And we just got a guy named Cowgill, so there. Sorry to be so bad at being absent, but it's hard not to weigh in with my (clearly precious) thoughts on a major trade: Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks for Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill, and Ryan Cook.
To put the trade in context, I have generally fallen on the side of "Cahill supporter" in that I think Cahill is better than his 2011 season -- one in which I suspect his curveball was somewhat affected by a lingering finger injury -- and that I think his 2010 season, though not easily repeatable, was also not a fluke. I have often been quick to point out that Cahill's minor league career mirrored Brandon Webb's quite well with the one exception that Cahill put up his numbers 2 years younger at each level.
However, despite my belief in Cahill as a quality starting pitcher, I can see this trade working out to be a very good one for Oakland and if you'll jump with me I'll explain my reasoning.
Jarrod Parker, the key to the deal, has a chance to be a better pitcher than Cahill and, by nature of being completely unproven, has a chance to be a total bust. If you average out all the Jarrod Parkers who have tested their "top10 pitching prospect if he's healthy" pedigree at the big league level, from the Dan Meyers to the David Prices, you probably average about a Cahill.
The reality is that if Parker should turn out to be exactly as good as Cahill, the A's have already won the trade because Parker is, of course, much cheaper. He may turn out to be better, he may turn out to be worse, he may turn out to be about the same. But any time you have a 50-50 chance to win the trade on one of three players alone, you're off to a pretty good start.
This was alluded to in one of the first thread's comments, but there are similarities between Colin Cowgill and no, not David DeJesus, not Ryan Sweeney, but rather Mark Kotsay. Kotsay was coveted and followed by the A's for years before Oakland acquired him, played CF, and did not wow with his physical tools so much as his "ability to play better than his raw tools would suggest." If Cowgill is so much as "David DeJesus but a solid CFer," he's a good player, and if he's anything like Mark Kotsay was in his mid 20s then he's a steal.
Again, Cowgill is a total unknown and could be a bust. That's the risk of dealing proven commodities for question marks. But if the A's have scouted right, they may be high-fiving in the backroom right now about getting the gifted Parker and the "Mark Ellis-like undervalued" Cowgill.
Ryan Cook looks to be about as exciting a piece as Dane Cook, so I won't say much about him other than to say, "Yeah I know he's part of the trade too." Same with Breslow: I have little to say about his inclusion other than "Pretty good pitcher, easily replaced, don't lose sleep."
Now the "bad" news. This trade reminds me a bit of the Tim Hudson deal: You get a pitcher who has ace potential who, arguably, could make the deal a good one by himself, plus two additional pieces that can only help. We all know how the Hudson trade turned out: The key centerpiece busted and the trade was, ultimately, a disaster. Such is the nature of trading good pitchers for question marks.
But the hope that the A's have done their homework, only were going to make a trade they wanted to make, and sought out Parker and Cowgill for good reason, gives me rise for some optimism. Don't get me wrong, though: I think Cahill has a bright future and while the A's may have made a good trade for them I don't doubt that Arizona has made a good trade for their "win now" needs. It's not a slam dunk for the A's by any stretch -- but on the face of it, I see reason to give Beane and Co. the benefit of the doubt that they knew what they were doing.