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The Off-season Of Unknowingness Is Upon Us

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MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves
“Tell ‘em, me!”
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 3-dot lounge where the A’s currently can only, unfortunately, afford 2 of the dots. In our fun zone we are now offering a 2 x 2 tic tac toe game and our famous one-sided Rubix cube. Also please stay limber as you may be asked to pitch the top of the 7th. Some stray thoughts in search of a loving home...(Yup, I paid for the extra dot out of my own pocket)

* How are teams supposed to prepare for the 2022 season absent a Collective Bargaining Agreement that could determine new salary caps, salary floors, service time, arbitration and compensation rules, and whether or not the 2022 season even begins on time? It reminds me of the private high school admission process, in which high schools award places ahead of financial aid awards, and essentially ask families, “We can’t tell you how much it will cost you yet, but do you want to come?” The off-season will be a lot of carts awaiting word on a lot of horses.

* Possible candidates for the A’s managerial position include Ryan Christenson, who should be eliminated because too many fans will misspell his name, Mark Kotsay, and Ron Washington. I have heard fans try to rule out Wash by pointing out that if he takes the job at the start of a 3-year rebuild, by the time the A’s are competitive again he will be 73. What I’m wondering is, if Wash doesn’t take the job then by the time the A’s are competitive again how old will he be? Probably 73, right?

* The A’s haven’t even traded anyone away yet, but if you’re already fretting about the team being non-competitive in 2022 — and let’s face it, who isn’t? — here’s a reminder that you can hit on a bunch of surprisingly good players, at bargain prices, through great scouting or exceptional luck.

Any team could have picked up Lamonte Wade Jr. (.253/.326/.482, 117 wRC+, 1.6 WAR) and Darin Ruf (.271/.385/.519, 144 wRC+, 2.5 WAR) at the 99¢ store or scoured the dumpster behind the dumpster behind Target to secure a bullpen of Casey Sadler (40.1 IP, 0.67 ERA), Paul Sewald (64.2 IP, 42 hits, 104 K), and Drew Steckenrider (67.2 IP, 2.00 ERA). Those 5 players earned less than $5M combined in 2021.

Hence the re-signing of the high-upside Dany Jimenez, perhaps the first of several moves to bring in talented players with little enough track record and/or success to make 29 other teams shrug their collective shoulders. After all, Ramon Laureano was available due to a 40-man roster crunch all for the price of a Brandon Bailey.

Also, remember that trades don’t always take years to pay off. Oakland has a history of dealing established starting pitchers for “major league ready” prospects who can take over in the rotation. Mark Mulder was dealt for Danny Haren and it’s easy to forget that Dan Meyer, the centerpiece in the Tim Hudson trade, was rated as highly as Haren — had Meyer stayed healthy the Hudson trade would look very good. And Trevor Cahill begat Jarrod Parker, who contributed immediately to a 2012 A’s playoff team not expected to compete.

So who has any idea what this off-season has in store, or under what CBA rules it will even take place? Welcome to the great unknown.