My takes on the Haren deal:
• The Chad Gaudin “wild card” factor was huge. Harden’s fragility (and notice that his name is conspicuously missing in all health updates) gave the A’s no leeway with the starting rotation, and if Gaudin is an uncertain commodity too 2008 looks like toast. So getting “2009 ready” players is not necessarily a bad move – especially if you can get more, or better, talent by looking a year ahead.
• My concern is that while the A’s have some exciting young talent in Barton, Buck, and Suzuki, the pattern looks like by the time the A’s are good, these “young uns” won’t be young/cheap anymore and will have to go. It’s the “B+ cycle” that keeps you perpetually in “pretty good” mode – except in years like 2007-08 when you aren’t even that.
• It really doesn’t make sense to try to judge this trade now, because it all depends on how well the A’s have scouted. Players generally turn out to be better or worse than projected, and the key is to identify which players are sleepers (like Mark Ellis) and which are talented but over-hyped (like Crosby). Beane accepted the deal because he and his top scouts believe that these top-ranked players are actually as good as they seem and that these “throw-ins” actually have a chance to be hidden gems. Time will tell.
• I’m not suggesting this is the case, but last year Danny Haren had about 10 pitches where something gave (ankle or hip) and he fell off the mound in his follow-through. If this were to turn out to be a budding injury, the deal could wind up looking tremendous for Oakland.
• I have nothing but good things to say about Danny Haren and everything he gave to the A’s. I hope he wins the Cy Young award next season.