It’s usually about this time of year, the trading deadline, when opposing baseball teams come knocking on A’s general manager Billy Beane’s door looking to raid his roster and bolster their own postseason pushes.
Beane has obliged at times, while other years he has elected to wait until the offseason to overhaul his roster, such as after the 2011 campaign. But the one constant is that the A’s have been sellers in recent years, one way or another.
But this year should be different.
Entering Monday’s games, the A’s (46-43) were one of 11 American League teams above .500 and sat just half a game out of the recently added second wild-card spot.
With a young and talented roster that statistically boasts the best pitching staff in the American League (3.38 team ERA), it’s time the A’s go from sellers to buyers. Beane is smart enough to avoid any moves that would cripple the franchise in the long term, but after a series of trades in recent years — including Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey this past offseason — the A’s have the assets to bring in fresh faces.
The A’s clearest area of need is at the plate, where Oakland is hitting a paltry .228, the worst in baseball, and has scored the fifth-fewest runs (343) in the game.
Power isn’t an issue, as five players already have double-digit homer counts, led by the surprising Josh Reddick (20 HRs). The recent promotions of Brandon Moss (11 HRs in 27 games) and Chris Carter (five HRs in nine games) have provided a spark, but it’s not enough.
The A’s need to find table-setters to get on base in front of their sluggers.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted Monday that the A’s have shown interest in acquiring a shortstop or third baseman, positions where the offensive production has been brutal.
Rosenthal pegged the Toronto Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Stephen Drew as potential targets at short. Either would be an upgrade over Cliff Pennington, who is hitting .203 this year and appears best suited to be a late-game defensive replacement.
After a torrid start when he first came to Oakland, third baseman Brandon Inge has cooled faster than an Arctic winter.
If he’s made available, San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley could be a good fit in Oakland. He’s still young, 28, has decent pop and gets on base, a lost art form for a number of current A’s starters.
Oakland’s upcoming stretch of games could be the ultimate determining factor as to whether they’ll go from buyers to sellers. Starting today against the Rangers, the A’s play 25 straight games against teams with winning records.
That stretch includes 17 consecutive games against the rugged AL East.
The odds of making the playoffs will certainly be stacked against Oakland regardless of any moves they make, but at this point, the A’s are playing with house money; why not let it ride a little longer?
The fan base is in serious need of uplifting news as opposed to the usual chatter on territorial rights or where their best player will end up next.
It’s finally time for Oakland to buy now and sell later.
Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @dkruse16.