The Jays are on a roll. This might an understatement. They are on absolute fire. Everything on this team is clicking right now. When you have Ryan Goins belting three-run homeruns in key times you know things are going just a little too smoothly. Up and down this lineup everything is firing on all cylinders. You know at some point that this has to slow down. They have holes on this team that will hopefully be filled before the gravy train of runs out of steam.
What do the Jays require to make a real run at a division title? They need a top level starter, a closer, and a utility player. Reyes is injury prone. Bautista still doesn’t look right throwing. Colabello is a sore spot in the field. There is a team in the American League that have all of these things, and could be selling at the deadline. The Oakland A’s.
Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard, and Ben Zobrist all in the final year of their contracts. The A’s are a miserable 13 games under .500 and could be looking to deal. Kazmir would instantly become the Jays ace. He has been extremely reliable over his time in Oakland, and can match-up with any pitcher in the AL East currently. Clippard is a solid closer. He throws strikes, and has had a history of closing over the past two years in Oakland and Washington. Zobrist is an ultimate utility player. He can play nearly every position on the field. Having a high on-base percentage and can hit in every part of the lineup. Best part about it. You don’t have to take on that much salary. Reasonable contracts without any term.
What do the Jays have to give up? Well, these are three valuable pieces. This would be a costly trade. It wouldn’t cost them Stroman or Sanchez. But it might cost them Norris, Pompey, and Hoffman. I know that’s a huge return. But look at last year’s deadline and what yielded Lester, Price, and Samardzija? Addison Russell was one of the top prospects in baseball. Drew Smyly is going to be a top of the rotation pitcher, and Yoenis Cespedes was a proven all-star. This is an awful lot to give up though. Especially if they end up not making the playoffs. What’s the alternative though? Aaron Harang from Philadelphia? Kyle Lohse from Milwaukee? How much better are these guys then what you already have? Then there are Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto. They would cost the Jays two to three top prospects on their own.
Say this trade does go down and they end up losing all three players to free agency. What do they receive? The Jays would receive compensatory picks. It could be 3 first round picks. Or 2 first round picks, and a second. Regardless, it’s not all for nothing if you don’t make the playoffs. Is this worth the investment? Hoffman could be a potential ace. Pompey a starting outfielder, and Norris a middle of the rotation guy. I am not sure if I would make this deal. But it’s what it would take to get those 3 players out of Oakland. With so many teams having a shot at post season play it becomes more and more difficult to find rental players. Which is why they have become so expensive. The one thing that I do know is that Scott Kazmir versus David Price sounds a lot more appetizing than Drew Hutchison versus David Price as a Jays fan.
As you look up and down at the Oakland A’s lineup year after year it really has a resemblance to the movie Major League. “Who are these fu***** guys?” Every year Billy Beane gets players off of the scrap heap from other teams. He deals his proven stars for unproven prospects. He signs players coming off down years to cheap contracts. Beane is a mastermind. We have seen it in the movie Moneyball, and we see it year after year. The A’s always seem to be in the running for the division or the wild card.
Beane has always been an against the grain kind of guy. You have seen multiple teams steal his Moneyball on-base percentage idea. Billy had to evolve again. Dealing proven stars that have a couple of years left on their contract for highly touted prospects. Finding players that fit his mold that he can sign to cheap deals. Signing players from other countries to below market prices. Last year Beane thought they had a chance to win it all. He went out and paid a fortune for two aces to come in and try to be the last piece of the puzzle. Then the hitting went dry. Lester had one bad inning and *poof* the season was gone.
Again this past off-season Billy had to change things up. He had rolled out a very similar lineup three years in a row and couldn’t get it done. Whole sale changes came. Lester, Samardzija, Moss, Donaldson, and Norris are gone. In are Lawrie, Graveman, Zobrist, Semien, and Butler. Younger cheaper talent. This is the way that the A’s have to do things. Always have to be a step ahead of every other team. The A’s are off to a sluggish start this year. This is to be expected with the whirlwind of moves that he made. I have a feeling that the A’s are going to compete this year once all the pieces are in place. You have one of the best hitting catchers in Steven Vogt (who they received for a player to be named later.) Josh Reddick is a 5 tool player that is just starting to hit his groove (received from the Red Sox for Andrew Bailey.) Jesse Chavez is a reliable back end starter (received from the Jays for cash.) Drew Pomeranz is a middle of the rotation former top prospect (received from the Rockies for Brett Anderson.) They are close to getting back Jarrod Parker and AJ Griffin. All of these players come in and thrived in the A’s system.
It’s really difficult to describe Beane’s style. I would relate it to a bargain shopper or a stock market player. Buy low and sell high seems to be easiest way to describe Beane’s way of doing things. Generally with teams that don’t have all that much in revenue that they will have a decade of down years while they retool with young cheap talent. The A’s compete year in and year out with a misfit crew. Every year Billy attempts to find that lightning in a bottle that will get him that elusive World Series ring. Tinkering, overhauling, and recycling the roster. One of these years it’s going to be Billy’s year. They have some of the pieces in place. Gray is an ace. They have always had a fantastic pitching staff, but never a pitcher that could go up against David Price or Felix Hernandez. Now they have that. It looks like they have a future all-star in Semien. Lawrie at 3B hasn’t even come close to hitting his peak. It hasn’t come together yet, but I don’t think it’s far off.
The A’s might not make the playoffs this year. They might be a year or two away. The prospect cupboard is full once again after all the dealings in the off-season. It’s just another year for Billy Beane trying to find that right formula that will get him to legendary status.