The Oakland Athletics were the ultimate depiction of aggressive this trade deadline, making several, high profile trades, with reckless abandon for the future. They shipped away top prospect, Addison Russell and home-run-derby-winning slugger, Yoenis Cespedes among others in order to receive three of the highest rated pitchers available in the trade market: Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester. But – do these blockbuster trades make the A’s as bulletproof as people think?
Naturally, Oakland fans optimism reached fever pitch when they moved to add three aces to their rotation – the rotation which already boasted the best ERA in baseball at the time. They sent rookie phenomenon Russell, pitcher Dan Straily and their top pick from this years draft; Billy McKinney to Chicago for Hammel and Samardzija to fortify their rotation, long before the trade deadline. But they weren’t done just yet.
On the July-31st-non-waiver-trade-deadline, Billy Beane made another bold statement, trading for Lester of the Boston Red Sox. Beane and the A’s sent Cespedes to Boston, and in return received a bona fide ace in Lester, and a left field replacement in Jonny Gomes. After the two huge trades, Oakland now possess a rather scary rotation of: Lester, Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Hammel and Scott Kazmir. Looks pretty bulletproof.
Critics lavished the A’s with unending praise for Beanes desire to win a World Series, and the bold moves he made, which, according to most, were destine to bring a World Series to Oakland. However, while the trades look rather perfect, there are several rather big problems the A’s still face.
Firstly and foremostly; the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are the reason the A’s haven’t won a World Series the past two seasons, knocking out Oakland in the ALDS two seasons in a row. Beane made the first trade for Samardzija and Hammel immediately after having been swept by Detroit, which was a clear indication that Oakland were not prepared to lose to Detroit in the postseason, again.
Adding three aces looks like a sure way to ensure that Oakland can pitch their way past Detroit, providing the two meet again, but with Detroit having been equally aggressive, adding David Price, the two teams are now even in terms of pitching quality. The A’s rotation isn’t as bulletproof as many people think.
Another flaw with the trade: Did the Athletics really need quality? Surely quantity – in terms of innings – was a much higher priority? I mean, Oakland had the best team ERA in baseball, quality wasn’t a necessity. Given the sheer brilliance of the rotation they now boast, they will likely be lights out for some time, but just how lights out will they be come the dog days, or deep into October?
Kazmir, Gray and Hammel have never pitched 200 innings in their career, in fact, neither three have ever even been close to the 200 mark. Samardzija, on the other hand, did reach 200 innings last year, but he has typically faded in the second half of the season. A rotation which may be dominant now, has a very high chance of fading in the dog days, and an even higher chance of fading in the postseason.
I do love the Lester addition. Lester is a bona fide ace. He is the only one, of the five man rotation, that will, undeniably, stay sharp right through the dog days of September, and deep into October, but can Lester alone carry what is set to be a very tired rotation?
The A’s rotation isn’t as bulletproof as people think.
Tags: Oakland Athletics