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Let's Play GM: A.J. Griffin Could Miss a Year


A.J. Griffin

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced today that Athletics starter, and all-around nice guy, A.J. Griffin is facing the very real possibility of undergoing Tommy John surgery. For more details on this, Andrew Brown (@andrewbr0000) wrote an article on this site just a couple of hours ago. Andrew handled the details, I’ll handle the speculation.

Assuming A.J. Griffin is out for the next year, what does that mean for the Athletics moving forward? If everything stays the same, and nobody else gets hurt, then the Athletics should be looking like a contender come October. But that is not how A’s GM Billy Beane operates, and neither do we.

Luckily, there is one more arm that the A’s already have that could be called upon to start games and would assumedly do a great job: Drew Pomeranz. Heck, he may be added to the rotation without any additional injuries the way he is throwing. It is feasible that the A’s would swap Pomeranz for either Tommy Milone or Dan Straily if either continues to prove inconsistent, moving them from the rotation to the bullpen.

It hasn’t been a healthy season for the Athletics thus far, so let’s say someone gets hurt. Let’s make it a big piece of the Athletics 2014 rotation. Let’s say Scott Kazmir goes down as well. Moving Pomeranz into the rotation would be a must at this point. This also leaves the Athletics with no major-league-ready options for spot-starts or long-relief.

In Sacramento, Evan Scribner could always be called up to fill in the long-relief hole. Behind him, is Arnold Leon who has a 3.86 ERA and has been pitching well of late. Josh Lindblom, who had a spot-start for the Athletics at the beginning of the season, has been getting lit up in the minors, with an ERA close to 8. The A’s have options, but these players are more stop-gap players for 2014, not ones that will propel the Athletics to the Championship they are seeking.

The best option may be to look outside of the organization. In the offseason, the likes of David Price and Jeff Samardzija were being dangled by their respective teams. Price is likely out of the A’s range, and Samardzija may be on the outer cusp of what the A’s would be willing to part with.

Before long, the Astros will be having a fire sale, but after seeing what they have to offer from a pitching standpoint, there is little to be had. Brett Oberholtzer under the tutelage of Curt Young could be a decent acquisition, and at a low cost, but he would be a 3rd or 4th starter for the Athletics, and that’s with the injuries.

Let’s shoot higher. Let’s go after a guy who’s nickname is “Big Game James.” That’s right, James Shields, currently with the Kansas City Royals.

Yes, the Royals expect to contend this year, but Shields is in the final year of his contract. Being a contract year, Shields is likely to be focused and gearing up for a big pay day. If traded, he will be a huge asset to the new club, because the better he does, the more he makes next season. The Royals are a small market team, much like the A’s, and deals like these are how they stay competitive. The A’s and Royals also have a history of making deals, so there is a relationship to be built upon. The later in the season a possible trade happens, the less the Royals are likely to ask for.

It is feasible that acquiring Shields would mean giving up top-prospect, Addison Russell. Yes, the Royals are already covered at shortstop, but second base is seemingly up for grabs. One of the two could slide over.

In his one October start in the past 3 years, Shields has a 1.00 ERA and allowed 2 hits. Over that same span in August and September, he has ERAs of 2.67 and 2.70 respectively. He would be a solid acquisition, and would cost about as much as Scott Kazmir (2/$24M) to resign. It could mean giving up the Athletics top prospect, but at this point in time, he is still just a prospect. James Shields is a proven commodity. It’s always better to take $1 today, than $1 tomorrow, because the true value of a dollar will change in the future. James Shields is our $1, and that dollar could be what the Athletics need to bring home a Championship in 2014.

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  • Jamahn Lee

    Unless Sheilds means we win the World Series, I think trading trading Russell is a terrible idea. Even if it meant one World Series, I still think it’s a bad trade. The A’s can’t afford to trade away their best prospect, especially one that potentially fills a huge need for the team going forward. The system is pretty barren right now, especially at the high levels and with their financial situation, they can’t afford to give up anymore prospects unless it’s going to definitively put them over the top for years to come.

    • Jason Burke

      I agree with you, actually. Just wanted to think outside of the box a little. Beane definitely wants to win this year, and i could see him making a move to help the team in the near future. Whether or not it’ll be that drastic remains to be seen.

      • larrytate

        Understand the concern, but that’s why he got Lindblom, Pomeranz, and even Blanton. You mine the throwaways 4 times over, and one is likely to stick (Pomeranz). Beane can afford to wait and see what happens healthwise and Straily-Lindblom-etc…-wise before acting. He’s in 1st place, and the trade deadlines are still a long ways away. Beane’s biggest problem is mis-management of pitching staff. Melvin’s been taking out starting pitchers who’ve pitched well after 80 or 90 pitches, in favor of a committee of relievers. Throw enough pitchers into a game, and the opposing team will find one they like. The ChiSox skipper let his starter, who had more pitches than Milone, pitch the 6th and even a batter into the 7th before the starter was into 3-digit pitchcount. He did this, the A’s continued to not hit the starter, and then Melvin plugged 4 or 5 pitchers into the game starting in the 7th inning (with Milone at 80-some) and finally succeeded in finding one (and in this case 2 or 3) the ChiSox could bash for a 3-run HR to win the game.
        We’re talking about our 5th starter here, Milone, who effectively won that game which turned into a loss. So how about addressing THAT, instead of giving up any good prospects.

  • letsgooakland

    Hahahaha! Addison Russell for James Shields….. still LMAO! C’mon Jason.

    • Jason Burke

      Haha, i know i know its farfetched. I’m not the best at creating trades thats for sure. The point i was trying to make is that anyone could be on the market for the right SP that couls help the club. Beane learned his lesson when he deemed Weeks ‘untouchable’ a few years back. Can we agree upon that?

      • larrytate

        No we cannot. The reason is, when Beane made that statement, PEDs were standard for ballplayers. Now that PEDs are much harder to get away with, you’ve got a much different set of unspoken rules when making trades and evaluating talent. Notice Beane’s two potential trades, Hudson and Kazmir, are both looking great, whereas PED Bartolo seems to be coming off his steroidal high and back to the type of pitcher he SHOULD be at his age, which is retired.

  • Aaron Somers

    You’re suggesting that the A’s deal their best prospect, who’ll be under team control for six years once he reaches the Major Leagues in an organization that values their financial flexibility, for a starting pitcher who’s set to reach free agency at season’s end? Then you admit in response to other comments that the idea is just as ludicrous as it sounds. I have to ask, why even suggest it in the first place?

    • Jason Burke

      If the trade brought a World Series title to Oakland, the revenue from the title would help the A’s financially. They could spend that on re-signing Lowrie. Russell has been hurt this season, hindering his progress. Who’s to say he’ll even be ready for the bigs by next year?

      The trade may sound crazy, but who else do they have that would land them an impact pitcher for the playoffs? Nobody else in the top 100.

      A title would put butts in the seats and lead to merchandise sales, furthering that revenue stream. The trade could definietely hurt long-term, but it could also bring Billy Beane what he’s coveted most.

      • larrytate

        I’d rather keep Russell than win one title. One title trades is how many teams have destroyed potential dynasties. This trade idea is indeed ludicrous. Maybe back in the days where the A’s got compensated for losing a free agent, it might’ve made some sense, but I think the many great years of Carlos Gonzalez we missed might have an alternative argument to even those (eh hem Willingham) different-rules-back-then trades.

      • Jason Burke

        So looks like i may not be that dumb after all.