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Friday, July 24, 2009
Losing faith in the A's


At some point in these last three seasons, as I've watched the Oakland Athletics lose game after game, as I've seen move after move backfire -- moves that I have generally supported, by the way -- I seem to have lost my faith.

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.