From Jayson Stark's ESPN "Rumbling & Grumblings" column, 5/21/2009:
Clubs that have spoken to the A's report that Billy Beane "has had it" with his scuffling outfit. But it figures to be at least a month before he starts unloading Matt Holliday or anyone of significance.
"If he could do something right now, he'd do it," said one front-office man. "But I don't think clubs have enough feel for what they've got on that club. So I'd say late June, early July is more likely."
So maybe Beane isn't as clueless to this "scuffling outfit" as we've made him out to be...at least we can hope. The timeframe Stark lays out seems about right to me. Give this team one more month to snap out of it's funk and one more month for the rest of the teams out there to decide between "buying" and "selling" and then start wheeling and dealing if it's the latter for these A's.
Like Beane, it seems, I'm starting to get the itch for the trade bug, so here I go with my first batch of trade ideas. We all know the A's need a new 3rd baseman, shortstop and possibly even a centerfielder. So here goes:
While the early indications are that the trade market for guys like Matt Holliday might be less robust than previously thought, I would bet that Beane will still be able to rassle up a few intriguing packages as "bubble" teams start getting desperate for that missing piece that will put them over the top. Holliday is finally finding his stroke and with another few weeks to get his overall stats in order, he could become a very valuable trade piece. In addition, Beane should have the payroll flexibility to be able to throw in a significant amount of money to help cover Holliday's remaining 2009 salary, which should also work in his favor, as he could effectively "buy" a better set of prospects from an acquiring team if the financial outlay is lessened. Here are some trade ideas:
- Atlanta: The Braves badly need an infusion of power in the lineup and happen to have a gaping hole in left field at the moment. The Atlanta farm system is fairly stacked with talented prospects, however, I doubt the team would part with any of their top talent (Hanson, Heyward, Freeman, Schafer). They do have a shortstop prospect in Double-A at the moment (Brandon Hicks) that is struggling so far this season and has some contact issues, but has historically hit for power, drawn some walks and played good defense. Provided he gets his act together a bit, he could be an option for the big league team in 2010 at some point. RHP Kris Medlen could also be a nice get as a command-control righty that could be a mid-rotation type guy. Perhaps the package could be rounded out by a high-ceiling lower minors arm (which the Braves have plenty of). Unfortunately, none of these guys will be high-impact players this season, so a perfect match it may not be.
- Kansas City: It would really be interesting to see the Royals make a big play for the post season this year after so many seasons of struggling. The AL Central seems definitely winnable this year, and with Zack Greinke's historic-level early season dominance, Gil Meche eating up innings, Bannister pitching well and the bullpen dominating, to go along with a few surprise offensive performers, the Royals could have the ingredients to make a run. Holliday could be used to push DeJesus out of left field and give them a big power power boost to slot behind Mike Jacobs. In addition, the Royals are definitely looking for a shortstop to replace the one-hit wonder Mike Aviles. They would likely be interested in O-Cab as well. The only deal I could really see working would be Holliday + Cabrera + cash for 3B Mike Moustakas. Moustakas is a monster prospect and is the gem of the Royal farm system, so I don't think they would just fork him over, but if they get desperate enough...
- Mets: I'm sure that with the injuries to Delgado and Reyes, the Mets would love to add Holiday right now and for the stretch run. Looking at their minor league system, it doesn't seem like a real solid match could be made, although Daniel Murphy (up with the big club) seems like a solid but unspectacular hitter that could take over 3rd base duties for the A's right now. The team also has high-upside potential CFer Fernadno Martinez and some raw arms. I would imagine that the Mets wouldn't part with Murphy and F-Mart together, but you'd never know...
- Cardinals: I would love the A's to pry Brett Wallace away from the Cards with some combination of cash, Holliday, O-Cab, Ellis, Springer, Duke or Casilla, but I just don't think it happening. The Cards have plenty of productive outfielders and they seem to want to ADD 3rd basemen to their system, not trade one away...but here again, desperation could play a part...
- Giants: McCovery Chronicles is thinking that if the Giants stay close by deadline time, they could pursue Holliday and might use Tim Alderson as the bait. Even with their pitching depth, I doubt they would give up a Top-5 prospect like Alderson for a rental like Holliday and their positional prospects aren't anything special, so I don't anything is going to happen with Gnats...
- Angels: For all intents and purposes, I would think that if the A's are totally out of it by this time next month, a deal with the Angels would make the most sense, besides the whole inter-divisional-bitter-rivalry thing. For one thing, the Angels are always in need of more power, especially with an ailing Vladi Guerrero and with a firepower discrepancy between themselves and the Rangers - their likely competition for the division. Secondly, Holliday would be a good fit in the Sciosca-style offense, as he can hit for average and power, is pretty aggressive, and runs well. On a personal level, I know that Holliday owns an off-season home in Orange County and is a big family guy that would likely fit-in with the Angel clubhouse. The Angels could also likely make a big, Teixera-like play to keep Holliday after this season, especially considering that Vladi's contract is done after ths season and Holliday could become the new face of the franchise. The A's would likely take Brandon Wood from the Halos in a heartbeat and might even be interested in Sean Rodgriguez or Reggie Willits or an A-ball arm or two. Seeing as how all those players have been long-overlooked by the Angel brass and aren't critical to either the team's long-term or short-term success, I think a match could easily be made between the two teams.
- Padres: I don't think that the rumors are true linking Chase Headley with a possible trade for Yuniesky Betancourt. Even so, with the Padres looking to dump players and totally rebuild, it's possible that the team might make him available for some much-needed infusion of prospects. The A's could make like Kenny Williams and aggressively push a deal on the Padres...maybe something like Gio/Simmons, Petit and Corey Brown for Headley? Or maybe it may even be possible to buy Headley off the Padres (who are looking to dump salary) by agreeing to take on Scott Hairston for the rest of the year along with Headley for the prospects listed above. I would hate to even mention the idea of taking-on Brian "Woman Beater" Giles and his lifeless bat and the rest of his 9 million dollar salary, but if it meant that the A's could keep a prospect or two and still get Headley? You'd have to think about it...in addition to Headley, the A's could easily put together a deal for the whiff-artist Kouzmanoff at pretty much anytime. Kevin is up for arbitration after this season, has always had trouble hitting at Petco and just isn't that great of a player. However, he does have some pop, is decent against lefties and plays a decent 3rd base. He would be a real nice platoon partner for Eric Chavez for a year or two and would maybe cost Petit and Eveland or Petit and Blevins.
That's all I got for today.