A wise philosopher once said: "Some people are born into greatness, some achieve greatness, and some have grape juice thrust upon them." This is problematic, as the stains from grape juice are especially difficult to get out of your clothes. But that's not really the point of this post.
The point is that if the A's are to build something special for the near future, they need a mix of good players and players that are more than good. I have liked Chase Headley as a possible trade target, because not only does he look like he has a future as a good player, he is currently blocked at 3B, he is on a team looking to make trades, and he could probably be had for less than a king's ransom. This is all well and good, but Headley also appears to be poised for a good career, not a great one. And this is fine if you flank him with a great player or two at some other position - but not so fine if you don't.
Case in point: Jason Bartlett fits in beautifully with Tampa Bay as a solid defensive SS and smart hitter who is no star but is reliable - not unlike Orlando Cabrera. The presence of Evan Longoria, who is great, allows the Rays' left side of the infield to be enviable overall. It works. Put Cabrera alongside Jack Hannahan or Bobby Crosby, however, and it doesn't work.
I think the A's rotation is in good shape long term because they have several pitchers (Braden, Outman, Gallagher, Gio) with a chance to be good but also have a couple (Cahill, Anderson) with a chance to be great. Among the position players, however, you look around and see that outside of Suzuki, who is making a strong case, your anchors are players who, like Headley, appear to top out at "good" - Travis Buck, Ryan Sweeney, Daric Barton. Those guys could be assets on a team with 1-2 better players, but if they're your best players you are in a whole lot of trouble.
Which brings me to today's question: Where (what position, what player) can the A's hope to find greatness in the next 2 years? From their own farm system, is it Corey Brown, CF? Is it Adrian Cardenas, or does he lack the defensive skills and/or power to be more than good? Does Doolittle have a chance to be "special," or just "solid"? Is Chris Carter a 40-HR 1Bman ready for the major leagues in 2010, or is he a 25-HR DH ready in 2011?
Or, in order to turn the corner as a rebuilt team do the A's need to make a trade for someone with high enough upside that it will really sting to give up what you have to give up to land a Mike Moustakas or an Alcides Escobar?
At what position can/should the A's not settle for "good," and from where will that star be found?