A Moss pickup by the Indians would be a move to celebrate
So I was all set to write an article on the A’s specifically on Brandon Moss for Tuesday – something I hinted at in my article on Wednesday - and of course the next day the big new is the Indians have been in talks with the A’s to acquire Moss.
Before I dive into numbers it is clear the A’s are selling, but they aren’t quite having a fire sale. They seem intent on not bottoming out. The Donaldson deal gave them three players to help next year, and while the major piece is far away it is clear they are looking for some help now. Yet Moss still seems like a very likely player to be traded thanks to his age and the A’s overall depth.
Moss played mostly at first base and DH last year, but he also spent time in the outfield. John Jaso is likely to switch from catcher to first base. He has had a lot of defensive and concussion woes which have led to this move, plus the A’s just signed Ike Davis for close to $4 million. The A’s also just signed Billy Butler to a three year deal which means he is now their everyday DH. In the outfield the plan for the A’s would be to play Craig Gentry in a platoon with possibly a player they get in a trade or maybe Sam Fuld if he stays in Oakland.
Moss is a player I am very intrigued to see how fans in Cleveland would judge him if acquired. I know there will be an issue that he is not a right-handed bat. I am sure fans will also see the lower batting averages and think he compares to Carlos Santana, but he has much more power. As we have seen with Santana many fans have an issue with a low average player but Moss is a legit 30 home run guy and not many of those are left in the big leagues regardless of what side of the plate he hits from.
Last year there were only 11 batters who had 30 or more home runs in all of baseball. In the immortal words of Dennis “Cutty” Wise “the game done changed.” Power hitters are now the rarest of all players when it comes to baseball. The Indians have not had a batter hit 30 or more home runs since Grady Sizemore did it six years ago in 2008. Some will see the numbers and say Moss has only hit 30 home runs once, but he should have made it to those numbers again last year. He has managed this power display in a pitcher friendly park as well and one that is notoriously tough on lefties.
Moss had 21 home runs in the first half of last year and only managed four in the second half. His struggles in the second half were on the Lonnie Chisenhall level – though he did step it up in the playoff game with a pair of home runs against the Royals. This effort is even more impressive when the news broke he played most of the second half with a torn labrum in his hip. This explains the power drop and the struggles. It also shows a guy who puts his team and trying to help them win above everything including himself.
On Wednesday I talked about the Coors Field effect with Wilin Rosario. It should be pointed out typically every hitter tends to hit better at home but with Moss it is actually the opposite case. In his years in Oakland he has thrived on the road with an OPS that was over 100 points higher outside of Oakland.
It also should be noted there is a reason why the Indians do target left-handed hitters and one reason is that they tend to hit better at Progressive Field. Looking at the home and away splits for Moss along with the fact that Oakland was a bad park for lefties and Cleveland a good one, Moss could be in for a massive breakout if the Indians do acquire him.
I have already seen a lot of talk that if Moss is acquired it would mean that Swisher is benched or traded. I am not sure that is the case. Moss is not the best outfielder according to stats, but last year this was exasperated by his injury. In reading A’s blogs on SportsNation and other sites many of them consider him an average defender in the outfield. Frankly he could not be much worse than David Murphy and Ryan Raburn were for the Indians last year.
There will be talk about the fact he is another left-handed bat when the Indians need a right-handed bat. While he does hit righties better, his career OPS against lefties is .723 which is solid. He is still effective when facing left-handers, and frankly, that is what is important. Lineup balance is nice, but if he hits lefties it doesn’t matter what side of the plate he hits from.
Moss took a long time to finally settle into the majors. He didn’t get a full season as a starter till he was 29, which means that he can’t be a free agent for another two years. He would be a central piece for the current core. This is not just a rental and if he performs like I think he will then at the end of it the Indians would get a draft pick back as well.
Now for the concerns with Moss, which basically there are only two and they are tied together. I am concerned by the fact he had to have hip surgery and that he is 31. Any player past 30 is a bit of a concern but the fact that he is over 30 and coming off major surgery should be somewhat of a concern. It does not dissuade me at all, but it could also end up being used as a negotiating tactic as well in trade talks. Actually, I am sure it will be.
So what is the cost to acquire him?
Everyone just assumes that it will be Jose Ramirez but I am not so sure about that myself. The Donaldson deal showed me more a desire to get quantity over quality. If they did go for Ramirez it would seem clear to see him and a Dylan Baker-type plus a third small piece as the central pieces. Baker fits one of the two molds for A’s pitchers and Ramirez fills the gaping hole at shortstop for Oakland.
