After today’s loss puts us 6 back of a team that is better than us, however slightly, our 2008 season looks like one without the chance of playoffs. So now it’s time to think to the future and to plan our moves this year to most benefit our future success. Trade-wise, I won’t propose any specific deals, as I know people hate trade diaries.
However, I would think Street (and Embree/Foulke if they had any value) will be dealt, but a couple of these shaky outings may be enough to throw off some suitors. Maybe this rumored Street+Murton to the Rays develops but I don’t remember the last time a rumor about an A’s player lasted this long and then he was traded to that team. A shocking bullpen arm that could be traded is Ziggy because there were slight rumors according to Rotoworld (probably made up by them) about Casilla, Brown, and Devine when they were doing incredible and you hardly ever hear rumors that early in the season. Ziggy doesn’t have the same stuff as those three but he has all the performance. Plus the sadist in me could totally see Beane trading Ziggy.
Blanton could be dealt to a GM looking to buy low, but Beane’s price on even under-performing A’s is high (see the Devine/Kotsay trade). Another shocking name that wouldn't surprise me to see gone is Cust. Both the Mets and the DBacks are looking for LH-hitting OFers and Cust does have the teams' only >.800 OPS. Plus we have Sweeney, Buck (though he seems to be injured), CarGo, Cunningham, Murton, and Patterson (who hit another HR for Sac today) for next year's OF. If LA, would go for Crosby I would be stoked as well.
In my opinion, the immediate actions the A's should take are Brown should be DFA'd in favor of the aforementioned hot-hitting Patterson. Bankston should be called up after his 10 days in the minors in favor of Murphy. Murphy after more than 200 ABs with us has shown that he can't OBP .300 in the majors, despite his pretty good minors repertoire. He'd still be useful to have in AAA and if Lenny Dinardo passes through waivers I would think Donnie would too. We then could give Petit a couple of shots, but more than likely Crosby would get all the playing time, assuming he has no setbacks.
Even if Blanton/Duke doesn’t get traded I wouldn't be averse to seeing Gio get some starts in a six-man rotation following the break. With so few off-days, the SP may b less worn-down getting that extra day of rest. Plus Duke, Eveland, Smith, and Gallagher are all approaching career-highs or highs in the last couple of years in IP. Eveland pitched 130 innings two years ago but last year only pitched 38. Smith pitched 120ish last year and 150ish the year before and in 2005, his professional debut year he pitched 190ish (!). That's a lot of wear on that arm and it would be nice to give him a little less wear in a season that probably won't matter. Duke already hasn't pitched this many innings in a year since 2003. Gallagher threw 120ish innings last year and 165 the year before and hasn't reached 100 yet this year, so he may be fine in a more consistent role with us than he got with the Cubs. But why risk it? We might as well be cautious with our young arms this year and let Gio get some experience for next year at the same time. Plus, if you believe in hot streaks, Gio is certainly on one. I even could see us trying Braden, he of the low-4 FIP PT keeps bringing up and the 9.11K's/9 at AAA, especially if he brought out the mysterious screwball. He's in great danger of being passed in the depth chart.
The perfect candidate to replace Gio in Sacramento’s rotation is in Midland. James Simmons has performed well while at AA and it’s time for a call-up in my opinion. He’s pitching tonight and has done mediocre with 5.1 IP and 4 ER. To replace Simmons we could go with one of two options: Jose Garcia or re-calling up Futures Game star Henry Rodriguez and his 100 MPH heater. However, the A’s may be taking it slow with Rodriguez and letting him have success at a level at a young age after promoting aggressively and it backfiring, similar to what happened to Matthew Sulentic. Garcia is also coming back after TJS, so they may want to take it slow with him and leave him in the bullpen. But, they can’t wait too long as the longer he’s at an AA bullpen the more quickly he loses any prospect status. Another player who might consider returning to the rotation is Jared Lansford, but considering how many SP prospects we have, he may have a better chance reaching the majors as a reliever.
And since our minor league system seems bereft of middle infield talent, I vote now is the time we aggressively promote what little we do have (It did work, to the extent someone could have plausibly hoped, with Pennington). Both Larry Cobb and Michael Richard are destroying Kane County to the tune of a .865 and a .822 OPS respectively. I say destroy because recently called-up Corey Brown only had a .842 OPS and he is probably our third best OF prospect behind Cunningham and Sulentic, though that may be more speaking to our system than his talent. However, both Cobb and Richard are both old for low A (both 23) and need to be tested at a higher level or lose their semi-prospect status. An already struggling Kane County would lose its two best hitters however.
Of course if you’re calling up someone, someone will lose PT. In Cobb and Richard’s cases it’s going to be Carlos Arrieche and 2003 1st round pick and bust Brian Snyder. The current middle infield in Stockton is Frank Martinez and Josh Horton and both have underachieved to sub .750 OPSes in the hitter friendly Cal League. Martinez can also play 3b, although Arrieche is the team’s listed 3b. Arrieche however has gotten very sporadic PT and should be sent down to KC. Horton has gotten on base at a good .370 clip but his sub-.350 slugging is ugly. However, he was a 2nd round pick. He could get aggressively promoted to AA Midland and supplant their 2b the aforementioned Snyder. The SS for Midland is Justin Sellers, and if the A’s like Horton’s SS defense, Sellers has played 2b when he was a teammate of Pennington.
The other candidate for a promotion is Horton’s teammate and top prospect Chris Carter and his .930ish OPS. However, unless made in conjunction with a Bankston callup (and no Barton demotion) or Carter has a really good ability to play 3b or RF instead of merely low minor spot starts, a player who is performing well would have to be cut: Tommy Everidge. While not really a prospect at 25, he’s OPSing near .800 and is a local boy out of Santa Rosa. If Bankston were called up, Everidge could also be promoted and fill Bankston’s spot.
And on one last minor’s note: does anyone know why T-Buck and Jesus Guzman haven’t played at all recently in Sacramento?