Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Joey Brownlee - A's trading for Holliday is a mistake

Billy Beane was right in rebuilding the farm system last offseason. However, he is wrong for this time around.

The Colorado Rockies have agreed in principle to trade all-star outfielder Matt Holliday to Oakland for pitchers Greg Smith, Huston Street and promising outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Holliday will turn 29 in January and is looking for a huge contract. And no better man to negotiate that than, Scott Boras. He’s the best big-money agent in baseball who will no doubt use Alfonso Soriano’s as a starting point in negotiations.

The Cubs signed the converted second baseman to an astounding 8-year, 136 million contract, during the 2006 offseason. Soriano, 32, is atrocious defensively, isn’t the RBI man Holliday is, and certainly doesn’t produced like a 17-million dollar player.

Power hitters will hit for power no matter where they play. 38-year old Frank Thomas, coming of two injury-marred seasons, hit 23 hrs in 2006 at the Coliseum.

Giambi, Tejada, Chavez, Cust and Dye never had trouble going yard at the coliseum. It's the marginal players you worry about; Suzuki, Crosby, Cunningham and Sweeney.

I don’t foresee any formidable decline in Holliday’s power production. He’s a man on a mission to get paid.

If he's as advertised, then where do talks with Holliday begin? Never has he hit below .290 in a season (four straight over .307), is a proven clean-up hitter and performed better than Soriano in postseason play. 8 years and 180 million?; Oakland couldn’t match New York ’s offer to Jason Giambi in Dec. 01 of 7-years and 120 million. So...what's changed since then?

Nothing’s changed since then. Fans have not supported the team, leaving Oakland to retain its small-market tag. They’ll be waving good-bye to Holliday during the trading deadline or in Nov. 09.

It’s your basic one-year rental. Just like Johnny Damon, Ray Durham and Jose Guillen were.

But this will pale in comparison to what this team is giving up. Only one player –Aaron Harang- in those deals produced. All three will in this one.

Parting with Street and Greg Smith is acceptable because highly-touted relievers Andrew Carignan and Henry Rodriguez are emerging; starting pitchers Brett Anderson, Vin Mazzaro, Trevor Cahill and James Simmons have bigger upside than Smith.

What you worry about is trading the best prospect on the team: Carlos Gonzalez. He's the kind of player that makes people think they can play baseball.

What do I mean by that? Well, he makes the game look so easy, and is so imperturbable under duress, that a pathetic athlete like me believes they have a chance to make the big leagues.

While he struggled at times last season, he clearly demonstrated tools superlative than anyone in the A's outfield. Ryan Sweeney is a decent player, but got by with a lot of broke n-bat hits and is injury prone. Nobody in Oakland has seen the caliber of prospect Gonzalez since Reggie Jackson.

He’s the combination of speed, power, defense, arm and ability to hit for average that scouts adore. Giving up six years of him for one of Holiday should get someone fired.

The kid is just 23 and will be 29 when he can become an unrestricted free agent. Holiday will be 38 and declining. Gonzalez will still have some prime years worth investing in, Holiday won’t.

This trade weakens the outfield as well. You are replacing an already above-average center fielder with an ordinary outfielder in Ryan Sweeney. He’s not Jack Cust out there with a cast-iron pan for a glove, but he’s better suited for a corner spot.

These are the kind of deals you make on the brink of World Series contention, not playoff mediocrity. You don’t waste 13-years of service time (before all three become free agents) for one-year of Matt Holliday.

Colorado strolls into Oakland on June 26-28. Gonzalez will be there; Holliday…mite.

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