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September 9, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (32) throws to the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

A's Downturn Could Light Up the Fire Sale

Coming into the second round of the Bay Bridge Series the A’s were riding high, they had won 8 of 9 games, had just swept the Los Angeles Dodgers and had found themselves within a couple games of the .500 mark.  They had miraculously recovered from the horrific 9 game losing streak that had pretty much sunken all hope for the remainder of the season.

But after a brutal and dramatic series loss to the Giants, a series victory in Seattle despite just about no offense from either side, and staring a 4 game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers right in the face just as the calendar is about to turn to July could mean many familiar faces are in their last days with the A’s.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman both reported this week that there are moves to be made surrounding the A’s and that players such as Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, and Brandon McCarthy all can be had.  None of this can come as much surprise to anyone who follows the A’s on a day to day basis, but it’s obviously frustrating to anyone who has dealt with the repeated instances of the revolving door in Oakland.

Brandon McCarthy is such an enigma when it comes to the trade market, he has shown he is capable of pitching at the level many believed he would when he first arrived on the scene with the Chicago White Sox, but the shoulder problems that very nearly took him out of baseball altogether are always lurking in the background.  This season has been a tug of war between McCarthy’s quest for pitching success and stardom, and his battle with a chronic shoulder problem that will more than likely plague the rest of his career.  If the A’s can convince other teams that he’s past his problems for the time being, he can probably fetch a pretty decent prospect from a contender looking to push themselves over the top.  I would expect the Yankees, Red Sox, and perhaps the Dodgers to be in on McCarthy as the deadline nears, assuming health of course.

Grant Balfour is as established a setup guy as you can find in the Major Leagues, his fiery antics on the mound can be off-putting to some, but his talent shines through in most cases.  Up until last nights quagmire of an outing against the Texas Rangers Balfour had pitched extremely well as of late, having not allowed a run in 10 straight appearances.  By now most baseball people should know what to expect from Balfour, he’ll walk his share of hitters but he can also be the fire extinguisher that contending teams would need in big situations late in the season.  I could see the Nationals adding him to their injury riddled bullpen, also watch out for the Giants who could use another dominant arm in their pen.  Also keep an eye on the Yankees and Red Sox as always.

Brian Fuentes is the most difficult case of the 3 pitchers, simply because he seems to have lost any and all shreds of effectiveness he had.  If there’ is something physically wrong with him, he’s not telling, but it’s clear that he has hardly any business being in a Major League bullpen.  I can’t imagine any team calling Billy Beane looking to acquire him unless they were so horribly desperate for a lefty out of the pen that Fuentes was their last resort.  Honestly designating him for assignment and just letting him go would be my course of action rather than having him take up a roster spot and pitch once every 2 weeks.  His value has to be at an all time low, so just cutting their losses is probably the most prudent course of action here.

It’s safe to say that the A’s season is slipping away, and at this moment the A’s need to explore ways to get as much value out of their assets as they can.  They aren’t at a point where they need to trade everyone at all costs, but they need to keep their eyes and ears open for that desperate team to come calling, ready to pay a premium price.

 

Check me out on Twitter @SeanD25, see my take on everything else baseball at Baseball Obsessed, and follow everything Swingin’ A’s @FS_SwinginAs.

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Tags: Brandon McCarthy Brian Fuentes Grant Balfour Oakland Athletics

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