OaklandClubhouse.com Mailbag #4

In this week's edition of OaklandClubhouse.com's Mailbag, we answer questions about Jack Cust and Richie Robnett.

Is Jack Cust a legitimate prospect?

John, Fresno

The former Arizona Diamondbacks 1997 first round draft pick has been on more than his fair share of top prospect reports over the years. He captured the imagination of GMs all around baseball from 1999-2002 when he hit over 20 homers in each of those seasons. However, the luster on Custs prospect status dimmed when he had two so-so seasons in the Baltimore chain in 2003 and 2004.

Despite his career minor league OPS of 951 and his relative youth (Cust is 26 years old), Cust was almost an after-thought when he was signed by the As as a minor league free agent this off-season. However, after 32 games with Sacramento, Cust is reminding everyone why he was such a top prospect in 2002. The lefty slugger has posted a 983 OPS for Sacramento and he could be working his way into the As immediate plans.

Cust is a slugger in the Mark McGwire/Steve Balboni mold. He sees a lot of pitches, which results in a lot of walks and strike outs. It also results in a lot of hard-hit balls. Cust is hitting .308 on the season and is a career .289 minor league hitter. Cust has had a few cups of coffee in the major leagues with Arizona, Colorado and Baltimore. He hardly played in Arizona and struggled to find his groove in Colorado, but he had a good stint with the Orioles in 2003. In 73 at-bats, Cust hit four homeruns and posted a 878 OPS.

Cust is a tough fit for many major league rosters because he doesnt field any position particularly well. He has seen time at first base and in left-field, but he reminds people more of Jeremy Giambi than John Mabry when fielding his positions. However, he clearly has a tremendous amount of power in his bat and for a team like Oakland that is struggling to score runs, Custs poor glove could be over-looked if he produces with the bat. Cust could be a candidate to be recalled to Oakland if the As elect to send Charles Thomas and/or Jermaine Clark down to Sacramento in exchange for some power bats.

Is Richie Robnett injured? I haven't seen his name in the boxscores in the last few days.

Chris, Ottawa, Canada

Richie Robnett strained his left hamstring and has been out of the line-up for about two weeks. Dustin Majewski has replaced Robnett in the second slot in the Ports batting order and has responded by raising his batting average to .325. Luis Perez and Ben Winslow have been sharing time in left-field in Robnetts absence.

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