It seems I've been working 24/7 for about three weeks or so now, but things are starting to wind down. I had a post half-written about the odd lack of rumors I was going to finish, but that old fruit has turned to mold. Now we have rumors! Mike Piazza! Kei Igawa! (Really? No.) Alan Embree! Joe Kennedy as a starter! Whoopee!
No point finishing that post now, so I'll just chop out the part that's still not dated: a little ditty about Bobby Kielty. The cheapest solution to replacing Frank Thomas might be in the A's organization already.
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Bobby Kielty rakes as a right-handed batter. Last year, he hit .325/.358/.607 right-handed. For his career, he's .299/.382/.518. Those are all-star/MVP-caliber numbers.
Unfortunately, Kielty also bats left-handed. And batting left-handed last year, he hit .229/.308/.314. His career numbers are .230/.333/.350.
Every left-handed plate appearance Kielty gets is a waste. The A's wasted 169 such PAs last year. That needs to stop, one way or another.
The cheapest way to stop that waste that is to tell Kielty, "Dude, you can't hit left-handed. You just can't. And at age 29, you probably never will. You suck. Neifi Perez has a higher career left-handed slugging percentage than you do. Hit right-handed all the time. You can hardly be worse, there's a good chance you'll have much more success, and you'll probably never see another left-handed at-bat in the major leagues anyway."
He really should give it a shot. His career could last years longer if it turns out he can hit right-handed pitching better as a right-handed batter. But he probably won't make that decision until he's forced to: when he's about to lose a major league job.
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If they can't convince Kielty to give up switch-hitting, Billy Beane could try to find him a strict platoon partner, a left-handed hitting corner outfielder who can't hit lefties.
A couple of such potential platoon partners are rumored to be on the trade market: Geoff Jenkins of the Brewers, and Jacque Jones of the Cubs.
Jenkins hit .133/.265/.214 against lefties last year (.244/.315/.408 career), but .306/.381/.490 (.291/.362/.530 career) against righties.
Jones has similar numbers: .234/.261/.416 vs. lefties in 2006 (.228/.275/.350 career), but .303/.358/.528 (.295/.343/.493 career) against righties.
Whether the A's can afford to acquire or pay them, however, is another question.