As reported by several sources lately, Billy Beane may be up to his old tricks again. This time it appears the object of BB’s desire is Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday. Supposedly on the block for the A’s are closer Huston Street, future star Carlos Gonzalez, and recent rookie Greg Smith. It wouldn’t be APIAS if we didn’t weight in on this matter.
First off, the Oakland A’s do need a decent bat in the lineup for 2009. This year’s output in the power categories was abysmal. Eleventh in the league in home runs with 125 (nearly 1/2 of the league leading White Sox), dead last in RBI, and dead last in both doubles and slugging percentage, the futility of the 2008 Oakland power bats is no secret. Also, the A’s have several young stars and decent veterans who swing from the left side of the plate. Holliday would address both of these concerns as he swings a bat with pretty good pop from the right side.
Now, about these players getting shipped out. Street should have been gone last year. Two weeks into the second half he should have been dumped for anyone who would take him. Yes, that’s easy to say with hindsight into what he did in the second half, but you could tell in his first half that he wasn’t all there. His stats weren’t bad, but if you watched the games (as TGC and I watched about 90% of them in the first half this year) you could tell Street just wasn’t sharp and didn’t seem mentally into the games he pitched. It doesn’t break anyone’s heart to see him go.
Second, we’ve got Greg Smith. A rookie in ’08, Smith pitched extremely well for being in the situations he found himself in. He pitched more innings than any other Oakland pitcher on the staff at the end of the year with 190. That’s a pretty good workload for a rookie and one has to believe he could go over 200 in the coming year. He also pitched two complete games and had a 4.16 ERA. In the American League I’ll take that out of my 3 hole all year long, possibly even my 2 hole. The strikeout to walk ratio (111/87) wasn’t phenomenal but it also wasn’t bad for a rookie. The home run total is worrisome (21 allowed) but again, you had a rookie pitcher throwing for nearly 200 innings. He’s going to give up the long ball. In short, losing Smith without a strong crop of proven starters could be a bad, bad thing for the ’09 club.
Finally, we’ve got Carlos Gonzalez. C Go is a star waiting to happen in the MLB. C Go (dibs on that nickname) slammed 22 doubles in ’08 and kept his OPS over .630. That’s not bad from a guy who only came to the plate 300 times last year. He’s can also run the bases, field and throw the ball, and basically anything else you ask of a guy on a baseball field. The kid is flat out talented. The walks are very low (only 13 in 302 at bats) and the strikeouts high (81 in a half season). That usually means you’re on the block for Billy Beane.
But this guy came up in the Oakland system. They knew what kind of player he was before he ever stepped foot onto the field in McAfee. You can’t tell me Beane couldn’t have gotten top dollar out of him when he was hitting the shit out of the ball in AAA. So why now? Maybe Billy knowns something we don’t (as is usually the case), but Gonzalez is the type of young guy that needs to stick around and show the club what he can do over 3-4 full years in the Bigs.
Again, it’s all just speculation at this point. This also won’t be the only move Billy makes in the offseason. Who knows, Oakland could just be a stop for Holliday if Billy can turn him around to a playoff contender that wants to dump a lot more minor league talent. You never know what that crazy bastard is thinking. The only thing we can all believe in is that the ’09 season will be similar to the ’08 season. You’d damned well better have your program out for every game because you’ll see a lot of new faces.