The Matt Holliday Deal and Its Ramifications

So the A's have acquired a big bat in the Rockies Matt Holliday.  And he's right-handed.  And he's young.  The A's haven't acquired someone like this since they landed Jermaine Dye and they had Giambi and Dye powering them towards what looked like a powerhouse team for years to come.  Well because of the freak accident that broke Dye's leg in the playoffs, the Dye acquisition didn't work.

The details are still a little fuzzy, but it looks like the deal is for Greg Smith for sure and probably Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street.  If this is the final deal, I would honestly say that both Smith and Street are pretty expendable in this current A's roster alignment.  Smith, otherwise known as "Nibbles" around AN since about June last year for his penchant for not challenging hitters, should be relatively easily replaced by someone like Brett Anderson or even Josh Outman.  Street, who seemed to find himself a bit towards the very end of the year, will be replaced by Joey Devine.  And let's face it, Beane has always considered closers expendable commodities.  Street wasn't even the A's closer by the end of the year, so who thinks that this is a big loss for the A's?  I don't.

The one big chip the A's gave up, if the rumors are true, was Carlos Gonzalez.  C-Gon didn't have a great year. He had flashes of brilliance for Oakland and you could see that he had all the tools and talent, but the A's don't prize players like that.  They want their players to have the plate discipline.  So perhaps it was a situation where Beane felt that perhaps C-Gon is going to be a star, but just probably not the right star in the right situation.

The question remains on Holliday.  Do the A's try and re-sign him long-term?  I'm betting that the answer on that one is probably no.  I'd love to see the A's do it because they'd have a long-term nagging need finally resolved in Holliday (that being a big stick from the right-side).  But I'm just not sure that Boras and the A's would be able to come to a deal.  I mean, we're talking Billy Beane and Scott Boras here.  Course they could probably charge admission to the cage match on pay-per-view if Beane did decide to at least try to negotiate.

The A's get a guy who was runner-up for MVP of the National League in 2007 (I've heard quite a few arguments that he deserved it, not Rollins, but I'll leave that for salb and grover to decide).  He is probably dreaming about dollar signs heading into the year, so you just have to know that he is going to come to camp ready to perform.  Say what you want about professional athletes, but I truly don't think anything motivates them like the promise of a big pay day.  So you're going to see a motivated guy performing in green and gold.  There was quite a bit of discussion in some of the other threads earlier about whether or not the A's would try to move Holliday at the trade deadline, and I tend to think you will see them try to move him if the A's don't seem to be contending for whatever reason (the young pitching doesn't perform as expected or, as has been the last couple of seasons, the injuries pile up early).  I mean there aren't that many hitters like Holliday that a contender can plug right into the third or fourth spot in a lineup and he fits perfectly.  So the A's did acquire a very nice trading chip if the steel cage match between Beane and Boras never comes to fruition.  The other thing is that the A's could also just let him walk at the end of the year and take two very nice draft picks as compensation.  We know Beane loves to stockpile draft picks.

In the meantime, the A's offense just got upgraded.  Holliday will be a nice shot in the arm for the A's stagnant bats.  If anything, at least you finally get a "hitter".  The A's haven't had very many of those. 

The other thing it does do, I believe, is send a clear message to A's fans that the A's are going to try to compete in 2009.  You don't acquire a guy of Holliday's caliber with one year left on his contract to wallow in the basement of the AL West.  I also think we could see the A's also sign someone like Furcal as well to try and drastically reduce the pressure on the A's young staff.  You add someone like Furcal to the A's lineup and suddenly you have a lineup that looks like this:

Furcal
Sweeney
Holliday
Cust
Chavez (if healthy)
Suzuki
Buck/Cunningham
Ellis
Barton

Now that is not going to set the world on fire, but it does certainly look like it could put it its share of runs.  Or I might even bat Cust in front of Holliday because of Cust's ability to get on base.  Maybe Cust even sees some better pitches to hit as well because of it?

I love the trade.  Gonzalez might turn into the second coming of Carlos Beltran, but the A's could not go through another 162-game season with that offense.  It just wasn't going to work.  I'm expecting more moves towards the A's being competitive in 2009 on the heels of this, whether that means Furcal or Dunn or someone else, I'm not sure, but I don't think the A's are done.  They're sending a message that they think they can be competitive sooner rather than later, otherwise, why do the deal in the first place unless you don't really think that Gonzalez is all he was supposed to be? 

For once it's nice to have our team doing the acquiring, isn't it?

 

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