Monday, October 25, 2010

Trade Target: Cliff Pennington

In the TwinsCetric Offseason GM Handbook (there is still time for you to "preorder") you'll find dozens of pages of trade targets and free agents that the Twins could acquire. But in my blueprint, I parenthetically drop a name I'd like to watch, but that we didn't write about.

That player is shortstop Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics, and I didn't profile him because I'm not sure the A's are likely trade candidates for the Twins. But he's worth looking over.

Pennington is intriguing because I was looking to add some middle infield speed to battle the Yankees. The 26-year-old stole 29 bases this year versus getting caught just five times, and it looks like he's two years away from arbitration. He was also very good defensively, or at least he was according to UZR; I don't remember his defense being particularly noticeable when the Twins played Oakland.

On the other hand, he has absolutely no power to speak of, with a career slugging percentage of .358 in the minors. Worse, this past year he hit just .250 and posted on on-base percentage of .319, driven by 96 strikeouts compared to 50 walks. Twins fans can't expect him to be anywhere near the offensive asset that JJ Hardy was. Or even that Alexi Casilla was. Shudder.

But his minor league numbers suggest he's better than that. He has almost as many walks (286) as strikeouts (297) in his minor league career. He also sports a career minor league on-base percentage of .362, and he's stolen bases at every level.

It's not clear if the A's really value that skill set or not, but they probably should, because they don't have a lot to replace it. There isn't a lot of good internal competition for shortstop within the A's organization, and the shortstop free agent market is brutal. My guess is that the A's will be in no hurry to move him.


A quick (and very late heads up): you have plans tonight. I know, you thought you didn't because the World Series doesn't start until tomorrow, but there is baseball here in the Twins Cities. Tonight, at Bryant Lake Bowl, Salon Saloon is performing The Baseball Show. It includes some local baseball writing luminaries, such as Anne "BatGirl" Ursu and Peter Schilling, author of The End of Baseball. f you play your cards right, you can get your baseball fix AND get date points from the significant other for taking them to a show. Not that I would ever do anything that cynical.

And yes, The Voice of Reason(TM) and I will be in attendance, the baseball gods willing.


Bryz said...

It's not clear if the A's really value that skill set or not...

I think the A's do value stolen bases now. They had Rajai Davis, Pennington, and Coco Crisp all steal at least 29 bases. They were 3rd in the AL in stolen bases, and trailed the White Sox for 2nd by only 4 SB. I know Moneyball made them famous, but they're no longer opposed to swiping a base.

Now if that is something they value, I'm not absolutely sure. Over 2/3 of their SB came from those three guys I mentioned above.

Bryz said...

I see I contradicted myself while wondering if the A's value stolen bases. To clarify, it appears that they might now due to being 3rd in the AL with stolen bases, but since so many of them came from 3 players, it's hard to tell.

Anonymous said...

The Twins would have beaten the Yankees this year if Tom Kelly were still manager.

Ed Bast said...

Does Cliff Pennington recognize the difference in mentality between the regular season and playoffs, and if so, can he properly prepare the team for the playoffs and instill in his players the belief that they can (should, in fact) beat the Yankees?

If not, I don't think he's going to help us beat New York.