As I have been saying most of the offseason, Brett Anderson will be one of the best arms available. He is 24 years old, reasonably priced for anyone except Oakland, and very talented, though not with 100% health.
We all know what Oakland needs, and probably wants - Middlebrooks. Right now their best 3B is Scott Sizemore. Sizemore is awful, but on the bright side, he does get hurt alot, so his lack of talent isn't an obstacle. For all the young talent the A's bring up, for some reason they seem to have a complete dearth at 3B. In fact, if you go to a minor league gfame for one of their farm teams, they don't even have a 3B on the field. Instead, guarding the hot corner, they just have a thirty year old cardboard cutout they stole from an Albertson's of Carney Lansford in full 1982 Oakland regalia, holding a can of Hormel's Finest and saying "It's Chil Con Me!" in his little bubble. It's actually quite sad.
Anyway, I got to wondering if the Sox moved Middlebrooks, could he be replaced? And not with Valencia. Nothing says you need 3B help like having Danny Valencia. I like Middlebrooks, but think many fans overrate him. He is a good defender with power, but strikes out too much and refuses to wait on anything. Sort of like Juan Francisco. Hmmm.
I got to wondering, is there really much of a difference in Middlebrooks and Francisco? So I sat don and did some number running to see how these guys would do over 600PA. In the end, I may have inadvertantly created my own little projection machine. I mention this because it needs a name for marketing and legal purposes. (Suggestions?)
Anyway, I plugged in the relveant Middlebrooks data - height, weight, RBIs, eye color - and it told me over 600PA next year, Middlebrooks would hit .276 with a .307 OBP and 32 HRs. Francisco would hit .253 with a .295OBP and 26HRs. Two conclusions. 1. Francisco is no Middlebrooks, however he certainly is a semi-respectable stopgap if it means upgrading the pitching staff, and he still is better than Valencia. Not quite a hidden gem, but certainly an easy player to acquire.
And 2. those numbers actually look reasonable to me. I could see Middlebrooks with that, and assuming Francisco ever gets 600PA in a season, those numbers would hardly surprise anyone. For those who feel Middlebroks might be a little light in BA and OBP, the current model does not account for sac flies and HBP, which are really not skills for most players. (Hi, Don Baylor!)
For fun, I decided to see about Danny Murphy, who could probably be had from the catcher-bereft Mets. Murphy came outhitting .296 with a .361 OBP and 7HRs. Clearly he excels where Middlebrooks does not, and vice versa. More important, those numbers do look like Murphy. (Unlike Middlebrooks and Francisco, Murphy is an awful defender regardles of where he plays. He could misplay a grounder while DHing.)
Interestingly, in the past I have compared Middlebrooks to Butch Hobson. Should Middlebrooks hit those numbers, it will be remarkably cose to Hobson's .265 / .300OBP season with 31HRs in 1977.