Billy Beane shipped out his best starter in Gio Gonzalez yesterday to the Washington Nationals for four prospects. Now Oakland can likely rely on selling more tickets in their AA affiliate to supplement the terrible product on the field at the MLB-level for 2012.
The A’s are keeping their heads barely above water while they wait for a new stadium and new income streams. Billy Beane and the Oakland organization are screaming for attention from Bud Selig, pressing the issue to get this move done ASAP. In the meantime, they’re reducing their payroll to the bare bones and attempting to not damage the franchise in the meantime. It’s a challenging position to be in, but likely necessary for Oakland’s long-term plan.
The reality is that this type of location change and new stadium build will take years to complete. In the meantime the economy is in tough shape, the A’s aren’t drawing fans, an their payroll certainly isn’t going up. They’ve had a well publicized philosophy of adding players whom other clubs undervalue, and the trade of Gio is just another example of this. So let’s take a look at what Oakland gets in return for their best (remaining) starting pitcher:
*Note: For players I have yet to personally watch I will use the analysis from another source. Players I have seen play I will use my own analysis.
RHP A.J. Cole
Cole has the potential for a very good pitcher’s frame (6’4” 180 lbs). His fastball reaches the mid-90s already and there may be more in the tank. His secondary pitches include a potentially-plus curveball and developing changeup… Cole has the chance to be a No. 1 or 2 starter if everything breaks right for him – and his changeup improves. He may even add a few ticks to his fastball if he continues to add muscle to his slender frame.
With the addition of a pitcher in Cole’s value, Oakland has now put their future hopes on Cole, Jarrod Parker who was recently acquired in the Trevor Cahill trade, and Sonny Gray. Gray may have the biggest upside of the three but also likely has the biggest risk judging by his frame and effort level. Oakland swapped out a ground ball pitcher and a wild lefty for two right-handed power arms with high ceiling and alternatively a high risk as well. If all three of these players reach their potential, Oakland will be a major contendor. If only two, they’ll likely compete and be a tough team to beat. If only one surfaces to his ultimate potential, then they will be in trouble because beyond these three Oakland is relatively thin in high ceiling talent.
RHP Brad Peacock
Peacock is getting mixed reviews among writers and scouts but I am a fan. I saw him in both a relief role and a starting role in 2011 and am a believer that he can start and be effective in the role. Peacock holds his velocity, sitting 90-94 as a starter with some good life on the ball and a little tail. His curve has decent depth but he needs to command it a bit better in order to be less flyball prone. His change is a work in progress but if he can learn to command the pitch he’ll likely be very serviceable and I can see him having success in 2012. ESPN’s Keith Law provides a different analysis of Peacock below:
Peacock, 23, is a 6-foot right-hander with a lot of effort in his delivery, but he brings the heat with above-average velocity as a starter that would be plus out of the pen. His curve and change are both fringy, and between the effort in his delivery and lack of plane on his fastball (making him fly ball-prone), I think he’s best suited for the pen.
The A’s also got catcher Derek Norris and LHP Tom Milone. Norris was once highly thought of, but his development hasn’t gone as planned. I see him as a backup catcher with the possibility to get regular playing time if he picks back up where he left off in 2010. Milone is a command lefty without much upside. He may be used in a specialist role at the MLB level but likely will not be an impact much like Norris.
I am in the full belief that the best way to evaluate a trade is to take into consideration what information and circumstances were available when the trade was made, not 2 years down the road to look back on results. If I were in the Nationals front office I would be thrilled and consider this deal a victory. Guys with Gonzalez’s stuff from the left side don’t come often. His walk rate is elevated, but that will be less of an issue in the NL than it is in the AL. He has big stuff and strikeout ability that will fit nicely in between Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
What do Oakland fans have to look forward to? Seeing what Kurt Suzuki brings you back, because it’s almost a guarantee that he will be moved as well. Unfortunately for A’s fans, they probably won’t even get a chance to see this young talent in their primes unless they move along with the team to bigger and better things, and places.
Bill King is a graduate of Bridgewater State University where he majored in Journalism and Public Relations. He can be found working in the marketing and advertising industry out of Providence, RI. He is a columnist at Seedlings to Stars, part of the FanSided network. He also founded MLB-Perspectives, a blog dedicated to general MLB news and analysis. Bill was a finalist for CBS Boston’s 2011 Most Valuable Blogger, and can be found on twitter @MLBPerspectives