Every fan, every GM, every scout is going to have different views of who should be untouchable at any given time. This is because judging baseball talent is so beautifully subjective and imprecise. Sometimes you may just get a feeling about one player's future and a totally different feeling about another, and my gut or my reasons for liking someone more or less may differ from yours.
As much as I want the A's to make the right trade this week, I am equally, if not more, afraid of them making the wrong deal. I'm ok with standing pat if it means not trading an "untouchable" -- which of course means a player I think should be on that list. That being said, the A's really need an upgrade at SS and are linked to a very good, non-rental 3B in Chase Headley, and you have to give up real talent in order to land someone of the caliber of Chase Headley, Hanley Ramirez or even Yunel Escobar.
After the jump, here are my "untouchables" and "touchables"...who are yours?
Untouchables (this means don't trade them even if they can help you fill a big immediate need such as SS):
Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker -- the A's have a lot of fine young pitchers in the mix, but this does not mean they have a lot of guys with the potential to be "#1-#2 starting pitchers". To be highly competitive, the A's will need to have "more aces" (frontline guys) than their opponents and these are the guys who can get you there.
Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick -- centerpieces of the lineup and rebuild that if you were to lose them, you wouldn't "get better now" anyway.
Dan Straily -- I just have a feeling that Straily is going to emerge as a possible front-line starter to join Anderson and Parker as one of "3 aces". I could be totally wrong, as Straily has yet to throw even one major league pitch. But he has dominated AA and AAA with incredible K and hit rates that show AA and AAA hitters are simply overmatched by him, and he has the stuff to explain his success: A legitimate 93 MPH fastball, a swing-and-miss slider and an excellent changeup, along with command and consistency. I want to see that through because I think his ceiling is higher than Griffin's, Milone's or Blackley's and again, I think the A's will be knee deep in solid #3-#3 starters for years but it's those "frontline guys" you never have in abundance.
Borderline "touchable" (i.e., "You want these guys? OK, you have to really blow me away.")
Michael Choice, Miles Head -- You can disagree with me on these and you're probably right. Thing is, the A's don't have a ton of good hitting prospects in the minor leagues unless you go all the way down to the AZL and I think it would be prudent to hang on to the two most promising ones they have. Both have weakness that concern (Choice's contact rates and Head's defensive questions) but Choice is 22, Head 21, and both still have a chance to be real impact hitters at the big league level.
Who does this leave as "touchable" amongst the young guy/prospect crew? A lot of guys...
Touchable (this means I don't want to part with them, but am willing to for the right deal)
A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone (aaaaah, no, man-crush!!!), Travis Blackley, Brad Peacock, Sonny Gray...
I'd be open to moving any of the "#3-#4 SP" guys just because the A's really do have depth there, not only in the current big league rotation but coming up from behind. As good as any of them might be, chances are you will replace them with someone equal, and if you have a chance to get better at a position of need you may as well deal from a position of true strength. You just hope you trade the right one, but...sometimes you just have to hope.
Then there are other intriguing questions, like "what if someone really wants Chris Carter, or Brandon Moss, or Jemile Weeks, or Derek Norris...?" You tell me: Especially amongst the prospects and younger players, who should be the true untouchables as the A's search for help on the left side of the infield? Over the course of the next 4 days, Billy Beane may or may not agree.