The Oakland A's being ridiculously poor really did not help the White Sox trade market

The Oakland A's being ridiculously poor really did not help the White Sox trade market
Pull youselves together, dudes! // Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune

Initially I had this titled “I hate the Oakland A’s”, but I realized that was too harsh.  It’s more that I’m cross with the A’s due to their current situation–dirt poor, selling all their shiny things for breadcrumbs.  Also, while hating people for being poor may feel as comfortable as slipping into a warm bath for some, it would definitely horrify other readers….and you know, probably me too.

The A’s are still stuck in Oakland Alameda County Stadium, which combined with a poor location, is apparently an unprofitable dreck of a facility.  Their plan to bolt for a new stadium in less recession and woe-stricken San Jose is suffering through its umpteenth delay, so it’s no surprise that the A’s are sellers in the meantime.

Well, actually it is, because they have nothing to sell.  Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui all walked in free agency.  Brian Fuentes and Kurt Suzuki would figure to be on the move if they were, like, actually coveted, and Grant Balfour would figure to be a trade chip, but jeez, we’re not even discussing players who are making $5 million next season anymore.

But instead of ditching fungible assets like normal people, the A’s are trading productive, above-average pitchers, before they even hit arbitration.  In other words, they’re trading the type of players that low-budget teams hope to luck into in order to enjoy at least a fleeting competitive window.

Starters Trevor Cahill (24 by Opening Day), Gio Gonzalez (26), and now closer Andrew Bailey (27), have all been bailed on while plenty of surplus value awaits them.  If I trust this spreadsheet, that means that after these deals, the A’s have a good chance of a sub-$40M payroll for next season.  Alex Rios is owed $37 million for the next three years….just thought I’d throw that in there.

Sure, maybe none of those three hurlers are ever going to win the Cy Young, but such an aggressive razing of an already really cheap and young major league roster offers questions; like how long the next batch of extremely affordable youngsters will be given before they’re shipped off too?  Or if the A’s are even trying to pretend to be competitive until the move to San Jose?

I don’t really care about either of these questions out of context.  The point is that the A’s are now flooding the pitching trade market with cheap, long-term solutions.  Why would any team bid value for a short-term rental (like, say, everything the White Sox have) when mid-rotation cornerstones are available?  It’s unfair to blame a larger trend of this off-season entirely on the A’s, but they were the largest participants.

For example, the Nationals were considered to have Danks as their backup target to Gonzalez, and Bailey’s deal to Boston closed up yet another one of the needs of a big-budget team looking for a late-inning reliever, swallowing up one of the last conceivable spots for Matt Thornton.

Of course, setting the relief market toward young, cost-controlled hurlers is kind of the White Sox fault, since they dealt Sergio Santos for a single potential mid-rotation starter.  At this rate, with long-term building blocks available for the bullpen, and with them not likely to be worth draft pick compensation again under the new CBA, pricey veteran relievers like Thornton might be worth more mid-season when competitors declare their bullpens an emergency situation.


Perhaps a White Sox rebuild was never really going to work out this year anyway.  Their primary export is pitching, and Danks, Floyd, and Thornton’s salaries were always going to appeal to teams of a bit richer blood.  With the Red Sox and Yankees suddenly buckling to concerns about luxury tax, and the other two top-spending teams not wanting for pitching in the least, the A’s deciding to host an impromptu dispersal draft may have only been the poison in the cake full of razorblades that was the trade market for the White Sox.

And things still could just be hopelessly Boras’d.  Scotty B has dragged out the negotiations for the primary remaining bat (Fielder), starter (EJax), and reliever (Madson) on the market to damn near the new year with no significant action taking place, which may have futzed the market a bit, or at least dragged things out past where the Sox wanted to go without deciding what to do with their de-facto ace.

This is all conjecturing now, as the Sox are risking groin tears with the amount of fence-straddling between rebuilding and trying to compete they’re currently doing, but for certain the A’s did not help.  Their intrusive, depressing sale of slightly burnt Sears activewear came at totally the wrong time.

Stupid A’s.


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  • Oakland As 2012 Organizational Meeting:

    Lew Wolff: I want to put together a team that will help us relocate to San Jose. . . . Here's the list of people we'll be inviting to camp this year.

    Billy Beane (pointing to Kila Ka'aihue's name): This guy here is dead.

    Wolff: Cross him off then.

    Beane (under his breath): Let's not be hasty.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Holy crap! The A's are re-enacting the plot to Major League! How did I not see this till now?

    Now I want the White Sox to help!!! A.J. Pierzynski would be a perfect Jake Taylor! Jerry Owens as Willie Mays Hayes! Kila as Pedro Cerrando/Dead Guy. If only they could get Kevin Kouzmanoff back to be Roger Dorn!

    When the A's dealt for Kila--a Quad-A slugger who had never been given a real chance, it had the air of inevitability that's typically reserved for the White Sox signing a wild, power arm for the bullpen, or the Twins gobbling up an all-control, no stuff guy in the Rule 5 draft.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    Jerry Owens, ha! He may have run like Mays (.319 BABIP) but he hit like sh*t (.294 wOBA).

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus is pretty firm in his stance that all the legends of yesteryear would be outclassed by modern-day players. At the very least, Jerry Owens would have been a terror in the deadball era...for multiple reasons.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    Yes, the man was an anachronism.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    I would prefer the good kind of anachronism. A player trained to hit the impossible spiral-balls thrown by pitching robots from the year 2370, who sees the movement on two-seam fastballs as an amusing parlor trick. A player used to fielding his position while be fired upon. A pitcher from an era in the future where pick-off moves are perfected, so that when he realizes he's been transported to a place where people are still dumb enough to stray from the base, he begins to bean everyone he can.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    And whatever performance enhancing drugs he/she/it was taking would not yet be invented and therefore completely undetectable. Bonus!

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    They'd probably get suspicious of PED use due to fhwer (the pronoun for the single perfect gender of the time) pregame meal simply being a live, fully grown male deer eaten whole.

    Surely that book is more interesting tracking down malpractice insurance for wayward doctors that have inexplicably dropped everything in their life and fled to Pakistan.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Yeah, it's a slow day. In case you were wondering.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    For me, commenting on WSO sure beats plowing through this book I have to read about a Marxian approach to urban spacial analysis. Seriously. Kill me now.

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