As a die-hard A’s fan who has sometimes been derisively labeled by friends as a Billy Beane apologist during Oakland‘s lean years, I’m inclined to like the moves general manager Billy Beane makes. I’m certainly always open to being open minded about the many ways every little move could possibly benefit the franchise.
But dealing Michael Choice to the Rangers today for Craig Gentry made my stomach sink when I first saw the news break on Twitter. A lot of the good vibes I was feeling after the A’s signed Scott Kazmir and traded for Jim Johnson on Monday seemed to vanish into thin air.
Note to self: Take deep breaths, remain calm and remember that there’s more to come. Everything will make perfect sense once the season starts and we see how all the pieces acquired by the A’s over the winter actually fit together in reality.
A big part of my initial disappointment over this trade is obviously my own fault for getting a little too excited every time the A’s select a player in the first round of the draft. I’ve been looking forward to Choice’s arrival in Oakland ever since they selected him in 2010.
The idea of a young, cheap, homegrown right-handed power hitter in the middle of the A’s lineup for several years was intoxicating. But now that dream is dead and buried.
Choice is gone and he’s heading to his native Texas. Good for him, he should be a great fit for the Rangers and I can easily see him blossoming into the second coming of Nelson Cruz.
Speaking of Nelson Cruz, didn’t the A’s trade him for Keith Ginter many moons ago? Oh yeah, that’s not some kind of bad joke they actually did that. But hindsight is 20/20 right?. It hurts every single time I wrap my brain around how that trade worked out. The thought of Choice coming back to haunt Oakland the way Cruz has for the past several years is agonizing.
Then again, Choice may never make enough contact or consistently hit for enough power to be much more than a glorified 4A hitter with the Rangers. We’ll just have to wait and see. And while we’re waiting to see what Choice will become it’s a chance to find out what Craig Gentry is right now since he’s the guy Beane just had to add to the roster.
Along with minor league pitcher Josh Lindblom (who could be an interesting little acquisition), they’re getting a speedy, slick-fielding, 30-year-old center fielder with strong on-base skills and some difficulties handling right-handed pitching. So he’s basically a platoon outfielder with a low ceiling coming to a team that loves to employ platoons and needs an outfielder who can handle center field.
It’s a match made in heaven … and it kind of bores the life out of me. But hey, that’s my fault for not being big on speedy outfielders like Gentry. I’m a sucker for power hitters like Choice which colors my entire reaction to this move by the A’s.
I won’t argue the fact that the A’s needed someone to back up Coco crisp in center field in 2014. And Josh Reddick could use a platoon partner in right field so he can dodge left-handed pitchers. Gentry looks like he can more than adequately fill that role in Oakland which is great and it defintely helps the A’s win now which is obviously the front office’s goal. I just don’t think the price to fill that kind of marginal role on a team should be a prospect with Choice’s pedigree and ceiling.
But what do I know? I’m just a middle-aged guy who spends most of what little free time I have chasing his two little kids around. Beane and Co. can throw scouting reports and advanced stats around all day long to make this trade seem like a master stroke for the A’s and maybe it is.
Personally, I don’t think the Choice-for-Gentry trade will ever stand out as one of Beane’s greatest hits once everything is said and done, but it could be a decent transaction if Gentry makes some nice little contributions all over the diamond for an A’s team that marches into the World Series. Gentry obviously won’t be the guy who leads them there but he can definitely be a vital role player over the long haul of the season, especially the way manager Bob Melvin mixes and matches from game to game.
I may not be in love with this trade but I’ll hand it to Beane, he’s going all in with the 2014 A’s. If there’s a move he can make to give Oakland an extra edge heading into next season with the resources he has available he’s pulling the trigger. $22 million for a starting pitcher who was out a baseball a couple of years ago? No problem. $10 million for the oft-criticized “proven closer?” Let’s do this. A trade with a division rival that could bite the A’s in the butt later? Don’t bother me, I’m Billy Freakin’ Beane and I’m too busy trying to win the AL West three years in a row to deal with that now.
So am I going to complain a lot about the A’s trying to win right now at the cost of what Michael Choice could be for the next 4 or 5 years? No, I don’t think so because winning now is obviously nothing to complain about.
If the biggest problem any A’s fan has right now is that the team is spending what appears to be too much money on veterans while jettisoning former No. 1 draft picks in an all-out effort to make a run at a World Series title then there’s really nothing to complain about. As the old saying goes, flags fly forever. If the price of a championship in 2014 is Michael Choice’s career that’s a chance you have to take if you really think you’re a few moves away from have a real shot at winning it all.
Of course, if the A’s don’t win big now and they end up losing a lot over the next few years with Choice doing a ton of damage for the Rangers I will be complaing a lot. But for now I’ll just grouse a little bit about losing Choice’s power potential in exchange for a platoon outfielder speeding toward the wrong side of 30.
UPDATE: Right when I was in the middle of writing this, Beane pulled the trigger again and acquired Luke Gregerson from the Padres for Seth Smith which I absolutely love. This 2014 A’s bullpen is shaping up to be on of the nastiest in the league depending on who Beane trades next. With bullpen depth like that, Oakland won’t have to tax the young arms in their starting rotation. All Melvin needs is about 5 good innings out of his starters and then he can pull them before the heart of the opposing team’s order comes up for the third time.