Jack Cust has hit 25 or more home runs each of the last three seasons yet the Oakland A’s and others still don’t seem that excited to add him to their rosters. Over the winter the A’s didn’t offer arbitration to Cust and later resigned him to a smaller deal after everyone else seemed to pass on the 30 year old left handed hitter.
Cust was again figured to occupy the DH spot in Oakland but this spring the team decided to reward long time third basemen Eric Chavez with that spot again leaving Cust out in the cold. The A’s put him on waivers and again no one claimed him. Now he’s been out-righted to Triple-A for the start of the year.
The slugging left hander didn’t mix any words when asked about the situation by reporters.
“I think it’s messed up. They’re going to go on 50 at-bats after three years of what I’ve done here? It’s ridiculous. … This is a joke. The fact is, this team has no power and they’ve just released a guy who (averaged 28 homers) the last three years, that’s amazing.”
It’s easy to fall in love with Cust’s power. 26, 33, 25 home runs each of the last three years. But while the home run totals have remained high Cust has seen a decrease in his OBP which is never a good sign when you’re a career .239 hitter. In addition to all the home runs he’s offered little in terms of doubles and his strike out total for the last three years is 546 or roughly 40% of his at-bats. Again not a great thing especially when your general manager is Billy Beane.
As if Cust needed another knock against him he’s always been a liability in the field. He’s gets to very few balls, he’s error prone and if they kept defensive stats for deers they’d likely rank higher then Cust has.
The addition of Jake Fox to the A’s likely was the biggest reason the A’s have taken the approach they have with Cust. Fox, a player with similar attributes to Cust, also is not a great fielder but he’s capable of playing far more positions then Cust including catcher.
While it may seem like the A’s have pushed Cust out the door it will only take one injury for him to again be a prominent member of the club. With Eric Chavez always seeming to get off to slow starts and not having more then 89 at-bats in the last three years he’s the most likely fall guy. But there are other dominions that could fall rather quickly. Travis Buck hardly is guaranteed a long leash in right field, if an injury were to strike Kevin Kouzmanoff or if Daric Barton continues to disappoint at first base all could be moved around to make Cust an everyday player again.
Even if there doesn’t appear to be much interest in him around baseball or even in the A’s organization the Jack Cust experiment isn’t over. Not yet at-least. They wouldn’t have brought him back if it was, they would have simply released him if it was.