Knee-Jerk Reaction: The A’s Finally Trade Brett Anderson

by Jason Leary | Posted on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
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All the Brett Anderson trade rumors finally paid off with a deal that sent the starting pitcher from the A's to the Rockies in exchange for two pitching prospects.

All the Brett Anderson trade rumors finally paid off with a deal that sent the starting pitcher from the A’s to the Rockies in exchange for two pitching prospects.

There are special moments for thoughtful reflection about new developments with the Oakland A’s … and then there are moments like these where I only have time for a quick post.

Well, we won’t have to read Brett Anderson in all those trade rumors anymore will we? After weeks of speculation, the Oakland A’s finally cut a deal for their oft-injured, once-promising starting pitcher by sending the southpaw to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for minor league pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen.

Want the knee-jerkiest of knee-jerk reactions to this trade? Here it is: Meh. Simple, eloquent and perfectly honest. How excited is a guy supposed to get over an obvious salary dump?

Anderson’s finally out and a couple of non-blue chip prospects are in. Does this make the A’s, a team that’s been approaching the winter like a club that’s going all in for 2014, better right now? No, not even close.

Meet the newest member of the A's organization, Drew Pomeranz.

Meet the newest member of the A’s organization, Drew Pomeranz.

Does it make the A’s better in the future? Maybe. A lot depends on whether the coaching staff can iron out Pomeranz’s mechanics. If they pull that off they can restore the luster to a prospect who was once a key piece in the trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado to Cleveland.

Is that kind of arm worth something to a small-budget team like Oakland? You bet. If Pomeranz merely develops into a good mid-rotation starter he’ll be in green and gold for a bargain salary for several seasons. If he pans out the way the Rockies hoped he would back when they traded for him in 2011, the A’s could have something special on their hands. I guess one of the most important things right now for the A’s is that they no longer have Anderson’s $8 million salary on the books for 2014 and beyond.

It’s a disappointing end to Anderson’s once-promising stay in Oakland. Initially the deal looks like an uninspiring return for someone who once looked like a young ace capable of leading the A’s rotation for several years. When you sell low on someone with a high ceiling this is what you get. Let’s face it, the A’s had to throw in $2 million just to make the deal happen and all they got in return was a couple of baby-faced pitchers. That should tell you what Anderson was really worth on the open market. It’s a steep fall in value for someone who pitched great in the 2012 playoffs and entered 2013 as Oakland’s Opening Day starter.

The trade of equally promising and injury-riddled Rich Harden looked disappointing on the surface several years ago but, that deal ended up providing the A’s with Josh Donaldson and the assets to acquire Luke Gregerson. We know that it can take a while for one of General Manager Billy Beane‘s trades to completely play out.

Chris Jensen is the other player coming to Oakland in the Anderson trade. I’ll freely admit to being stumped when it comes to having a well-informed, off-the-cuff discussion about him. The 23-year-old right hander struck out 136 batters against just 39 walks for a SO/9 average of 8.0 last season in the minors. This looks attractive to an untrained eye like mine as I quickly scan the kid’s Baseball Reference page. I’ll just stick to the old “In Beane we trust” adage with this one and assume that in a year or two Jensen will be worth getting excited about.

A quick glance at Jensen’s MiLB.com page makes it look like left-handed batters kind of had his number last year (.275 vs .257 by right-handed batters). He also faded in the second half of the season (.297 BAA vs. .231 in the first half and 90 hits in 73 innings vs 71 hits in 79 first-half innings). Like I said, he’s just 23 so take all that with a grain of salt. Oakland’s scouts clearly saw something in him. It should be interesting to see how he develops in the A’s organization. According to MiLB.com’s John Parker, Jensen was “a midseason All-Star in the California League in 2013 and his ERA was 10th-best among qualifying hurlers on the offense-minded circuit.”

