Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oakland snatches Sam Fuld

Bolstering the already prominent Stanford representation amongst the A's impending spring training festivities, the Athletics have inked Sam Fuld as their 11th MiLB free agent of the offseason, corresponding to Corey Brown departing the organization. Fuld shall be guaranteed $800,000 with an additional $100,000 in incentives and have two dates in which he may opt to sever his ties to the Athletics in the latter portion of March just prior to the conclusion of the spring and June 1st. Fuld arrives as Oakland's fourth positional piece acquired from the vast fray of minor leaguers throughout free agency this offseason behind Jose Martinez, Alden Carrithers and Dusty Brown (Buschmann, Nieve, Hooker, Correa, McBryde, Flores, Humber as the pitching cast), making Fuld the first outfielder inked from free agency. Hailing from Stanford, Fuld has featured as a predominant bench asset and defensive specialist in recent campaigns following his initial induction into the professional ranks between his first few seasons following his 10th round pickup by Chicago in 2004. He gained the most notoriety for his role within the Garza swap of 2011 that sent him to Tampa Bay, where he has spent the previous three seasons as a MLB exclusive piece. Now, the 32 year old who hasn't had a MiLB stint of over 50 PAs since 2010 shall attempt to wriggle his way onto the Athletics roster, something that at this instant seems like a nearly impossible feat. 

In recent campaigns, Fuld has tapered off significantly in regards to his offensive production, slashing out to .255/.318/.327 in 2012 (107 PAs, 0.3 fWAR, 84 wRC+) and .199/.270/.267 during this most recent 2013 (200 PAs, -0.3 fWAR, 54 wRC+). The decline was attributable to a BABIP decrease from a moderate .298 to .223, so should there be some stability with his pact to the luck dragons, then Fuld ought to bounce upward a bit. The plummeting rate also can be traced towards Fuld adopting an absurd 16.2% IFFB% after zero infield flies hit in 2012, so as long as he remains groundball oriented, then he'll produce to a greater extent than his 2013 attempt. There isn't a tremendous amount of offensive potential to be derived from Fuldy though, with a major league résumé of .234/.314/.330, .290 wOBA, 81 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR and a .095 ISO in a cumulative 808 plate appearances. He does, however, present plus contact percentages (13.5% K%, 90.4% contact%) and decent discipline (9.9% BB%) and could therefore be utilized as a reserve outfield piece to be thrown into a defensive replacement situation or as a pinch runner (Likely second on the pinch running depth chart behind Gentry though). 

Fuld presents evident reverse platoon splits as well, faring more successfully versus lefties comparatively towards righties, hitting .244/.322/.346 in 235 PAs with an accompanying .102 ISO (.093 against RHP) and a 88 wRC+ (79 wRC+ against RHP). Even within a dismal 2013, Fuld actually wound up thriving when forcibly made to combat southpaws, hitting .273/.355/.379 in nearly 40% of his amassed plate appearances (78 PAs). So, Fuld ideally would be the most effective when partaking against the lefties for Oakland, which is unfortunate with a far superior lefty exclusive option in Gentry already upon the roster. Fuld is not just a poor man's Craig Gentry, he's a homeless man's Craig Gentry, with Fuld possessing similar characteristics to Gentry despite being inferior to the former Ranger when contrasted in every  single one of them. Fuld's prospects of making the A's are slim, yet a MLB opportunity for the aging New Hampshire native is minimal throughout all of the major league organizations, so he'll likely attempt to remain within the Sacramento ranks until June, where he may opt to depart the organization. Should he somehow be bestowed with a roster berth on the green and gold, the fanbase would probably connect instantaneously with the quirky, obscure former Ray who propelled a loose clubhouse atmosphere in South Florida, but it would probably require a preseason injury for that to occur. 

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