Posted By Jeff Fletcher on December 22, 2011 3:27 pm
It’s pretty easy to see that the A’s are unloading players like mad. They’ve already traded their top two starting pitchers from last year, and their closer may be gone by the time I’m done typing this.
Yes, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey are the only A’s to be All-Stars over the past three years, and all three may be gone by New Year’s Day.
But I think this is a good thing, in the long run.
See, the only way to have a very good, affordable, team that can stay good for a few years is to have a lot of good young players all at the same place in their careers. That’s why the A’s were so good in 2000-2003, despite what Hollywood would have you believe. It’s because Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Chavez and Tejada were all young and good at the same time.
What you don’t want to do, if you’re on a tight budget, is have a trickle of young players coming up one or two at a time. That’s fine if you’re the Yankees, but if you’re the A’s or any other small market team, all it means that the individual players are going to be getting expensive before you get the benefit of having them all together.
What the A’s are doing now is trying to line it all up again, just like they did a decade ago. With these trades, they’ve picked up a bunch of prospects who are all at about the same spot. Most of these guys played Double-A or Triple-A last year, with several of them briefly reaching the majors. That means that most of them ought to be doing something in the majors in 2012, and beginning to establish themselves as whatever they are going to be in 2013 and 2014.
They’ll start to hit arbitration around 2015, and by then, the A’s are hoping they’ll have a new ballpark. (We ought to know more on that in a few weeks.) If they don’t get the ballpark, then all of this has been a waste of time, because they’ll just have to trade these guys too.