Just Win, Baby (and Don't Get Attached)
The week's big news has clearly been defined with the A's trading for Rockies' outfielder Matt Holliday. Unlike recent off-season trades, despite the A's having given up three players, in this case, we're seen as having "acquired" talent rather than "lost" talent, like we were when we traded away Nick Swisher, Dan Haren and others. Interesting play on words, given that in each case you had players coming and going, but that we are the recipient of the most marquee name has folks thinking differently about the A's in 2009.
Speculate what this means all day long, as to what the new lineup will be, whether more trades are coming, or even if we'll have Holliday around for more than a half-season, but I'll be honest with you... it doesn't really matter.
What does matter is if once the new team takes the field, that our guys outscore their guys, and manage to win more often than we lose.
As fans, we have a tendency to get attached to players. We may put posters of them on our walls, and trade their baseball cards. We may wear their jerseys and claim one (or more) as our favorite. But what we've learned from years of watching, this team especially, is that we shouldn't get attached.
When the A's honored Dennis Eckersley on August 13, 2005, and retired his number, Ray Fosse lavishly praised Huston Street, a promising youngster at the time, and suggested that one day, maybe his number would be retired along the same wall - a preposterous comment then, given his short tenure, and practically laughable, now that we'd seen him replaced by Ziegler and shipped off as part of a package deal to the Rockies. In the stands that day, with many of you, it seemed naive for Fosse to expect a player of Huston's talent, if achieved, to stay with the franchise long enough to have his uniform retired. We've moved beyond the era of players who would spend greater than a decade with one team and excel.
Think about it - are we going to retire Chavez' number when he retires? Or that of Ellis? Probably not. We may like these guys now, but they are filling a role on a team and plugging away on a franchise that's not setting records, winning pennants, or doing much that's memorable, to be honest. While the Raiders have covered themselves in self-mockery, saying to "Just Win, Baby"... that's what we need to do.
If Matt Holliday is going to be the missing piece that turns this franchise from one that battles for 3rd with Texas to one that battles for titles with Anaheim, that's one thing. But if he'll end up being another player to cheer for, hitting around .280 with 20+ homers and contributing to a few A's wins in a 70 victory campaign, then it really doesn't mean a whole lot. I won't be buying a Holliday jersey, just like I didn't buy a Street poster, or lobby for a Greg Smith bobblehead. I want championships.