Off the Wohl: Beane to rebuild A’s by trading off high-paid pitchers

State Hornet Staff

In case you haven’t seen “Moneyball,” Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane is a genius.

In a good, old-fashioned tale of redemption, Beane took a lineup peppered with has-beens and a front office with no money and carried them right to the edge of glory. Spoiler alert: They never made it.

But still, the man knew with a great pitching staff, even a mediocre offense is enough to win games. All his hitters had to do was not shoot themselves in the foot, hence Beane’s now famous emphasis on walks and on-base percentage.

So what do the A’s do with a talented young rotation? They unload all of them, of course.

Trevor Cahill went first. Just 23 and a year removed from receiving Cy Young votes, Cahill seems like the kind of pitcher Beane based his dream team around. He was shipped out in early December to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a decent package centered around pitching prospect Jarrod Parker.

The bizarre thing about this trade was Cahill isn’t due for a pay raise. His contract is locked in for the next four years, during which time he is set to make $28.7 million and even has affordable club options for 2016-17. Not free, but also not bad for a 23-year-old who has never missed significant time due to injury and has already played in an All-Star game.

Parker, on the other hand, missed all of the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery and saw his strikeout numbers drop after his return, dropping from 8.5 strikeouts per inning to 7.7, so questions about his health remain.

But Beane’s December wasn’t over. In an inexplicable move, star closer Andrew Bailey went to Boston for an uninspiring 2006, 17th-round draft pick named Josh Reddick. Although Reddick, 24, was passable in his role as a backup last year for the Red Sox, one thing the A’s have enough of is outfield depth. Closers like Bailey are somewhat harder to come by.

Earlier that week, A’s fans waved goodbye to the guy whom many thought would be the face of the team for years to come: Gio Gonzalez. The return was nice; young arms A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock were two of the top prospects in the Nationals’ organization. But the move signified a kind of surrender from Beane, as he seemed to tell the world he’s giving up on 2012 and probably 2013 as well.

So, who will be taking the ball when the A’s open their season March 28 in Tokyo against the Seattle Mariners? Either Brandon McCarthy or the new kid, 39-year old Bartolo Colon.

Yes, the A’s pitching staff is in ruins. It looks like Beane has the team on a trajectory to win just in time for the potential big move to San Jose.

Alex Grotewohl can be reached at [email protected]