Right Field

Reveille 1/12/15

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

The A’s had no capable everyday middle infielders on their roster for 2015, and in one fell swoop, they add two of them — a net gain of five or six wins for the major league team with even a conservative forecast. Zobrist has been one of the best players in baseball for the last six seasons. While he was never a highly ranked prospect because of an awkward swing that couldn’t produce any power, he reworked his hitting mechanics after he was traded to Tampa Bay and averaged 37 doubles and 19 homers per 162 games since becoming a regular during the 2008 season. He’s a patient, high-contact hitter, more likely to hit 40 doubles and 10 to 12 homers in Oakland than to rediscover his 20-homer peak, and he’s an above-average defender at second base who can fill in anywhere else on the diamond except behind the plate and on the mound. He makes $7.5 million in 2015, the last year of what has to be one of the best value contracts for any team in MLB history, and even if he’s worth just 5 WAR — which would be a bad year for him — he’ll be worth several times his salary and is a huge boost over any in-house option the A’s already had. . . . 

Tampa Bay needed to sell Zobrist to the highest bidder anyway, and getting a future regular in Daniel Robertson is about the most they could have hoped for in such a deal — with a very good chance that Robertson becomes an above-average regular or better thanks to his skill set at the plate. Robertson was a sandwich-round pick in 2012 thanks to a promising hit tool and ability to play somewhere in the infield; he took a big step forward in the high-Class A California League, playing in one of the league’s more neutral parks in Stockton, hitting .310/.402/.471 and improving as the season went on. Robertson has a short, direct swing, starting with an open stance and barely transferring his weight. He doesn’t have much rotation in his swing and is likely to be a line-drive hitter with below-average power, making a lot of contact and getting on base at a high clip given his strong walk rates so far in pro ball. He’s a 40 runner, and his footwork isn’t good enough for shortstop, but he has the arm for third base and the hands to play third or second.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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