I haven't seen it written anywhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if Dan O'Dowd and Beane have discussed Mark Ellis this offseason.
I think that a deal involving Ellis - specifically, Ellis to the Rockies - represents the team's best and most likely trading opportunity for the remainder of this offseason.
- The Rockies have a unique window. Coming off their first World Series berth, they need to give themselves every opportunity to continue this run of success in the short-term, especially since it's very unlikely that they'll be able to re-sign Matt Holliday when he hits free agency after '09. It's similar to the Brewers situation - when a small-market team has a group of good homegrown players all peaking at the same time, they need to capitalize on that window before the homegrown guys get too expensive and leave (That's how the Brewers rationalize the Suppan splurge of last winter and throwing 10M at Gagne this year). Clearly the Rockies' best window is before Holliday hits free agency - the next two years.
- The Diamondbacks, Padres, and Dodgers have all gotten better this offseason, while the Rockies have remained fairly quiet.
- If the season started today, the Rockies starting second baseman would be...Omar Quintanilla? Clint Barmes? Ouch. And their free agent options are now restricted to Todd Walker and Marcus Giles. Walker showed last year that he just doesn't have the bat speed to get it done anymore. As for Giles - sure, he's only 29, and he put up some impressive seasons in '03-'05 . But I find it very suspicious that both Giles brothers fell off cliff after '05, when steroid testing in MLB started becoming punitive and public. His '06 and '07 seasons are more in line with what to expect going forward.
None of those four options - Quintanilla, Barmes, Giles, or Walker - are ones that a playoff team wants to trot out to second place.
- Given the Rockies' current window, Mark Ellis is a perfect fit for them. Their committment would be short and affordable (1 year, 5M), and if he proved to be a great fit, they could sign him to an extension. The Rockies defense up the middle with Tulo and Ellis would be amazing - perhaps even historic. It's also possible that Ellis could hit 25 home runs and hit .310 in that park.
I'm not saying Ellis isn't good, or worthwhile. Quite the contrary. But given Colorado's dire need at the position, and that the A's and Rockies are currently at opposite ends of "The Winning Cycle", I think it's a match that should be explored. The Rockies SHOULD be willing to give up quite a bit for him; more than the two ~No. 50-100 overall picks he'd probably yield if the A's kept him this year, offered arbitration, and let him get to free agency (keep in mind, those draft picks have to be offered signing bonuses, while any prospects the A's get in a trade do not; that should enter the equation, too. I'm also guessing that if Ellis qualified as a type A free agent, no team would sacrifice their unprotected No. 16-30 overall pick for him. That's why I'm assuming the sandwich pick and the second rounder).
I'd be very curious what the AN community thinks the A's could get back in return from the Rockies for Ellis.
I also think that Blanton won't be moved this offseason. For one thing, the phrase "Joe Blanton, Opening Day Starter", and the slight increase in exposure he'll receive next year, will add a bit to his value. But more importantly, teams just aren't valuing him enough yet.
I think Blanton will actually be more valuable mid-season. A lot of NL teams who are currently deluding themselves into believing that the "rehabbing has-been" class of FA starters will be enough to get them into contention will have to face reality.
When Bartolo Colon, Matt Clement, Jon Lieber, etc. break down again for some NL team next year, Blanton becomes their last best hope to improve their rotation. When Kyle Lohse proves to be Kyle Lohse, or when Pedro Martinez and El Duque break down and the Mets are in shambles...THAT'S when Beane can really hold NL teams hostage with Blanton.
Right now, it seems like NL teams are very content with the gambles they're taking at the back end of their rotation.
But in July, when Santana and Bedard have likely already been moved, and there are no free-agent gambles left to take, and several NL "contenders" (potential 85 win teams) have massive holes in their rotations...that's when Blanton's health, consistency, and 3.80 ERA will look most apetizing. Not in December, when every team still has a chance, Bartolo Colon might reclaim his Cy Young form, and Mark Prior might turn back time. When reality hits early in the season, Blanton will have more value.
What do you guys think? Is it possible that Blanton is in higher demand in June-July than he is now? And what would you want from Colorado in return for Mark Ellis?