Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Foulke, Tejada, arbitration trio

Several days ago, Monte Poole reported in the Oakland Tribune “general manager Billy Beane is all but conceding the loss of Keith Foulke”. Now it is reported that the A’s have offered Foulke a $20-24 million deal over four years, which is a giant step towards retaining the A’s closer. Past reports indicated that the A’s had no interest in offering Foulke a deal beyond three years. Beane usually never offers players (non-arbitration eligible, that is) deals for four or more years, but it seems like he may feel differently about Foulke. It’s pretty clear why. Foulke’s 2.08 ERA was the lowest for any A’s closer since soon-to-be hall of famer Dennis Eckersley had a 1.91 ERA in 1992. Does Beane believe that Foulke is the best closer out there, whether on the free agent market or available by trade?

Click below for the answer and more baseball chatter!Though A’s closers have had injury problems after leaving Oakland, it doesn’t seem like it could be the case with Foulke. After pitching 105 1/3 innings for Chicago in 1999 and 88 in 2000, the 86 2/3 innings was nothing he hadn’t dealt with before. So Foulke had experience to fall back on.

Koch had never seen that kind of action before, and Isringhausen had been converted into a reliever two and a half years before he ever came to Oakland. What would the impact of Foulke returning for four years be?

Obviously the A’s would retain the rights to a player who has the capability to close 90% of games, and work three innings if it becomes necessary. The Red Sox would acquire a closer who could bring stability to a bullpen plagued by the loss of a top-tier closer. The A’s have churned out the past two Rolaids Relief winners (Foulke most recently with 139 points), while last year the Red Sox (with pitchers who totalled more than one save) combined for 67 points.

Foulke has been quoted as saying that he would return to Oakland if he were paid the same amount, but he never mentioned anything about leaving if he got more than that. It would be common logic to go where the money is, but what about statistics? Foulke has done well pitching in both the AL West and East. Over his career, Foulke has had a 3.14 ERA against AL east teams (excluding Boston). However, Foulke has had a 2.98 ERA against other AL west teams (excluding Oakland). Interestingly, the AL East (players on the rosters of AL East teams as of 12/2/03) have batted .217 against Foulke ,while the AL West (players on rosters of AL west teams as of 12/2/03) have batted .232 against him. It’s a tossup. As of now, the A’s are almost certainly going to offer Foulke arbitration, as well as Tejada. Rincon is a possibility, as well as as Guillen. Giving Foulke arbitration makes sense, as Foulke has already said he’d be willing to work for $6 million a year in Oakland, and getting a contract after a career year would be smart for Foulke. The aribtration would just be for a compensatory draft pick in the case that Foulke decides to pack his bags for Boston. Beane would probably like to retain Rincon, as he’s the only lefty specialist the A’s have. There aren’t any other viable options out there for lefty relievers, so Rincon might be taken to aribtration. Guillen is questionable, as he hasn’t really gotten many offers from other teams. The Mets are reported as being a destination, but other than that the demand for Guillen is not high. The A’s would probably receive a “B” compensatory pick if Guillen left, but Jose’s reputation isn’t too hot. With Jose’s bloated numbers, he might just get a higher salary than he would on the market. Therefore, the A’s have to be careful.