If the A’s were simply looking to cut costs at the Major League level and infuse the minor league system with a little more talent they pulled it off with this trade. Personally, I wish the deal was a win-now move but, it’s hard to gripe too much after Beane’s recent flurry of moves to improve the 2014 club.

Dan Haren may be long gone from Oakland but he's still paying dividends for the A's.

Dan Haren may be long gone from Oakland but he’s still paying dividends for the A’s.

Even though the Anderson trade disappoints me at first blush, it does pique my interest to look back at the trade that brought him to Oakland in the first place and see what’s left from the big Dan Haren trade in 2007.

Back in 2007, the A’s sent Haren (who was acquired for Mark Mulder in 2004) for Chris CarterAaron CunninghamDana EvelandCarlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith.

Carter was included in the 2013 trade that brought Jed Lowrie to Oakland and that worked out well for everyone involved. Carter finally landed a full-time job, the Astros got a MLB-ready prospect and Lowrie was a reliable hitter in the middle of the A’s infield last year.

Cunningham was part of the 2010 trade that brought Eric Sogard to the A’s along with Kevin Kouzmanoff. This move is still paying dividends for Beane’s reigning AL West champs. A’s fans everywhere can thank Cunningham for his role in bringing Nerd Power to Oakland.

Eveland was sold to the Blue Jays in 2010 for cash. That seems like a steal considering how the big guy’s career fizzled out. Even if the only thing that cash ever paid for was a couple of rosin bags and a bucket of batting practice balls it’s better than nothing.

Here is where we get to the rest of the pieces from the Haren trade. This is where we get to Carlos Gonzalez. This is where I try to choke back tears as I type all this. In 2008, CarGo was sent to the Rockies along with Smith and Huston Street for Matt Holliday. Holliday, as A’s fans all remember, didn’t even play a full season in Oakland before being traded to St. Louis for Clayton MortensenShane Peterson and Brett Wallace.

Mortenson was traded to the Rockies in 2011 for Ethan Hollingsworth who in turn was traded to the Royals for Kila Ka`aihue. The Kila Monster is long gone and the A’s have nothing to show for his brief stay in the organization. This is a actually kind of surprising considering the way Beane manages to keep flipping warm bodies for warm bodies time after time; year after year.

Peterson is arguably one of the A’s top rated outfield prospects in the high minors right now. This argument probably says more about the sagging state of the A’s farm system than it does on the upside on Peterson’s big-league potential.

As for Brett Wallace, he was sent to the Blue Jays in 2009 for Michael Taylor. Taylor is probably Oakland’s top outfield prospect in Sacramento which is faint praise. If Michael Choice was still around no one would even mention Taylor in a discussion about Oakland’s promising outfield prospects.

Trading away Carlos Gonzalez and having almost nothing to show for it remains one of Billy Beane's worst moves.

Trading away Carlos Gonzalez and having almost nothing to show for it remains one of Billy Beane’s worst moves.

The CarGo deal still stands as one of Beane’s worst trades ever.

As we sort through all the pieces and look at what the A’s have left from the Dan Haren trade, we have the following: Lowrie, Sogard, Peterson, Taylor, Pomeranz and Jensen. It’s actually not too shabby of a haul for a trade that went down 6 years ago. You’ve got a couple of key members of a back-to-back division winning team, some low-ceiling outfield depth in the high minors and some pitching prospects with moderate upside along with several years of contractual control.

You can be sure that Beane’s going to keep flipping the players remaining from the Haren trade over the next few years and continue stretching this winding trail of transactions along into the future.

However, it’s a future that won’t include Brett Anderson. He has been sent packing in the name of salary relief and organizational depth. After weeks and weeks of rumors, the reality of an Anderson trade is far less exciting than the hopeful ideas of what he might bring the A’s back in return.

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Jason Leary
About the Author

Jason Leary is a lifelong, die-hard A's fan and busy father of two who blogs about baseball in those rare moments when he isn't chasing his kids around. Follow and interact with Jason on Twitter @JasonALeary or check out his blog at junkball.wordpress.com.







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