Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A's Continue to Tinker, Dodgers now have Chance For Kent

Money, money, money that is the word that drives 95% of the transactions the Athletics make. Billy Koch showed that he could lead a bull pen that won the AL West, his upside is tremendous, he had just scratched the surface of big time closing, but he is sent packing to the White Sox.


Click “read More.”Billy Koch was arbitration eligible. The A’s don’t like to arbitrate with their players. Instead they take the easy way out and sign any eligible players to multi year deals, ala Terrence Long, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito. Ramon Hernandez, Jim Mecir, etc. Some work out, some don’t.

Why not just arbitrate with Koch for this season. If he makes 5 million the A’s are still in the same boat as with newcomer Keith Foulke who is guaranteed six million for 2003. The White Sox kicked in some dough to equalize the salaries of these two closers. Why not keep Koch, get another big year from him, then trade him for even more next season?

What’s the rush other than seeing your name in the paper?

Koch appears healthy, very durable, wants the ball every day, and gets the job done. When the A’s put their stranglehold on the rest of the West, Koch was in the forefront.

Koch could intimidate batters, Foulke will be more of a trickster. Foulke walks fewer batters, but has been mediocre over the past year. Maybe he will bounce back, now the A’s are usually in a position to win so many games, that the closer gets a lot of opportunities. Can Foulke carry the burden going to the hill 70 times?

We’ll see.

The backup catcher Mark Johnson can play defense. The A’s pitchers didn’t trust Greg Myers catching ability. Hence, Ramon Hernandez had to catch almost all the games. Johnson throws runners out, hits lefthanded, and has some up side. He has never hit much, but seems to be a decent fit as a back up. He throws well and I’ll assume since he knows his way around the dish, can follow Rick Peterson’s precise game plans for the big three.

Throw in minor leaguer Joe Valentine played well in AA, the year before he pitched well in single A, he wasn’t listed in the White Sox top thirty prospects one year ago, so who knows if he is a bona fide major leaguer. Not much to lose here in the gamble. Maybe he’ll be another Bert Snow or maybe another Chad Bradford. Who knows, but he seems worth the risk.

So, one of the best closers in the majors is gone for a one year investment in Keith Foulke plus a back up good field no hit catcher.

Ken Macha now gets a taste of baseball A’s style where the check book rules. I said earlier Macha’s biggest challenge would be balancing a bull pen always on the edge of disaster, now he has to do it without Billy Koch (84 appearances and 44 saves) and pray that Foulke recaptures his 2000 form.

Now, if the future money saved can be placed into the hands of Miguel Tejada quickly, I’ll feel alot better about not seeing Koch as an A during the next few years.

The A’s still need a DH and a leftfielder. Erubiel Durazo is supposed to be on the way, but Koch was the bait, now that may be up in the air unless Foulke becomes the bait and reliever Byung Hung Kim is included in the deal from Arizona.

To get that done, it will require another player to go to Arizona, how about Terrence Long, Arizona needs an outfielder.

By no means are the A’s finished, next week the front office will be in action again. You can count on it.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers cleared the way to sign Jeff Kent. Not only did they move two huge salaries in Karros and Gudzielenck, but they opened up Kent’s two favorite positions, first and second base. Meanwhile, Dusty Baker gets two veterans who can help Sosa, and Alou. The Cubs will only go as far as their pitching, but these two players are capable of having above average seasons in Wrigley. The Cubs need a bull pen, Mike Remlinger will help, but a true closer is next on the list.

Koch did one helluva job for the A’s, his replacement better be as good or this deal will fall on its face and hurt.


1 Anonymous { 12.04.02 at 1:30 pm }

Beane wants to win this next year, Marty. That’s why he traded Koch away for a better more reliable closer. Koch walked too many batters and struggled with control. He makes too many mistakes with his fastball. Those things will hurt you too much in close games and the playoffs. True, he had good numbers. But he flirted with disaster too much. That proved to hurt Koch in Game 5. Koch has a lot of potential. If he can learn better control and faith in his curveball, he will be superb. A’s don’t have the luxury to wait, though. Plus, they got the backup catcher they sorely needed. Looks like they’re going for it (the world series) this next season. What better way to earn extra revenue and prestige in order to sign Tejada? Assuming Valentine can help the pen, they’re one centerfielder away from have a winning forumla.


