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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Oakland A’s

Acquired P Kirk Saarloos from the Houston Astros for P Chad Harville.

Nice bounty for the A’s for a DFAed player.  The A’s were in a roster crunch as they didn’t have anyone they could send down in order to call up Harden when his turn in the rotation came up.  Saarloos has had mixed results in the majors to date (last year had nice periphs but 2002 was legitimately awful) but still has time to turn it around and has a swank change-sinker combo.  Saarloos will be in the minors for now - it’s very likely the Astros promoted him too quickly.  Not every pitcher is Roy Oswalt.

Dan Szymborski Posted: April 17, 2004 at 01:46 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. The Other Kurt Posted: December 20, 2003 at 10:07 AM (#570510)
Actually, HK, the fact that he's won 2/3 of his descisions lifetime really doesn't mean much. The fact that he has a lifetime 143 ERA+ and has averaged 225 IP over the last 3 years does mean something, however. As does the fact that the A's have him contracted through 2006. Though your point remains, there is no rush to trade Zito.
   302. Joe Morgan Posted: December 20, 2003 at 10:26 AM (#570511)
The fact that he's won 2/3 of his decisions shows he has the ability to win and that's the kind of pitcher I'd want on my team.
   303. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 20, 2003 at 02:05 PM (#570512)
I should have known better than to think I could get away with that one. Sigh...
   304. Darren Posted: December 20, 2003 at 04:11 PM (#570514)
Zito had an off year according to DIPS, but he still had a 3.30 ERA in 231 IP. I could see Beane dealing him if he thinks Zito is overated by those stats.
   305. Danny Posted: December 20, 2003 at 05:35 PM (#570515)
2003 Stats:
   306. Danny Posted: December 20, 2003 at 05:39 PM (#570516)
Zito's also signed to a very reasonable contract through 2006. If he meets all of his incentives--he's already met most of them--he'll make $16.65M from 2004-2006, a very tradeable contract.
   307. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: December 21, 2003 at 06:59 PM (#570387)
Bryan,

I just noticed the non-tender list on ESPN, and I was going to make comments similar to yours in re: this trade, but you beat me to it.

This is certainly a puzzling deal if your option 2 is not in play....
   308. JMM Posted: December 22, 2003 at 06:48 PM (#570519)
Hammonds has already said that he's excited about coming to another contending team, and that he hadn't thought he'd want to play out west, talking to Hudson at charity events in recent years had made him less wary of doing so.

And given that Lilly doesn't have Hernandez to do his thinking for him -- the reason he started to actually pitch well the second half of the year, was Lilly really traded low?
   309. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: February 03, 2004 at 03:46 PM (#572301)
It will be interesting to see how Karros performs with a manager who knows how to use him. Part of me really hopes that Choi blossoms in Florida and Hill in Pittsburgh, if only to show management that playing retread veterans in front of your best prospects is just not a good idea. I cringed last year every time I saw Karros go 0-4 with a K and a double play against some righty while Choi wasted away on the bench.
   310. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: February 03, 2004 at 03:52 PM (#572302)
Oops, meant to add this to the post. Karros' stats last year, L/R split:

vs. L .366/.441/.545
   311. Jimbo Jones Posted: February 03, 2004 at 08:07 PM (#572311)
Julio, the fact that you're 74 years old is probably part of the story. Still, with more than one starter who embarrasses themselves against lefties, I'd like to see the Mariners express a little interest.
   312. Kyle S Posted: February 04, 2004 at 05:34 AM (#572313)
My favorite Julio Franco story is from Don Sutton, Braves announcer extraordinaire (he's not an ass like Caray). Don talks on air about how when two teams open a series, sometimes guys go hang out with people they know on the other team. Well, Julio always hangs out with the coaches and managers, because most of the time they were his contemporaries.
   313. Danny Posted: February 04, 2004 at 05:18 PM (#572316)
If Karros is only going to play against lefties I don't think he'll get played enough to make the games played incentive anything substantial.

