How about those wheelin’ and dealin’ A’s?
Just days after winning the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma general manager Billy Beane moved quickly to deal one of his starting pitchers for some offense, shipping Vin Mazzaro and a minor leaguer to the Royals for outfielder David DeJesus.
Do I like the deal? Even though it doesn’t address the team’s glaring need for power and it adds to the logjam in the outfield the bottom line is I like this trade for the A’s.
DeJesus is a solid player at the plate and in the field who could yield 2 draft picks when he leaves as a free agent after next season. There’s value in that and all Oakland had to sacrifice was a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation who had clearly lost his luster in the eyes of the organization.
DeJesus is about as sexy an acquisition for the A’s as Cody Ross was for the Giants toward the end of last season and we all know how well that worked out for everybody.
The most interesting part of this trade is what it means for power hitting prospect Chris Carter who looked like a lock for the left field job in 2011.
Beane’s comments after the trade indicated that he envisions an outfield of Ryan Sweeney, Coco Crisp and DeJesus and he thinks more offense will come from the free agent market rather than a trade. The most obvious spot to add offense via a free agent signing is at designated hitter but that seems like the natural spot to move Carter because if Oakland is serious about placing a premium on defense then Daric Barton stays at first base.
I can’t say I ever bought into the idea that Carter’s glove could play full time in the outfield and despite his reputation as a less-than stellar first baseman I think Oakland could survive with him playing the infield if they wanted to roll the dice and trade Daric Barton while his value is high.
Call me crazy, but shipping Barton and Kevin Kouzmanoff to the Cubs for Aramis Ramirez and a prospect might work for everyone.
Oakland would get to play Carter at first while adding Ramirez’s powerful bat at third base which would still give them flexibility to sign a veteran DH. Plus, since Ramirez is only signed for 1 year Oakland would also stand to get a couple of draft picks when he leaves as a free agent. The rebuilding Cubs would save some money and get a long-term answer at first base and the flexibility to move Tyler Colvin to the outfield.
I think that holds about as much water as any other outlandish trade scenario dreamed up by fans on the Internet.
If you can’t tell from my pie-in-the-sky trade scenario I’m not sold on Kouz at third. His defense is great but his bat is nothing special for a corner infielder and the back problems he had at the end of last season should be a red flag to a franchise that has been snakebitten by injuries over the years.
In my perfect world fantasy the A’s find a spot in the lineup for Carter, sign Adrian Beltre to play third and grab a player such as Adam Dunn/Derrek Lee/Lance Berkman/Magglio Ordonez/Hideki Matsui to swing away at DH for the right price but I doubt all those pieces will fall into place.
The bottom line is that I don’t believe that Beane is done trading. I think outfielders, pitchers and prospects are still in play if the right opportunity presents itself to add offense to Oakland’s lineup.
But it makes sense for Beane to say he’s done dealing. Why make it obvious that you’re willing to part with players when you can act like everyone is untouchable and possibly drive up their prices on the trade market?
This Tweet from today makes it clear that all options to improve Oakland’s offense are still on the table:
Does any of this mean I want to see the A’s ship one of their starting pitchers out of town? No, but I don’t think DeJesus and an aging free agent DH will be enough to secure a playoff spot in the American League.
But if you find a starting spot for Carter, a solid DH and one more bat then there’s a great chance that Oakland finally has enough firepower to get back to the postseason and ride their starting pitching as far as it can take them in a few short series in October.
Maybe Oakland’s full-page ad in the Chronicle saying they were “inspired” by the Giants’ World Series victory wasn’t a bunch of B.S. after all. Maybe the organization is inspired to move aggressively to field a winning team after seeing how easily and passionately Bay Area baseball fans jump on the bandwagon.
It’s obvious that owner Lew Wolff still has his sights obsessively set on San Jose like some crazed celebrity stalker hounding a young starlet but maybe he’s finally wised up and decided to loosen the purse strings to put an entertaining, competitive team on the field. Why not field a winner so fans in the South Bay have something to get excited about if the A’s finally get approval to move out of Oakland?
From where I’m sitting, doing something like this has always seemed like the smart move. If you’re stuck in Oakland, make the best of it because the fans will fill the stands if you commit to building a winner. And if you still really want to move why play it cheap and field an also-ran because that won’t generate any excitement in the city you’re flirting with.
I never would have imagined that the Giants winning a World Series might be a good thing for the A’s but it looks like it’s been a wakeup call for the green and gold.
Wolff’s fan-alienating effort to get out of Oakland seemed to combine with recent Giants World Series mania to push the A’s to the brink of total irrelevance in the Bay Area and it’s encouraging to see them start making some bold moves to get back on everyone’s radar.
For your viewing pleasure, here’s a little reminder that the team in Oakland has enjoyed the kind of World Series success that makes the Giants’ 2010 triumph seem like a drop in the bucket: