As lovable as Chad Bradford was in the "Island of Misfit Toys" vein, Beane's bullpen has moved to better arms and greener pastures. With guys like Yabu, Street, Calero, and Duchscherer anchoring the team's strength, Chad Bradford's impending return gave the A's a trading chip, and Beane exploited it.
Payton's "best season" came all the way back in 2000 in his rookie year with the Mets, when he put up a line of .291/.331/.447 in 529 PAs. Since then, when not in Coors, he just hasn't been a particularly good hitter...
In his career, Payton's a .359/.410/.608 hitter at Coors Field. Elsewhere, he's a much less impressive .268/.320/.409 hitter.
In 2003 and 2004, defensively, however, Payton rated extremely well, putting up FRAAs of 13 and 12.
In terms of usage, Payton could either slide in as a fourth outfielder or as a platoon partner for Bobby Kielty, who, since 2002, has had a much better time against lefties than righties.
Payton's not a bad fourth outfielder, but at this point, I wouldn't want him starting on my team.
Bradford, on the other hand, has a familiar story. The submarining righty is just devastating to righties in general but struggles more with lefties. Since 2002 (I use "Since 2002" b/c ESPN has splits on its player cards from then):
vs. Right: .217/.258/.288
Vs. Left: .298/.419/.446
As long as Bradford comes back healthy and is used in a role which plays to his strength (getting righties out), this will be a solid acquisition for Boston, who has needed bullpen help for a bit.
I've gotta give the slight edge on this one to the Sox because, to me, Bradford's a bit more of an impact guy than Payton. Don't slight the A's, though; they had little use for Bradford and added a potentially valuable part.
Travis Hafner and Joe Kennedy probably were the two most overlooked players in 2004, both having exceptional seasons. I'll boil it down to two numbers:
Kennedy: 138 (8)
Hafner: 158 (1)
That's ERA+ and OPS+ and their respective league ranks in '04, and both got very little publicity for their seasons.
Hafner's exploded this season into a legitimate MVP candidate, while Kennedy has struggled mightily with his 7.04 ERA and universally, both home and on the road.
Kennedy in 2004 finished with a 3.66 ERA in 27 starts, limited his home runs very well, and K'd a substantial amount (6.5 K/9, which was OK). I rationalized that he had been horribly rushed by the Devil Rays, had fallen apart, and was just putting it all back together. I boldly and incorrectly picked Kennedy to be in the running for a Cy Young season, and I also thought that Kennedy and Francis would single-handedly rescue the Rockies from a disastrous season.
I'm very frequently wrong about these things.
Actually, the other thing I wanted to note was that some media networks must have some fantastic sources these days, because all three trades had been rumored, in some incarnation, over the season.
It's difficult to take any positives from Kennedy's season, but considering how good he was last year, he's definitely worth taking a chance on.
Byrnes had fallen out of favor, supposedly, and he really didn't have a place in an OF with Swisher, Kotsay, Kielty, and the newly acquired Payton. Byrnes really isn't a bad player; over the last 3 years, he's put up a line close to a .273/.336/.466, which is pretty good and will only look better with a little help from the altitude. He's a nice pickup for the Rockies, and they must have really given up on Kennedy. From the A's perspective, Byrnes, like Kielty, also can't hit righties, and Kielty's a better player. So Byrnes was the odd-man out.
Witasick's really the hidden gem in this acquisition, and I had no idea how great a season he was having. In 36.7 IP for the Rockies, he's surrendered only 12 BBs and 2 HRs, and he's struck out 40. The ERA is a very, very attractive 2.52, and he gives the A's another valuable bullpen arm (even if it seems like they're strong enough there already).
Quintanilla was rated as a B+ by John Sickels and the #6 prospect in the Oakland system. Adding Pennington via the draft might have made Quintanilla more expendable, and Quintanilla hasn't been tearing up AA. Assuming the data I have is correct, Midland's a hitter's park in a hitter's league, and Quintanilla isn't producing. He's hitting .293/.347/.395, and that's just not enough power. He's still a good prospect, though, and he's valuable enough to trade a struggling pitcher like Kennedy.
So, overall, what did the A's do:
- Slightly downgraded in the OF, offensively, but considered the team's needs and Payton's other skills, it wasn't too painful.
- Upgraded the bullpen, or at least did not damage it (Witasick and Bradford are about a wash at this point, but Witasick has been great this year).
- Added a starting pitcher to the fold.
I'll leave the Preston Wilson deal to Marc because that's been his rumor for the last month or so.
[on edit]: I took a look at some "polling data" (OK, Athletics Nation's little side poll. It's unscientific, but it's still interesting...) the split on the deals was very, very interesting. About the same number of people love both deals (18%) as those who hate both deals (18%). 9% love the Payton deal and hate the Byrnes deal, and 10% love the Payton deal but hate the Byrnes deal. There's very little consensus... the plurality of people are ambivalent (43%).