Sure, there has not been a lot to smile about lately in the other city by the Bay. The Warriors are hanging like Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible 2" to the 8th spot in the Western Conference at 41-24 (that is in reference to that scene where he almost falls off the cliff in the beginning? Get it? I don't. I hated that movie). The Raiders are prepping for another season of mediocrity and hoping their number one pick in the 2007 NFL draft, LSU quarterback Ja Marcus Russell, can drop from his rumored 300 lbs down to his playing weight of 255 lbs. What better way to spend the richest rookie contract in the history of the NFL than eating your own weight in silver and black cupcakes everyday? Congratulations Al Davis, you now own the rights to a guy that can throw 80 yards from his knees and eat an entire Christmas ham in a single sitting.
The A's spent their whole off season like every other Oakland off season, living up to the reputation that was created by the book "Moneyball". Billy Beane used the time between October and March to trade away any player that shows a glimmer of talent for more prospects. Why risk spending the money to hold on to good players when they could simply trade those guys to clubs willing to spend money in return for prospects that will develop in to great players....that will eventually leave for more money. It is a vicious/disgusting/insert your own synonym for crappy/upsetting cycle. How great would the A's be if that "Moneyball" system was actually backed by some money from ownership?
Don't get me wrong, I am relieved that Oakland didn't spend the money to hold on to Barry Zito, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, or Jason Giambi long term. All of them managed to flame out after leaving Oakland. The sole exception being the season that Tim Hudson had last year for the Atlanta Braves, finishing 16-10 with an ERA of 3.33. But the point is still valid. Nick Swisher was developing in to a solid player, Jason Kendell was contributing in a major way, and Dan Haren was the ace of the future.
This off season, the A's traded Haren (an up-and-coming star who is only 27) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a package of prospects including Carlos Gonzalez (an ou tfielder rated #18 in on "Baseball America's" Top 100 prospects). Why would you trade a solid pitcher from a staff that is devoid of a clear ace, for a group of prospects that have not even proved they can produce on the major league level? I understand that rebuilding is often necessary, especially when the club doesn't have the required funds to go and get free agents. I just hope that when a new stadium is built, the Oakland ownership can stop acting as though winning the AL West with a tiny payroll is the goal every season. With the revenue flow that inevitabley comes from a new stadium, being in a small market can't be an excuse for mediocrity anymore. How many seasons should the fans have to endure an early exit from the playoffs? For just one year, I would like to be able to enter the free-agent period feeling like the A's might be a contender for a valuable free-agent and won't be saying goodbye to another rising star.
Don't worry though elephant faithful, the A's still have Rich Harden and Jack Cust to enjoy.....for the time being.