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Go The Distance

No, I’m not referring to some cryptic Fields of Dreams line that’s going to get me united with my Dad from the great beyond (damn that movie for making me cry every single time I watch it). I’m talking about Billy Beane and his systematic disassembling of this roster.

The further deconstruction of this team continued yesterday with the A’s letting Esteban Loaiza jet for Southern California and the LA Dodgers. There was quite a bit of (at times) heated discussion yesterday over whether Beane let Loaiza go for nothing in order to have an under-the-table agreement to get someone like Andy LaRoche on the cheap during the offseason knowing that there was no way that LaRoche would pass through waivers. I personally think that Beane will probably wind up getting someone from the Dodgers this upcoming offseason, I’m just not sure who it will be. I don’t anticipate it being anyone of great value because it's obvious that the A’s are just trying to dump salary right now.

But Beane shouldn’t stop until the team is really gutted of its higher priced players. I mean seriously. I never thought I’d say that, especially with a team that went to the ALCS last season, but Beane is at his very best when he’s trying to unearth players that no one else wants or believes is for real. Witness Jack Hannahan. This is a guy who can clearly hit. Yes, he’s only played 16 games with the A’s and small sample size and all, but this guy almost has as many walk off hits as Eric Chavez has now for his career. I’m not about to pronounce him the second coming and frankly, his defense is a little scary over there especially after watching Eric Chavez man the hot corner for so many years. But Hannahan is proving that there is life A.C. (after Chavez). I’m not willing to bank on it because we don’t know enough about Hannahan long-term to know that he’s going to be a good ML third baseman. The thing that the Hannahan experiment (and Chad Gaudin before that) is proving is that Beane can be an absolute master when he lifts up the rocks to see what he might find underneath.

I think the A’s clung to Jason Kendall in fear that they wouldn’t have anyone to replace that “leadership”. Never mind the fact that the offensive production out of that spot was a meager .542 OPS. Kurt Suzuki has put up a .791 OPS in August. Course Kendall that idiot has a .919 OPS in August. But that’s not important. I’m just glad that we’re turning the page on these things.

But don’t stop with Bradley, Kennedy, Kendall and Loaiza. Go the distance. Piazza (although he’s gone after the year any way), Chavez, Kotsay, Dan Johnson and Crosby should all be considered candidates for the clean sweep. I mean if you’re going to start over then really start over. We know what to expect from those A’s. Let’s see what these A’s can do.

As an aside, but relevant to this discussion, I imagine that the A’s really want Rich Harden to come back for September because they need to figure out whether or not Harden will ever be healthy enough to be productive. Or maybe they’re just trying to get some trade value generated for him going into the offseason. Regardless, they need to figure out what they have so they can plan accordingly for the rotation for 2008.

But the A’s have essentially cleared out a ton of salary by dumping Kendall, Kennedy, Loaiza and Bradley. The only problem is that only Loaiza had a contract that would’ve brought him back next year so it’s essentially cost cutting for this season alone. Guys with the bigger and longer-term contracts haven’t really been moved and it’s probably making them much hard to move. Still, it would be nice if the A’s continue to just push forward and decide to give younger guys more opportunity. Perhaps the team can continue to unearth gems.

So just do it, Billy. Go the distance.