Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The A's to Contend for '09?

The Oakland A's traded for LF Matt Holliday on Monday, and by all accounts shocked most people. There were rumors that they were in on the Holliday sweepstakes, but for the most part no one took them seriously, or were just plain confused by them. It just didn't seem Billy Beane-esque to give what the Rockies were asking for, for one year of a decently expensive Holliday.

However, this was actually classic Billy Beane. To get Holliday, all Beane gave up was LHP Greg Smith, RHP Huston Street and OF Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez was considered the prize of the Dan Haren trade that Beane pulled off last year, however LHP Brett Anderson has to be considered the better prospect right now. What makes this classic Billy Beane is that no one was expecting it. The A's were only 6 games off the Angels pace when he decided to sell on the season last year and trade Rich Harden and then later Joe Blanton. Now, after the Angels wrapped up a 100 win season he decides they're in contention? Well why not? The Angels did only outscore their opponents by 68 runs, which is much more indicative of their talent level than their record is. Additionally, if they fail to re-sign 1b Mark Teixeira, they're even more vulnerable.

Another reason this was a great move by Beane is that, somehow, Holliday's stock was a little low. This was because his splits away from Coors aren't exactly pretty, at .280/.348/.455 for his career. But history has shown that once a player leaves Colorado, his numbers outside of Coors will pick up a bit. And considering that Holliday is a talented player and not someone who benefits purely from the thin air in Colorado, I think Beane knew what he was doing when acquiring Holliday.

On Colorado's end, this trade is tough to analyze because rumor has it that they are going to spin at least Street to another team and possibly Gonzalez, but that Smith is staying. In a vaccuum this is a pretty good haul for one year of Holliday, but I can't look at this in a vaccuum. Gonzalez is a great return, I think he'll do well in Colorado. He stroked a ton of doubles in Oakland during his time there this year, and the power alleys in Coors should only help him there. Additionally, he is a massive upgrade in left field over Holliday. However, the two pitchers don't make much sense to me. Colorado wanted pitching that could help out at the Major League level, and that is what they got, but it seems to me that they didn't acquire talent that was suited to their ballpark. Huston Street is not what he was a few years ago, and while he is solid bullpen material, he has lost some zip on his fastball and is more of a flyball pitcher. While this can be effective in Oakland's forgiving ballpark, it could be trouble in Coors. Lastly Greg Smith had a pretty good year for Oakland finishing with a 4.16 ERA, but he's not exactly the type of pitcher who will succeed in Coors as he finished with only 111 strikeouts in 190.1 innings, and more flyballs than groundballs on the year.

Overall, it's too early to judge for Colorado as they might move one or two pieces from this trade, but I think Oakland did well to get Holliday for mostly pieces that weren't going to be part of their future anyway. Plus, they will get 2 draft picks when Holliday leaves for free agency at the end of this year.

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