Our beloved A's have problems, both now and in the future. Injuries, poor performances by key contributors and a depleted farm system have led the A's to where they are today... tied for 1st in the AL West with a -1 RS/RA differential. Go figure. I don't know what the A's record will be as July 31st rolls around and I won't be around to find out. I'm taking off on a fire assignment this afternoon and the Forest Service has been slow to upgrade its mountain tops with WiFi service. So please forgive me if this diary seems a little premature, this is my last chance to post it.
Some of the trade ideas I have aren't going to be popular. I'm going to be tearing away beloved portions of the roster in order to feed the long term growth of the organization. I expect there to be crying and screaming and pleas for mercy, as well as assorted curses hurled my way. Good. Growth is supposed to be painful and I guarantee you that if we make these moves you'll love me this time next year. Here's my plan to create the next A's mini-dynasty.
Trade Bobby Crosby, Kiko Calero and Dan Johnson to Tampa Bay for Julio Lugo, BJ Upton and Chad Orvella.
I don't care if Crosby is supposed to be our SS for the next three years, for the next three months the A's need better offensive production from the spot if they want to make the postseason. I heard Nico say last night that he thought Jason Kendall was our best option to lead-off. The scary thing is he might be right. That has to change and Lugo is the guy to solve the problem. He's sporting a 304/375/479 line with 16 SB in 20 tries. He's a FA after the season (probably a Type A) and Tampa is shopping him. Crosby has room to grow with the bat and he'll give the D'Rays 3 cost-controlled years of play.
Losing Calero will hurt our bullpen, no doubt about that, but the A's don't have the farm system to get the pieces they need for this year. We sell Calero as a closer quality arm that will not get that chance while in Oakland. Tampa has been looking for bullpen help ever since they were created and Kiko offers them the type of stuff they like in the bullpen. As an added bonus, he's under their control for the next 3 years. I'm not sure how many people around AN are going to miss DJ, but he still has upside and Tampa loses their 1B (Travis Lee) at the end of the year. For all their marvelous OF depth, they don't really have any 1B prospects in the pipeline so 4 years of DJ makes sense.
Getting 3 big league players, all at least 3 years from free agency, is why we get BJ Upton. Make no mistake, BJ is for sale. The D'Rays have finally admitted that he's not a SS and have announced that they've moved him to 3B. However, Tampa just drafted 3B Evan Longoria with the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 draft and he's already in High-A. They can't move Upton into the OF because of because of the presence of Crawford and Baldelli in the majors and Dukes and Young in AAA. Gomes had the DH job locked up, Cantu's established at 2B and I doubt the D'Rays are going to try making BJ a 1B. They have no place to play him and that makes him available. The A's pick him up, convert him to the OF and tell him that as soon as his OF defense is up to the task he'll be in Oakland for the next 5 years. That will eliminate any lingering feelings Upton may have towards playing SS. He's been languishing in AAA for almost 2 years, he wants to play in the Show.
Orvella's an arm I've always liked and I'm still pissed at Tampa for trying to change his delivery during Spring Training. They thought he was too slow to the plate. Chad's career minor league numbers are: 1-1 1.22 29 Sv 71 G 111.0 IP 63 H 7 HR 17/160 BB/K. WHY ARE THEY MESSING WITH THE GUY'S DELIVERY?!?! However, going for Chad may be pushing it a little bit and as much as I like his arm he's not worth breaking the deal. I think we can get him, if you think otherwise you can drop him from the equation.
Trade Jay Payton to the Chicago White Sox for SP Heath Phillips.
Payton is a luxury item for the A's and Chicago needs a better option in CF. They were hoping Brian Anderson was ready but his 195/281/324 line states otherwise, they also have SP to spare. Payton offers good defense and a solid bat. Heath Phillips is a 24 LHP who's tearing up AAA to the tune of 11-3 1.90 17 GS 2 CG 113.2 IP 97 H 7 HR 29/83 BB/K. This guy's been so buried on the prospect charts I had to go back to my 2002 BA Prospects Handbook to find a scouting report. Phillips would be a good pick-up for Oakland if his 2006 scouting report can support his AAA numbers. He might be ready for the Show right now and would certainly factor in to the 2007 Zito-free rotation.
