Blog Entry

Pure Optimism in Oakland

Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:25 am
You know the major league baseball offseason just hasn't started until Billy Beane has made a blockbuster trade.

Yet this time around, there is a different feeling. The A's are no longer selling. The trade on Monday for Matt Holliday was a breath of fresh air for A's fans everywhere. After years of watching superstars leave their team, A's fans know that this offseason is different.

After the 2001 season, the A's lost former MVP Jason Giambi, closer Jason Isringhausen, and outfielder Johnny Damon. Two seasons later, following the 2003 season, A's fans saw Miguel Tejada leave via free agency to the Baltimore Orioles and Keith Foulke leave to win a world series with the Red Sox. Again after the 2004 season, Beane traded all-star pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder away in seperate deals and also saw Jermaine Dye leave for Chicago. After 2006, Barry Zito left to join the San Francisco Giants throughout the year last season, the A's witnessed Billy Beane trade away Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Mark Kotsay, and fan favorite Nick Swisher.

But now the A's are on the other side of the deal. They are buyers for once.

The trades made by Billy Beane over the past year were set up to replenish his farm system and to allow him financial flexibility. In 2007, the A's had an opening day payroll of around 80 million. By midseason of 2008, Beane had cut that number in half. Now, that added payroll flexibility in the end will allow the A's to attempt to compete. If he chooses to spend it, Beane has around 40 million dollars to work with. Actually, the inclusion of Huston Street in the deal will likely make it around 45 million after Street is done with arbitration. With that extra cash, there have been talks that Beane will attempt to work out an extension with Holliday. On top of that, the A's have also been linked to names like Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Surround quality players with strong pitching and a good farm system and the A's could be contenders for years to come.

In Holliday, the A's are getting a two time all-star that is coming off of three really strong seasons in the National League and has been a franchise player since he was called up in 2004. Holliday fits the Oakland philosophy. He hits for a high average, has a high on base percentage, and has the power to send plenty of baseballs over the fence. While it's likely that Holliday's numbers are sure to decrease outside of Coors field, no one really knows how much of an effect it will be. He is a quality right handed power bat on a team that is loaded with lefties.

Billy Beane will undoubtedly get criticized for this deal from people everywhere. The critics of Billy Beane will look at the players the A's gave up and say "wow, why on earth did you give up that much." Most of these are the same critics that slam Beane for once trading players such as Mark Teahen, Carlos Pena, Aaron Harang, Joe Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwig and others. However, many of those critics don't realize how much better Beane's teams have gotten throughout those trades. They got all-star caliber players in return, such as Damon, Ted Lilly, Jose Guillen, Dye, and others. Sure, Beane might have traded away some prospects that turned out to be good major leaguers, but isn't that a testiment to how well this A's organization drafts and develops its players in the farm system? After all, the team keeps refueling and competing year in and year out with homegrown talent.

The A's gave up three really good talents in order to acquire Holliday in Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, and Huston Street. Gonzalez was the prize piece the A's picked up a year ago from the Arizona Diamondbacks when they traded Dan Haren. His swing is a thing of beauty, but his approach at the plate has never matched the A's "moneyball" philosophy built on strong on base percentage. Gonzalez projects to be a solid player once he matures and a lot of scouts have compared him to a younger version of Garret Anderson. Meanwhile, Greg Smith was also acquired in the Arizona deal as a throw in and flourished for the A's in the rotation last year. He has quality stuff, but he was expendable as the A's have a TON of quality pitching prospects in the minor leagues. However, it should be noted that Smith had surgery this offseason on his elbow as well. Lastly, Huston Street is a player that has fallen out of favor in Oakland. He has been in and out of injuries the past few seasons and finally lost his closers job last year to Brad Ziegler halfway through the year. However, I still believe Street can be an effective closer in this league, but he is no longer needed in Oakland as the team is prepared to hand the 9th inning duties to Joey Devine going forward. This trade benefited both teams involved and was a win-win scenario for both teams.

Remember, it was just a year ago that people were criticizing Beane for the package he got back for Dan Haren. According to most "experts" at the time, Beane got only one solid player (Gonzalez), an average pitcher (Brett Anderson) and a bunch of throw ins. In essence since two of the people from that deal are heading to the Rockies as part of that deal, Beane managed to land Holliday, Anderson, Dana Eveland, Aaron Cunningham, and the A's organizational player of 2007, Chris Carter for Dan Haren and Huston Street. Like it or not, but the A's are better off than they were a year ago because of these trades.

