Asking an Unpopular Question
The A’s have a rare Easter Sunday off due to this bizarre beginning of the season scheduling care of the trip to Japan. What we’ve seen through the first four games is kind of a lot of the same. Unimpressive defense and unimpressive offense combining to leave the A’s with a 1-3 record. The one thing that has clearly stood out is the play of one Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes has been electrifying in his short time in the majors. But he has also been a study in contrasts. He looks helplessly lost against the offspeed stuff of Felix Hernandez and even far lesser pitchers like Tom Wilhelmsen. He lunges for some of these pitches so much that it looks like he may pull his back. But then he also turns on pitches and absolutely launches them. In his first four games he has three home runs. Defensively he has taken curious routes to the ball and has misplayed a few, including last night’s game where this sort of good-Cespedes, bad-Cespedes dichotomy truly manifested itself with his fielding miscue (it wasn’t officially an error but he in reality should have caught the ball) caused the M’s their big inning, yet it was his monster three run home run off of Steve Delabar that ultimately made the game close. The game was purely decided in many ways by the play of Cespedes both for the good and the bad.
Some questions have been answered. Can he hit? Yes, he has hit mistake pitches which is something all good hitters should do. He needs to make some serious adjustments on offspeed stuff but that will come. But here is the unpopular question. The A’s signed Cespedes to a four-year $36M contract. They signed him knowing that the risk was he’d struggle against MLB pitching, the reward obviously was that he wouldn’t and they’d have a great hitter at a great discount. Cynical A’s fans will say that Billy Beane only acquires players to trade them. In fact, when Cespedes was signed there were countless sarcastic comments regarding when the A’s would be flipping him. What if he did? What if he did it now. Four games into the 2012 season? What would he fetch?
There is absolutely no comp for this sort of deal. People seldom get traded the first week of April. The A’s made two big trades once upon a time on April 7th, when in 1978 they traded Manny Sanguillen back to the Pirates and Vida Blue to the San Francisco Giants, but that was on Opening Day and there wasn’t such a short time period one was looking to exploit for all they could.
Would another team even be willing to go out and get Cespedes? Would they be paying based upon just four games or would they be looking at what the A’s, Cubs and Marlins were looking at back in February and making their decisions based upon that?
Obviously the A’s should not trade Cespedes. While I feel every player has their price and should some team overwhelm Beane and company in the first week of this season they certainly should listen, he is someone I think the A’s feel it is best to build around. I just wonder how much his stock has risen in such short order. If he were to sign today, how much more than 4/36 would he command? Would it make a difference at all? Small sample sizes are dangerous as Cespedes is very unlikely to keep up his current pace and finish the year with 122 home runs, but at the same time they can seriously alter perception, and I think some perceptions regarding Cespedes have been altered and that makes me wonder what he could fetch from other teams.
This exact same post was cross-posted at Athletics Nation. I encourage all my readers to go there and join in on the discussion with a great community of A’s fans.