Trade John Baker, Jared Burton and Myron Leslie to Philadelphia for Aaron Fultz and Davis Dellucci.
This is a trade I've discussed before, and after talking with the guys over at TheGoodPhight this is the price tag we came up with. Dellucci gives a strong LH bat that I think will be hot for the rest of the season and, if we get really lucky, he might qualify as a Type A or B FA at the end of the year. Properly used, Aaron Fultz WILL be a Type A or B FA at the end of the season and he gives us a better LH bullpen option than is currently on the roster. None of the guys we give (well, maybe Burton) factored in the A's long term plans.
Trade Frank Thomas to Detroit for 2007+ pitching.
This will probably be the 2nd least popular idea I pitch. Consider this an option once the A's have made the deal for Lugo and Upton, or the A's have fallen from contention. Detroit is looking for a bat and their first choice, Aubrey Huff, now resides in Houston. And I can't help but think that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski would like the idea of finishing off the White Sox by bringing in the South Sides' favorite wayward son, Frank Thomas.
The A's need pitching in 2007 and beyond. Trading Frank Thomas is a way to get those arms. Some popular choices to choose from include AAA arms Humberto Sanchez and Jordan Tata, AA SP Jair Jurrjens and Nate Bumstead or even RP Brian Rogers, and High-A SP Dallas Trahern. Whichever bodies make you feel best about losing Big Hurt.
Before I get to the idea sure to cause problems, I'd like to add some off-season trades that I think can happen. First off, if Upton can make a smooth transition to the OF I'd like to push our luck and bump him into CF in 2007. Kotsay will have lost his full NTC after the 2006 season and I'd like to shop him as hard as possible. His back is killing us. To where and for whom is hard to say at this point but I think there will be a few opportunities available in the off-season. I'm also going to trade Jason Kendall, most likely to a NL West team. The A's will have to eat $4 million dollars (and give the $5 million coming from Pittsburgh directly to our sucker...err, trading partner) but I think Kurt Suzuki will be ready for Oakland after spending the last half of 2006 in AAA. How do I get around Kendall's NTC? Simple. I tell him the best way he's going to see any kind of money in a new contract post-2007 is if he can get his bat going again, and what better way to do that than to go back to the NL where you used to be a .300+ hitter! Arizona might be an option, as could San Diego if George Kottaras needs more seasoning (no way does SD pick up Piazza's $8 million option) or San Francisco if Mike Matheny doesn't get over his concussion. All of these teams are close enough to Kendall's desired location (So Cal) and it gives him his best chance for a FA style boom year.
You'll notice I haven't said anything about Loaiza or Blanton. And I'm not going to. Their value will not drop lower than it currently resides, not in the next year and a half anyways. I'm going to gamble that they can both rebound, Blanton especially, and contribute to this team.
Now for the deal sure to please. If the A's decide to trade Barry Zito, then they should go for the gusto.
Trade Barry Zito and Eric Chavez to the LA Dodgers for Chad Billingsley, Andy LaRoche, Caser Izturis and 1-2 additional prospects.
Look, if the A's trade Zito it means they're out of it. This might be the best deal you could find anywhere. When Colletti looks at Andy LaRoche he sees a Gold Glove defender with 25+ HR pop inside of two years. When he looks at Eric Chavez he'll see a Gold Glove defender with 25+ HR pop inside of 2 weeks. Even better, Eric is 28 and signed through 2011. He may need to be in the shop until August 1st, but when he steps into the line-up he'll be the best 3B option the Dodgers have had all season. Chavez and Zito would be enough to clinch the NL West and would make the Dodgers legitimate WS contenders. LaRoche can't give him that this year. Billingsley can't give him that this year. We grab Izturis to make sure we have a SS in 2007. Ellis becomes a super-sub this year and would be available at 2B next year. The A's would also gain a ton of financial flexibility.
I purposely left the names of the additional prospects vague because I wanted to give people an opportunity to sooth their souls after this horrible loss. I'd suggest choosing from Delwyn Young, Joel Guzman, Scott Elbert, Justin Orenduff and Blake Johnson.
I hope you enjoyed this bloody reconstruction. I'll be available for questions, comments or insults until 4 PM (PST) today and then its off to the mountains of Northern California for me.