As every baseball fan knows, when the calendar turns to July, teams begin to assess where they are in the standings. Teams that are contending and at the top of their division usually trade for players that will make their club stronger suited for a run at a World Series championship by filling a weakness or just enhancing the starpower of the roster. On the other hand, teams with losing records that are out of the hunt for the upcoming playoffs tend to trade their best players to contending teams. In return these teams either rebuilding or just having a down year get prospects or sometimes major leaguers that they hope will fuel the losing team back to prosperity.
From 2012-2014, the A’s were one of the best teams in the MLB. As a result, they were busy buyers at the trade deadline over these years as they tried to win a championship. However, things took a nosedive in 2014. They were the best team in baseball up until the trade deadline when Billy Beane messed up the team’s chemistry and rhythm by trading star and fan favorite Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester hoping that combining Lester with Sonny Gray would carry the A’s to a championship. Yet, the A’s faltered down the stretch and ended up blowing the wildcard game to the Royals. After that season, Billy Beane continued to do the unexpected by trading late blooming superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays even though he is extremely far away from free agency and would be under the A’s control for many years to come.
These two trades really slammed shut the A’s contention window as the team lost its two offensive stars in bonehead moves by Billy Beane.These trades were just the latest instance in which Billy Beane traded away his best players just as they became established players in MLB. As a result, A’s fans know the feeling all too well of buying jerseys and getting fond of a star player only to watch him be traded rather than extended.
This feeling was recently brought up once again when in the first of presumably many trades to come involving star A’s being sent to contending teams for prospects, fan favorite Sean Doolittle and fellow reliever Ryan Madson were traded to the 1st place Nationals for the Nats 2nd(inf Sheldon Neuse) and 3rd rounders(Jesus Luzardo) from the 2016 draft.
Pros of this deal: relievers are volatile and the A’s in what Billy Beane is finally calling a need for a “full rebuild” do not need relievers as much as the Nationals who are trying desperately to win a title while they still employ Bryce Harper. Also Madson is 36 and Doolittle has had a fair amount of shoulder problems over the past couple of years. Lastly, the two prospects are young, yet they both have quite a bit of upside especially the lefty pitcher Luzardo who was considered a 1st round talent before Tommy John caused him to fall two rounds.
Cons: Both of these relievers are having very good seasons and Doolittle was a true fan favorite who made the remarkable transition of converting from a first basemen to a dominant all star left handed reliever in a little less than a year.
Many GM’s and experts believe that this trade is only the beginning of the sell off that Billy Beane is planning for this deadline as rumors are constantly swirling regarding the likes of Lowrie, Alonso, and Sonny Gray(three very good players who would greatly improve any of the contending teams). Sonny Gray in particular hears many rumors and speculation about him as he is the best starter believed to be available on the trade market.
While I was pissed off when Beane made his first trade and likely will be if he makes any more stupid trades or doesn’t get the return that matches the talent of the player of he trades, I can take solace in the fact that recently Beane said he would finally commit the A’s to a full rebuild. He is planning to hold on to this young core starting to emerge at the Major League level(actually keep players!!!) and make the A’s a winning team when they finally open a new stadium. These statements signify a new and better direction for the A’s franchise,but until action is taken on these statements,I and many other remaining fans will still be mad at the A’s ownership and front office.