Every winter, the fan in us wants to play out crazy scenarios where we somehow swindle another team out of Dontrelle Willis or Adam Dunn. This is good fun, but I'm going to try to pinpoint some bargains that I could realistically see the A's capitalizing on. Here are five guys that I think would be good fits for the A's, of whom I could two or three. Please comment on #2 Haeger.
1) Mike Piazza
I think we've all discussed Piazza enough here, so I'll just say that I think he'd be a good fit for the A's, although I don't see his home/road splits as an indication that he'll tear the league up like Thomas. I think he'll be an average DH.
2) Chuck Haeger (SP, CHA)
Haeger is probably the player I'd be most excited about the A's getting. If he stays with the Sox, he'll probably rot away in Charlotte because they have tons of starters. In his age 22 season, Haeger went 14-6 at AAA, posting a 3.07 ERA, before getting called up and posting a 3.44 ERA at the big club. Throughout the minors, he posted similarly impressive numbers. This guy sounds, ok, right? But there's one thing about him that both diminishes his trade value and increases his actual value: he's a knuckleballer! And as I'm sure some of you know, most knuckleballers don't master their craft until they're quite old. Wakefield didn't throw a pitch in the majors until he was 25, and pitched well into his 40s. Hall of famer Phil Niekro didn't pitch 100 innings until he was 28, Tom Candiotti until he was 28, Hoyt Wilhelm until he was 29, and here is a guy who already has the pitch down, nobody wants him, and he's 23!! Also, knuckleballers benefit from a good infield defense, which he'd have with the White Sox but also with the A's. If the A's could pry this player from the Sox for Kiko Calero or a prospect of similar value, it could potentially be the best trade Billy ever made. Even if it wasn't, this guy is easily better than the free agent pitchers out there, and would likely cost less, in terms of total capital, to get. Of course, Kenny Williams isn't BB's biggest fan, after Moneyball, Chad Bradford, Keith Foulke, and Ray Durham, so that might hurt our chances.
3) Cliff FLoyd
Again, this player has been discussed extensively. I'd advocate signing him or the guy below him.
4) Wily Mo Pena
Unless we want to hand 1B to DJ AND expect Kots, Bradley, and Piazza to stay healthy, we need another 1B/OF type after Piazza. Boston makes the perfect trading part for the A's. The J.D. Drew signing leaves a glut in the Boston outfield, and their minor league system is even more bare than ours. Pena was 24 last year, so it's easy to imagine him improving on his .301/.349/.489. I don't know what it would take to get him, but since he's most famous for his terrible defense and for being a part of a trade that hurt the Red Sox, I could see the fan-conscious Sox parting with him for less than market price. The two problems with Pena are: 1)he's right-handed, and with Kielty available to platoon it makes more sense to sign a lefty, everything else being equal, and 2) the Reds were idiots and brought WMP up in 2002 when he was 20, so his arby clock has almost run out. Of the players listed here, I think Pena would be the least likely addition.
5) Kenny Lofton
Again, this would only make sense if we didn't sign Floyd or Wily Mo, and chances are we won't get either one. Kenny Lofton has no arm and no power, but he can still chase down fly balls and his OBPs the last two years have been .395 and .360. He'd make a great platooning partner for Kielty if we decide DJ's just a part-timer, or if someone gets hurt, and likely wouldn't cost more than 1 year, $4 million. If everyone is healthy, I'd advocate playing DJ at first and have Lofton as our fourth outfielder. Two problems: our foul territory would likely hurt the slap-happy Lofton more than other players (though probably not by much), and he may be a little turned off by how rarely we steal bases. I think he is probably the best fit of the players listed, though I would bet against us signing him.
Again, please tell me what you think of Haeger.