This started out as a comment on the new Holliday thread, but after an hour, I thought I should make my first FanPost, so here goes. If you guys think I suck, let me know. I would stink up the FanPost area anymore.
Here are some things to consider...
1. We don't have Huston "We have a problem" Street closing games this year. He was 18 for 25. That's just not good. Instead, we most likely have Joey Devine closing, who had one of the best seasons for a reliever ever (something like lowest ERA for anyone over 40 IP...something like that), and Ziegler throwing double plays for the 7th and 8th innings all year long. I like the sound of that.
2. We played almost all of last year with Jack Hannahan (.218 BA, .305 OBP, .342 SLG) at third and Daric Barton (.226, .327, .348) at first. Daric Barton had a horrible year. He played like a rookie. But let's not forget that rookie was one of the top prospects for a long time. The A's and all the scouts, pegged him to be a .300 hitter, .400 OBP with 15-20 HR. I think he'll bounce back.
Hannahan, on the other hannahand, has no upside. But Beane (note: not I) feels that Eric Chavez will be ready by next year and will be able to return to form. If, by some miracle, Chavvy IS healthy and DOES play 100+ games at third, that will be huge for the A's. And for those of you that have no faith in Barton, there's still a chance that Jason Giambi could (stand at) play first.
3. One way to look at this trade is that Holliday will take Gonzalez's place. Not exactly an exact science, but playing Gonzalez in the majors is just letting him develop in the majors. He'll have those flashes of brilliance, but he'll take more lumps. Holliday has been very consistent in the majors, and unless he gets injured, you pretty much know he'll give you (even in Oakland) .280+ BA, .360+ OBP, .450+ SLG, 20+ homeruns, etc. That's a conservative estimate.
4. The A's also played last year with a god-awful Travis Buck, who showed that he may have found his stroke at the end of the year. Buck has potential to be .280 BA with 20+ homeruns. And also, a god-awful Mark Ellis (sorry guys). The Unicorn hit .233, .321, .373. If he can even be a league average hitter next year, with his defense, would also be fantastic.
5. I, for one, believe in "protection." Putting Jack Cust in front of Matt Holliday is ideal. I really believe that a pitcher would be less likely to throw curveballs and sliders on the corner to Cust if that meant possibly walking him in front of Holliday, a proven run producer. Cust will see more fastballs, more pitches to hit. And hey, this offseason, Cust is training his eyes! What if it works!?
6. I don't believe the answer is Rafael Furcal. Everybody that's ever seen an A's game knows Bob Crosby isn't the answer. Throw Pennington out there. Hear me out. Furcal had 1/4th of a fantastic year on top of many slightly above average years. He played horrible in the playoffs. He made goofs, and his sidearm throws to first showed me that he's not healthy.
Bobby Crosby sucks.
Cliff Pennington, though, has shown that he's going to take a walk. Last year, in only 100 AB, he hit .242 and slugged .293, but he had an OBP of .339. Now when a pitcher sees somebody that can't hit anything other than a single, there's no reason not to pitch to him. It's definitely not like pitchers are afraid of him, he's Cliff Pennington. But he's still shown the ability to take walks. He has a decent track record in the minors, and there's no reason to think he can't do better next year.
Also, Pennington is fast. Put him in front of Cust and he'll get on base. Cust is also a left hander, and Cliff should be able to swipe some bases.
7. As for the pitchers, after Duke, Gallagher, Eveland, you have Gio Gonzalez, Josh Outman, Dallas Braden, who are all, IMO, at this point in their careers, the same pitcher. Gio threw a lot of strikes out of the bullpen, Outman looked alright, and Braden was Braden.
With all of these pitchers besides Duke and I guess Braden, the key is going to be throwing strikes. After Eveland was sent down and tinkered with his mechanics (no longer bringing the ball over his head), he had several fairly good outings. Gallagher pitched hurt (flashes of Dan Meyer).
There are so many things that can go wrong, but that's basically exactly what happened last year...and the year before that. The DL was used at a record breaking clip.
But if Devine can make the transition from set-up to closer and not blow 7 or 8 saves a year, he'll be lights out. If Ziegler can keep the ball down and keep getting ground balls, we have a tremendous back-end of the bullpen. If Daric Barton can play to 80% of his potential, if we have Chavvy instead of Hannahan for even half the season, if Mark Ellis can bounce back, play some good defense and hit a little better. Maybe Buck can come back and hit like he did in his rookie year. Holliday will be a consistent force in the middle of this lineup. And hopefully, the A's realize that Bob Crosby sucks (I think they started to realize this last year). If some of those things happen, they A's can go pretty far.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that the Athletics are not a bad team. They just played that way. They have a ton of good players that played bad baseball last year (I don't mean Crosby or Hannahan), in part because they're so young. I don't think we need to sign Furcal to make the playoffs. BTW I'm trying real hard not to rosterbate.
And regarding the trade, I'm hearing more and more people thinking that the A's won't be able to sign him long term. It's almost a given that he'll test free agency after next year because he has a gigantic payday coming. But if they play like crap again next year or they just decide to move the clubhouse to the DL, the Angels play out of their minds again, and the A's are out of it by the trade deadline, they can flip him to the Mets for a guy like Daniel Murphy or the Cards for a guy like Brett Wallace.
If some of those things DO happen, and they have a huge bat like Holliday chillin in the lineup in between Cust and Chavez, the A's will go a long way.
BTW Lincecum just won the NL Cy Young Award. He's so little...
Alright guys, have at me.