The GM meetings don't start until Monday, and the winter meetings are a while away, but Billy Beane has all ready began driving his vehicle down the off-season road. Apparently the waiver wire was the first stop as Beane's Athletics won a claim on 33 year-old former Milwaukee Brewers infielder Joe Dillon.
Dillon spent most of last year in Triple-A Nashville where he got on base 37.4% of the time and slugged .409, a relatively low number compared to the rest of his minor league track record. Dillon most notably received 76 at-bats in 2007 and tore the cover off of the ball, finishing with an OPS of .890 and finding himself on an opening day roster for the first time in his career. Dillon would stay on the Brewers until mid-July where he would be sent to Nashville, although he would receive a September call-up.
Perhaps the most interesting things about Dillon's career as of late are his strikeout and walk totals. Over the last three Triple-A seasons (excluding 2006, which he spent overseas as a part of the Youmiuri Giants) Dillon has totaled 136 walks and 123 strikeouts. Dillon has shown a decent understanding over the strike zone during his brief major league stints, and an impressive ability to make contact within the zone. His career Z-Contact, 90.33%, would rank ahead of players such as Magglio Ordonez, Derek Jeter, and Grady Sizemore.
Dillon is versatile, spending time at second, first, and third base as well as some time in left field. That does not necessarily speak to his ability at those positions however, as Total Value has Dillon worth -1.7 runs at second base. Unsurprisingly Dillon's splits at the major league level show an extreme favoritism towards the typical right-handed hitter, he crushes lefties and struggles against righties. The last 800-plus minor league at-bats showed Dillon to be pretty even though.
I suppose it is possible that Dillon will split time at third with Jack Hannahan, assuming that Eric Chavez doesn't make them both irrelevant, but Hannahan is a superior defender and offers little in the way of offense. Hannahan offers zero in terms of favorable splits either, with an OPS ranging in the .670s against both hands.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Dillon is whether his gaudy minor league totals will transfer, at least in part, to the majors. If they do, Dillon will likely find at-bats with the Athletics no matter how poorly he fields on a team that has the makings of a superb defensive because they couldn't hit for a lick last season. Realistically though, this move is going to be forgotten by June.