5 Reasons the Oakland A's Rocked the MLB Trade Deadline
Saying that the Oakland A's "rocked" the trade deadline may be a bit of an exaggeration.
Actually, it would probably be considered one of the greatest sales jobs of the year if I could convince you that were the case, but the truth is that the A's made exactly the right decisions given the scenarios they were presented with.
Then again, the other option for this particular A's commentary would have been to argue that they "blew" the trade deadline, an argument that I can't honestly argue with conviction.
None of the big names were moved.
The rumors for Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson, Coco Crisp, Grant Balfour, Rich Harden and Andrew Bailey all amounted to nothing. Each player will be wearing an A's uniform for the remainder of the season unless an unexpected waiver move is made.
There is a faction of the fanbase that would have liked to see a couple of the minor league prospects get an extended look at big league playing time the remainder of the season. I am part of that group, actually.
The way the offense has erupted since the All-Star break, though, it is hard to make a case for trading our top run producer, Josh Willingham, or perhaps the most dynamic player in the lineup, Coco Crisp.
As much as I personally enjoy watching Rich Harden pitch, I probably would have pulled the trigger on the deal that would have sent him to Boston for Lars Anderson, though.
The original deal had Harden being dealt for Anderson and a player-to-be-named-later (PTBNL). The deal apparently fell apart when the Red Sox reviewed Harden's medical records and decided to pull back the PTBNL.
It's understandable why the A's would walk away from the table when the Red Sox tried to reduce their offer at the last minute. I still would have liked to see Anderson in an Athletics uniform, though.
Harden enjoys playing in Oakland and working with pitching coach Ron Romanick, leaving the door open to the A's re-signing him in the offseason while still benefiting from a trade now.
Aside from that move, though, the A's were still able to add at a position of need without hurting their roster.
In the end, the non-moves may be the tipping point on the scale that decides whether they "rocked" or "blew" the trade deadline in 2011.
Brad Ziegler Trade to Arizona Diamondbacks Maintains Bullpen Depth & Adds at 1B
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The 31-year-old submarine-style reliever has been a very good bullpen arm for the Athletics the past few seasons.
Overall, Ziegler has gone 11-13 with a 2.49 ERA in 223 games pitched (231 total innings). He even proved an adequate substitute in the closer's role when the situation necessitated.
This season, Ziegler was 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 43 games for the Athletics.
Although his trade removes one quality arm from the back half of games, he provided the A's with a very powerful arm in exchange in Jordan Norberto and gave the A's a first base prospect that their farm system has been sorely lacking.
Norberto immediately steps into the A's bullpen and gives them a hard throwing option late in games. His fastball has been reported to reach the mid-to-upper 90's.
While Norberto is already in Oakland and a member of the 25-man roster, Brandon Allen is the real prize in this trade.
Allen is considered a very athletic player with decent power who happens to play a position of need for the A's, first base.
Although some scouts have considered him a bench player in the Majors, he will likely earn the opportunity to take over the starting position next season if the A's choose to part ways with Connor Jackson.
Daric Barton was expected to be the long-term answer at first but was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento after being unable to break a season long slump. He has since undergone shoulder surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. Barton will still be afforded an opportunity to reclaim the position in spring training if the A's do not non-tender him in the offseason.
Chris Carter also has underwhelmed in his opportunities, leaving the door open for Allen to claim the position.
A's May Have Established Early Ground Work for Offseason Trades
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Most of the rumors that surrounded the A's wound up being nothing more than speculation or failed deals.
The perception being that Billy Beane and the front office wanted too much in return for their trade-chips.
One player who was mentioned and rumored to have the biggest price tag attached was two-time All-Star closer Andrew Bailey.
Not many A's fans expected to see Bailey dealt, and I'm sure even more were relieved when the deadline passed and he was still an Oakland Athletic.
Similar thoughts surrounded offseason acquisition Grant Balfour.
Both pitchers solidify the A's bullpen and make them one of the strongest, if not the strongest, relief unit in the Major Leagues.
As has been seen in seasons past, though, deals that never come to fruition in July can often be revisited in the offseason with a better chance of the two teams coming to terms.
Let's face it, both Grant Balfour and Andrew Bailey would be highly sought additions to a number of teams heading into the next offseason.
With the A's struggles to sign quality free agent bats, they may need to part with some of their talented arms to find a hitter via trade.
