Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Oakland A's Monday #28

For the second straight July, the A's have essentially folded up their tents and called it a season. Last year, they entered the month at 42-39 – fresh off of taking 2 of 3 in New York from the Yankees – before going 9-18 in July. This year, Oakland was 45-37 entering play on July 1 and have gone 8-15 since then.

And, between my A's and Raiders, I think I'll just head off to bed for the next nine months.

There are still about 48 hours left until the July 31 Major League Baseball trading deadline and the A's are in the unique position of being a seller that HAS to make a move.

A few days ago, SP Justin Duchscherer had his worst start of the season, yielding eight earned runs in six innings to the Rangers. His ERA still sits at a terrific 2.37, but there's no way he should still be with this team on August 1.

I made all of these same points last week, but Duke is having a career season at 30 years old. He's never been a starting pitcher for a full season in the bigs. He's going to get very expensive when he's eligible for arbitration during the offseason and he'll almost certainly hit the open market as a free agent after the 2009 campaign.

So, where can he go?

I'd be stunned if he ended up in the National League. Duke had offseason surgery on his hip. During an interleague start against Arizona on June 17, he felt a twinge in his hip while hitting and – as a precautionary move – was instructed to keep the bat on his shoulder. He fanned in all four at-bats, the final three while looking at nine straight pitches.

In the American League, there just aren't many legitimate playoff contenders who need a starter. The Tigers might be the best fit, as their offense is averaging about five runs per game (tied for 2nd in the AL), but their team ERA is 4.42 (11th). Upon closer inspection, Detroit's rotation is even worse than I thought, as they rank last in strikeouts and third from the bottom in walks allowed. Would the Tigers part with Jeff Larish (25-year-old 1B, slugging .542 in AAA, really just a fringe prospect) and the crazy-raw Brandon Hamilton (21 years old, at Single-A)?

I'm still not convinced that RP Huston Street is going anywhere, despite the intensifying trade talks. If, however, the Dodgers are as disenchanted with 3B prospect Andy LaRoche as it appears they are, I'd do a straight-up swap in a heartbeat. Street could slot into the eighth inning role that the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton vacated when an injury forced Los Angeles to elevate him to closer. Meanwhile, LaRoche would likely replace Eric Chavez who's rumored to be moving across the diamond.

Wake me when it's next April.

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