Sunday, July 21, 2013
Best deadline deal ever: Athletics
By Jason Wojciechowski
Throughout July we're presenting 30 deals in 30 days: the best trade deadline deal ever made by each team. We've covered the AL East, NL East, AL Central and NL Central so far, and are now on the AL West.
THE TEAM: Oakland A's
THE YEAR: 1999
THE SITUATION: The great A's teams of the late '80s and early '90s were long gone, as the team had finished under .500 every year since 1992. The farm system was producing success at the major league level -- Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi and Ben Grieve were all regulars in the lineup -- but the pitching lagged behind the hitting. The rotation featured such luminaries as Gil Heredia, Jimmy Haynes and Mike Oquist. Rookie Tim Hudson was the team's only reliable starter.
Through July 28, the team was 51-50 and on the fringe of contention, 8.5 games back of the division lead, five back of the wild card.
THE TRADE: On July 29, Billy Beane made it known that he was taking a run at the playoffs, sending Elvin Nina, Jeff DaVanon and Nathan Haynes to Anaheim for Randy Velarde and Omar Olivares. Not content to add one solid starter, Beane shocked A's fans by acquiring Kevin Appier from Kansas City two days later for Jeff D'Amico, Brad Rigby and Blake Stein. Appier may be forgotten today, but from the time he entered the Kansas City rotation in 1990 through the end of 1997, he won 134 games with a 3.21 ERA despite the fact the Royals were generally awful.
THE AFTERMATH: Appier was never the same after missing most of 1998 with a labrum tear, including his time in an A's uniform (96 ERA+), and Olivares was average at best in 1999. The A's missed the playoffs by seven games. The trades, though, are memorable for signaling the death of the A's malaise. The 87 wins that Oakland finished with in 1999 would be their lowest total until 2007, as the team became the force to be reckoned with chronicled in "Moneyball." These were the deals that psychically kicked off a prolonged stretch of success.
-- Jason Wojciechowski, Beaneball