Before I begin, I'd like to offer a quick apology for not posting the last two weeks. This was caused by two things:
1.) My computer got a really bad virus infection, causing me to have to wipe all my files and start over. Not fun.
2.) I accepted an offer from FanSided.com to become the lead blogger for their new San Diego Padres page. Why Padres and not A's? I wanted to keep my A's stuff here. Anyway, I've been busy getting that set up this past week or so. You can check the site out at chickenfriars.com ; the first article will be up probably sometime this weekend.
But enough of my announcements.
While I was out, the A's did a few things, but the first one I wanted to look at was the trade of left-hander Dana Eveland to Toronto.
Eveland, designated for assignment last week, was going to get picked up by somebody anyway, so the A's getting “cash considerations” for him is fine. Then again, those rarely, if ever, amount to a difference-maker for a team, so it's pretty safe to say that the return is negligible.
The question is this: Was Eveland a player the A's could afford to lose?
With the rotation pretty much set (Ben Sheets, Brett Anderson, Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez), and the bullpen overflowing with talent and depth, Eveland certainly wasn't going to make the opening day roster without the team having some serious injury issues. His role was going to be to take the ball every fifth day in Sacramento and be ready for a spot start or two if someone got hurt.
However, with Trevor Cahill and Vince Mazzaro likely kicked to Triple-A by the Sheets and Duchscherer acquisitions, and James Simmons nearly ready for the majors as well, it's tough to see how Eveland would have much of a role in even the best case scenario (for him, not the A's).
As for Eveland's actual skill level, I'm of the opinion he's never going to be an effective starter. He just doesn't throw enough strikes.
His career K/BB ratio is 1.39, and his career first-pitch strike percentage is just 54.1 percent. The MLB average is around 59 percent.
His delivery has a lot of moving parts, and at north of 250 pounds, his body throws in some extra moving parts as well. When Eveland actually stays in rhythm on the mound, his four-pitch mix can be very effective, but he invariably loses his release point for an inning or two each game, leading to hitter's counts, walks, and 3-0 meatballs.
Eveland's career ERA of 4.92 shows that he's a fifth starter at best. His 2008 season, which was something of his “career year,” saw him post a 4.61 mark, which still fails to impress.
He could make a decent lefty specialist, as he has a dynamite slider and a good curve that give lefties hell. His career xFIP against lefties is 4.08, so he could at least be a serviceable back-of-the-bullpen arm. Pitching out of the stretch exclusively may also help him get a simpler, more easily repeatable delivery, which could help his command.
Eveland could also unleash his fastball, which has been hit around quite a bit in the majors, better in the 'pen. As a starter, the pitch typically sits in the high 80s for Eveland, but if he moved to relief, he could probably be in the 89-94 MPH range.
The A's, with Craig Breslow, Brad Kilby, and Jerry Blevins already around, certainly don't need Eveland, but he could still be a decent second lefty in the NL. I don't see him being much more than that, and honestly, I'm sadder to see Jay Marshall (picked up off waivers by the Mets earlier in the offseason) go than Eveland.