The Endless Pursuit of Pitching, and the Oakland Athletics
By Sean Davis
The conventional wisdom within baseball circles has been and always will be that you can never have too much pitching. Even teams with a perceived strength in the starting rotation, are always keeping a close eye on the market for starting pitching. The 2013 Oakland Athletics fit that bill perfectly, they have a fairly talented and mostly young starting rotation that will be a big reason why the team will have success down the stretch, or not. I wrote a couple days ago about how there was a major weakness starting to show in the middle of the starting rotation. Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin are not without talent, but their inconsistency could be a downfall of the Oakland Athletics and their potential World Series aspirations for this season.
May 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy (44) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at US Cellular Field. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
I dropped a few names that could be potential solutions in the A’s rotation, and within that list lie a few names that could really be a match, and one wild card that could change the entire face of the pennant race. One of those names is now a member of the rival Texas Rangers, as Matt Garza was sent packing to Arlington yesterday, though his perceived price tag was driven up by the pursuit by Billy Beane of his services. So while the A’s lost out on acquiring Garza, they emerged with a small victory in costing Texas a little more in what they had to give up to get him.
Garza isn’t the only potential difference maker though, the likes of Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox, Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees, even the hated Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants could conceivably be had. But the wild card that sits out there, waiting to be had is Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Much like Yoenis Cespedes in 2012, Gonzalez represents a high risk-high reward acquisition, who also should carry a high price tag. Signing a pitcher like Gonzalez could not only help the team this year, but would provide another controllable arm in the rotation for years to come, and would enable Billy Beane to use another big league arm on the trade market to address other needs of the club. It’s a longshot, but it wouldn’t be a shock if the A’s were involved, besides nobody expected them to sign Yoenis Cespedes in the first place and look what happened.
Looking back at the trade market, the ideal candidate for the A’s would have to be Jake Peavy. He is as much of a difference maker as is available today. I have always been a fan of Peavy since his early days with the San Diego Padres, and have continued to admire his work upon moving on to Chicago. When he’s right, he can still be one of the more dominant right handed pitchers in the game today. He does have a bit of an injury history, but the shoulder problems that plagued him for a while appear to be behind him. He’s signed through next year, so his acquisition wouldn’t be just a rental. If the A’s agreed to absorb the bulk of his remaining contract, the price tag in terms of players would certainly go down. It’s well worth checking in on, though there figures to be a ton of interest in Peavy in the next week before the deadline.
Phil Hughes is also very intriguing because there is a strong belief that getting him out of Yankee Stadium could do wonders for his success. Pitching in a park like the O.co Coliseum just might be the perfect solution for Hughes.
It’s tough to say who would provide the best solution for the Athletics, but if I were Billy Beane I would make a strong push for Jake Peavy. As I’ve been saying, now is the time to swing for the fences. The Texas Rangers made their move, now it’s Billy’s turn to make his. This is now an arms race.