If The Orioles Had Acquired Dana Eveland

[I wrote this post before Dennis Sarfate was passed successfully through waivers, and before Dana Eveland was traded to the Blue Jays for a PTBNL or cash. Given the cost, I think the O’s should have been involved there. It’s not exactly a big deal though. Though now pointless, I decided to publish this anyway based on the suggestion of Zach Sanders of MLBNotebook, who also thought of the title.]

The Oakland Athletics recently signed outfielder (and personal favorite) Gabe Gross, and to make room for him designated pitcher Dana Eveland for assignment. The Orioles similarly designated reliever Dennis Sarfate for assignment after having signed Miguel Tejada. Would a swap of the two players make some sense for the Orioles? Now to be honest, I don’t see any particular reason that the A’s would be interested in Sarfate. They seem to have a pretty good pen, and I don’t think they’re the type to be fooled by his velocity. It might give Billy Beane a chip he can deal to a team that might be fooled – like the Royals, perhaps – and he could take the O’s up on the offer just to give him something fun to do. Coming over from Oakland would be the 26 year-old lefty, Eveland.

Dana was acquired by the A’s in the Dan Haren trade with Arizona, and though he was pretty good in 2008 for them (4.34 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 4.55 xFIP), his career numbers aren’t fantastic (5.54 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 4.65 xFIP). Eveland doesn’t strike out a lot of batters (6.5 K/9 career) and his control leaves quite a bit to be desired (4.6 BB/9 career). He does induce a lot of groundballs though (50.1% career), which is handy. Not overpowering, with a sinking fastball in the high 80s and what appears to be a pretty couple of breaking pitches (a slider and a curveball) – along with a relatively straight change-up – Eveland is probably just a back-of-the-rotation starter. The Orioles have their own guys like that (Jason Berken, David Hernandez), so adding Eveland to that mix in that role doesn’t make a lot of sense.

My suggestion is to actually move him to the bullpen full-time, as sort of a younger and cheaper Mark Hendrickson (or, if you will, a left-handed Matt Albers). The groundballs are always nice, and being able to scrap the change-up should make him more effective. For his career, Eveland doesn’t have huge platoon splits (1.26 K/BB vs. RHB and 1.85 K/BB vs. LHB) and though his OPS against is higher versus left-handed batters (.832 to .802) that’s largely as a result of a BABIP split (.377 vs. LHB and .337 vs. RHB). His numbers as a reliever are actually worse (5.88 ERA, .884 OPS, 1.23 K/BB) than as a starter (5.48 ERA, .797 OPS, 1.43 K/BB), but he only has 41.1 career innings out of the pen.

In any case, I think it’s a chance worth taking if the A’s would actually be willing to make the swap (or just let Eveland go). He’s not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s not even eligible for arbitration yet and so would be under team control for four more years. If he gets that slider working against lefties and keeps getting groundballs, then he’s a cheap, effective middle reliever who can spot-start if needed. I’d take that.