Quietly, the addition of utility infielder Alberto Callaspo has proven to be yet another shrewd move by Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics.
The team acquired the switch-hitting infielder on Jul. 30 from the Los Angles Angles in exchange for Grant Green. Since that date, the veteran, who has seen time at second base, third base and DH, is hitting .293 with six doubles and a home run in 26. Over his most recent 21 games, he’s up to .344 with nine walks and nine RBI.
Callaspo has actually been much better on the road, where he’s hitting .429 (15-for-43), than he has been at the O.co Coliseum, where he’s swinging just .175 (7-for-40). Admittedly, his defense is brutal. He’s second among all AL infielders with 15 errors, but he also seems to have a knack for canceling out his errors with timely hits.
Plus, it’s not as though Green would be offering better glove work. The infielder was picked 13th overall in the 2009 MLB draft, and since then, the right-handed hitter has been tried at nearly every spot on the field.
In a brief audition with the Athletics in July, he went 0-for-15 and was not sharp with the glove, as he made a pair of errors. With the Angels, Green has received consistent playing time, thanks to the injury to usual second baseman Howie Kendrick. In 22 games for the Angels, he is also hitting .293, has tallied four doubles and walked eight times.
However, by far the largest departure from Callaspo’s line would be the 24 strikeouts that Green has racked up in about a month. On the season, Green has 30 K’s in 100 plate appearances. Callaspo, meanwhile, has struck out just 34 times in 423 plate appearances. The infielder averages a strikeout every 12.4 plate appearances, which is second best in the AL.
The constant grinding of Callaspo is the perfect fit for an Oakland lineup that thrives by wearing down opposing pitches, and then mixing in the odd first pitch ambush. It’s also the perfect anecdote to the rally-crushing strike outs of free-swingers like Yoenis Cespedes.
The Athletics didn’t make any big splashes on the trade market, but if the team makes it to postseason play, Callaspo could prove to be a vital piece. For now, the trade gets a B+, if only because Callaspo is still owed $4.875 million next season, and Green is performing quiet nicely. However, if Green continues to strike out 30 percent of the time, he might not be hitting .293 for long.