If Billy Beane hadn't announced his intentions with DFAing Milton Bradley, he certainly did so by moving Jason Kendall. The A's youth movement is now in full swing. And even though Carl Steward is claiming that the A's are happy with the status quo, you have to think that they are actually considering "building" towards the future.
That means that some older players who are providing diminishing returns could be considered for trading coming July 31. It really wouldn't surprise me to see almost any Athletic traded if the price is right in Billy Beane's eyes and yes, that does include Eric Chavez. Although I could never imagine Beane trading Haren at this point.
Still that leaves a lot of candidates to be moved, and I'm not going to pretend that I'm in Billy Beane's head. Eric Chavez, Mark Kotsay, Dan Johnson, Shannon Stewart, Esteban Loaiza and Joe Kennedy could all be traded. I'm not sure if Beane will go to that extreme, but it is probably the perfect time to do it. If nothing more, and as much as it pains me to do this, I'm advocating for Mark Kotsay to be dealt. Kotsay probably wouldn't bring much back in return, but his contract is large and the A's outfield would look better offensively without Kotsay in it and Kotsay's defense has slipped despite his fantastic outfield arm.
I don't think the A's are that far away from a good offense. It's just going to take some young players maturing quickly and some smart moves. The A's have done it in the past when they brought up Hudson, Mulder and Zito, but who knows if they can catch lightning in a bottle twice? Will Barton be a solid first baseman and will he develop the power that's typically needed from that position? Will Suzuki be a good major league hitter or will he have us wishing that we had a catcher who knew how to go to the opposite field again? Will Buck continue to prove that he's big time? Can Chris Denorfia make that next step to become a starting major league outfielder?
If Steward is correct, then it doesn't appear like Beane will be changing the infield very much, which is unfortunate. Ellis, Crosby and Chavez appear to be set in place. You can sacrifice the offense from those positions as long as the offense is providing above league average at the other positions and that's asking a lot for players like Suzuki, Barton and Denorfia to make up for the infields' inadequacies. I guess the true question is, are Bobby Crosby and Mark Ellis key parts of the offense or are they essentially defensive specialists not providing much with the bat. That just means that the A's have to change elsewhere. Cust, Buck and Swisher have to be spectacular.
I'd like to be a little more patient with Crosby, but if the A's truly want to be competitive in 2008 then time is at a premium, especially since the A's don't really have much better options within the system.
As for Chavez, he still brings great defense to the table and power. He'd be a great hitter if he was lower in the lineup, but it's a matter of getting others to handle the bulk of that 2-5 spots in the lineup.
It's a matter of tough decisions because the A's probably don't have a lot of players with a lot of value right now. And my hope is that the A's don't just look at the current team and say, "Well, we had a ton of injuries and THAT won't happen again." That's kind of how this team was built and we all know how that turned out. What would you do if you were in Beane's position? Sell everything or keep the status quo and move a few parts here and there? I think I'd probably move most of the names mentioned above and try and "build". But that's just me.
By the way, I did an interview with Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus radio. Bear in mind that this was recorded before Kendall was traded, so some of it might sound a little out of date.