Monday, Dec. 2
Keith Foulke is an excellent pitcher, Mark Johnson gives the Athletics a left-handed-hitting catcher with good plate discipline, and Joe Valentine has the statistics and the stuff to eventually pitch as a set-up man or perhaps even as a closer in the major leagues someday.
"Short-term, this deal makes sense because we get Foulke and a young, left-handed-hitting catcher," Athletics assistant GM Paul DePodesta said. "We felt like we needed to get younger at that position, because we've been playing Ramon Hernandez too many games, to the point that he's worn out late in the season. And long-term, for giving up the following two years of Koch (2004 and 2005), we get Valentine, who's got a good chance to be a back-end pitcher in the major leagues."
While it's true that minor-league closers generally don't become major-league closers -- Valentine saved 36 games in Double-A last season -- DePodesta thinks Valentine might break that mold. "Our scouts have seen nothing to suggest that his success won't continue. His fastball's got good life to it, low to mid-90s, and he's got a slider. His fastball gets a fair amount of swings and misses, and a lot of mis-hits."
But in addition to acquiring three players they like, the A's also get payroll flexibility and perhaps a couple of draft picks. Foulke's contract expires after the 2003 season, and if he leaves Oakland -- and the current draft rules remain -- the A's will get two high draft picks as compensation.
As Billy Beane likes to say, "Cash is king."