February 5, 2013 by Matt Musico
It’s very rare that you see the Oakland Athletics make trades that include them sending away impact prospects in order to acquire Major League talent. However, that’s exactly what we saw happen yesterday evening, as Billy Beane decided to trade away Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez.
Coming off being the surprise winner of the American League West Division, Beane and his front office executives feel they can compete with both the Angels and Rangers right now, and wanted to put the gas pedal to the floor with the momentum in their favor. Usually, it’s the A’s that end up having to dump salary because they either can’t afford players, or they know they won’t able to in the near future (i.e. Matt Holliday, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, to name a few).
This winter, we’ve seen a different organization; finding the most inexpensive option is still important, but they’ve been willing to send away some impact prospects to get what they feel will put them over the hump in 2013. We saw it happen with the three-way trade including Mike Morse that netted them catcher John Jaso, as well as the November trade for Chris Young.
Beane was rumored to be interested in re-signing Stephen Drew to a one-year deal after trading away Cliff Pennington, but he ultimately signed with the Red Sox for $9.5 million. So, once he found out that Astros GM Jeff Lunhow was in search of power in exchange for Lowrie, he obliged to get what he wanted. Why would he give up highly touted prospects for what looks to be an adequate MLB shortstop? Beane sees Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Chris Young as the primary power threats for the foreseeable future, and with shortstop being the only remaining question mark heading into Spring Training, he felt it was worth the risk.
It will be interesting to see if Bob Melvin is able to get the same production out of his players in 2013 as he did in 2012, and with the additions made, specifically to the outfield with Young, I think they will continue to be successful, as long as their young pitching holds up.
A chance is being taken with Lowrie, as he hasn’t played more than the 97 games in a season during his five-year career, but it’s clear to see where the upside is. He put together his most complete year with the Astros in 2012, hitting .244/.331/.438 with 16 homers and 42 RBI, and is heading into his age-29 season. His HR total is the most since 2009 and the first time he’s reached double digits. Also, his OBP is back on an upward trend thanks to almost doubling his walk total from two years ago (23 in ’11 to 43 in ’12) in almost the same amount of at-bats (309 in ’11, 340 in ’12). So, if anything else, he can get on base for the big boppers in the middle of their lineup.
The A’s have always walked to the beat of their own drum, and this winter is no different, as they’ve made the moves necessary in their eyes to fortify them for another run at the postseason. We’ll soon find out if it works or not, but you can’t say Beane hasn’t been creative in his efforts.
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