I've generally been lukewarm on Kevin Kouzmanoff throughout his career and I like Aaron Cunningham. Yet I solidly approve of the trade (Kouzmanoff and AA middle infielder Eric Sogard for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham). Here are a few reasons why:
1. If you're concerned that Kouzmanoff doesn't hit enough, at an "offensive position" on a team lacking enough offense as it is, remember that if the A's landed Adrian Beltre long-term it was going to be with the plan in mind that sooner rather than later, heavy hitters like Michael Taylor and Chris Carter will be arriving to supplement the "good defense, additional pop" a Kouzmanoff or Beltre can give you as an anchor at 3B. The A's have Kouzmanoff under contract for 3 years, finally solving a crisis that has been unsolved for exactly that long.
2. Kouzmanoff's defense isn't as awesome as the fielding percentage he put up in 2009, nor is fielding percentage even the best gauge for a 3Bman's defense. His range is just decent, and his errors will inevitably increase from 2009 to 2010. But what's real is that his defense has improved over recent seasons, and he's only 28. It's perfectly reasonable to expect that his 2009 season was closer to "the 2010 truth" than his worst defensive season was. The A's have themselves a solid defensive 3Bman who can hit 20+ HRs. That's good.
3. Depth chart and need matter. Aaron Cunningham may turn out to be a solid player, but in the near future Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Ryan Sweeney are set in the OF, and soon Michael Taylor will be in the big leagues, with Sean Doolittle, Chris Carter, and Corey Brown pushing shortly thereafter. In other words, the A's aren't likely to miss Cunningham, even if he turns out to be good.
4. Scott Hairston is a decent player, but for whatever reason he seemed to present himself in a way that the A's didn't like. They wanted to move him, and he wasn't in their plans. This doesn't speak to Hairston's OPS+, WAR, or "oozer," past or future, but once a player falls out of favor with an organization his value to that team is less. It can still be someone else's gain and not be as big a loss to the current team.
The A's just traded from depth to fill need -- the thing we've been
asking begging pleading with them to do for years. Whether Billy Beane has assembled the right players to compete or contend, now or soon, remains to be seen. But with the re-signings of Justin Duchscherer and Jack Cust, the pursuits of Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre, and finally the acquisition of Kouzmanoff, you can't say he hasn't given it his all. Well done, Billy.