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Matt Shepard

Shep's Take: Oakland Athletics Making A Necessary Move

 
Posted July 8th, 2014 @ 6:34am

The Oakland Athletics have stated their case. The A's felt like they needed better starting pitching, even though their rotation leads the league in ERA, wins, and batting average against.

They dealt their top two prospects to the Chicago Cubs for their top two starters: Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel -- and appear to be "going for it."

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It's not that the Athletics are now complete and have no weaknesses. They score a lot of runs (#1 in the American League), but they don't hit for average and they are weak defensively. What General Manager Billy Beane has done, though, is make an asset even stronger. He could tell he needed rotation depth with the loss of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, and didn't want to take a chance on not getting the guys he wanted.

Beane told the Mercury News in May that it was important to succeed today, and he wasn't going to worry about the future of the A's. He said, "The best part of baseball is when you deal with the present." Their playoff rotation could be Sonny Gray, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Hammel and Tommy Milone.  That's tough. You don't think this deal was made with Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello in mind? No doubt about it.

The Detroit Tigers now must make a counter move. Dave Dombrowski doesn’t have to go deal for Tampa’s David Price, but he is in desperate need of bullpen help and a left-handed bat. There have been rumors of the Tigers' interest in Joaquin Benoit, Joakim Soria or Huston Street. Their current crop of southpaws carry too much uncertainty. Pat McCoy and Blaine Hardy are unproven, Phil Coke is unreliable and Ian Krol has been rocked lately. I thought Krol was part of the solution, but the 23-year-old had an ERA of 11.12 in June and is working his way back from an injury. 

In the playoffs, the Tigers will move Drew Smyly back to a relief role, but more is needed. I've suggested Andrew Miller, the former Tiger and now Boston Red Sox. He still throws hard (55 Ks in 34 IP), has good control (10 BBs) and an impressive WHIP (0.95) and ERA (2.41).  He’s 29 and not that expensive ($1.9 million). 

The left-handed bat off the bench is a trickier dilemma. There aren't that many available and those who might be aren't that good, like Adam Dunn. The Tigers should kick the tires on Seth Smith of the San Diego Padres -- an outfielder who can rake RHPs and possesses good power.  

Another name might be Daniel Murphy -- a left-handed-hitting second baseman with the New York Mets, who is a .290 lifetime hitter and can play a number of different positions.  That's an important characteristic, being that if Andy Dirks comes back, the Tigers will have an abundance of outfielders.

The decision doesn't necessarily need to be made today or during the All-Star break, but July moves quickly and the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 will be here before you know it. Teams will soon decide on whether or not to go for it, and we have no doubt the Tigers will be among the aggressors.

It's time to get greedy and get the necessary ingredients to solve this team's problems, before someone else decides their window of opportunity is now and spoils the party.

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