I was just saying yesterday that we have only one option. Billy Beane parts with top prospect Addison Russell and goes all in to help the A’s win a championship and that’s just what he did in a surprise blockbuster trade with the Cubs. It was going to come down to spending money (and I am pretty sure that Beane is not done yet!) or giving up Russell who 99% of A’s fans thought he would never actually do.
But what do we know? Beane shocked everyone when he gave up Addison Russell, 2013 top pick Billy McKinney and Dan Straily. Originally the Cubs were rumored by ESPN’s Keith Law to have gotten a player to be named later but according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports that is untrue.
We all know Billy Beane wants, no needs, to win a World Series Championship during his tenure as the Athletics’ general manager. Besides the fact that I have met Beane on several occasions and have heard this to be true – EVERY baseball fan has seen the Oscar nominated film “Moneyball” based on Beane and the 2002 Athletics who won 20 games straight only to go on to lose to the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the playoffs.
Which is also what they have done in their last three playoff appearances, lost before winning the American League pennant – all three times to the Detroit Tigers (2006 ALCS, 2012 ALDS, 2013 ALDS).
As I mentioned in my Trade Deadline Preview for the A’s this is the A’s year to win. They don’t have the payroll to compete year after year until they finally win like many big market teams. They just don’t have the resources. In my preview, I said that Beane would have to part with Russell in order to win NOW.
He didn’t do it in 2012 when the A’s came seemingly out of nowhere to win the AL West, he didn’t do it in 2013 when the A’s took their second straight division title …. he waited until the right time. He waited until the A’s were the best team he had EVER put together on a budget, he waited until the A’s were (ARE) widely considered the best team in baseball!
Even with so much depth, three legitimate power hitters and the best team ERA in the league, the A’s still had two glaring holes.
While they have the best ERA, the back end of the rotation could be better. It could. The A’s lost starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin prior to the season, both to Tommy John Surgery. Tommy Milone has been great but can be inconsistent. Drew Pomeranz, who started the season in the bullpen, had been good but broke his non throwing hand recently (you can read more about that here), can move back to the bullpen. I’m not sure what the A’s will likely do with newly acquired fill-in starter Brad Mills who done just fine in place of Pomeranz. But the words “fine” and “good” are not used to define championship teams.
By adding the one of the two biggest pitchers on the trade market in Jeff Samardzija and another pitcher who was on plenty of teams’ radars, Jason Hammel, the A’s have more than enough depth to continue having the league’s best ERA and even in the event of an injury or meltdown of one of their starting five they will have a plethora of options to choose from to fill in that rotation spot.
The A’s still need an upgrade at second base/shortstop. Jed Lowrie has been great in the shortstop role but would be just as great at second base. So look for the A’s to spend some cash on a second baseman or a shortstop. Most people are speculating that the A’s will get Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays but this current trade is so shocking that I think Beane may have his sights set higher. However, Zobrist would be a great pick up for the Athletics.
No one predicted that the A’s would give up Russell for a top starting pitcher. No one! It was suggested of course but would Beane really go all in? Beane is one of, if not THE best GM’s in baseball. Everyone knows it (again you all saw “Moneyball” right?!)! He knows when to play his cards and when not to (for the most part, nobody is perfect)! In this case Billy Beane put all his cards on the table … he went all in showing the rest of the league that this is by far the best team he has put together since becoming the A’s GM in 1997. I just happen to agree.
No matter what happens come October, I doubt any A’s fans disagree with Bean using all the chips he had, mainly in just Russell to make this deal. He did the right thing and this IS the most complete team of seemingly (well until – oh say, last week!) “nobodies” he has put together since being GM. This is his chance, the teams chance and our chance as fans to quite possibly see our boys win the pennant, maybe more on the 25th Anniversary of our last World Series win – a sweep over the SF Giants in the Battle of the Bay – in 1989!
As we always say in Oakland – “In Billy We Trust.”