OK, two things, obviously: The possibility that Ladendorf won't be any good, always a risk with prospects, and the fact that the 2009 A's just got a little worse for August and September. But folks...
I agree with the iglews of the world who say wins matter even if it's the difference between 75 wins and 79 wins and the playoff picture is not impacted. But I imagine even iglew -- and I'll let him speak for himself, just 'cause I'm a swell guy -- would agree that when you're rebuilding, sometimes you have to accept a couple of months where a downgrade might leave you a 73 win team instead of a 74 win team, so that the organization can get better overall. It's two months of Orlando Cabrera we're talking about, not two years of Brett Anderson.
The player the A's got was not only a 2nd round draft pick who is still only 21 and thus has plenty of upside, but he profiles as a SS (yum) and a speedster (leadoff yum), potentially filling two huge areas of need, and for good measure he even bats right-handed. The A's said that if Minnesota had not selected Ladendorf in the 2nd round, they were going to take him. The only knock I've really heard about Ladendorf's ability to stay at SS defensively is that he's "big" (he's listed at 6'0" and 210 pounds), but so was Cal Ripkin Jr., so is J.J. Hardy, and for that matter so is Bobby Crosby, who was a fine defensive SS for several years. What I haven't heard is that Ladendorf actually has trouble playing SS. I think this is a great pickup, as it directly addresses areas of need with someone with a lot of potential to be good. Maybe he'll be bad, but now the A's (assuming Grant Green signs) have added two potential shortstops to the pipeline, giving them a far better chance of ending up with one.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Orlando Cabrera was only under contract through 2009. Either the A's want him back in 2010 or they don't, and either Cabrera wishes to play for the A's in 2010 (as he has indicated, and has had plenty of time to assess) or there's another team, or contract offer, he prefers. The A's did not trade away the chance for Cabrera to play for Oakland in 2010 if that's what both sides want, not in any way, shape, or form. If Cabrera wants to play for the A's and the A's want Cabrera to play for them, then come 2010 Oakland will have both Cabrera and Ladendorf.
So other than Cabrera's presence at the end of a lost season, the A's have lost nothing and gained a lot. And by Spring Training, they could conceivably have their cake and eat it too. Billy Beane at his finest, I say.