Oakland Athletics: Mike Fiers the next target as the trade deadline approaches?

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01: Matt Chapman
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01: Matt Chapman /

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and the Oakland Athletics solidified their position as “buyers” after another series win this weekend.

I hate Monday a little less after this weekend. Two consecutive walk-off wins by my Oakland Athletics put a little pep in my step this morning.

I didn’t feel like taking a bat to my clock radio when the alarm went off (yes… I still have one), I didn’t dread my morning jog (it’s really a walk, a very, slow walk), and I even managed to convince myself that my bran muffin tasted like actual food.

Okay, that last one was a stretch. The muffin tasted like crap, but today, it doesn’t matter because the green and gold (we know it’s yellow, but we say gold) are flying high! The Oakland Athletics are winners of 23 of their last 30 games and proud holders of the Bridge trophy after winning back to back series over the Giants.

Watching Matt Chapman‘s intensity at the plate yesterday in the10th inning turn into pure, unadulterated joy after delivering the game winning hit is everything that is right with this team. What’s not to love about watching Chappy run through a sea of A’s players as they flood the field in celebration of yet another late inning win?

This team is doing it right. They are playing sound, fundamental baseball.  They are playing loose. It’s been a true team effort thus far. They are stacking up the wins under the radar, and their confidence is growing. The rest of the country may not be aware, but A’s fans know, a storm is brewing out here in the Bay Area.

Jeurys Familia

Beane’s acquisition of Jeurys Familia paid immediate dividends in yesterday’s game as he was thrown straight into the fire, having arrived shortly before game time. Lou Trivino entered in the 7th and promptly blew a save before getting the final out of the inning.

Yusmeiro Petit came on in relief for the third day in a row and gave up an additional run. Treinen was unavailable after having tossed 40 pitches the night before. Our bullpen was clearly taxed from the previous two games and needed a hero; Familia was up to the task.

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Familia threw two innings of one-hit, no-run baseball earning a win in the process. This was exactly the boost the front office and A’s fans had hoped for when the Familia trade was announced. In the infamous words of Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith… “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Familia’s performance was the perfect introduction to the Oakland Athletics family. It came in a pressure situation. It was his first appearance in an A’s uniform. It happened at home in front of a third consecutive sell-out crowd. Most important, he executed. Can you envision a scenario that builds more confidence for Jeurys moving forward than this one?

You didn’t think Beane was done… did you?

Eight days until the trade deadline. The price was right for Familia and left us all of our core young players intact. The front office actually took on salary with Familia’s contract signaling a change in approach from ownership.  All signs point to more trade maneuvers in the coming days.

Trade target chatter for the Oakland Athletics increased yesterday when Jon Morosi, a reporter for MLB.com, tweeted the following.

Credit for the initial story went to Chris McCosky, the Tigers beat writer for the Detroit News. This information paints talks as being in the earliest of stages but it does tell us the A’s front office are still working those phones.

Michael Fiers isn’t going to blow anyone away with his fastball and it’s somewhat of a mystery at times how he is effective as some of his underlying numbers are questionable (4.57 FIP, 1.5 HR9).

There’s nothing wrong with relying on deception and pitch placement, but I question its sustainability. Fiers has strung together five straight quality starts, including his last start, a performance which included six innings of shutout ball against a dangerous Boston Red Sox offense.

What concerns me as an A’s fan is that over the last five starts, Fiers has pitched his way into an inflated trade value as the deadline approaches. Fiers had a miserable year in 2017 for the Houston Astros delivering a 5.43 FIP with 1.9 HR/9 over 153 innings.

Let’s be honest, this rebirth of sorts Fiers is experiencing in Detroit is happening in a low key, no-pressure situation. Detroit isn’t contending for anything this season. Expectations for Houston in 2017 were high and the Astros needed solid innings from their starting rotation. Mike Fiers couldn’t deliver.  Was it the pressure?

I’m not saying the woes Fiers experienced in 2017 aren’t behind him, or that he can’t provide us with some solid innings in the starting rotation.  I am saying that expectations are growing here in Oakland and I don’t want to overpay to find out if Fiers can handle the pressure that goes along with being in contention.

Next: Was Jeurys Familia the right move?

The price for Fiers needs to be modest. The fans would support sending off some young talent in return for a starter, but it needs to be someone with a better record of performance and also someone that stands to be more than just a rental for the summer.