Mychael Urban of MLB.com took some time out to answer some questions regarding the A's recent moves for Athletics Nation.
Blez: Can we officially use the term "rebuilding" now with the Oakland Athletics?
Mychael Urban: I think so, as far as 2005 is concerned. But I've spoken to a few scouts who really like what the A's got in the Hudson and Mulder deals and think Oakland will contend again in 2006.
Blez: How can they reconcile the Kendall deal with the Hudson and Mulder trade? My feeling now is that they wanted a veteran quality catcher to go with some of these young pitchers. Or maybe it was just dumping two unproductive salaried-players in Rhodes and Redman for a productive one in Kendall?
MU: It was all about dumping the overpaid underacheivers. Totally unrelated to the Hudson and Mulder deals. Fans who think those guys were traded because of Kendall's salary are flat wrong. Looking at the big picture, I think both
pitchers get traded even without Kendall in the mix.
Blez: Two players who I imagine must be pretty pissed off are Chavez and Kendall. Have you talked with either one of them? Did you ask Eric if this was part of the meeting Billy had with him that convinced him to sign the long-term extension?
MU: Haven't spoken to either one of them, although I've seen a lot of Eric's comments. I have to think that the A's didn't tell him they'd keep the Big Three intact (or two of them) and then go against their word, though. Who knows what kind of assurances Chavvy got from management, but I'd love to know.
Blez: We've seen Hudson publicly react in hurt fashion, but he also seemed pretty stoked putting on that Braves cap. Do you think he was really honest about wanting to stay here, or he wanted to be a Brave all along?
MU: He REALLY wanted to stay in Oakland. Unless you're a trained actor, you can't fake the kind of emotion Tim showed when the deal went down, and there's nothing fake about Tim. He was 10 times more upset than I've ever seen him.
Blez: How do you feel this affects the ACES book? Is it now a timecapsule, capturing the final chapter of the three amigos in Oakland history?
MU: We're changing the subtitle to "The LAST season on the mound with Oakland's Big Three" and adding an epilogue that takes the reader through the offseason and the trades with the three guys, so I love what it's done for the book. And yes, it will serve as a time capsule of sorts.
Blez: Do you think the A's will be competitive in the AL West next season?
MU: "Competitive" is a relative term, no? They'll compete. Will they contend? I don't think so. The Angels got better and the A's got worse, in my opinion, and the Angels were better to begin with.
Blez: How much do you know about Haren and Meyer, two of the supposed "jewels" of these deals?
MU: I now know quite a bit about them, and they draw raves from insiders. Bottom line: The A's in 2005 will have the top pitching prospects from three organizations (A's/Blanton, Meyer/Braves and Haren/Cardinals). Haren, I think, has a chance to be a star, and Meyer isn't far behind him. Blanton is the question mark, if you ask me.
Blez: How does Zito feel? Is he next?
MU: Yes, he's next. Obviously. But when? I could see him being moved if the A's are out of it at midseason.
Blez: Lost in the shuffle, it appears that the A's suddenly have a much, much better bullpen and possibly a better offense. Is there a chance that Beane was trying to win in a different fashion than before (offense and
bullpen as opposed to starting pitching)?
MU: Yes, the bullpen is MUCH better now, but it needs to be because the starting pitching is weaker. I see it as a wash in the short term at best.
Blez: How much do you think Hudson and Mulder's injury histories played in the decision to move both these guys?
MU: A little, but not nearly as much as their salaries and contract status. Billy is convinced that if he'd have let the Big Three play out their deals, the A's would have fallen into a 49ers-like chasm for several years thereafter. By being proactive, he thinks he's made sure they'll be a good team for a long time once the kids get their feet wet.
Thank you so much, Mychael and Happy Holidays to you and yours! Spring training will be here before we know it...