Aside from platooning with Hatteberg, Karros will likely PH for Durazo or Chavez sometimes.
   314. Danny Posted: February 04, 2004 at 06:00 PM (#572318)
I realize you're just trolling, but Chavez hits about as well as Neifi Perez against LHP.
   315. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 09, 2004 at 07:43 AM (#572327)
If his #### doesn't work in the playoffs, maybe staying on the bench was the best thing he could've done.
   316. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: March 19, 2004 at 02:08 AM (#572934)
Hudson was one A's player who said that they needed to resign Chavez, or he wouldn't even think about coming back. As much as they needed to let the fans know they could keep home grown talent every so often, they also needed to let other players know too.
   317. skipaway Posted: March 19, 2004 at 09:32 AM (#572936)
Perhaps you should doubt Transaction Oracle's fan base instead? ;)
   318. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 19, 2004 at 11:29 AM (#572937)
OK, I'm happy the A's signed Chavez. One more fan checking in here so now we have at least 4.
   319. Ginger Nut Posted: March 19, 2004 at 04:58 PM (#572939)
Could help in some of the future negotiations with the Big 3.

My guess is they will let Zito go and focus on keeping Hudson and perhaps Mulder. Beane seems very high on Mulder from comments on his that I have read, though B-Pro thinks he is not as good as Hudson. But with Harden now in the rotation they surely won't try to keep all three of those guys (not implying that that's what Mike meant, just discussing...)

GN
   320. Ziggy Posted: March 19, 2004 at 06:16 PM (#572942)
Keeping Chavez is a good move, although six years is a long time. My biggest concern, however, is that locking up $11m per will make it tough to resign their pitchers, who really are their strength.
   321. Stevens Posted: March 19, 2004 at 10:12 PM (#572943)
I'm likewise concerned about the six years. Plus that platoon difference looks just awful, though I admit, it hasn't hurt him as much as I would expect.

Are there a lot of valuable 30-32-year-old third basemen? Seems the sluggers in that position get switched fairly often.

It's probably a great deal, and no doubt Beane is giddy at finally spending some of Schott's money. I just think it's not quite the no-brainer it might initially seem.
   322. Darren Posted: March 19, 2004 at 10:54 PM (#572944)
The platoon difference is good. You've got a stellar defender at 3B who has good overall hitting numbers. That's worth $11 million a year.

However, you get a bonus. Chavez's splits tell you exactly when you should rest him.
   323. Mikαεl Posted: March 20, 2004 at 02:55 PM (#572945)
My biggest concern, however, is that locking up $11m per will make it tough to resign their pitchers, who really are their strength.

It's really too early to worry about this. Hudson is signed through 2005, and they have options on Mulder and Zito for 2006. The A's have at least two more years with the Big Three, more than enough time to sort out the money and the evaluations.
   324. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: March 20, 2004 at 06:23 PM (#572946)
However, you get a bonus. Chavez's splits tell you exactly when you should rest him.

Kind of tough resting Chavez considering that he is a gold glove thirdbaseman, and considering that his ABs against lefties comprised a 1/3 of his season total.
   325. Darren Posted: March 20, 2004 at 07:20 PM (#572947)
OFF,

My poing was that if given the choice to have a .350/.500 guy with or without obvious splits, the guy with them is a little better. No matter how good Chavez is, he's probably going to be rested a few times a year, like most players are.
   326. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: March 20, 2004 at 08:06 PM (#572948)
Well yeah, but you have to remember that while it benefits the A's to know that Eric Chavez hits like Joe McEwing against lefties, it also hurts them because opposing managers also know this.
   327. Ziggy Posted: March 20, 2004 at 08:21 PM (#572949)
It's still $11m in 06-10 that they don't have to play with. Sure, maybe they'll come up with the cash to keep Hudson and friends, but it'd be easier with this extra money around. I'd be a lot more supportive of this deal were it $33/3 or $44/4, but Chavez probably wouldn't have been.
   328. Danny Posted: March 20, 2004 at 11:24 PM (#572950)
It's still $11m in 06-10 that they don't have to play with. Sure, maybe they'll come up with the cash to keep Hudson and friends, but it'd be easier with this extra money around. I'd be a lot more supportive of this deal were it $33/3 or $44/4, but Chavez probably wouldn't have been.

