The A's, perennial deadline dealers, made a move to acquire OF Scott Hairston from the Padres today, sending RHPs Craig Italiano, Ryan Webb, and a player to be named later downstate in return.
We love this deal for the A's. Couldn't be more enamored with it, really. The A's have been scuffling on offense this year, and their outfield has been as much a factor as any other spot on the field. Matt Holliday leads the team with a 1.4 WARP, but even that's far below what expectations the team - and we - placed on him. Between Travis Buck, Jack Cust, Ryan Sweeney, and Rajai Davis, the team simply hasn't gotten enough production from what are supposed to be productive spots, and as a result are 11 games out in the weakest division in the league.
So, they bring in a guy who's hitting .270/.331/.504 in the last two years, and in Petco Park no less. A guy who's OPSing .911 this year and can play right or center better than anyone else the club might run out there, if you need further qualifications. Hairston, at 29, is no spring chicken, but 93 career homers in the minors and a .323/.400/.568 line in the minors suggest a bat that's capable of contact, patience, and power that simply hasn't gotten enough of a chance. Indeed, the outfield's been one of a few sources of decent players for the Pads in the last few years, so we can see where Hairston would have trouble breaking in. But now he's going to have a chance to play full time, and really show us what he can do...finally. And, since Hairston is under team control until 2011, this isn't just a one-season deal; should the A's young pitching develop quickly, as they expect will happen, then Hairston will be in place to help lead the charge for future divisional crowns.
And when you consider what they had to give up - two relief prospects and a PTBNL, you have to love the deal even more. Relief prospects are a dime a dozen, and unless the PTBNL is someone great, then you kinda have to think that the Padres got fleeced here. Which is really a critical error, considering that they're in full rebuilding mode and should be looking to get the best possible return for whatever veteran prospects they want to shed. If you're trading away a guy with a .280/30 HR bat, you don't ask for a couple relievers - righties, no less - in return. Get someone who can make an impact! We know Billy Beane is the genius that wrote Moneyball and all, but sheesh, how does the guy pull away a piece like Hairston for a song? Oakland's home park isn't much better than Petco in terms of offensive friendliness, but Hairston's shown the ability to put up numbers wherever he hits. And in a division like the AL West, even an 11-game deficit isn't insurmountable. This is a great pickup for Beane and the A's, and we'll be watching with great interest to see if Hairston can't help make up for some of the regression some of their young pitchers - Dallas Braden, we're looking at you - are sure to face in the second half. It's gonna be a close one out west, folks! Try to stay awake for their games.