Sure, the A's finished 24 games out of first place this past season, but that was also with the team setting a new record for DL use which also had their other big bat in the lineup (Eric Chavez) sidelined for the year. It was a season that featured many rookies making their major league debuts as well. There are several things that can happen in an offseason to change your place in the standings. You can make improvements yourself and you can also watch your opponents make mistakes and lose players. The A's young players are going to continue to develop and now the team has vastly improved their offense. Meanwhile, the Angels may or may not get Mark Teixeira, Garret Anderson or Francisco Rodriguez back this offseason as they all have become free agents. We will have to wait and see what the offseason brings. However, there is a sense of pure optimism from this A's fan and I know I'm not the only one.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: November 12, 2008 2:35 pm

Pure Optimism in Oakland

What are your thoughts on the common conception that he will be moved?It depends. Beane set himself up in a good situation here. As I said in my blog, he basically traded Dan Haren for Matt Holliday, Brett Anderson, Aaron Cunningham, and Chris Carter and now he has the opportunity to get more back for Holliday than he gave up if he so chooses. If the A's are in the playoff hunt, he won't get moved. However, if they are really far out of it and Beane hasn't signed him to an extension, then it's likely he will be traded. However, the good thing about that is that Beane could actually get more back for Holliday at the deadline that what he gave up now. He can also get prospects that fit his system more.

As for the people saying he won't see a pitch in green and gold, they are wrong. Show up on opening day and watch Holliday start in left.

What type of deal do you think the brass would make, were he to stay?I think he gets Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells type money (which is about 18 million per season). I don't think he'll get much more. He's not going to be as good of a player in Oakland (or anywhere else for that matter) as he was in Colorado. I think a realistic projection for him next season would be .290/.380/.500 with around 25 home runs. Something like 6 years/108 million would be what it would take.

Billy Beane has said in the past that he refuses to deal with Boras... that's what has me slightly worried.I don't agree with that. Billy went hard after Giambi when he was a free agent and offered him 17 million a season (even though Giambi took the highest offer from the Yankees).....I think it's more that Beane has never been in a position to deal with Boras is how that statement came about. Beane has never had the flexibility to add a Boras superstar and he knows better than to overpay for average players that are Boras clients (like Jeff Weaver).

How legitimate is our shot at Furcal?Here's basically what you need to know in regards to Furcal. According to Mychael Urban, Yahoo! Sports, and FoxSports, the A's are interested in him which means that they are willing to throw out anywhere from 13-15 million a season to get him. The problem is, the shortstop market is so weak that a lot of teams are going to be interested in him and bizarre things could happen when a player is in that much demand. I do think he's worth it for the A's as Bobby Crosby has just not turned into the player many expected him to be. If we could find a suitor for Crosby though, that would get his 5 million dollar contract off the books and make the signing of Furcal an easier decision for Beane to make.

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:59 am

Pure Optimism in Oakland

I think our shot at Rafael Furcal is realistic. Apparently Billy Beane has been given an $80MM limit on payroll to work with. Obtaining Matt
Holliday makes us more competitive immediately. We lost too many close games and the wear and tear started to take its toll on our young pitching staff. Nice Post BP

Since: Aug 26, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:42 pm

Pure Optimism in Oakland

I hate to break it to you A's fans, but you guys are going to need more than Matt Holiday to pass the Halos.  However, you guys are right about one thing: he'll be the biggest trade bait of '09.

Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2008 12:59 pm

Pure Optimism in Oakland

First off, Congratulations Athletics fans. Great trade for your team. Matt Holliday will mash in Oakland. If you compete from the AL West Crown he will be resigned. If not he will become the biggest trade bait of 2009. What a great position to be in. I think he will be a bigger Ranger killer than Vlad. Not to happy about that.

Now the ramifications. I think Greg Smith and Huston Street are great pitchers. Rumor is the Rockies will try to trade Street. As a Rangers fan I would love to see us trade a outfielder(maybe Marlon Byrd) to the Rockies for Street, he is an Austin boy after all. I don't think I can manage another season with CJ Wilson as our closer. Yuk.

Anyways I am happy for A's fans. 2009 will be a great year in the AL West. Great post BP!!!

Since: Jun 7, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2008 10:12 am

Pure Optimism in Oakland

However, there is a sense of pure optimism from this A's fan and I know I'm not the only one.

Absolutely not!  I am excited as can be. Great info, and great post as always, BP!

"We're actually doing something?!" I thought... All these years of playing chess (jk) and now we can finally play some SWINGIN' baseball.  Matt Holliday is a monster!  We need to ALL be excited about this... I hear the term "rental" being tossed around, and I see people upset about the talent that we gave up and I'm confused... This is going to be a good move for the A's either way.  If he's here only for the short-term; then he must have been drastically undervalued because of Coors Field, so it's a risk Billy Beane is willing to take, knowing Holliday can slam anywhere... Like you said, we didn't give up that much to get him... young control pitcher, dime a dozen in this franchise, young reliever we knew we weren't going to keep, and young OF, we have a surpluss of young talent there as well... We didn't give up that much, considering what we are getting back.

Now for a barrage of questions, if you could be so kind :  What are your thoughts on the common conception that he will be moved?  What type of deal do you think the brass would make, were he to stay?  Billy Beane has said in the past that he refuses to deal with Boras... that's what has me slightly worried. What's your take?

How legitimate is our shot at Furcal?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or