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Today's deal? On paper, it looks perfectly fine. The A's trade two months of Matt Holliday and get (potentially) 18 years of three young St. Louis Cardinals. One of them, third baseman Brett Wallace, was a first-round draft pick just last year and is widely regarded as the Cardinals' top prospect. Another, pitcher Clayton Mortensen, was a sandwick pick just two years ago and debuted in the majors a few weeks ago. And another, outfielder Shane Peterson, was a second-round draft pick last year and sports a .377 career on-base percentage in the minors ("Baseball America" doesn't care much for Peterson, but John Sickels does).
As Erik Manning writes, Holliday's worth $8 million and Wallace is worth $25 million. Even without considering Shane Peterson and Clayton Mortensen, it's obviously a good deal for the A's (we'll have to wait and see if it's a good deal for the Cardinals, since that depends largely upon whether or not they get into the playoffs).
If the A's made a trade like this two years ago, I would have organized a parade to celebrate Billy Beane's great wisdom.
Today? I just can't do it. Instead of seeing three prospects obtained for a song, I wonder why the A's would want a "pear-shaped" third baseman who doesn't have much power and is widely thought to be a future first baseman, and I think about what a disaster Oakland's last first-baseman-of-the-future (Daric Barton) has been. Instead of applauding Beane for adding to the organization's pitching depth, I wonder what the A's -- who already have eight starting pitchers 25 or younger -- could possibly do with another young starter. And I wonder how Peterson's going to succeed where Ryan Sweeney and Travis Buck and Aaron Cunningham haven't.
Before I can regain my faith in Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, they're going to need to find a real third baseman, and perhaps a young shortstop who can hit, and they're going to need to actually develop a young hitter.
Before I can regain my faith in Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, they're going to need to start winning baseball games again.