Bailey follows Cahill and Gonzalez out the door

By Editorial Staff

In today’s episode of “As The Rebuild Turns,” general manager Billy Beane sends All-Star closer Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston for three young players in his frantic quest to build a great, young team for a new ballpark that currently only exists in owner Lew Wolff’s wildest dreams.

Feel free to call it a road to nowhere during your more cynical moments because you’re certainly entitled to some bouts of frustration the way this offseason is playing out.

I’m starting to wonder if there will be a ceremonial raising of a white flag over the Coliseum during FanFest because it’s painfully clear that the organization has given up on the idea of being competitive for the next few years.

But enough of the snark and sarcasm. There’s no fighting this rebuild and as I mentioned earlier I grudgingly understand what the franchise is trying to do and why they’re taking this approach.

For the most part the post-2006 ALCS rebuild failed and at this point the A’s don’t have/won’t spend the money to make up for all the holes in the lineup to realistically compete in the AL West. It’s time to tear it all down again and hope this new batch of prospects along with some savvy drafts can lead to something special in several years.  It may not be a popular plan, but it is a fairly sensible one in light of the team’s current situation.

Which brings us back to Bailey being sent to the Red Sox. The three players coming back in return for the former Rookie of the Year are outfielder Josh Reddick, first baseman (soon to be third baseman) Miles Head and pitcher Raul Alcantara.

When you get right down to it, this isn’t a big loss for the A’s considering the fact that they’re stripping down the Major League club for young prospects. For a team primed to flirt with 100 losses in 2012, there’s really no need for a luxury item like a proven closer so it makes perfect sense to move Bailey if a decent offer is on the table.

As for Sweeney, I loved his defense but his hitting was a constant disappointment for someone who appeared to have all the physical tools to pop 15 to 20 home runs out of the park every season. When you have the glove of a starting center fielder and the bat of a backup shortstop with a salary over $1 million there’s really no place for you on a team with its sights set on getting younger and cheaper.  Granted, Sweeney isn’t really old or expensive but he’s also not going to be a star in several years if San Jose ever pans out.  This is as good as he gets and the A’s are better off with someone with a higher ceiling and lower salary.

Speaking of younger, cheaper outfielders, Reddick is the new player most likely to make an immediate impact.  He’ll probably settle in as the starter in center field because there’s no one else within a country mile of the Coliseum ready to take that job and run with it.  I can see him panning out into a decent everyday outfielder with a little power but he certainly isn’t the middle of the order threat the A’s desperately need.

For an informed opinion on Head and Alcantara check out John Sickels’ writeup. In short, it looks like the A’s got a very young power hitter and a very young power pitcher with the potential to either be halfway interesting Major League players in a few years or disappointing minor leaguers trapped by their own shortcomings at Triple A.

Considering the A’s luck developing hitters recently I can easily see Head vanishing into the minors. As with any young pitcher, it’s not hard to imagine Alcantara blowing his arm out right around the time he starts to look like a really exciting prospect.

All in all, it’s a haul with some potential even if no one coming to Oakland appears to be a blue-chip prospect. I don’t know if you can really expect to get a player like that in return for a closer with more than one stay on the disabled list on his resume.

I’m definitely not blown away by this trade but I’m not overly disappointed with the players joining the A’s organization considering the fact that all Oakland gave up was Bailey and Sweeney.  It seems like Beane took quantity over quality in return for Bailey which sounds a lot like the approach he took during the last rebuild when he sent Rich Harden to the Cubs.  Let’s hope this batch of young players pans out a little better than Josh Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson.

Beane has always been smart enough to never overpay for a closer and I think more and more GMs are figuring out that’s the smart play depending on budget constraints. Beane may have been able to get more for Bailey at the trade deadline but it’s also highly possible that Bailey would be nursing a sore elbow by then (or worse) and at that point there wouldn’t be any takers.

In a perfect world a top-rated hitting prospect would be coming to Oakland in return for Bailey but that kind of deal clearly wasn’t on the table this winter and smart money says it wouldn’t have been there at the trading deadline either.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Bailey is an outstanding young closer but I don’t think any team is going to give up a stud prospect for someone who hasn’t pitched more than 50 innings in either of the past two seasons.

I’ll give Beane the benefit of the doubt that he took the best deal available to him at what he felt was the best time to pull the trigger.  The real failure isn’t what he got for Bailey, it’s that he’s in the unenviable position of making the trade in the first place.  If the last rebuild he orchestrated was a success he’d be looking for the final pieces for a playoff team right now.  Instead, he’s starting all over again.

I can’t think of too many GMs who would have the luxury of entering into a new rebuild on the heels of a failed rebuild.  Most GMs would be packing up their office and updating their resume right around now.

What’s your take on the trade? Outrage? Dejection? Frustration? All of the above? Feel free to share your pain, rage and insights in the comments.

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