Tejada, having openly sought a long-term deal, is not likely to come back to the A’s for a one-year deal. Tejada was recently offered a $24 million/ 3 year deal from Seattle. Though it seems a little bit under Tejada’s estimated price range and his desired contract length, the Seattle offer has dictated the demand for Tejada. As of now, there are a few suitors for Tejada’s services. Anaheim, Baltimore, Detroit and Seattle. Basically, it’s the collection of underachieving teams that have little chance of winning it all within the next year or two. As of now, though Anaheim, Baltimore, and Detroit have yet to formally offer a contract, they seem like the front-runners. All four have their perks and problems. Anaheim would be a good choice for Tejada, because he would be united with his idol, Alfredo Griffin (which is why he wears the number 4). He would also be joining a team that has money to spend, and already has on ex-Blue Jay Kelvim Escobar. However, Tejada has hit .214 in 187 at-bats at the Ed. One more problem which would be resolved (and consequently raise his batting average in Anaheim) is that he wouldn’t have to face Jarrod Washburn again. Tejada, over his career, has four hits in 44 at-bats against Washburn. That’s good for a .091 average. In Baltimore, Tejada would be surrounded by several new free agent players (Vladimir Guerrero?). Also, Tejada has hit .304 in 102 at-bats at Camden Yards. However, the chance to win wouldn’t be as strong in Baltimore, and probably not anytime within the next few years. Miguel is the type of person who has an extreme desire to win, probably stronger than most players in the league. If Baltimore makes poor choices in free agents, Miguel would see the money but not a trophy anytime soon. In Detroit, Miguel would get what he wants in terms of a contract. Detroit is pressing hard for Tejada, because their only attractions are Dimitri Young and the singing hot dog vendor. The Tigers also have stated openly that if they want to lure a player of Tejada’s caliber, they would have to overpay. They would also have to shell out that kind of money for several years in order to show committment. So basically, Miguel would get the money that he feels he deserves and most likely the amount of years that he asks for. However, he’d have to understand that there is no hope of winning probably in the majority (if not all) his time in Detroit. Is that enough for Miguel? Who knows. The only thing that does make sense is that A’s fans (in all likelihood) have seen Miguel Tejada in an A’s uniform for the last time.

Where have you gone, Chad Bradford, Erubiel Durazo, and Frank Menechino? Well, Bradford’s probably out hunting deer or eating crickets while Frankie is busy helping Tony Soprano and Erubiel’s probably doing agility drills at his home in Hermosillo. Not that kind of “where are you”, but there has been no word about these three arbitration eligible players. Bradford could earn anywhere from $1-$1.5 million in arbitration, so it would seem likely that Oakland would either offer Bradford a three or four year deal or go straight to an arbiter. As the A’s are paying Jim Mecir $3+ million this year in the final year of his contract, so the A’s could afford to give Bradford a contract with an ascending amount of money every year for three or four years. Frankie is a clubhouse leader, but is expendable as a player. With Esteban German, the A’s have flexibility at second base. However, Frankie gives the A’s flexibility at second, third, or short. With Tejada’s departure, Menechino could earn some playing time depending on how well Bobby Crosby does in spring training or if the heir to shortstop has early season troubles. If the A’s offer a contract, it will probably be for the league minimum for one year. Durazo is a very interesting story, because Beane is playing his cards like he has no interest in retaining Durazo during the upcoming year. If Mike Cameron is indeed picked up by the Athletics, then there are four available starting outfielders and two first basemen/DH’s. Hatteberg already has a two-year deal inked, so Durazo is the odd man out of those six. The closest comparable player to Durazo in 2002 was David Ortiz, another arbitration eligible player. Ortiz hit .272 with a .339 OBP, including 20 HR’s and 75 RBI’s. Last year, Durazo hit .259 with a .374 OBP, with 21 HR’s and 77 RBI’s. Before the 2003 season, the Red Sox plucked Oritz from Minnesota after the Twins non-tendered him, and got received a contract worth $1.25 million. Durazo had higher power numbers than Ortiz and played about the same amount of games in the field, so it would be likely that Durazo would earn somewhere in the $1.5-2 million range. Durazo’s future is unclear, but it seems like he is affordable, and seems like a better option than spending $5 million on Mike Cameron over a few years.

December 7th is approaching, and it’s expected that a lot of top-tier free agents will be choosing their destinations within the next couple of days. Enjoy the peace now, because it’s going to get wild pretty soon.


1 marty { 12.07.03 at 1:28 am }

Excellent comments on Bradford and Durazo. BB doesn’t like to arbitrate with anyone, so it will be interesting to see how he handles Durazo, Rincon, and Bradford. Frankie more than likely will be pulling about $500,000 for Toronto or some other team next season.
Thanks for the article,

2 Anonymous { 12.07.03 at 12:15 pm }

One would think the owners and GMs would learn a lesson on big, long term conrtacts as indicated by Texas and A-Rod, Boston and Ramerez and K Brown in LA. Beane already has Dye as a personal experience to draw on and it would seem that such a long term deal with Foulke could turn out to be another bad deal. Pitchers can develop problems over a season that render them worth a lot less than they may be earning.

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