Trade Analysis: A's Acquire Tadano

Just a few hours before the Oakland A's got some clutch pitching out of their bullpen to help lead the team to a nifty 4-3 win over the New York Yankees, the A's announced that they had made their third trade in less than 10 days. This trade, like the previous two, resulted in Oakland acquiring a pitcher who was caught in another team's roster crunch. We analyze the Kazuhito Tadano for Ramon Alvarado trade inside…

The Trade

Oakland acquires right-handed pitcher Kazuhito Tadano from the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Ramon Alvarado.

Two-Second Scouting Report

Kazuhito Tadano is a three-year minor league veteran who came to the Indians organization from Japan in 2003. Like many Japanese pitchers, the soon-to-be 26 year-old has a deceptive delivery and he hides the ball well. He has an excellent career minor league K:BB ratio (237:58) and he has allowed only 29 homers in 239.2 minor league innings. Tadano throws a low-90s/high-80s fastball, change-up, slider and a slurve pitch that comes in sometimes as slow as 50 MPH. He is athletic and can field his position well. Tadano is slight of frame and some scouts have questioned whether he is big enough to be a starter full-time in the major leagues. He had been designated for assignment by the Indians last week, but has now been added to the A's 40-man roster.

The Analysis

Okay, with this trade, we are now officially confused. Yes, we understand that depth is a good thing. And, yes, we know that you can never have enough pitching in this league, but come on already. How many pitchers do they really need in Sacramento? At this point, the River Cats are going to have to pitch the Pacific Coast League to do away with the DH because there aren't going to be enough hitters left on the roster to field nine on a regular basis.

Okay, not really, but it does feel like a bit of overkill to acquire Tadano when one considers the moves that the A's have made over the past four months. To review, in December, the A's traded centerfielder Dustin Majewski (who hit 20 homers and was among the league leaders in doubles for A-Stockton last season) for Chad Gaudin, a right-handed pitcher who has major league experience, a live arm and is capable of starting and relieving. Oakland also re-signed starter Adam Johnson to a minor league deal, signed former Tiger Matt Roney to a deal that put him on the 40-man roster and inked former major league fill-ins Randy Keisler and Jason Karnuth to minor league contracts.

Then a week ago Sunday, the A's sent reliever Juan Cruz to the Diamondbacks for Arizona's 2005 fifth starter, Brad Halsey. One week later, Oakland sent Freddie Bynum and John Rheinecker to the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, respectively, in exchange for former Rangers fifth starter Juan Dominguez. Finally (or is it?), on Tuesday, the A's sent promising outfielder Ramon Alvarado to Cleveland for Tadano, a Japanese-born reliever who has 15 major league appearances and experience both starting and relieving.

As it currently shakes out, the River Cats will be sporting a pitching staff that includes 11 pitchers with major league experience (Gaudin, Dominguez, Halsey, Dan Meyer, Tadano, Karnuth, Keisler, Roney, Ron Flores, Adam Johnson and Santiago Casilla). While that experience and talent should give the River Cats a major leg-up in the race for the PCL title, it does seem excessive when you consider that all but one of the A's current major league pitching staff is not under the A's control next season. In other words, the only open position on the A's staff next season might very well be Barry Zito's vacated spot in the rotation.

While adding this depth does make it easier for the A's to make a move later on (perhaps by trading Zito at the break or dealing one of their relievers), it seems like more depth than necessary especially when you consider that this time it comes at the expense of the very limited pool of talent in the lower levels of the A's system.

In trading for Dominguez and Halsey, the A's were essentially trading their spare parts for another team's spare parts. This made sense, especially when you consider that both Dominguez and Halsey had more options than the players they were traded for. However, in trading for Tadano, the A's dealt one of their most promising outfielders from the lower levels of the minor leagues in Ramon Alvarado.

Alvarado was a far distance from the major leagues, but he represented something that the A's have very little of below the high-A level: projectable talent. Alvarado played for the A's Rookie League team last season and posted excellent numbers despite playing the last month with a leg injury and despite having no protection to speak of in the line-up. He posted a 906 OPS which included a .412 OBP, and had 19 extra-base hits in 168 at-bats. Alvarado showed a strong arm, good speed and, at age 21, had plenty of room to grow.

For the A's, players who can hit for power, run and play defense are few and far between. In fact, the A's only have three true five-tool outfield prospects now that Alvarado is gone: Javier Herrera (who is out for the year), Richie Robnett and Travis Buck (both of whom will be playing in A-Stockton this season). While it is understandable that the A's would be tempted to acquire a talented arm like Tadano, when one considers their existing pitching depth at the higher levels of their system, it seems like a waste to dip into the A's thin lower-level outfield depth to acquire Tadano.

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