This is not how it was suppose to happen.
What was suppose to happen was Shark was to fight to become the A's #1 starter in the regular season and playoffs. Hammel was suppose to be the best #5 in baseball and a fallback #4 in the playoffs. Addison Russell was suppose to be MLB ready in mid 2015 at best because of his injury setback. Billy McKinney was suppose to figure out A+ ball next year. No, hell no, nope, and no.
Trade Acquisition: Jeff Samardzija (fangraphs)
What the A's were suppose to be getting. Possible ace, possible best pitcher on the team. Healthy low innings arm. At the time of the trade he was in the middle of a career year with a 2.81 era and 3.10 FIP in 108 IP and 2 WAR.
What can the A's expect from Jeff Samardzija at this point?
Looking at his pitching lines from the last few years he was and probably still is about a 3 WAR pitcher who had a hot streak in the N.L. His BABIP has been very low for the A's so he has actually been kind of lucky for us. His K9 is down from 8.5 for the Cubs to 6.5 with the A's so that's not helping. I have never felt worse about the trade than tonight with Jeff's bad outing mostly contributing to his 4.07 era / 4.09 FIP with the A's.
I don't think it's too soon to say he is not an ace. Not even close, not now, not next year. We know it and Billy knew it too when he traded for Jon Lester. While Shark still has time to turn it around this year and be included as an equal to Kazmir and Gray, it is no stretch of the imagination to see him as the A's #4 starter in the playoffs*. That was not what Beane traded for. *( IF a number four starter is needed).
Trade Acquisition: Jason Hammel- fangraphs
What the A's were suppose to be getting. The best #5 starter in baseball. Possible playoff starter. Hammel was also having a career type year with a 2.98 era and 3.19 FIP in 108 IP good for 2 WAR.
For the A's he has been just terrible. 6.75 and 7.17 FIP in 32 IP; good for (-.8) WAR which is actually worse than Jim Johnson was for the A's. If you hated JJ, you should hate Hammel much more.
8.5 K9 and 1.9 W9 for the Cubs. 5.9 K9 and 4.8 W9 for the A's. Wins are vastly overrated but Hammel is 1-5 for the A's and the A's are 1-6 when he starts. Insult to injury, the A's were 9-1 their last ten games when the person he bumped off the roster (Tommy Milone) was starting.
Hammel is having his start skipped this week and I hope the A's can find it in their
heart computer to cut bait and start Drew Pomeranz ( who is tearing up AAA) the rest of the season. Personally I have seen enough and think this team will be better for it today if Jason is removed all together from the roster. There is little chance (please no) he would make a playoff roster.
The A's could try Hammel long a few times if they want before ultimately trading? ( Do we know if he passed waivers?) or DFA him. The A's waited (at least) one month too long with Jim Johnson and with the team now dropping to second place I see no reason to give Hammel anything but the shortest of leashes.
Traded: Addison Russell (fangraphs)
What the A's were giving away. A future star SS, maybe superstar, who after a very bad early injury looked like would set him back a year and be ready sometime in mid 2015 at the earliest. His defense was considered plus. Maybe he slows a step with the injury.
What has he done for AA Cubs (average park factor). He went on an immediate and sustained hot streak.
In A+ last year it took him about two months to figure it out only hitting at a .725 OPS in April/May but then a June/July/Aug OPS of 1.000. This year in AA he is at a .930 OPS in July/Aug which has been the bulk of his season. He isn't suppose to be this good just yet.
It's only been 40 games but in that time he has hit .308/.353/.577 with 9 2B and 11 HR. He is now hitting about 30 wRC+ points higher than he did last year in A+. He is doing it with his lowest BABIP in the minors yet; so if anything that line is unlucky. He is leading all AA shortstops and doing it as the youngest one. Not sure how his defense has been but he is probably still better than average if not the same. ( ZIP/Steamer projections had him at 2WAR with below average offense if he played for the A's all year).
Those are the kind of numbers that get a 20 y.o. (and that's 20 y.o. till next January 23rd! ) an early call up to the show if the MLB team has problems at SS/2B. Ding ding ding.
Eric Sogard, Andy Parrino, Nick Punto, and Alberto Callaspo are expected to collectively contribute O.1 WAR the rest of the way. Jed Lowrie may need a lot of time off and come back cold. That's not good enough. Addison Russell is probably better at "this" point in time today than one or more of the A's choices at those positions now.
We can cry SSS all we want but the A's couldn't say that with confidence about Russell just 6 weeks ago. Health is a factor as we are used to prospects being setback a year with major injury which made the trade acceptable at the time. I think that's now changed from say 25/75 unlikely he would be good enough today to 75/25 likely.
It is commonly known (or at least repeated enough that I believe it) that the hardest prospect jump is A+ ball to AA ball. Master that quickly and many teams won't make you stay in AAA long or at all. I would have absolutely called him up by August 31st if I were the A's at this point ( to maintain playoff eligibility) and the Cubs absolutely should on Sept 1st. Good luck to you Addison but please don't make me miss you just yet.
Traded: Billy Mckinney stats
What the A's were giving away. A prospect who was struggling a bit with a .241/.330/.400 line. He was one of the two youngest position players in all of A+ at 19 y.o. so that (about league average) line was actually much better than many people recognized.
Since the trade he has thrived to the tune of a .314/.400/.445 line raising his wRC+ 50 points higher (92 us vs 142 them ). Albeit with a very high BABIP and only one HR for the Cubs compared to ten HR for Stockton. Good for him but a final insult on the early results of this trade. I guess if Raul Alcantara was named the P.T.B.N.L. that would make it a quintuple hat trick of trade shame for me right now.
What does it all mean?
Does Beane make this trade today? No. The extra ingredients didn't mix right and his lost treasure became even rarer. Give the Cubs credit for selling high and maybe hitting two jackpots when the A's where selling low desperate for a ring.
Shark has been good at times and still a valuable addition to this team but not the pitcher Beane was trading for. Hammel has been an utter disaster negating any positive value Jeff has brought. A #4 starter and Jim Johnson is not worth pre hot streak injured Russell let alone post hot streak healthy Russell.
Russell may be better today than many, most or even all ( Jed Lowries 1.4 WAR isn't that high of a ceiling) of the SS/2B currently on the A's 40-man roster. It would have been really fun to find out. I greedily want to keep the good ones and trade the busts and there are only so many good ones.
The A's certainly had the need for more starting pitching but so far that trade has been four different sized pieces of black coal in Santa's trade stocking. I was for the trade and as a fan I still am glad Beane did everything in his power to improve this team because not improving the team wasn't acceptable.
He didn't know who else would be available and went for it. The effort was outstanding, the effects not so much. I absolutely want both Russell and Mckinney to do well, I just don't want them to do it THIS year when I'm still giving the other coal pile the major stink eye. It's adding insults to my psychological injury's.