Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The Oakland A's Monday #19
A little over a week ago, there was a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that all but guaranteed Barry Bonds would be playing for the A's in 2008. During one of my occasional moments of self-importance, I began work on a lengthy blog post to determine if this would be a good or bad thing. Then, last Friday, the A's went and rendered the rumors moot.
(BTW…my final verdict regarding the possible signing of Bonds? A good thing.)
So, I'm driving Little Boy Bootleg home from preschool last Friday. Our usual musical accompaniment of ear-chafing children's songs had been replaced with XM Radio's never-ending dissection of The Mitchell Report, which had been released 24 hours earlier. Just before 3:30 PM, they announced that A's starter Dan Haren had been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for six players.
Jalen parroted both my elongated groan and the smattering of casual profanity that left my lips.
On the one hand, Haren pitched like a number one starter for most of last year, before slipping in the second half of the season (2.30 vs. 4.15 ERA before and after the ASB). He's young (26), durable (200+ innings in each of the last three years) and – most importantly – he's cheap (about $16.25M over the next three years) by today's standards.
On the other hand, Boy Genius GM Billy Beane has let the A's minor league system erode on his watch, while the team's abject absence of offense virtually assured a 2008 finish out of the playoffs.
According to Minor League guru Kevin Goldstein (formerly of Baseball America, now writing for Baseball Prospectus), four of the six players the A's got from Arizona instantly moved into Oakland's top seven prospects in their entire system. I'm not sure if that's a credit to the talent the A's received or an indictment of their current player development abilities.
The jewel of the deal is supposedly OF Carlos Gonzalez, but since Goldstein uses words like "highly questionable effort" alongside "tremendous upside", I won't get too excited until I see him play. LHP Brett Anderson also came over and Goldstein calls him "…arguably the most polished teenage pitcher in the minors". 1B Chris Carter – earlier this fall named the top power hitter in the White Sox Minor League system – was part of the deal, as well.
Sucks to see Haren go, as he seemed happy in Oakland and the A's were better with him in 2008 than they will be without him, but trading guys away for baskets of young talent and sacks of magic beans has been a franchise tradition for decades. Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and more were all swapped out at one point.
The verdict on this deal: Who the hell knows? We'll need a good two or three years to grade this one accurately.
And, if I survived the post-Rickey Henderson, pre-steroid laden mid-80s A's and the Ariel Prieto, Ruben Sierra, Troy Neel-led mid-90s A's…then, I can live through a few years of rebuilding.
On a related note, we're planning to take our son to his first A's game in Oakland next April. I hope there'll be tickets available.