Monday, November 10, 2008

A's Acquire Matt Holliday…and I'm Not Sure Why

After being quietly linked to Colorado Rockies OF Matt Holliday since the end of the season, the A's "surprised" the national media that generally ignores all things Oakland by (reportedly) agreeing to a deal.

Holliday for OF Carlos Gonzalez, SP Greg Smith and RP Huston Street

I'm way behind in my A's 2008 player post-mortems, but here's a quick synopsis of the talent in line to leave Oakland:

Carlos Gonzalez - Formerly the top prospect in the Diamondbacks' chain, he came over in the Dan Haren 6-for-2 blockbuster last winter. Racked up 302 at-bats for the A's in '08. Raw and undisciplined on offense (13 walks all season), dogged by questions about his attitude and absence of power.

Greg Smith - Also part of the Haren deal, Smith made 32 starts for the A's last year. His pickoff move is the one great skill he brings to the mound. Otherwise, his ceiling appears to be a number three or four starter. Supporters point to his abject lack of run support all season (3.12/start), but I point to his terrible BB/K ratio.

Huston Street - Lost the closer's job in Oakland in August. I don't normally buy into the seam-head notion that closer's are wired any differently than other relievers (the immortal Tim Worrell once saved 57 games over a two year stretch) but, Street's one of those guys who can't seem to shake off a blown save like the great ones.

Holliday is a very good player, but I just don't see how he fits on the A's

ESPN used a park-adjusted projection that states Holliday's 2008 OPS would've been just 26 points lower in Oakland. Now, I know this is uncharted territory for bloggers, but I'm calling bullsh*t on the World Wide Leader in Sports.

.357/.423/.645 – Career AT Coors Field
.280/.348/.455 – Career AWAY FROM Coors Field

Look, I get that Holliday would become the A's best player, but this team finished two dozen games behind the Angels in '08. He ain't making up that difference by himself. And, not to beat this to death, but last year was the first season since 2005 that Holliday's home/road slugging splits were within 100 points of each other. In 2007, the difference was 240 points and in 2006 it was 320 points.

On the surface, it seems like the trade equivalent of all those big-name free agent signings the Orioles were famous for this decade. The Miguel Tejadas, Rafael Palmeiros and Ramon Hernandez were all brought in to show the fans that Baltimore was competing…right to their annual fourth place finish.

Something else has got to be at work here. The A's may try to flip Holliday to St. Louis – where he was also rumored to go or maybe they'll see if the Dodgers have any interest if Los Angeles can't re-sign Manny. Regardless, there is no way on erf that Matt Holliday will be an Oakland A in 2010.

By itself, this is just a really weird deal. Gonzalez's perceived value as a top prospect has probably taken a bit of a hit, but "potential" is still value in this league. Street pitched better down the stretch and earned an opportunity to close again. Both of these guys and a young starter for a guy who won't get the A's any higher than second place?

This is a really weird deal.


Tom said...

I'm expecting him to get flipped to the Mets, where Jon Heyman once said that "Carlos Beltran and [Mets top prospect] Fernando Martinez might get a deal done for Matt Holliday".

The only thing that might save me is his lack of being Latin.

Jeremiah said...

Yeah, if I was an A's fan, I'm pissed today. Basically, you've conceded that you got a couple of overrated players for Haren last year, then flipped them for a one-year rental. Buster Olney was trying to say this morning that this move is similar to the Brewers getting Sabathia because they can always trade him in July when his value is "sky-high" or contend with him, then get two draft picks in 2010. Ummm....OK. First of all, his value won't be sky-high in July on an expiring contract and only above-average numbers as you've pointed out. His value was higher last July, and nobody (Rays, Yankees, Cardinals) were willing to give up anything decent for him (and they all desperatley needed a right-handed, power-hitting OF).

Plus, the Brewers were already contenders with a short window, a wide open NL race, and not much to lose with a loaded farm system to go for it. If Sheets, Gallardo, and Parra stay healthy, they probably get further than they did, but they at least got in.

Finally, as much as I love the Rays and what they're doing, they didn't start some sort of yearly trend of small-market teams rising up with their draft picks/yound stars sprinkled with a few grizzled vets and conquering the Goliaths of the AL. Small market teams have to see if they are a contender first, then add the piece they need to put them over the top. There's is nothing short of Brad Ziegler being a better version of Chad Bradford that suggests the A's are better than average at any position than the Angels, Rays, or Red Sox.

But, hey, those green Holliday 5 Majestic jerseys should be pretty sweet. Has the A's website already started marketing those?

That Bootleg Guy said...

I heard Heyman on XM for the first time this morning. Good to know the overt holier-than-thou douchiness of his writing comes thru in his voice.

One of the A's beat writers postulated that the A's pushed a guy like Travis Buck (decent rookie year in '07, terrible -for the most part- in '08), but the Rockies pushed for Gonzalez.

I read someplace else that the A's *may* consider prospect Aaron Cunningham (who debuted in September) to be a better short-term alternative to Gonzalez.

Regardless, this deal seems to be predicated on the A's getting a haul for Holliday at some point. The problem is that the "superstar for tons of prospects" trades just don't happen that often anymore.

The Braves gave away Teixeira for a guy with half the talent (Kotchman). Sabathia was swapped for four guys, but only one of them (LaPorta) was considered to have a future.

On the plus side, #5 is available on the roster!

Tom said...

Heyman is Mike Francesa's go-to baseball "insider." I get the benefit of hearing him once a week.

Listening to him a lot and knowing that he's the type of guy who gets HOF and MVP votes explains so much about the state of baseball writing.