by Kim Thomson, Contributing Writer and Loyal A’s Fan
Mona Lisa smiles. Bill Gates earns. Billy Beane trades. There are very few guarantees in life, but come midsummer you can set your clock by the latter.
To be fair, Billy trades because he has to. Oakland A’s ownership — Lew Wolff and the lesser-known John Fisher — gives him very little capital with which to work. Because of this he is forced to manufacture trades with an eye always toward the future. The A’s play for tomorrow, not today. The mentality is trade away guys who are playing well, the expensive veterans, for 10 younger, cheaper guys who may or may not pan out.
This is the interminable cycle the A’s are doomed to repeat as long as Wolff and Fisher act as though Oakland is a small-market team. Fisher, the principal owner, happens to be the 634th wealthiest man in the world, according to Forbes.com, so capital clearly isn’t the issue.
Given these circumstances, Beane has no choice but to effect roster changes that keep the team within the confines of mediocrity. So come the trade deadline, there’s no question certain guys will be on the block. Here are four candidates.
The longtime catcher is set to make $6.45 million next year. That simply won’t do. Not as long as Derek Norris is hanging around. Norris came over in the Gio Gonzalez trade last winter and has played well this year in Sacramento. He was brought up a week ago and has since caught four games, throwing in a walkoff home run in Sunday’s game against the Giants. Granted, Zuke could use the rest, but Norris is being groomed for the role so Beane can listen to offers. One of those offers could come from the Rays. Suzuki’s stats aren’t great and his value has dipped substantially, but he is still better than any guy the Rays have coming up, according to Rayscoloredglasses.com. And Beane would love to dump the $6 million contract.
He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year for one. And while Brandon McCarthy would be a nice extension candidate for the A’s if he weren’t injury-prone, according to MLB’s Jane Lee, he’d also be the perfect pickup option for a contending team. That contending team could be just across the bay. The Giants had scouts attend McCarthy’s outing against the Dodgers June 19, according to Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. And it was a good night for McCarthy to be watched. In seven innings, he gave up no runs, allowed only two hits while striking out five. But only if the Giants make Beane the right offer and IF he can stay healthy.
This trade will be two-sided. Oakland could lighten its payroll load by yet another $6 million and Crisp would be happy to leave. He himself admitted back in March that he probably wouldn’t have signed with the A’s had he known they were going to offer his position to newcomer Yoenis Cespedes. As of late, Crisp and Cespedes have been playing musical positions; either Crisp is out of the lineup completely with Cespedes at center or Crisp patrols center while Cedpedes is DH. Earlier in the season, the Red Sox had expressed some interest in reacquiring Coco. Their current center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was just sent to Florida for rehab, so depending on his recovery the Sox may pursue their beloved Coco.
Bartolo is one of those aforementioned veterans that the A’s are likely to trade. Baseball Prospectus has the A’s at a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs, so why not toss him to a playoff contender and make some money? Or do what the A’s do best: procure guys that could be good next year. Manager Bob Melvin describes Colon as a power pitcher, hitting speeds as high as 95 mph, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com. And he pitched eight innings of a shutout against the Rangers on June 6. Despite his recent oblique injury, Colon is having a darn good year and could be a respectable bargaining chip.