A's Didn't Get Enough for Trevor Cahill

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A's Didn't Get Enough for Trevor Cahill

The A’s traded Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks today, and I’m underwhelmed by what they got in return.

I’m not tremendously confident in Cahill’s future, because he doesn’t miss enough bats.  In other words, his ratios don’t suggest he’s going to develop into a great pitcher.

That being said, he is not yet 24 years old and already has 96 major league starts under his belt.  His ERA jumped greatly in 2011 compared to 2010, but he also struck out a lot more hitters than he did in either of his first two seasons.

One thing is certain — Cahill is a proven major league starter who’s still under control for three more seasons and is young enough he’s almost certain to get better before he gets worse.  You have to get some pretty good prospects in exchange for that.

I don’t see that the A’s did.  Breslow for Ryan Cook looks like an even swap between a team that’s trying to win their division again in 2012 and a team that’s still trying to develop into a contender.

Cook had a fine year split between AA and AAA in 2011, but he’s 25 next season and hasn’t yet proven he’s a major league pitcher.  Breslow slipped a little last year, but he still looks like a safe bet as a left-handed short man for a team looking to contend in 2012.

In other words, the trade was basically Cahill for Jarrod Parker and Collin Cowgill.  Both Parker and Cowgill come with big asterisks.

Parker is a former 1st round pick, and he’s still only 23 this coming season.  However, he blew his elbow tendon out in 2009 and missed all of 2010 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.  He had a solid season at AA Mobile in 2011, but it’s still uncertain if he’s the same guy he was before he blew out his pitching elbow.

I know some guys come all the way back from Tommy John surgery nowadays, but I’d still rather get a young pitcher who’s never blown out his elbow, at least if I’m going to give up one of my rotation anchors in return.

Collin Cowgill had a fine year at AAA Reno, batting .354 with a .984 OPS, but Reno is really a great place to hit. Cowgill was already 25 last season and didn’t do much in 100 plate appearances with the D’Backs.  In his previous two seasons at A+ and AA, he posted OPS numbers of .819 and .825.  To me that sounds like a bench player at the major league level or a perennial 4-A player.

In sum, it seems like the A’s should have gotten one more prospect in the deal, and it doesn’t strike me as the kind of deal I’d expect Billy Beane to make.  It kind of leaves me wondering if there’s something the A’s know that the D’Backs don’t.

Trevor Cahill pitched a lot better in the first half of 2011 than he did in the second half.  He’s thrown a lot of innings at a young age, and he doesn’t strike a lot of people out. The A’s may think he’s only a season or two away from a major arm injury.

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