Oakland stuck as sellers

Updated: November 16, 2011, 11:30 AM ET
By Buster Olney

The Oakland Athletics finished 24th in homers last season and could use some punch in their lineup, and with Brett Anderson set to miss most or all of the 2012 season, they could use a starting pitcher.

But player acquisitions will be secondary for Oakland this winter and maybe in every winter until the Athletics can secure a new ballpark. They will continue to field a team and go about the business of trying to win as many games as possible, but the Athletics are dead men walking until they get their new ballpark; they are biding time until the shovels go into the ground, whether that's in one year or two years or three, and so their player decisions will be all about the future.

Look for them to trade Andrew Bailey then, because his value in the market will never again be as high as it is now, when he's just 27 years old, has 75 career saves and is just starting to climb the arbitration ladder. If somebody calls and offers them a big-time haul of prospects for Gio Gonzalez -- who is 26 years old and coming off the best season of his career, having improved his strikeout-walk ratio to 2.17 -- then it probably makes sense for them to make that deal. Gonzalez probably won't be around when the Athletics are in position to make a serious run at the AL West, and if they can make a great trade for him now, they should do it.

Twenty years ago, Oakland actually had the highest payroll in the majors, but last season, the Athletics' payroll of $67 million was among the lowest. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have built a powerful organization and have a treasure trove of TV money guaranteed to them, and the Los Angeles Angels already are a power.

The Athletics are where the Florida Marlins were five years ago, and now the Marlins have a new park and at least the hope that their future is evolving. Oakland is not there yet; the Athletics will be hopeless until they get their ballpark -- and maybe now that Major League Baseball is moving closer to restoring the Los Angeles Dodgers and settling on a labor agreement, that can happen. Maybe the Athletics' situation will soon be at the top of MLB's docket.