It's that time of year when fans who began the season dreaming of Zobrist and Gray now turn their musings to Chapman and Pinder and Olson and Ravelo and Nuñez and Nottingham and Mengden. Fine, this team is 44-55 and sinking like a good Graveman pitch but the future has some brightness to it -- especially if the next week brings back the right pieces for the coming seasons.
With regard to trading Ben Zobrist, it's not "if" but rather "when," and "when" is sometime in the next 6 days. Some fans are edgy, wondering if the A's will wait too long, or not long enough, to find the exact right moment to make the exact right deal.
I feel like with the Zobrist trade, Billy Beane is in his element. In contrast to the trade of Scott Kazmir, where the A's acted early and made Kazmir the first front line SP dealt, with Zobrist the A's are dealing from a position of greater strength. The word on the street is that with pitchers, this trading season is a "buyer's market" whereas with hitters it is a "seller's market". Pundits have generally praised the A's for acting more quickly with Kazmir, noting that the value of SPs figures only to diminish as the week progresses.
In contrast, for Zobrist's services there is a legitimate bidding war and I believe that when he is trading the right player for the right reasons, Beane is second to none at extracting the best value possible by moving at the most opportune time. The A's know how to read the market, in real time, and not every organization has that skill.
You can quibble with the decisions to move Yoenis Cespedes when the A's did, or the willingness to part with Addison Russell to "go for it," or the judgment to move Josh Donaldson so early in his contract, but in these cases the question was whether the player should be moved at all. Similar arguments can be raised right now with regard to Josh Reddick, Jesse Chavez, or others who may have trade value but also have value to future A's teams.
However, with Kazmir and Zobrist and Clippard, as the A's play their 100th game in search of just their 45th win, these impending free agents are clearly players the A's need to trade this week and it is just a question of to which team, on which day, for what return?
When Beane is holding the chips and leveraging teams to secure what he feels is the best deal for the A's, never am I more trusting of the A's front office. I don't know when is the right time to act, nor will I probably know the prospects we get back as well as I had imagined, but I am fully confident in Beane's ability to maximize these kinds of opportunities.
And I am fully ready for a surprise, so much so that it won't surprise me. Being a fan means you ponder Aaron Judge and Michael Conforto, but in the end you are scrambling to learn about Kendall Graveman, Josh Phegley, Rangel Ravelo, and Jacob Nottingham. Just because you haven't heard of them, or heard much about them, doesn't mean they aren't great.
We will see, but I'll bet the names in the Zobrist deal will surprise me, yet I also bet the A's will read the market properly and bring back a worthy haul made on the right day, at the right time, for the right reasons. Quibble all you want with the choices the A's have made over the past 12 months, but would you want any other front office calling the shots this week while holding a Royal Zobrist in a seller's market for hitters?