MLB Trade Deadline, Rumors & Roundup: Oakland Athletics Likely Facing A Slow July
The Oakland Athletics currently sit in a rather precarious position. They are supposed to be coming up to the tail end of a rebuild cycle, where rookies and second-year players should be learning and growing into their potential while other top prospects are polishing off their storied minor league careers in AAA. Many forecasted a .500 season from Oakland, which would improve sharply in the next two or three years. And yet, the A's found themselves playing above their talent level in a weak division, and ended up leading the AL West at the end of May.
Of course, the A's couldn't play out of their minds forever. As June ended, the A's found themselves ten games back, and with that slide went their contention dreams. One month ago, the A's would have been buyers, needing that one extra piece to put the division away for good. Now, Billy Beane seems to have his heart set on his original plan of starting a contention run in 2011 or 2012, as the A's young prospect sluggers in Chris Carter and Michael Taylor come into their own as mature Major League hitters. As such, the A's are likely not looking to buy anyone expensive, and at the same time, they'd like to hold on to the valuable pieces they have for now. It could be a rather uneventful trade deadline for Oakland this year.
Regarding whether the A's are buyers or sellers, I'd say "sellers" -- remember that the A's are still in rebuild mode and that Beane has looked at his team when they were just a few games out, said "we're not that good," and traded Harden and Blanton. He must look at this team, with its weak offense and tattered bullpen, and think there's no way this team contends.
Trouble is, the A's just don't have much to sell. Sheets has very limited value due to a very lackluster comeback season so far. Ellis is not an "impact player," Sweeney and Braden are "good and fragile" not "great and healthy," and the minor leagues are pretty barren for a team that just rebuilt. The players who could bring value in return are precisely the players Beane will, and should, hang on to: Suzuki, Barton, Anderson, Cahill, Carter, i.e., the building blocks for the next really competitive A's team.