2 marty { 12.04.02 at 2:10 pm }

Good comment. They won 103 games with some holes on the team last year. I’m not convinced Koch was one of them. Having your closer in 84 games was a luxury for any manager, Foulke has a lot to live up to. They still covet Kim and Durazo so this might not be the end of the line on the closers spot. This kind of speculation makes the winter bearable.


3 Anonymous { 12.04.02 at 2:58 pm }

I bet Billy will miss all those cases of wine.

4 marty { 12.04.02 at 4:21 pm }

Draper and Esquin will miss Billy, he really enjoyed the merlot.


5 Anonymous { 12.04.02 at 4:58 pm }

Actually I don’t thinkt the A’s trade was a Salary dump. Foulke is schedueld to make more then Koch. I have heard his salary as quoted as anywhere between 4 to 6.4 million in 2003. Koch is sowhere aroung 2.5 mill.

I know Koch is arbitartion eleigable so his salary can go up but I still don’t think he will wind up making more then Foulke.

I really think it was the A’s simply getting a better pitcher. Foulke even has the potential to be a starter. Even with his limited struggles last year I’d take him as a closer over Koch any day.

6 marty { 12.04.02 at 6:05 pm }

The manager is gone, the fourth starter is gone, the first base coach is gone, the closer who had a hand in 55 of 103 wins is gone, Keith Foulke and Mark Johnson are here and you say this isn’t a salary dump. Why not trade Koch next off season, what is the rush, let’s see where all this goes with the found free money for the future. What are the odds it goes to Tejada, 10-1 against?


7 Anonymous { 12.05.02 at 3:53 pm }

There is no way the A’s will keep Tejada. They’ll just move Ellis to short and since they won’t fork out the dough for Durham they’ll make do with who knows who at second. They really need to include Long in some sort of package(like they maybe could have with Lidle or Koch) and get a good hitting CF. I’m tired of them being so cheap! Susan

8 Anonymous { 12.05.02 at 6:09 pm }

This trade was very surprising, I guess Billy Beane wants to younger in the ‘pen. While Foulke do well if he listens to Rick Peterson. The issue of DH and leftfield will be Beane’s next challenge, also did you joke around with Shooty Babbitt about getting Durazo once this season.

On other side of the bay, Kent a Dodger that would so cool.

All Hail Bleacher Dave!

9 marty { 12.06.02 at 12:21 am }

Arizona definitely will trade Durazo, Shooty and I did joke about the A’s picking him up in midseason. Expect Long to move to left and Byrnes to get a shot in center, at least that is what BB said tonight at the season ticket holder first pitch event. After watching the video of the streak tonight, I realized how good this team was last year and will be again this year, what a nucleus, and Dye should be at full strength. Last years team should have been in the world series, but of course I said that after Jeremy didn’t slide, also.


10 Anonymous { 12.06.02 at 5:17 pm }

I am glad to hear that the Athletics plan to give Byrnes a shot in centerfield. That makes much more sense than signing Lofton, etc. I have always felt Byrnes could surprise, a la Gonzo over in Arizona … not a “can’t miss prospect” in the beginning, but enough natural ability to potentially look like Mickey Mantle over a few games. That is enough to warrant a decent look over 2-3 months. Look how long they tolerated J Dye’s rehab. Byrnes deserves 2-3 months, none of this “platoon” idea that got nothing from Piatt-Giambi.

11 Anonymous { 12.15.02 at 12:50 am }

I couldn’t disagree more about Eric Byrnes. It pains me to say that, because he seems like a heckuva guy and has a great attitude, but despite his speed, the guy simply should not be in CF. Oh yeah, we’d see lots of web gems as he broke the wrong way on a routine fly ball and then ran like a maniac to get to it. A horrifying example of Byrnes’ poor defense was at a Spring Training game I attended last year, the FIRST time he got a close look for the CF position. He had just been the MVP of the Dominican Winter League, and was being seriously considered for CF. Well, his defense throughout the 3 games I saw at ST was atrocious, culminating in a relay from the outfield which he threw straight UP – rather than towards the infield! Let him run the bases for us, but keep him out of the OF.

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