A plausible scenario popped into my head this morning, after about 18 hours (half of them spent sleeping amidst strange dreams that featured Matt Holliday, my old third grade teacher, Siamese twins who looked vaguely like Poochini, and Bea Arthur) of trying to figure out how it made sense for a rebuilding team with an increasingly bright future to trade young talent for a player who will be negotiating through Scott Boras this time next year.
The notion of the A's becoming so good for 2009 that this could be the year, in the next five, that they "just went for it, all in," does not compute. Neither does the expectation that Oakland will be able to - maybe even wish to - spend in the neighborhood of $20million/year to keep Holliday beyond 2009. How does it all make sense? How do the A's become better now and better from 2010 on, after this trade?
And then I remembered how Mark Mulder became Dan Haren until he became Brett Anderson, and I put a bunch of Hot Stove rumors together, and something made sense.
The A's need a right-handed power hitter in the middle of the order, in 2009, and they need one beyond 2009. That problem is solved for 2009 with the addition of Holliday, and Beane still has the payroll flexibility left to make more upgrades so that the team can be seriously competitive in 2009. The Red Sox have expressed interest in signing Holliday when he becomes a free agent and they can well afford the kind of money it will take to lure Holliday to Boston. In choosing to allocate big bucks to make Holliday the right-handed hitting corner OFer of choice, the Red Sox would say goodbye to a free agent that the A's seriously considered acquiring this past July: Jason Bay.
Due to his age and his agent, Bay will come at more of a reasonable free agent price, but he is still good enough to be a solid middle of the order bat helping the A's generate enough offense to support a pitching staff that will be very good by 2010 and only getting better.
Holliday now, Bay later. All for the price of Street, Smith, Gonzalez, and the money it will take to sign Bay - not the money it will take to sign Holliday. And instead of waiting for Bay to become available before building a decent offense, the A's have "Bay and more" in 2009 behind good pitching, then Bay in 2010-13 behind great pitching.
Now it all makes sense. Other than the fact that my success rate in predicting Billy Beane's actual moves is roughly 0.0%. But at least it makes sense.