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Who Nose What Will Happen? Nostrildamus Speaks

Since a lot of talk on AN the last few days has centered on what the A’s should do at the Winter Meetings, today I thought I’d take a look on what I think the A’s will do – not necessarily today or this week, but before Opening Day. Specifically, since Beane is nothing if not vague and unpredictable, what do those few-but-key clues suggest?

Haren: Beane values starting pitching more than anything, knowing that 9 times out of 10, if you have a good rotation you’ll compete, and if you don’t you won’t. Like Hudson, Mulder, Zito, and Harden before him, Haren was locked up through his arbitration years, And like his predecessors, I predict he will not be traded with as many as three years left on his contract. Haren, owed just 16 million for the next three years combined, is simply one of the best bargains in the league, period. The guy who started the All-Star Game, and wasn’t as bad as you think in the second half, has established himself as one of the most durable and effective starters in the AL, and he doesn’t even begin to break the bank.

Prediction: Beane doesn’t get a truly ridiculous offer for Haren this Winter – which is what it would take for Beane to move him – and Haren stays, used this week mostly to get conversations started about Blanton.

Blanton: A different story entirely. Though he has emerged as one of the league’s better, and most durable, starters, Blanton’s name is conspicuously missing on the list of good young pitchers Beane has locked up through his arby years. Good but not an ace, appreciated but not a cornerstone player, Blanton is less like Haren and more like…say…Ted Lilly, who was traded because he was about to get a lot more expensive but not necessarily any better.

I think Blanton is the guy Beane hopes to trade in order to reload, and I gather the Dodgers are the team with whom Beane has had the most serious, and most specific, conversations. But there will be other suitors for Blanton, once the Santanas and Bedards have landed on other teams and several rotations still remain “one solid starter away from being really good.” Beane holds the cards here, and he will hold out for what he wants (which may be a specific player, such as Ivan DeJesus Jr., or a category, such as “major league ready starting pitcher”).

Prediction: It’s 50/50 whether or not Beane is offered what he continues to demand for Blanton, and it is thus 50/50 whether Blanton is dealt.

Street I think Beane is probably very open to shopping Street, knowing that a solid closer can fetch some real talent, knowing that teams needing closers will often overpay for one, and figuring that with Duchscherer, Embree, and Brown already in the mix, a serviceable to good closer can be created or found (as 4-5 are by some team every year – see Al Reyes, Zack Greinke, Manny Corpas, David Weathers, Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Gregg).

If trading Street could help solve the A’s need for another solid hitter, or could help yield a potential #3 starter, or could help bring enough young talent to really help restock the minor league system, I think the A’s believe it’s easier to go find a closer than it is to go find an affordable hitter, a starting pitcher, or another team’s desired prospects.

Prediction: 60/40 that if Blanton is dealt so is Street, as Beane talks to several teams about deals that involve Street, and is ready to pull the trigger on any good deal that can address a more pressing need. The Brewers, with an abundance of young talent in J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, and Corey Hart (to go with Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder), and a “buy low” starter in Capuano, seem like a natural fit for a deal involving Street. Or Street and Blanton. Or...

…So, yeah, basically I have no idea either.