The biggest shock, to me, is that the A's are in the market at all. After trading away Dan Haren and Joe Blanton last year, it seemed pretty clear that they were aiming to rebuild in 2009. What has changed since then to make them think they can contend in 2009? As far as I can tell, nothing. The A's had the worst offense in the AL last year. With Holliday, whoopee, they can move up to 10th or 11th. Now everyone's talking about them getting even better, perhaps going after a free agent or two.
I'm skeptical that the A's can climb out of their hole beyond getting one year of Holliday, and I'm critical of the fact that they've changed plans seemingly so recklessly. The A's have a LOT of holes in their lineup. There's room for improvement next year, sure; even if they don't add people, it'd be hard for them to get much worse. Pitching-wise, they've got some promising young talent, but they're not ready to pitch a team into contention. The A's are NOT contenders with Holliday, unless the Angels collapse and win just 85 games. It's possible that the A's could add some more pieces and become contenders, but if that's what they want, why didn't they keep Blanton and/or Haren? With those two on board, adding Holliday and another hitter would certainly put the A's into contention. I guess I'm just really uncomfortable with flying by the seat of your pants, especially if that takes you from A to Z in just one year.
As for the Rockies, they got a pretty good haul in the deal, but it mostly depends on what happens with Carlos Gonzalez. Greg Smith is a back-of-the-rotation starter with a good pickoff move. Huston Street is a good closer, but who knows how he'll fare at Coors. Now both of those things are not without value, but the steal here is Gonzalez, who has the potential to become a breakout star. And it's that word "potential" that's gotten him traded twice in two years. He has a lot of it, but hasn't done a good job of capitalizing on it. He's getting older now and some people wonder if he doesn't have an attitude problem. His outlook is brighter in Coors, as it for any hitter. And there's nobody really blocking him from the majors if he takes off.
- Also in the news, the Marlins traded Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen to the Nationals for a bucket of water. Neither man is a star, but they're both strong additions to a pretty sorry Nationals roster. Willingham especially will give them a good combination of walks and homers, a combination they did NOT have in 2008. And both are cheap.
For the Marlins . . . well, they're just a farm team now, middle-men between AAA and the majors, supplying the other 29 clubs with talent at wholesale prices.
- The Rookie of the Year voting offered no surprises, as Geovany Soto and Evan Longoria waltzed off to victory. The last time the voting was this easy was in 2001, when Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki took home the honors.
- Tim Lincecum won the NL Cy Young Award, announced just today. I was pushing for Lincecum, although it was a very close race between him and Johan Santana. I just hope that Lincecum avoids the fate of every other young Giants pitcher since Juan Marichal and manages to stay healthy and productive without getting traded away (the Giants have traded away an All-Star team of pitchers and players since Marichal's day, from Gaylord Perry to Joe Nathan).
- More awards will be announced this week, with Manager of the Year voting revealed tomorrow afternoon. Which means it's time for me to reveal the 4th Annual Whiz Kid Award Winners, including my picks for MVP.
- RIP Herb Score and Preacher Roe.