We’ve got less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, and with all the crap that’s gone on this winter, I couldn’t be more psyched. Maybe when they start playing some games, we can put the winter of Santana and PEDs behind us. You might have heard that there’s a congressional hearing going on now about steroids, but let’s forget about that and talk some baseball.
Yesterday, a Mark Kotsay for Joey Devine trade was finalized, furthering Oakland’s reconstruction. Remember back in 2005, when we needed a CFer, and the A’s wanted Phil Hughes for Kotsay? Yeah. Glad we didn’t pull the trigger on that one.
This leaves the A’s younger and less experienced, as have all of their moves this winter. My first question: How far-reaching is this rebuilding going to be? One might figure that Joe Blanton will be on the move, but new reports suggest that he’ll be around to make the Opening Day start for the A’s. Another big name is Huston Street, Oakland’s stud closer who spent much of 2007 on the DL. That’s the name that attracts — or should attract — the Yankees.
With such a compelling case to keep Joba in the rotation, the Yanks are still short a solid 8th inning guy. Barring a surprise turnaround from Kyle Farnsworth (hey, he’s had three completely dominant seasons), there’s going to be a lot of nail-biting going on late in close games. A proven reliever — a rare commodity for sure — would help alleviate those woes. Street is ideal not only because he’s proven he can pitch, but because he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season.
If he is available, the next question is, how much? Billy Beane clearly isn’t going to give Street away. He’s gotten a huge haul this winter by trading Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, and now Mark Kotsay. He’s not going to, for instance, trade Street straight-up for, say, Jeff Marquez. He’s going to ask for the sky at first, likely Hughes. And then he might back down to Kennedy, but I can’t see him going below that. And that’s not a move the Yankees should be making. At that point, I’d rather just stick Kennedy in the 8th inning.
(For the record, I do not advocate sticking Kennedy in the 8th inning role. I’m just saying that if the Yankees felt they needed an 8th inning guy so badly that they’d trade Kennedy for Street, they’d be better off just putting Kennedy in that role.)
The only slight on Street is that he’s a one-inning pitcher. In 2006, he never pitched two innings in an outing. Of course, that is the purpose of an 8th inning man. But what I’m asking is, what’s that worth to you? The 8th inning is critical, and it’s one the Yanks could stand to improve, as we said in our pinch-hit post today. But at what cost? Would you trade Ajax? Tabata? Horne?
It’s not an easy question to answer. We’re talking unproven prospects here in exchange for a proven reliever. That stacks the deck in Beane’s favor. And when he’s got the advantage, my suggestion would be to avoid doing business with him. While he fails some of the time (see: Tim Hudson), he often gets the better of teams (see: Mark Mulder). Why play with him when he’s at an advantage?
This all might be a moot point, though. Street does have injury concerns, which likely deflate his value. Beane would be smart to hang onto him until July. If he’s healthy, some contending team is going to overpay for him. I just hope that team isn’t the Yankees.