Not that they asked, but here’s what A’s general manager Billy Beane and his cross-Bay counterpart, Brian Sabean of the Giants, need to do this offseason to get back to contender status next season:
The first move for you, Mr. Beane, should be to package top prospect Daric Barton and oft-injured righty Rich Harden in an effort to get a corner outfielder with serious right-handed pop.
Barton, who has value as a big-name minor-leaguer, is expendable because he’s a first baseman-designated hitter. The A’s already have a potential Gold Glove first baseman in Nick Swisher, who wore down playing three positions this year (center field, right field and first base) and they have an inexpensive and powerful young DH in Jack Cust who perfectly fits Oakland’s high-OPS profile.
Harden is expendable because, well, he hasn’t really contributed for the A’s in two years, so it’s not like they’ll miss him. Harden’s value might not seem high because of his injury history, but if he comes back and makes a strong start or two to end the year, his incredible talent will surely tempt another team to roll the dice.
The A’s need at least one big righty bat. Swisher only half-qualifies because he’s a switch-hitter, and the other power threats are lefties: Cust and third baseman Eric Chavez, who will be coming off at least one surgery (shoulder) and possibly two (back).
The Giants failed to reach relevance this year because their primary position players are old and they mostly underachieved. So the obvious answer is to get younger and build a great defense around what might be one of the best starting rotations in the National League next year.
So say goodbye to Barry Bonds, Mr. Sabean, and use that money he would have cost you to get someone like exciting like Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter to man center field. Admit the monster mistake that was Dave Roberts’ three-year deal and give him the Adonal Foyle treatment, clearing a starting spot for either Rajai Davis or Nate Schierholtz in left. And by all means, let Ryan Klesko walk and plug Daniel Ortmeier in at first.
Then, make a big splash with a big trade. Start with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who need pitching, and see if they’ll take Noah Lowry and Brad Hennessey (or maybe Randy Winn) for either outfielder Carl Crawford or first baseman Carlos Pena.
It’ll be tough to part with Lowry, but Jonathan Sanchez has shown enough to suggest that he’ll be a strong replacement. And losing Hennessey won’t hurt much if Tyler Walker and Brian Wilson are the real deal.
If you get Pena, which is unlikely because he’s still under club control (i.e., cheap) and coming off a monster year, you move Ortmeier into the outfield and let him compete with Davis and Schierholtz. If you get Crawford, which would add payroll we all know you can afford, you keep Ortmeier at first and bask in the glow of a glitzy outfield that features him, Jones/Hunter and Schierholtz/Davis.
Oh, and spend the Matt Morris money on keeping Pedro Feliz and Omar Vizquel.
This GM stuff is easy.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito”and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).