The Trade Deadline And The A’s Self-Mutilation

July 31

                After I graduated from college I was lucky enough to take a ten-day trip to Hawaii which included an awesome scuba diving expedition off the Kona Coast, one of the best areas for diving in the world.  The water was clear and we saw a million brightly-colored fish.  At one point the guide yanked a sea urchin off the ocean floor, and we watched dozens of fish come from out of nowhere to feed on it.  Within seconds the urchin was vapor.

                The Oakland A’s are the sea urchin, and the rest of major league baseball represents the fish.  Billy Beane is the guide who yanked the urchin from the ocean floor.  Now A’s fans are pulling up stakes, and the A’s might be next.

                The Sellin’ A’s today unloaded shortstop Orlando Cabrera for the Minnesota Twins’ 33rd best prospect, Tyler Ladendorf.  It was a remarkably small return for a player who could help the Twins get into the postseason.  It represents the last needle on the urchin, and it happened as the non-waiver trade deadline passed.

                The A’s will cast their lot with Cliff Pennington, and maybe Bobby Crosby at times, at short.  They are a minor league team charging major league prices, and A’s fans know what’s up.  You’ll see the contrast tonight when, as the Giants host the World Champions before a nearly full house in San Francisco, a smattering of fans will show up across the Bay to watch the  A’s, and to watch Roy Halladay not being traded.

               Cabrera is hardly a Hanley Ramirez, and his contract was up at the end of the season anyway.  Like Matt Holliday, the A’s were hoping he’d make the A’s a surprise contender and if not, they were going to dump him.  But given the transitory state of the team, fans have nothing to grasp onto but the four winds, and they aren’t buying the team’s poverty plea anymore.   Coliseum turnstiles are being used more by players than by fans.

                Billy Beane has harvested tons of prospects for established players, a great idea if you’re actually planning to  keep those prospects, or if the prospects are actually good.  His track record hasn’t been great lately and the A’s have been driven into Relegation mode.  Billy is a soccer guy, he’ll know what that means.  

               The A’s have some decent young pitching, but what’s the end game here?  Do the A’s think they’ll have a team that’s ready to win in, say, 2013– in time for a fictitious  new stadium?  Are the Fishers and Lew Wolff just cheap, or are they planning the midnight moving van out of town?  All these maneuvers make you wonder. 

               Critics of KNBR always say the “Sports Leader” ignores the A’s, or when we don’t, we ridicule the team.  KNBR doesn’t need to do that — the A’s are doing a fine job on their own.  It’s actually better for our station when both teams are winning as excitement about baseball leaks into September.  I like the A’s, and it is sad what has happened to a once-great franchise.

               Should the Giants have made a run at Cabrera?  Edgar Renteria’s elbow is sore and he’ll need an operation at the end of the season, the A’s were sending cash along with Cabrera, and his family likes the Bay Area so he could have been re-signed.  It sounds like the Giants wouldn’t have to give up much more than a mid-level prospect for him, even from Billy Beane.  Just a thought.

              ( Oops, Toxic Clubhouse Alert.  I understand Renteria and Cabrera. both from Colombia, really don’t like each other, some kind of personal business dispute regarding a baseball league back home.  )

               So the trade deadline has passed, and August is just hours away.  Now teams can claim, or deal for players who clear waivers.  For the Giants the plot thickens and for the A’s, the crowds get thinner.

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