I've never had more fun watching a baseball season than I did last year. I blogged about it, tweeted endlessly, I even stopped random people at my work just to celebrate whilst watching the game on my phone. The homerun Josh Donaldson hit off Tom Wilhelmsen to tie the game will forever be the lasting image in my head. I realize it didn't win the game, but it was at that point I knew (and I know I should've known sooner) that there was something larger at work - like Costco Pizza large.
But now that the excitement has begun to wear off (I am no longer drenched in joy, but still toweling off), I can't help but think that this unexpected success has hurt our offseason. We've tasted success so now the front office understandably wants to upgrade our major league roster. But is that even the right call? Part of me still thinks we should continue looking to San Jose and building a winner from the ground up. I know I'm gonna take a bunch of shit for this, but I'd like to present a parallel universe where Billy Beane decided to continue last year's rebuild plan of trading our young players for even younger near-ready prospects.
Let's start with the Royals trade with the Rays that netted them James Shields and Wade Davis. It was reported that the Royals offered Wil Myers straight up for Brett Anderson. So let's just have some fun and take it a little further and say that we at least decided to talk about. A similar deal for us would have been something like Brett Anderson, AJ Griffin for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard (the exact package they gave up in the real deal). Now I'm a lot less bullish on Odorizzi than most, and I think I would have gone after Yordano Ventura instead. So let's swap them just because I'm writing this fantasy post and I can do whatever I want. Actually, let's also say that Charlize Theron is my girlfriend and she is proofreading this while I write.
I digress, but let's say we make that deal.
Now let's move on to the Trevor Bauer, Shin Soo Choo, Didi Gregorious, Jim Mecir, etc... trade between the Indians, Diamondbacks, and Reds. Let's insert ourselves as the Indians, shall we? The Reds wanted a CF and they didn't care about years left on the contract, even more, I read they only wanted a short term answer because they have Billy Hamilton waiting in the wings. Let's say we offered the Reds Chris Young and Grant Balfour plus mucho moolah (they got 3.5 million in the real deal, we'd probably have to give up a little more). The Reds would probably do it because they are moving Chapman to the rotation and behind Marshall, Balfour would be great closer insurance. The D'backs would still do it because Kevin Towers is batshit, and the A's would do it because both players only have a year left on their contract, and hell maybe we could still get Bryan Shaw. If he's not too busy teaching the triangle offense. But most of all we would get Trevor Bauer.
I am isolating these two offseason trades because Myers and Bauer are clearly the two best prospects traded this offseason (so far), and it at least feels rare that two players of such high prospect standing were traded (especially in deals where the players received back were of dubious distinction - Shields is good but not gonna be around for long w/ his contract, Wade Davis can't start, and Didi Gregorius is good but no where near the value of a Trevor Bauer).
Is it possible if the A's would have missed the playoffs, that maybe Billy Beane would have targeted these two guys?It seems insane not to.
Let's take it one step further, and if I haven't lost you already, then I will certainly lose you here. The Mariners just recently missed out on Justin Upton because he thinks their locker room smells like poo. Let's say we called Jack Z after this and said "hey, you were prepared to offer this for Upton would you do the same for Cespedes?" Say he says yes and we acquire a package something like Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Carter Capps, and Charlie Furbush. After the initial sadness, would be maybe be a little happy? Maybe. We haven't had an offensive player like that in a decade, and I would be devastated to lose him from the lineup, but for a package like that I might be able to direct my man crushes elsewhere (ed note. I am Charlize Theron).
Would we also be that bad next year? Maybe, but we would look pretty good by the end of the year. We'd have Myers in LF, Crisp in CF, and Reddick in RF. Donaldson would be at 3b, Nakajima would be at SS, Franklin would be at 2B (maybe even SS and Weeks or Sizemore at 2B), Moss/Carter at 1b, and Jaso/Norris at C. I should mention in this parallel universe the AJ Cole trade still gets made just because, again, I am writing this and I get to say whatever I want. Oh by the way, April from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle just walked in from the rain, and she's soaking wet.
Our rotation, well by the end of the year it could be Parker, Bauer, Straily, Montgomery, Milone; but more likely without Montgomery and with Werner or Blackley instead. But Ventura and Walker could also slide in with strong Double-A performances.
My point, and it's basically got lost in my love for rosterbating and making fake trades is that we could have made some bold moves to upgrade our farm system. And if guys like Wil Myers, Trevor Bauer, and Taijuan Walker were/supposed to be traded, then maybe it was a sin that we didn't try to take advantage of each's availability. Of course all would be moot if we go ahead and win the whole goddamn thing next year, but I think had we made said parallel universe moves we might have set ourselves up for another magical underdog season a la 2012. And a road to even more prolonged success.