I feel sorry for Bobby Crosby, not because the A’s took away his shortstop position this year, but because he can’t hit. Even in his Rookie of the Year season, he hit only .239. In 2005, his best year, he hit .276, but he’s hovered between .223 (2009) and .237 since then.
The A’s, as any team, have to do what is best for the team, and when they had the chance to get Orlando Cabrera, a proven hitter and very good shortstop, they took it, and rightly so. Bobby’s response was to pout unprofessionally to the media.
Then when it was obvious that the A’s would finish in last place in the AL West and Cabrera was traded, the A’s decided to look to the future and called up Cliff Pennington to play shortstop for the rest of the season. Bobby again opened his mouth and spouted off, calling the move “a joke.” Not a very good way to ingratiate yourself to potential teams who might need a shortstop. It screams loud and clear: “NOT A TEAM PLAYER!,” which certainly won’t help him in the free agent market.
This week in an article by Doug Krikorian in the Long Beach Press Telegram, Bobby’s father, former MLB player Ed Crosby, took Billy Beane to task for not treating his son fairly. “My feelings are that…Billy Beane has done a number on him,” complaining that Bobby is on the disabled list when “he’s not even hurt.” (More on this use of the DL in my next post.) He even went off on the Moneyball philosophy and criticized the A’s for not letting their players swing at the first pitch in an at bat, complaining that the A’s have “taken the bat out of the hands of their players.”
Statistically the chance of making an out by swinging at the first pitch is overwhelming, so Billy Beane presumably told the organization not to swing at first pitches. So opposing pitchers poured strikes in on the first pitch, getting ahead in the count most of the time. That didn’t work so the A’s have adjusted and we see many more first pitch swings this year. But I digress.
Ed Crosby has a right to vent his feelings, but his rant didn’t help his son’s future prospects. Ed is a former MLB infielder and he should know that teams will look at this and think twice about going after Bobby this offseason.
A .223 hitter needs to be a team player, keep his mouth shut and play his best when he’s put in the lineup if he wants to get a good contract when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Bobby will certainly not command a salary anywhere close to the $5.3 million that the A’s are paying him this year and a utility role is most likely all he will be able to get. Too bad really. He could have positioned himself so much better by sucking it up and keeping his mouth shut.
A good comparison might be to Jack Hannahan, who bounced around the Detroit Organization before being traded to the A’s where he’s played third base during Eric Chavez’ various stints on the DL over the last few years. Bobby is very much like Jack: great fielder but can’t hit. The difference is that Jack Hannahan is a gentleman and a true team player, and will always be able to find a job. I saw him play Monday night in Seattle as a Mariner and he made some great plays. It was a pleasure to watch, even though the gems were at the A’s expense.
So all this hoopla about how badly Billy Beane has treated Bobby is way overblown, in my opinion. The A’s organization hung with him through multiple serious injuries, and years when he averaged less than one hit per game, and kept him as the everyday shortstop. They could afford to do that when other guys were hitting the long ball and the team was having a winning season. But the team has been on a slide since 2006, and without power hitters the entire lineup has to be able to get on base and drive in runs to make small ball work. And Bobby can’t get it done. He should go at the end of the season, but he should have gone more quietly for his own good.