Forget about 2015.
The A's just traded a roughly three-win outfielder for an ace. Their fourth ace.
Oakland's front four is as follows, in no particular order because everyone on this list is a bona fide front-line starter in his own right: Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, and Jon Lester. If you prefer to reference those pitchers by their ERAs and not their names, the list looks like this: 2.65, 2.92, 2.37, and 2.52, respectively.
Jesse Chavez, who presumably will hold on to the fifth starter's role now that Tommy Milone is gone and Jason Hammel has forgotten how to pitch, isn't too shabby an option, either. Besides, he won't be starting in the playoffs.
The player replacing that three-win outfielder, deservedly beloved for his impossibly powerful arm and back-to-back Home Run Derby titles, has a wRC+ of 134 against left-handed pitching, more or less the only type of pitching he'll be facing.
He's also not a newcomer to the Oakland clubhouse.
Jonny Gomes? As Seth Smith said, "I never really understood what leadership in baseball is until I saw him with our young kids in Oakland."
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) July 31, 2014
Of course, this isn't nearly the same team as the 2012 squad that took baseball by storm. Billy Burns remains the only rookie to play for the A's this season, and he was on the big-league roster for about 72 hours. But the fact remains that Gomes is a bona fide leader. The shot of him slapping Pat Neshek on the knee after his incredible outing in the 2012 ALDS was one of that year's best moments. Gomes is an addition far more valuable than just his numbers, and his numbers (especially as a platoon player) are very good.
Oh, and Sam Fuld? Well, Sam Fuld's has been worth 2.3 WAR this season. Yoenis Cespedes: Also worth 2.3 WAR this season. Fuld is a stellar defender, not as flashy as Cespedes but potentially more effective. Between Fuld and Gomes, the A's avoid a major production gap following the loss of Cespedes, though without the star power.
Tommy Milone? His ceiling was never that of a top-of-the-rotation starter. A perfect fit for the Coliseum, yes, a fun pitcher to watch when he was locating, yes, but not the kind of loss that fans will turn around in 2016 and say, "Man, if only Billy Beane hadn't traded Tommy Milone." He'll be missed, and his production (in the rare spots when he would have had the opportunity to contribute) will be replicated and probably improved upon.
Here's a question to ask yourself if you're having trouble coming to grips with losing Yoenis. Are you so worried about 2015 that you can't enjoy this trade, what it signifies, and the position it puts the A's in to win their first World Series in a quarter-century? Fine. The 2015 A's, barring something very unforeseen, will still feature Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp, Craig Gentry, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, among others. Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, and Scott Kazmir will continue to anchor the rotation. Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin will come back from Tommy John surgery, hopefully with some success. Most of the bullpen will be back.
Besides, Billy Beane and the front office will have dozens of millions of dollars to play with in the offseason. Cespedes' contract, destined to be unloaded eventually, was worth eight figures. The odds of the A's making significant moves to secure their long-term future this offseason — either extending a portion of the cost-controlled core or making a run at a high-profile free agent — are high.
In a nutshell, you shouldn't worry about 2015 because the team you're watching right now has the potential to be one of the best A's teams of all time. If Billy Beane isn't worried about next year, you shouldn't be either. Objectively, did he give away Cespedes for too little, give up too much for Fuld? Maybe. But at this point, he gets the benefit of the doubt a million times over.
The 2015 Oakland Athletics will be very, very good. Don't worry about them.
For now, watch the 2014 team. It's quite entertaining.