Obviously, it would be great to have Hudson, too. However, if the A's had to choose, I'm quite certain that Chavez is the better choice. He's been more valuable than any of the Big 3 over the past 3 years, hitters' performance are more stable than pitchers', and injuries affect pitchers far more often than hitters. Chavez is a much better bet to be productive over the next 7 years than Hudson, Mulder, or Zito.
   329. scott Posted: March 20, 2004 at 11:25 PM (#572951)
he got less than tejada did. that makes this a good deal.
   330. scott Posted: March 20, 2004 at 11:25 PM (#572952)
he got less than tejada did. that makes this a good deal.
   331. Darren Posted: March 21, 2004 at 05:31 AM (#572953)
Well yeah, but you have to remember that while it benefits the A's to know that Eric Chavez hits like Joe McEwing against lefties, it also hurts them because opposing managers also know this.

I think it helps the A's a lot more than it hurts them. The opposing manager may be able to neutralize 1 AB for Chavez a game, at the most. Of course, the A's, knowing Chavez is likely to see a LH specialist late, will probably have a good righty bat on the bench. I'd call that somewhere around a draw. I'd say the A's come out ahead by being able to sit Chavez against some lefty starters.
   332. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 21, 2004 at 08:50 AM (#572954)
Would it make sense to rest Chavez when Zito (0.83 Career G/F) or Redman (0.92) are pitching, and a lefty is pitching for the other team? Does their lefthandedness outweigh their G/F tendencies? This would be about 20-23 games per year. Who would replace him? Menechino/Scutaro/German? Melhuse? Edwards?

What about lefty pitchers that Chavez has hit well in the past? Would the small sample size there mean that we should trust his overall platoon split more than the record vs. the particular pitcher? At what point does the sample size become large enough to trust even a little?
   333. Mikαεl Posted: March 21, 2004 at 05:43 PM (#572956)
Beane has Bobby Crosby, Bobby Kielty, and Eric Karros.

I guess it's all a matter of how good is "good," but that's not a bad set of righty bats.

And Marco Scutaro and Adam Melhuse.
   334. Walt Davis Posted: March 23, 2004 at 04:45 PM (#572957)
It's still $11m in 06-10 that they don't have to play with. Sure, maybe they'll come up with the cash to keep Hudson and friends, but it'd be easier with this extra money around.

The money issue isn't that big a deal. As has already been mentioned, Hudson is signed through 2005 and Mulder/Zito through 2006, all at quite reasonable prices.

Moreover, even assuming that revenues stay flat, there should be enough to sign at least one of these guys long term. This year the A's are paying Dye and Chavez about $16-17 M. Starting next year, they'll be paying Chavez $11 M and Dye nothing. That leaves an extra $5-6 M per year to add to Hudson's current $6 M or so to make a competitive offer for him. They might have to add the Hatteberg money to that to keep Hudson, but I think we can all agree that wouldn't be a big loss.

Now it's certainly questionable whether the A's want that much payroll tied up in just 2 players. And after 2006, Crosby will be arb-eligible (and the A's hope a very good player).

That's what's so nice about those extensions that Beane signed with the Big 3 years ago (which all worked out great). The A's have two seasons to see what Harden and Blanton (and whoever else might emerge) can do, before having to make a decision on Hudson. A 2006 rotation of Harden, Blanton, Mulder, Zito (and Redman?) still sounds like a pretty solid "worst-case scenario" rotation. After 2006, they'll have some tough decisions, but they'll also have about $14 M (plus Redman?) coming off the books.

(I know, it's not really the worst-case, it's the worst-case no-injury scenario).

