A’s trades could turn into something great

When Scott Kazmir was traded, there was a lot of hub-bub.

The move was expected by anyone who closely follows baseball. The A’s season is over. They’ve floundered in about every way possible, virtually no clutch hitting, a surprisingly shaky bullpen, and lots of errors.

The errors may have cost the A’s as many as 10 games, but a more realistic number would be five. Just enough to where Kazmir might still be in Oakland.

There’s been a lot of criticism at Billy Beane since. And it’s unwarranted. Take it from someone who was very critical of his offseason moves.

Once the shoes dropped over the winter, this was almost a sure thing. As talented as the A’s roster is, it’s a very young, very raw group of guys. And the flexibility isn’t there.

Oakland’s best player outside of Sonny Gray right now is probably the most hated by fans. Marcus Semien, who’s played in all but two of Oakland’s games this season, has 90 hits. That’s just two fewer than the team lead, a tie between Brett Lawrie and Billy Burns.

Burns, a rookie who has played in 70 games this season, could make a case as the A’s best player, but he’s still unproven as a hitter when you exclude infield singles.

Lawrie could be exceptional. But he does boneheaded stuff, like cross short when running down grounders, and swinging on 3-1 counts with the bases loaded — an almost certain walk if you pay attention to numbers from the last 30 years.

The A’s, as good as they could be if fully developed, weren’t going to win this year. And that’s probably a good thing.

Beane needed to complete what he started nine months ago. It’s imperative that he does. And for the return he got on Scott Kazmir, it’s tremendous.

Jacob Nottingham, the 20-year-old catcher currently in High-A, is believed to be a future All-Star. Keith Law gives him a 70 power grade, higher than any other catching prospect in baseball, including Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber, who MLB.com gave a 65 power grade. And that kid rakes.

Jim Bowden tweets that the consensus around executive offices is that the A’s did very well, and that Nottingham should be a number three or four hitter.

And in speaking with the media after the deal, Houston general manager Jeff Lunhow said that even some of his staff thought they were giving up too much, the sentiment focused on Nottingham.

One highly respectable Bay Area sports columnist considered it a raw deal. He believes that the A’s could have received one of the top Triple-A prospects in all of baseball. Or something like that.

He calls for a big impact player. But there’s no way any team would deal a Mike Trout or young Barry Bonds in AAA. Not a chance. For anyone in baseball.

Barry Bonds was actually traded when he was very young, starting his career with the Pirates before moving to San Francisco. Baseball doesn’t work like that anymore, and it’s clearly shown when teams place qualifying offers on players and that player receives no bites.

General managers value draft picks, especially that high, like the cookie monster values chocolate chips, eggs and flour.

Because that’s the only realistic way you can land a guy like Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw beyond A-ball. Beane might have landed something similar, and in a premium position.

He deserves a round of applause. Not criticism.

And the sale should continue. That includes catcher Stephen Vogt, who is under team control until he’s 35, and is still pre-arbitration eligible. Josh Reddick, too.

Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard are two obvious names, and could bring in a massive haul relative to their age. Sam Fuld, the whole lot.

Why not? Everyone except for Gray, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn and Marcus Semien should be dealt.

Beane needs to finish what he started last offseason. He owes it to the fans, and he’s proven that he possesses the acumen for such maneuvers.

He could bring in the next Mike Trout. And it’s important to point out that the A’s have some exceptional talent in Stockton and Midland, two affiliates just below Triple-A.

They have little to work with in Nashville, but are getting loaded in the mid-minors. That’s a big deal.

The A’s, in a year or two, could look like the Cubs and Astros, maybe a little better. They’re on the cusp of building something great. Beane, despite the gamble of moving Josh Donaldson, is making something here.

It’s hard not to like Graveman, and even though he’s not putting up much for numbers as of late, Semien has grinded as hard as he can in order to get better.

If he improves his defense a little more, the A’s will need to give pause on their plans for Franklin Barretto, who’s playing in Stockton now and should move to Double-A soon enough.

In a few years, the A’s should be a title contender. And a few years after that, it’ll be on their shrewd ownership to keep the bunch around. But given the talent there, and the endless possibilities, that should be an easy call, even for Lew Wolff and John Fisher, the fake panhandlers who talk the game of poor men, but turn to answer their brand new smartphone.


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