Something was bound to get me to write a blog post this season. It wasn’t going to be the fact that the A’s own baseball’s best record or the best run differential by a large margin halfway through the season. No, it had to be one of those Billy Beane “*%$#ing A” trades, and we got that one last night when the A’s parted with seemingly untouchable prospect Addison Russell, last year’s first rounder Billy McKinney and Dan Straily to get Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The best team in baseball got better, but will it be worth it?
There’s no way to tell when it’s July and there’s lots of baseball to be played between now and October. But the A’s were running into a potential disaster relying on some of the arms that have gotten them to this point in the season. Sonny Gray is sure to pitch a career high in innings. Same goes for Jesse Chavez, who has been a reliever most of his career. Scott Kazmir has had injury issues, was out of baseball completely two years ago, and hasn’t thrown 200 innings since 2007. There are just too many question marks, and even if all three of these guys are capable of holding up and pitching well into October, there is one thing in baseball that there’s no such thing as and that’s having too many good players.
So they add two veteran arms who are having really good seasons, surrendering two former first rounders and last season’s ALDS Game 4 starter. Samardzija has a 2.83 ERA and a 3.07 FIP through 17 starts, while Hammel has a 2.98 ERA and 3.18 FIP through the same number of starts. How that is going to translate to the American League remains to be seen, but I’m sure neither guy is complaining about going to the pitcher’s paradise that is Oakland. Hammel is a rental as his contract expires after this season, while Samardzija is under team control through 2015. That puts him within the window that the A’s have on Yoenis Cespedes, and before guys like Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss get expensive, so there’s your competitive window – two years.
It’s likely this trade will be talked about for more than just the next two years, however, if Russell pans out like everyone expects him to. Whether they’re saying good things or bad things about the A’s depends on if Billy Beane finally wins the last game of the season. World Series or bust, here we go.