But yeah, I'd trade Zito for lots of goodies.
   335. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: April 17, 2004 at 08:09 PM (#573534)
I like that the A's turned a DFA into an extreme GB guy who could be the next Chad Bradford. I like it, like it, yes I do...
   336. Shiny Beast Posted: April 17, 2004 at 08:51 PM (#573535)
You might not like Saarloos as much once you see him up close.
   337. Danny Posted: April 17, 2004 at 10:51 PM (#573537)
Here are Saarloos' dERA numbers in MLB:

2002: 4.65 (89 1/3 IP)
   338. Darren Posted: April 18, 2004 at 12:27 AM (#573538)
Amazing, the A's DFA a guy then trade him for a better guy. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Too bad the Sox didn't think to offer Ramiro Mendoza for him.
   339. PanRains Posted: April 18, 2004 at 09:06 PM (#573540)
While I tend to toe the sabermetric "company line" I think we need to allow for the possibility that Saarloos' DIPS ERA is that good because he's not that good. What I mean is, I believe there's a strong possibility that his pitches are getting rifled all over the yard? I don't know that, but whenever a soft tosser underperforms his DIPS it makes sense to me to be wary.

That being said, to get him for a guy who was DFA'ed - although someone I have liked - is a pretty good move. Two things, though. first off, not bad for the Astro's, who lest we forget have had a bit of success with short pitchers like Harville; and 2) I would have thought the 'Stro's coulda gottend more for Saarloos - I would've assumed that the sabrmetric teams would have all been in on him.
   340. Shiny Beast Posted: April 18, 2004 at 11:14 PM (#573541)
It's a little startling to see such glowing assessments of Saarloos, since I would assume anyone who actually watched him pitch for the last few years would be a lot more guarded about The Wolfhound's future as an MLB pitcher. Nothing against him at all, but you've basically traded a hard-throwing reliever with control issues(?) for a soft-tossing reliever who gets shelled if he's a little off.

BTW, any input about Harville the pitcher (beyond the fact Beane DFA'd him) would be appreciated. I saw him pitch last night, and I do see he throws pretty hard.
   341. Walt Davis Posted: April 19, 2004 at 03:15 PM (#573543)
It's a little startling to see such glowing assessments of Saarloos

What "glowing assessments"?

The Oracle mentions that Saarloos has time to "turn it around" -- glowing assessments usually require thinking the pitcher is going in the right direction to begin with.

Steve M says he thinks the Astros should have gotten more than Harville, a so-far-unsuccessful 27-y.o. minor-league reliever. Is that a glowing assessment of Saarloos?

Mr. Greene notes that both pitchers have been miserable at the ML level but since Saarloos is younger (and I'll add a starter), he has the greater potential (while it might well be Harville who has the better expected return).

DW suggests Saarloos is hurt (and at the very least is getting smoked in AAA), which is a very rare thing indeed to mention in a glowing assessment.

Hong Kong likes turning a player who was just a few days away from going on waivers into someone with the potential to be the next Chad Bradford -- high praise indeed.

Apparently Kirk's wife is really really hot, which I suppose is a glowing assessment of his love life.

Danny posts Saarloos' DIPS ERA numbers without comment. So DIPS likes him well enough, though if you combine those two years you get a DIPS ERA of about 4.20 which is a smidgen better than league average (once you adjust for park). So even DIPS' assessment isn't that glowing.

Darren echoes most of the others in this thread that Saarloos is better (or has more potential) than Harville.

Stratman01 notes that Beane always gets something in return while Littlefield often lets such borderline talent go for free. This is a positive assessment of Beane.

Pan Rains questions DIPS, hardly a glowing assessment of Saarloos.

DW claims that he hasn't been "that bad" but he does have a low margin for error. And if he "fixes whatever has been wrong", he could be a 4th/5th starter.

I think an objective summary of the comments in this thread would be:

"Folks (and DIPS) think that Saarloos has the chance to be a league-average starter which is a nice return for someone you were about to lose for nothing." That sounds more like a glowing assessment of Beane than of Saarloos.

I'll note that the chances are the A's will be going through a similar exercise with Saarloos next season (when I assume his options are up), unless Saarloos really tears up the minors this year. For 2005, the A's already have Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Redman, Harden, and Blanton. It's possible that Saarloos could win a spot in the pen if he impresses but more likely they'll flip him somewhere for something.
   342. Shiny Beast Posted: April 19, 2004 at 06:39 PM (#573544)
Okay...if not "glowing", will you accept "exceedingly positive"? (Also, I'm pretty sure Saarloos is no starter, especially at the MLB level.)

