Instead of wondering if Brett Anderson will be traded, A’s fans can now shift their focus to whether Oakland received enough in return for the talented lefty.
That’s the next storyline, right? The A’s shipped Anderson and cash to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday and received a so-far underachieving left-hander in Drew Pomeranz and a Single-A right-hander in Chris Jensen.
Perhaps it’s not the bounty you had in mind while contemplating what Anderson might net the A’s. That’s fair game.
But understand that the fate of Oakland’s 2014 starting rotation hinges on much more than the good or bad of Tuesday’s deal. Take a broad view of the landscape now that the A’s pitching staff appears set. Several critical subplots jump out.
Can Scott Kazmir be counted on as the trusty veteran innings-eater the A’s need him to be? The team better hope so at two years and $22 million, but there is reason for skepticism given that 2013 was Kazmir’s first full season pitching in the majors since 2010.
Is Sonny Gray ready to solidify himself as a front-of-the-rotation force? All indications based on what we’ve seen would indicate yes. But don’t get too infatuated with that Game 2 gem that he threw in the American League Division Series. Gray, 24, will arrive at spring camp with just 12 major league starts under his belt. There might still be growing pains.
And what about that arm fatigue that Jarrod Parker endured at the end of last season? With more experience, Parker said in September, he’ll know how to better handle the rigors of the long season and keep his stuff sharp. The A’s need the right-hander to stay strong down the stretch.
All these factors will add up to determine whether the A’s can cover for the departure of All-Star starter Bartolo Colon.
So should the A’s have held on to Anderson to bolster this year’s rotation? Tough to say. But given his medical history, you certainly couldn’t have been penciled him in for 28-30 starts.
A’s general manager Billy Beane talked Tuesday of wanting to “turn back the clock” with the Anderson trade. In Pomeranz, the A’s get a 25-year-old lefty who was the fifth overall pick by Cleveland in the 2010 draft. Traded to Colorado as part of a 2011 deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians, Pomeranz has struggled with fastball command, which hasn’t allowed him to take advantage of secondary pitches.
He is just 4-14 with a 5.20 ERA in 34 appearances (30 starts) over parts of three seasons. He could be a bullpen option in 2014, but the A’s want to keep grooming the lefty as a starter.
The MLB Network’s Dan Plesac believes Pomeranz can still tap into his vast potential.
“It’s too early to give up on Pomeranz, who has pitched in a horrible pitcher’s park in Coors Field,” Pleasac said on air.
Jensen, 23, was 5-8 with a 4.55 ERA in 28 starts last season in high Single-A ball, so it seems he’s a long way from the majors.
Both pitchers are under team control for several years, and Pomeranz isn’t even eligible for salary arbitration until 2016, so he’s cheap for the next two seasons. That’s part of what Beane meant by “turning back the clock.”
The A’s get some salary relief by unloading Anderson’s $8 million salary, though they reportedly are sending $2 million to the Rockies.
It’s possible Anderson stays healthy, blossoms into an All-Star and makes the A’s regret this trade. But if the A’s get the collective effort they think they’ll get from a deep group of starters, they won’t regret it.
But that “if” will help define the A’s in 2014.
A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters at the winter meetings that switch-hitting second baseman Alberto Callaspo could see some time at first base, presumably against left-handed starters when Brandon Moss would sit.
Melvin also said John Jaso could get significant at-bats at designated hitter.