At the bare minimum, an early market has been set for two of the A's top bullpen arms to explore all opportunities in the offseason.
Popular or not, it is a smart baseball business move that has been tested and proven over time.
Non-Moves Actually Maintain Momentum for A's Suddenly Dangerous Offense
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Speculation that Josh Willingham was just a half-season experiment in Oakland are over. He will be here the rest of the season. Now, the speculation can begin that the A's may enter into long-term contract extension talks with their most dangerous bat in the lineup. Actually, many of the fans (and media type) would love to see the A's hold onto their top offensive threat.
The A's haven't had a true offensive threat like Willingham since Frank Thomas in 2006.
Keeping Coco Crisp in Oakland helps to maintain balance in their explosive offense right now. The lineup with Jemile Weeks and Crisp at the top provides a nice 1-2 punch leading up the heart of their order, which has been on fire since the All-Star break. Although Cliff Pennington is swinging a hot bat lately as well, removing Crisp from the top of the lineup could have shaken the team's momentum.
Besides, when the season ends, the A's will still have the options of cashing in on some of the compensation they missed out on at the trade deadline.
Willingham is likely a type-A free agent who will bring a pair of compensation draft picks to the A's if he leaves via free agency. Crisp is playing his way towards type-B status and could give the A's a sandwich round pick.
Just to toss in my two-cents, I'd like to see the A's explore a three-year contract extension with Willingham. He is a dangerous hitter who can play both left field and shift to the designated hitter role when the A's top outfield prospects are ready to play in Oakland.
Coco Crisp could have value for the A's for another season as well if neither Grant Green or Michael Choice is ready to step in the starting lineup by next season in center field.
No Need to Accept Low-Ball Trades on Players That Will Draw Attention on Waivers
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Probably the best indication that the A's were going to let the deadline pass without making any major moves was made when Billy Beane spoke to Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle, telling her
"We've accepted calls on players, but we made it clear we're not going to give these guys away. We don't have any monetary issues, and we're not looking to dump payroll. If we did anything, it would have to help us significantly moving forward, not some team's prospect No. 37."
"In respect for Bob Melvin, we're not going to strip-mine things for two months for players of no consequence."
If the deals being presented to Beane and the A's truly was for prospects significantly down the depth charts, then it makes sense that the A's would choose to hold onto their trade chips past the deadline.
Players such as Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp could bring draft pick compensation with them if they leave via free agency.
Willingham, Crisp and the rest of the A's veteran players will also undoubtedly be passed through waivers in the coming week or two as well.
If a team chooses to place a claim on any A's player, the A's can open trade negotiations and attempt to leverage a better return than what was presented prior to the trade deadline.
A few contenders that missed out on their top pre-trade deadline targets could have significant interest in a bat off the bench such as Hideki Matsui, or a versatile veteran such as Conor Jackson (of course, Willingham and Crisp would be of interest to many contending teams).
The A's can always pull the player back off waivers if they don't like the offers they receive.
One player to pay attention as waiver claims begin to take place is David DeJesus. Although this is purely speculation on my part, he is the one outfielder that does not figure to be a consideration for the A's to retain beyond this season and is thus expendable, perhaps clearing a spot for an extended look at Michael Taylor or even the recently acquired Brandon Allen.
Current River Cats Players Will Benefit More from Triple-A Playoff Experience
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This could be a bit of a controversial argument to make, and there are definitely two sides to this discussion, but the current crop of players in Sacramento may actually benefit more from participating in the Triple-A playoffs than riding out the season in Oakland.
It's hard to measure where the scale actually tips here, but receiving meaningless at-bats in Oakland down the stretch may not have the same value as playing in pressure situations where the stakes are higher as the team tries to win a minor league championship.
Having experience playing in clutch situations will help the younger future A's players.
That said, the way the A's have been playing lately, although improbable, they could make a late season comeback if the Texas Rangers falter down the stretch.
Chris Carter, Michael Taylor and Adrian Cardenas will receive a look in September either way, along with a handful of other River Cat players.
Honestly, I could make the case either way, but since Billy Beane decided to keep the veterans in town, I will wager a guess that he felt the minor league playoff experience and playing in meaningful games down the stretch was more important to their overall development and future success.
The lack of trades affords the A's the opportunity to extend their development by a few more months.