I have nothing against Saarloos; but I find the assessments of him here (and remember, it's just my opinion -- no real need to rebut me line by line, just say you disagree), whatever else they are, to be a bit spun. How's that?
   343. Darren Posted: April 19, 2004 at 06:53 PM (#573545)
I think you're confusing the number of people who like Saarloos with the amount that each one likes him. The enthusiasm for him is generally in comparison with Harville, or rather, in comparison to what one might expect to get back for Harville after DFAing him.
   344. Danny Posted: April 19, 2004 at 08:20 PM (#573546)
I like Saarloos quite a bit, not because I think he'll be a star, but because I think he will likely be an above average pitcher who is not yet arbitration eligible. I love the deal because the A's got Saarloos for an inferior pitcher that they were going to lose anyway.

Here are Saarloos' career lines:

Minors: 18-3, 1.99 ERA, 52 G, 22 GS, 190 IP, 175 K, 41 BB, 7 HR, 2.59 dERA

Majors: 8-8, 5.64 ERA, 53 G, 21 GS, 134 IP, 97 K, 44 BB, 16 HR, 4.22 dERA

What I get from these numbers is that Saarloos was absolutely dominant in the minors, successful as both a starter and reliever. He was an above-average pitcher in MLB (according to DIPS) at age 23 and 24. The BABIP and HR totals in MLB are a bit troubling, but those are what make Saarloos an average pitcher as opposed to a star.

As Walt said, Saarloos probably doesn't have much of a chance at the A's rotation, as he's probably behind both Duchscherer and Blanton. Sacramento will have a damn fine rotation this year, however, with Blanton, Wood, Woodard, Saarloos, and Ramos.
   345. Shiny Beast Posted: April 19, 2004 at 09:42 PM (#573547)
<i>I like Saarloos quite a bit, not because I think he'll be a star, but because I think he will likely be an above average pitcher who is not yet arbitration eligible. I love the deal because the A's got Saarloos for an inferior pitcher that they were going to lose anyway.
   346. Danny Posted: April 19, 2004 at 10:12 PM (#573548)
From what I can see Saarloos has better minor league numbers than Harville, better major league numbers, has more experience as a starter, has another option left, and is 2 years younger. Harville's main advantage is that he throws harder.
   347. Suff Posted: April 20, 2004 at 04:53 PM (#573551)
I think what the Brian Massacre brings is the perspective of someone who has seen Saarloos pitch several times. There is nothing uglier than seeing a guy throwing in the '70s getting rocked. But Saarloos had some really good games when he first came up, and he was good as a reliever. I personally love watching him pitch when he's on. It's almost like watching a knuckleballer.

I heard Hunsicker on the radio interviewed about the trade. They didn't even mention Saarloos's name. He is enamored with Harville's velocity, and it's not a small thing that they almost drafted Harville instead of Berkman. That is mentioned over and over.

Personally, I'm wary of them trading away all of their depth. When they started the season, they had a better 6-10 than some teams had 1-5. Now they only have Hernandez and Duckworth left who are worth noting (I guess Buchholz, too), and I would say at least three of their starters are rather large injury risks.

They like power arms in Houston. That's one of their things. Just look at the way they've treated Ricky Stone.
   348. Suff Posted: April 21, 2004 at 02:19 PM (#573555)
I understand your point about trading depth, but it seems every year the Astros have to use their 8-9th starter for at least a few starts, and I figure Saarloos could do the job Harville is doing just as well, even if he's not a strikeout guy. I just wish they got something for Saarloos, that's all. They seem to not realize that some soft-tossing relievers are effective, like Saarloos last year and Stone every year, but Stone keeps getting demoted and he was almost sent down this year.
   349. Shiny Beast Posted: April 21, 2004 at 08:09 PM (#573557)
I understand your point about trading depth, but it seems every year the Astros have to use their 8-9th starter for at least a few starts, and I figure Saarloos could do the job Harville is doing just as well, even if he's not a strikeout guy. I just wish they got something for Saarloos, that's all. They seem to not realize that some soft-tossing relievers are effective, like Saarloos last year and Stone every year, but Stone keeps getting demoted and he was almost sent down this year.