I do wonder if a deal would work around Erik Gonzalez. I feel like he is a bit underrated right now. He has the best arm of the young middle infielders and could already defensively handle the majors. He is a definite shortstop in the majors and a stronger defender than Ramirez. His numbers last year were super impressive and he strikes me as a player who could be a bit like Brian Roberts-lite in terms of his bat in the majors. He was the 4th ranked prospect in my personal top 20 at the end of the year so I might be overly high on him.
The thing with a Gonzalez deal is that it would allow the A’s to get more pieces. The Indians currently have a redundancy in the Triple-A outfield with Tyler Naquin and James Ramsey. I could see either of them being the second piece in a deal based around Gonzalez with the idea being that player becomes Gentry’s platoon partner by some point next season. The Indians would also have to add an arm more than likely a younger guy in the lower levels like an Adam Plutko or Baker.
Of all the guys I have profiled this year Moss is the most exciting to me. The reason is simple: he brings a power bat for a few years and won’t cost as much as many of the other players I have profiled. On Monday when I started my research with each step I became more and more surprised by just how good Moss has been and what he could do in Cleveland.
I wrote this summer about how the Indians and the A’s are natural trading partners. After the trade of Addison Russell the A’s have depth issues up the middle. While their two top prospects are up the middle players, one is far from the majors and the other profiles more as a second baseman.
The Indians depth of upper level prospects would allow them to make a deal that would allow Oakland to rebuild on the run, which seems to be the current goal. They will be able to use young talent to avoid bottoming out.
Moss might not be the player Indians fans wanted, but I am telling you, if in the end the Indians can make a deal happen at the Winter Meetings, it will be one to celebrate.
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This is what happens when you have good, young talent on your MLB roster, and don't goob everything up by poor drafting. You actually have youngsters to move without touching your MLB roster. They are young enough, they can keep doing this as long as they continue to draft well.
On another note, with Gregorious going in a deal today, I'm thinking the Tribe wins the Bauer deal.
Ventura is a RHP. However, I agree that Moss would be a good addition and will benefit from playing 81 at Progressive Field.
Again, I pose this question... what REALISTIC fit is there for the Indians where they can acquire a player that is a "Middle of the order RH Bat"? And please don't say Justin Upton. If you're concerned about Moss against lefties, there's a ton of RH bats that can be used in a platoon to upgrade Raburn and the bench. Johnny Gomes, Van Slyke in a trade, etc, etc. There is no RH hitter that will solve all of the Indians' offensive problems. Just like Alton said, who says this is the only move they'll make?
Moss gives the Indians a LEGIT 30 homer guy. His hip should be fine from what I've read, and you get him out of that dungeon that is O.co. Get that wind blowing out to right in July and we'll get some 2nd deck 3 run bombs that this team sorely needs. Just because he's left handed doesn't mean he's not a valuable upgrade for this offense. And from what I've seen, his defense is better than what they had last year, so I don't know why some are so against this move. It's like some do no research and see a batting average and say oh he sucks. Moss can produce when he makes contact and sure he's going to strike out. But I'm guessing that would be ok if he were right handed...
Or trade for Hammel, and Howard of Phillies for Swisher, Aguilar, Bourn, Gonzales, and Naquin. Phillies would get three good young players with Swisher and Bourn. We would get a starting pitcher and Howard could be our DH.
Plus it's december, we don't have to pack it in for the offseason after this trade guys, we can get a complimentary right handed stick (Gomes, Mayberry, Rios, etc.) and still move Murphy too. We don't have to accomplish every thing in one trade.
" Basically all of our pitchers are expendable, but considering our lack of depth in the upper levels, I'd rather we hang on to the higher upside guys like Lugo and Brown for now."
I object to you saying "all". I think you have clarified that to not include our ML top five. Beyond that top five - and perhaps Allen in the BP - I would be open. I note that Shaw and Crockett should only be available at a very high price.
I don't know if you misunderstood what I meant, or you are just over-valuing our minor league pitchers. Pitching is far from a strength. We have a middle of the pack farm system and aside from Sheffield, none of those pitchers are top 10 prospects. If we trade guys like Anderson, Morimando, Plutko, Colon, Baker, Merritt or Kime, I could care less. They are guys we should just be giving away. They have value, but if they are needed to complete a deal, you do it.
If you were making a reference to our Major League staff, then I agree with you. We're definitely not moving any of our current starting 5 for Moss.
" Basically all of our pitchers are expendable, but considering our lack of depth in the upper levels, I'd rather we hang on to the higher upside guys like Lugo and Brown for now."
