Monday, December 20, 2004

I gotta keep some focus. I bubbled out of a $10 SnG last night because I wasn’t paying full attention to everyone’s chip stacks when we got down to four players. With blinds at 150/300, I had around 1200 chips and the player to my left had 450. By simply folding or checking down my blinds, he would have been put all-in on a random hand. Instead, I made an ill-advised push with a double nut draw (A2s in hand with a flop of two low, suited cards) that came up snake eyes. So, some schmuck is buying Christmas gifts with what-should-have-been my $20. I’ll consider that my charitable donation for the year…

Speaking of charitable donations, the A’s strengthened the rotations of two National League contenders over the weekend by unloading two of their three aces for prospects and unproven young veterans. Most of the East Bay is in an uproar over the perceived “white flag” for the next year or two, but I can see some reasoning behind the trades beyond the surface financial considerations.

One, both pitchers were hurt last year, and we don’t know the extent of their injuries. Oakland (read: cheap-ass owner Schott) probably didn’t want to pay the multi-million dollar salaries to guys who may only pitch twenty games a year. Their peak trade value was NOW, and they are both question marks in the mind of Billy Beane (Hudson – back problems, Mulder – head problems).

Two, they deepened their staffs. The biggest problem for the A’s last year was a lack of middle relief and reliable set-up/closers… in other words, the whole frickin’ bullpen. Doesn’t do you much good to have your starter go seven strong innings and then upchuck the game in the eighth or ninth. Maybe Haren and/or Meyer post 4.00-4.50 ERAs as starters next year. That would be one more run during their 7-8 inning stint than you might expect from Hudson or Mulder, but now the bullpen is much better, giving the team just as good a chance to win, considering just how execrable the bullpen was last year.

Three, they added some position players that add depth as well. Charles Thomas was a regular on Web Gems during August/September, and supposedly Daric Barton is the next Mike Piazza behind the plate, well, at least as a hitter. So each ace was dealt for a starter, a reliever, and a position player, with Barton the only one who won’t be on the major league roster in March. They save $8-10M this year. They cut their losses from Hudson’s imminent departure. They send both players to the National League, cutting the Yankees and Red Sox off at the pass. I’d say the short term doomsayers aren’t looking at the big picture, because the A’s will be competitive this year, and possibly stronger next year while the Yankees/Red Sox will decline due to the age of their starting pitching and position players.


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