Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Hardening further

Two things I am pretty sure are true:

1. No hitter currently on the A's 25-man roster and, outside of Frank Thomas, no one in the A's organization is a better hitter against left handed pitching right now than Matt Murton. Perhaps Mark Ellis warrants mention, but I have Murton ahead projection-wise. Teams that acquire big left-handed bats at the deadline get to benefit from those about twice as often as the A's will from Murton, but Murton closes some of that gap by being a PH option, and the A's will certainly see some southpaws in high-leverage situations. Maybe not in the abstract sense, but in the tangible and immediate sense, Murton is an impact bat. That impact isn't enough to offset the loss of a healthy Harden, but given how plausible the scenarios where Gallagher ends up not being a significant drop off from Harden are (though I'm not arguing that is probable), there's a lot of ways the trade can end up as a net improvement for the 2008 A's.

2. No pitcher now in the A's organization has a more impressive minor league track record than Sean Gallagher. Can you name any? His numbers are ahead of Blanton, Duchshcerer, Smith, and Braden, and his numbers have about matched Meyer and Eveland except he's been about a year ahead of them age-wise, and he's sporting a better than average ERA with a 3.98 FIP for his major league stint this season. Perhaps Anderson or Cahill or, with a dominant rest of 2008, Gio Gonzalez (or Inoa) could overtake him in this regard, but none are slam dunks to do so. Looking back further, Gallagher's certainly more impressive at this age than were Mulder, Hudson, or Haren. He might be third behind Harden and then Zito, but certainly there's an argument to be made that Gallagher's done as well as either had by this age. Harden is four years older than Gallagher, and at this point four years ago, Harden had put up eerily similar numbers to Gallagher's: proven success in AA by 20, excellence in a half season in the PCL, and some league average pitching at the big league level. I can't tell you much about how projectable Gallagher is, but the performance has been there.


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