The A's are 12-8 so far, despite getting almost no production out of their primary projected power source, Jack Cust. The A's are dead last the majors in hitting home runs--only seven combined homers for the entire team.
The Blue Jays' release of Frank Thomas makes it worth a look to see if the A's can get better production out of their DH spot than they're getting from Cust. Perhaps Cust is just a one-year wonder--teams have figured out that Cust only hits fastballs, and are giving him nothing but soft stuff until he adjusts, and he might not adjust.
So let's take a look at the options for the DH slot: Cust, plus Mike Sweeney, free agents Thomas and Barry Bonds, plus, just for the heck of it (since there are calls for his head in New York), Jason Giambi.
All five of these guys have similar profiles: low batting averages, lots of walks, high slugging percentage. Let's look at their PECOTA projected and current 2008 stats, both overall and by handedness:
If you look by projections alone, clearly Mike Sweeney is the worst of the bunch. His projected OBP is far lower than any of the other four candidates. And yet, Sweeney is the only one of the five who is doing anything at all this season: he's clobbering LHP. Nobody's doing anything against RHP, although Cust has at least been taking his walks.
Normally, you'd say forget the small sample size of 20 games--believe the projections. However, since all five of these players may be considered to be possibly in the final year(s) of their career, you need to make a judgment on whether the player has anything left in the tank or not. Any one of them could fall off the cliff at any time. Sweeney's the only one who is showing any positive evidence that he hasn't already fallen off the cliff.
In the end, I think the A's will just stick with what they have. Bonds is a headache I don't think they want to deal with. Cust has better projections than Thomas against RHP. The difference between Sweeney and Thomas against the few LH starters the A's would face in the AL West (Saunders, Washburn and Gabbard--one per team), particularly given the performance so far, might not be so big that it's worth the extra salary it would take to bring in Thomas. Plus Sweeney is the backup first baseman now that Dan "Crab-Man" Johnson is gone, and he vastly outperforms Thomas in that defensive role. But given the positive history of Thomas' one year in Oakland, the idea of bringing him in is certainly tempting.