The 4th of July produced fireworks in more ways than one as Friday night the Cubs and A’s agreed on a blockbuster deal that saw Oakland acquire prized commodity Jeff Samardzija as well as Jason Hammel in exchange for ‘A’ prospect Addison Russell, their 2013 first round pick Billy McKinney and Major League ready pitcher Dan Straily.
The deal was the definition of a ‘win-win’ for both franchises.
The A’s were able to add a huge injection of quality to their closing championship window, adding the #2 pitcher (behind Price) on the market, as well as increasing the depth in their rotation with pending free-agent Hammel.
The truth of the matter is it’s now or never for Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, and Beane knows it. In sacrificing one of baseball’s biggest prospects – Russell, #3 Keith Law’s top-100 – Oakland have committed to cashing in on the current band of Athletics who have dominated the major leagues from day-one and have a serious chance of ending the A’s wait for a World Series.
They’ve destroyed the field in run-differential and for vast parts of the year have led in both runs scored and runs allowed. But the A’s have now shown they’re not content with another fantastic regular season only to have a lack of quality and ‘star power’ cost them in the post season. They went out of their way to not just add players at the deadline, but to add the best possible. In Samardzija they struck before anyone else could respond.
Samardzija’s career arc is as interesting as they come. He’s gone from a reliever, to a back of the rotation player, to now being a true No.1 starter. Not only is he a legit number one. But he has less pitches and mileage on his arm than a front-end of the rotation starter. His velocity continues to increase, he’s using his slider more wisely and continues to develop his sinker as he gets ahead in counts. He’s a bona fida pendulum swinger in the race to represent the AL in the World Series.
Samardzija, joined by Hammel’s makes one of the best rotations in all of baseball that little bit better. Added with; Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez the A’s now have five starters in the top-35 in league ERA.
And although adding Samardzija and Hammels cost them their future at shortstop It’s time for the Athletics to stop worrying about uncertainty in their future; players leaving, stadium issues, even the team possibly moving and start worrying about winning games in October.
“The best part of baseball is when you deal with the present” Beane said to Tim Kawakami back in spring training. Well
Beane and the Athletics are seemingly all in for the ‘present.’ The move to acquire Samardzija might represent a trend in the coming weeks as the A’s get aggressive at the trade deadline and heading into next year. They have an opportunity to do something special this year and next and it’s an opportunity their front-office aren’t about to miss.
As for the future, it’s something the organisation and the GM will deal with around the corner. They’ll target undervalued young players to fill the void left by marquee prospects such as Russell. After all that’s how they landed Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie and Derek Norris now cornerstones of their World Series push.
The future is not something the A’s fans, Beane or the organisation need to worry about. Because right here, right NOW they are the in pole position to make history and when we look back the 4th July 2014 may well have been the catalyst.
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