The strength of this team is pitching. It has been said once you think you have enough pitching you get more pitching. We need a RH bat for 3B or RF - that is all.
Gang - we need to deal in reality and build on strength - not trade strength.
IMO the challenge is to trade LH value for RH value. Somewhere there must be the RH equivalent of Chiz who we could swap for even up.S
Simply getting a healthy and productive Swisher to play DH would be huge. To me that may be our best hope for an incremental improvement of our team.
And Robert, you are right. You can take your splits and your calculations, and the bottom line is Moss is a LH hitter. We have enough of those. A RH with some power is our immediate need. Stay focused on that.
Our problem is to get more right handed. If there was ever a black and white issue this is it. Moss to me fixes NOTHING.
Beane isn't a dumbass either. It's ether Wendle plus, or there are a few more parts going both ways.
If true, I make this move yesterday.
Moss 2013 Season (Fully Healthy): 0.256 AVG 30 HR 87 RBI
Pujols 2014 Season (Fully Healthy): 0.272 AVG 28 HR 105 RBI
Moss would be a HUGE upgrade to our lineup and gives us sometime to stand up during the game and watch some second-deck shots. Our lineup would be challenging Detroit for the best in the division and our pitching staff will be stronger than Detroit. That's right, Detroit has an ineffective rookie left-hander slotted in the 5th spot of their rotation.
Now I will compare our roster with Detroit's:
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Jose Ramirez SS
3. Michael Brantley LF
4. Brandon Moss RF/DH
5. Carlos Santana 1B
6. Yan Gomes C
7. Nick Swisher DH/RF
8. Jason Kipnis 2B
9. Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
1. Corey Kluber
2. Carlos Carasco
3. TJ House (Most consistent of the last 3)
4. Danny Salazar
5. Trevor Bauer
1. Rajai Davis CF
2. Ian Kinsler 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. JD Martinez LF
6. Nick Castellanos 3B
7. Jose Iglesias SS
8. Anthony Gose RF
9. Alex Avila C
1. Anibal Sanchez
2. David Price
3. Justin Verlander
4. Rick Porcello
5. Kyle Lobstein
I think Jose Ramirez is a really nice, young player that has been underrated as a prospect for some time now. I don't want to give him up for a guy one of the best organizations in MLB has decided they are ready to move on from.
It's just one man's opinion, but I really hate this idea that we would not only give J-Ram but another piece of value for 2 years of Moss. I could understand an argument for Moss for J-Ram straight up. Anything more than that is wayyy too much for me.
I was under the belief that Moss was horrible in the OF, but that just isn't the case. Over the past 3 years, he's been about average in terms of DRS. He actually had a 5 DRS and a positive UZR in the OF last year on a bad hip...
1B is where he seems to really sturggle.
I've looked at their depth chart, studied their prospects, etc, just to see if it makes any sense from their perspective, and yeah, on paper, it doesn't make a ton of sense for them. They have Parra, who could step in and has been a regular the past couple seasons, but he would obviously would be a step back in production for them. But who knows? What do the Brewers value? Do we have a piece that might interest them? They seem to be content with Segura and Gennett at SS and 2B, but both of those guys have their question marks. Could JRam + one or two other pieces pique their interest? I dunno. Maybe.
Point is, most of the baseball world was shocked when the A's traded Donaldson. Far more unexpected trades happen every season. If a guy is a good fit, it can't hurt to kick the tires on him, right?
Looks like this is going down.
Oakland is one of the best organizations in baseball. A few years ago they picked up Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson on the cheap, reaped the benefits of them in their physical primes (26 to 29) and are now selling them at a profit as they age.
Brandon Moss has always been a pretty mediocre, ordinary talent. Never really good enough to make it in Boston or Pittsburgh, but Oakland turns him into a valuable player during his physical prime and now Oakland is ready to move on while he's still got value. Moss' splits away from Oakland are nice, but he K's a lot, he's coming off surgery and getting older.
All things equal, I'd prefer not to be on the other side of a trade with one of the best organizations in baseball. Cleveland is tremendous at identifying undervalued minor league talents, but lately they've pretty much sucked when acquiring established MLB talent. I wish they'd stick to doing what they are best at -- getting Asdrubal Cabrera, Corey Kluber, Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley, etc. for pennies and developing them into MLB stars. They tend to more often than not destroy value when making marquee MLB moves. Prove me wrong, Antonetti.
I also see Kris Davis mentioned in these comments often. Not sure if its the same guy every time but anyone suggesting him needs to ask themselves "why would the Brewers trade Kris Davis?" He's an important piece to a contending club. You cant just point to any guy that would be an upgrade for the Indians and say "hey lets get that guy!" without their being any need for the other team to unload him.
