FIRE JOE MORGAN: Bruce Jenkins


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Sunday, March 11, 2007


Bruce Jenkins

Rarely-cited, but truly beloved on this blog, Jenkins is the author of one of the all-time greatest articles in FJM history. Today he has some less egregious, but still silly, thoughts on the A's and Mark Kotsay.

Reflecting on the A's 2006 season, through all the fine moments provided by Frank Thomas, Huston Street and Milton Bradley, I always come back to Mark Kotsay, the consummate ballplayer.

In some ways, Jenkins is correct. As we point out in our glossary (click link at the top of the site), Kotsay is in many ways, at this moment in time, your prototypical "decent" baseball player. He has put up WARP3's of 5.4 and 3.0 in his last two seasons, both of which included 20-40 games missed to injury. He's a very good fielder and a decent hitter, when healthy, but next year he will be 31 and the days of WARP3's in the 6-8 range are probably over. He's like: not bad.

Struggling privately with his tortured back and some issues with manager Ken Macha, Kotsay was always good for the running catch, the double to left-center, the rally-triggering jolt of energy.

He was good for a whopping 7 HR and a line of .275/.332/.386 in 502 AB -- exactly, weirdly, the batting title qualification number. He hit into 18 DP. And as for doubles, he was "always good" for 29 of them. Eh.

With some guys, you peg them as ballplayers within a couple of warmup throws: George Brett, Buddy Bell, Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter. Kotsay is in that class.

Correct. He is in the "class" of "ballplayers," in that he has a major league contract guaranteed by the players' union's CBA. As for comparisons to Brett, Jeter, and Hunter...not so much, these days. Hunter is the same age and was worth 3.3 wins more to his team last year. And he hit 31 HR.

I'm not sure how good any of those guys' warm-up throws are, to be fair.

It's a crushing development for the A's, losing Kotsay for some three months.

I don't think so. They have a lot of good outfielders. I wouldn't call it "crushing." And weirdly -- and this is where Jenkins really kicks it into high gear, idiot-wise -- neither would Jenkins. Because even though he himself labeled the loss "crushing," and even though he presumably had access to a "delete" key, and ample time to use it, just four sentences later he writes this:

It definitely hurts the A's, but there's nothing wrong with a starting outfield of Bradley, Nick Swisher and Shannon Stewart.

So...not "crushing," then?

When Kotsay and Bobby Kielty return, their outfield will be in excellent shape again (we're assuming that Stewart is free of the foot problems that bothered him over the past two seasons). Some of the younger outfielders, like Ryan Goleski and Travis Buck, will get a longer look.

So...definitely not "crushing," in that they also have Milton Bradley (29 years old, higher WARP3 than Kotsay last year in fewer games) and Swisher (26, stud, 8+ WARP3 last year) and Stewart, who stinks a little, but not much more than Kotsay, and Kielty, who is nothing to write home about but is roughly as good as Kotsay has been recently. And while Goleski is no great shakes, if Buck hits his 50th percentile predictions, he'll be more valuable than Kotsay was last year, and he's only 23.

In any case, this is the A's way: They survive. They regenerate. They lose talent with fightening regularity, all the while retaining their highly respectable status in the American League.

That is to will not in any way be "crushing" to lose Mark Kotsay for a while.

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posted by Anonymous  # 6:16 PM
As reader Ed points out, it is 502 plate appearances, not AB, that qualifies one for the batting title.
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