaguers that may never even see the AAA level. I may even learn to appreciate Zobrist’s ability to “pick and grin” or run down flies for the ONE season he will be in Oakland. The fans will probably love him for his “gamer” style of play.  On a more personal level this trade just didn’t do much for me because I have no affection for the players acquired or traded away. C’est la vie. The life of an A’s fan.

6 Comments

I’ve never totally trusted WAR because I have trouble trusting a stat that exists in at least 2 versions. Having said that, I’ve always liked Zobrist.
v

Count me in on the trade the A’s made. Based on what, you may ask. Nothing more than the simple fact that Zobrist plays all the positions. It seems to be an important factor these days since teams want to carry so many pitchers on the roster and anyone who can’t pitch is better off with the ability to pick up a different fielder’s glove every other inning. I don’t care much for the way that these pitchers come in for one ground ball or strike out, but MLB hasn’t asked me for my opinion, so I go along. Speaking of pitching, I am a little concerned about the situation in Oakland right now. It doesn’t seem like there’s the depth they’ve had in the past. But this is said partly out of ignorance, as I am a little behind in my roster review.

Pitching is the least of our worries, at least starter-wise. Remember, we have Gray, Kazmir, Chavez and a returning Jarrod Parker and a returning A.J. Griffin. There are also the 2 starters we acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade who will probably start the season in AAA but in my humble opinion will no doubt start at least 10 games this year. I’m a little skeptical about the bullpen because of mutts like Ryan Cook, and Doolittle is just too inconsistent. (He also will never be forgiven for blowing the save against the Royals in that Wild Card game.)

My memory is often bad but i think it was Tim Hudson traded to Atlanta when I realized two things. 1) whoever the A’s traded will probably still be good if not great and whoever the A’s got in return will probably be good if not great, maybe not right away, but eventually. I didn’t do any evidence based research to confirm my theory/realization, but I enjoy the off season mostly because the A’s so often reinvent themselves. One of my favorite maxims is accept loss forever. The A’s seem to like it too.

Well said. Reminds me of the following Lao Tzu quote: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Great article, Gary! I always enjoy reading your work!

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