The Diamondbacks acquired A's pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow for several prospects on Friday.
While some Diamondbacks fans may be quick to criticize this trade, the addition of both Breslow and Cahill falls in line with GM Kevin Towers' comments last month regarding a wish to add "more veteran pitching" to the roster.
As Breslow has never started a game at the major league level in his career, expect this 31-year-old to work exclusively out of the Arizona bullpen, where he will add experience and veteran leadership to a relief staff whose average age is in the mid-20s.
Breslow's extensive experience throughout baseball will be a nice compliment to the development of potential newer pitchers Sam Demel, David Hernandez and Zach Kroenke, to name a few.
Cahill is Breslow's opposite: He is right-handed and has started all 96 MLB games he has appeared in for the Oakland A's. With just three years in the league, he is technically a budding veteran, although his young age of 23 years suggests he still may be very receptive to further growth.
His statistics might have regressed from his All-Star 2010 season (18-8, 2.97 ERA) to 2011 (12-14, 4.16 ERA), but Cahill's youth suggests a change of scenery and move from the AL to the NL might just be enough to jump start a period of success in the desert.
Cahill is a career 40-35 pitcher with a 3.91 ERA in his 583.0 innings of big league work. He ranked first in the AL with 34 games started in 2011, which is a testament to his durability.
Cahill's level of experience and age is a perfect compliment to the projected Diamondbacks rotation of Ian Kennedy (26 years old), Daniel Hudson (24 years old), Josh Collmenter (25 years old) and potentially Micah Owings (29 years old), who went 8-0 last season as a primarily relief pitcher.
Owings, who was bumped from the Diamondbacks rotation in 2011 due to the acquisition of currently injured free agent Jason Marquis, should be a promising candidate for the No. 4 or No. 5 spot in the 2012 rotation.
Unfortunately and as trades tend to go, the Diamondbacks did surrender several key youngsters, including highly rated pitcher Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill.
Sure, Parker was injured and underwent what has become an increasingly routine Tommy John surgery in 2009, but since his return last season, he has continued to show signs of improvement and potential.
Though it is fairly impossible to predict MLB success from just one appearance, Parker pitched 5.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in late September 2011, allowing zero runs and striking out one with a WHIP of 0.88 in his big league debut.
Cowgill played 36 games in his first year at the major league level, recording a .239 batting average in 92 at bats. Cowgill had received numerous awards at the minor league level, including five All-Star selections over his past MiLB two seasons and receiving the PCL Rookie of the Year Award in 2011.
How do the Diamondbacks come out of this trade?
As much as the Diamondbacks wanted to bolster their rotation and bullpen heading into 2012, the A's were eager to start rebuilding a team that hasn't seen postseason baseball since 2006.
This trade allows both teams to make a statement—just with different levels of enthusiasm.
In an offseason that has seen the Los Angeles Angels acquire Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same day, perhaps no other transaction can come anywhere close to drawing a similar level of fervor.
Still, the Diamondbacks' end of the bargain seems particularly ho-hum compared to the A's acquiring Parker and Cowgill.
Cahill and Breslow might be what the GM ordered, but the names seem excessively practical in this offseason trade environment, especially when contrasted with the departure of Parker—and the buzz associated with his maturation.
Ultimately, to declare Diamondbacks are significantly better or worse because of this trade is rather premature and inevitably subjective.
Cahill has never pitched for a non-Oakland team before and even in his limited experience against the National League in 2011, Cahill was fairly consistent with a 2-1 record and 2.52 ERA. His two starts against the San Francisco Giants and one against the Philadelphia Phillies were virtually flawless with a sub-1.15 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 21.2 innings pitched.
In 2010, Cahill was 3-0 against the NL with a 2.42 ERA in four starts.
Breslow pitched his best during his brief stint with San Diego in 2005, his only NL team, and has kept his ERA under control as of late.
Both pitchers' win-loss records in Oakland are not very revealing because they both played for a team with one of the worst offenses in the American League over the past few years—third to last place in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, RBI, runs scored, hits and total bases.
The glass-half-full Arizona fan might also point to the uncertainty of Parker's lasting post-Tommy John potential, the risk involved in signing three fresh-faced ballplayers and the relief of unloading three debatable prospects.
On the other hand, the glass-half-empty Arizona fan might point to the loss of a potentially great prospect in Parker, a highly decorated young outfielder in Cowgill and an apparently middle-of-the-road Cahill and Breslow combination.
In the end, the value and outcome of the Diamondbacks and Athletics trade is truly in the eye of the beholder.