What if the rumors are true and Beane is willing to move other guys like Jeff S or Scott Kazmir???
A package of Moss/ Kazmir and a prospect could be worth House/ Murphy/ EGonzalez/ Naquin or Ramsey, a pitching prospect like Plutko or Baker and another low level high upside piece...
Although, Sexson was dealt in a panic mode when injuries decimated the Tribe's pitching staff (they should've just stood pat, but thought they needed to make playoffs even in the face of ridiculous injury count). Giles was dealt for Rincon — that was a head scratcher.
So, I'm guessing that one is still used as a reference point for what NOT to do in the Tribe's inner circle. But like I've previously said, current GM is not afraid and wants to improve this team for now. Adding Moss could be a huge off-season addition and if the staff continues to improve along with a bounce back year from a couple vets, this team's dangerous.
The other name I have mentioned that I think would be a great fit and not cost all that much is Khris Davis. Only 27 years old, plenty of control, RH bat, TON of pop... why not go after a need instead of just a guy? $7M is a hell of a lot of money for a small market team to invest in another question mark.
Moss has trouble with the high heat because he's a fly ball hitter. Studies have shown that GB pitchers struggle vs FB hitters, and FB pitchers do well against FB hitters and the same goes for GB pithers and hitters. High fastballs generate a lot of FB's, so of course Moss will have trouble there, Moss actually put up some of the best numbers in his career against fastball's last year, and the only pitch he's historically struggled with has been the changeup. The idea that he sucked without Cespedes is a falsehood. The time of the trade was about the time of his hip injury (he hurt it before the trade), so don't blame lineup protection which is a myth anyway. Your only concern that really is valid is his hip, but even then, I don't think it's that big of a deal.
I like Moss, but at his age, with his hip surgery he becomes another 2year gamble for 17-20mil. It's an admission that the prior RF gamble Murphy/Raburn has busted. That deal had the same parameters.
It's an acceptable gamble to take. Only problem is that he's a LHB. I know his splits look fine, but one of the things you know when you play in a daily fantasy BB league is that Moss sits against a lot of LH starters. He only had 101 PAs vs LHP last season in 51 games. What does that tell you? He loses all power against LHP, so if he's in the lineup and even producing at career norms, he's a 7-8 hitter vs LHP. The Indians' problem vs LHP is still there, Moss or no Moss.
As for the return package: I'm with you and hope both sides prefer quantitiy over quality. Any deal around EGonzo/Naquin is fine for me. Throw in a BP arm like CC Lee, Price, Sturdevant (or up to Armstrong/Adams, whom I'd like to keep) and/or a low level SP if need be. That should be plenty enough and even if the Moss gamble busts and the prospects blossom, there won't be buyer's remorse for 2015 and possibly 2016 with that package.
The window of opportunity is now for the Indians with their young, controllable SP, so any deal that buys a veteran player for the next two years should see them sell players that can't be expected to carry the ML team in those two seasons. Guys like JRam, Urshela and Lindor don't fit in that description, so they should be protected at all cost, even if it means overpaying in overall package. I'd rather sell Frazier than any of those 3 for that reason too. It's not about winning the deal, it's about what sets up the Indians best the next two seasons and if they include JRam, it takes away significantly from the upgrade made in OF.
I like Aaron's lineup, but outside of trying to strike a perfect L/R balance, I think that we could do better:
Basically, in this config, you're breaking up the 9-1 stacked lefties for a 1-2, but strategy dictates that your best contact hitter should hit 2nd and the best overall hitter should be 3rd. Santana's high OBP, plus power, and switch hitting ability makes him perfect for this role. Either way, that's a great lineup, especially if you think that Swisher and Kipnis can bounce back to 2013 levels.
CF Bourn (L)
SS Ramires (S)
LF Brantley (L)
1B Santana (S)
RF Moss (L)
C Gomes (R)
2B Kipnis (L)
DH Swisher (S)
3B Chisenhall (L)
Gomes/Santana are plenty capable of producing from the right side and anything Swisher can provide will be gravy. I'm just so tired of the "He's not right handed" argument that I'm bound to see both here and in other Indians news outlets. Fact of the matter is that Moss can hold his own against lefties, so if a guy can hit, what does it matter??
The only concerns of mine with Moss are the hip surgery and the price to acquire him. Frankly, I find Gonzales, Plutko, and Naquin to be a bit steep. I definitely think he can be acquired for less. It remains to be seen though.