On the other hand, Harville could become a solid late innings reliever, and Saarloos could bust. No one knows yet, which was really my original point.

As you know, there was a lot of similar sentiment (not saying it was from you) when they sent 15 Game Winner Jeriome Robertson to Cleveland for Taveras. Who? But I wouldn't be ready to call that trade yet, either.

I am glad they prefer power arms, which is different from 'tall guys who throw hard'. It's been pretty successful; and I am confident Hunsicker knows what he is doing. At the same time Gerry was talking about originally wanting Harville, Beane was saying the same thing about Saarloos. Interesting.

As to Stone, they rescued him off the scrap heap, remember; and have used him pretty heavily ever since. Part of the reason his job was in question this spring was because of the surplus of starters -- I think at one time Saarloos and Robertson were considered candidates for the bullpen. I guess they preferred Ricky.
   350. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2004 at 08:46 PM (#573559)
I have nothing against Saarloos; but I find the assessments of him here (and remember, it's just my opinion -- no real need to rebut me line by line, just say you disagree), whatever else they are, to be a bit spun. How's that?

I'd say that's still a very biased reading of what's been posted. You're the one spinning my friend.

Here's what we know -- Saarloos has been an extremely successful pitcher in the minors, much more so than Harville. Saarloos is 2 years younger.

Now it may be your opinion that Harville is a better prospect going forward -- that's perfectly legitimate. But all that anyone else has claimed here is that Saarloos has the POTENTIAL to be a roughly average major-league pitcher. (Yes, ONE poster did compare him to Bradford who's been well above-average so far) Whatever your opionion of Saarloos, you have to agree that his minor-league performance clearly demonstrates that he has the POTENTIAL to make it at the major-league level ... unless you're going to claim that you've figured everything out when it comes to prospects.

So given that the A's had DFA'd Harville, most folks are saying that picking up a guy with the POTENTIAL of Saarloos is a good trade.

In what way is that spun? In what way is saying that Saarloos has the potential to be a decent major-league pitcher "spin"? In what way is noting that a 25-year-old guy has more room for growth than a 27-year-old guy (who's only managed to stay healthy enough for 50+ ip in 3 of 7 seasons) spin?

Sure, Harville could be a better prospect than Saarloos -- that's a matter of opinion and many of the posters in this thread disagree with you on that opinion. None of them are making outlandish claims of Saarloos' potential. They can disagree with you without being accused of spin, right?
   351. Darren Posted: April 21, 2004 at 09:01 PM (#573560)
True, Hudson also was taken in the 1997 draft, a 6th round pick out of Auburn. You gotta figure the A's got really lucky with him though.

It's funny, but you always hear the opposite of this. The A's are only given credit for Hudson of the big three, because they got him way down in the 6th round, unlike Zito and Mulder who were 'obvious.' However, if the A's were so smart about Hudson, why not take him in the 2nd round?

(Note: I tend to give them credit for all 3 of the big 3 because they did actually pick them and they did actually develop them.)
   352. Shiny Beast Posted: April 21, 2004 at 10:26 PM (#573561)
I'd say that's still a very biased reading of what's been posted. You're the one spinning my friend.

I don't believe that I am. And, you seem to have taken this a bit personally, which was/is not my intention.

I am trying to understand/discuss the trade vis-a-vis the two players involved. I don't care if one was DFA'd, I don't care if this is confirmation of Billy Beane's genius. Etc., etc. I would have appreciated it if the trade had been discussed more evenly, but of course this is a Beane trade, so...My only bias re: Saarloos (that I know of) is that I have seen him pitch several times, and more reserved about his potential. Take it or leave it.

BTW, some of the best and most informative (to me) posts on the subject were by Danny, who is in my observation pretty much a hardcore A's fan. Somehow, that does not surprise me. Of all the comments made, including mine, his seemed to have the focus most where it needed to be.
   353. Lester Posted: April 26, 2004 at 09:34 PM (#573566)
Sounds like Saarlos is one of those players for whom it would be nice to have BIP and BABIP data broken down into flyballs and groundballs vs. linedrives. Has he just been unlucky with BABIP, or does he give up lots of linedrives so that his ERA is a valid measure of his ability?
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