In the past 48 hours the A’s have acquired the following players: Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Scott Kazmir, Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom. Also, do not forget about the signing of Nick Punto a week or two ago. In order to acquire some of these players they had to jettison Chris Bostick, Michael Choice, Seth Smith and Jemile Weeks.
After hearing about Gregerson, the last trade of the day (12.3.13), I was extremely excited about the acquisitions. In a short amount of time he created the second best bullpen in the majors (the Royals have the best) without sacrificing any major pieces to do so. This a bullpen built for the playoffs because they have four good-elite relievers with Johnson, Gregerson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook. I’ll admit Cook started to fade at the year of year as he couldn’t throw strikes and became very hittable. Obviously Beane wanted to have an insurance policy in case Cook doesn’t regain the magic he had the first 1.5 years in the majors. As we know the shelf life of a reliever is very short so it’s possible Beane doesn’t believe Cook can regain his old stuff. Another possibility is Cook has been overused the past two seasons and needs a lesser workload. Either way, Cook now slots in as the 6th-7th inning reliever instead of the 8th so even if he’s only 80 percent of what he used to be he’ll be one of the best 6th-7th inning relievers in the game. What’s the most interesting is the A’s are allotting 25-30 percent of their payroll their bullpen.
When I first saw the Gentry and Lindblom trade for Choice and Bostick I didn’t like the trade because I was expecting Choice to be a mainstay in left field / DH for the next four-five years. Choice has the raw power that wouldn’t be hindered by the O.co ballpark, draws a lot of walks and most importantly, would be cost controlled. In Gentry they get an insurance policy if Coco Crisp or Yoennis Cespedes were to get hurt because he’s a really good defender and can mash lefties. Basically he’s filling the Chris Young role, but with better defense.
I’m sure this is not the last deal Billy Beane is going to make because the A’s payroll is approximately $75-80 million, which is nearly twenty million dollars more than last year’s payroll. Obviously the biggest player whose likely to be traded is Brett Anderson, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk he’s gone. With Smith and Choice gone they do not have a traditional DH on the roster. However, they do have John Jaso, whose a below average defender, but has a career .364 OBP and would look really nice first or ninth in the batting order. Obviously Jason would have to be platooned because he cannot hit lefties. This is where Gentry comes in. Gentry could play the OF and give the other outfielders DH (specifically Crip and Cespedes) without missing a beat defensively or offensively. It would be a little odd to carry three catchers, but the A’s have never been afraid of out of the box thinking.
I’m very curious to see what happens with Alberto Callaspo and Eric Sogard at second base. The way the roster stands right now, one of them will likely be the odd man out. If money is an issue then Callaspo is the obvious choice because he is due to make nearly $5M dollars next year and could be attractive to other teams, the Royals for example. I’d prefer to have to Sogard back because he’s a plus defender with good range and is the perfect compliment to the poor defense Lowrie provides.
The bottom line is the A’s are pushing all their chips in for 2014 and 2015, which is very exciting because some teams are afraid to make such a move (Jon Daniels, the Rangers GM for example). If you’re an A’s fan, stay on your toes because Beane is probably not done yet and is one piece away from building a legitimate championship contender.