A's Acquire Matt Holliday…and I'm Not Sure Why

After being quietly linked to Colorado Rockies OF Matt Holliday since the end of the season, the A’s “surprised” the national media that generally ignores all things Oakland by (reportedly) agreeing to a deal.

Holliday for OF Carlos Gonzalez, SP Greg Smith and RP Huston Street

I’m way behind in my A’s 2008 player post-mortems, but here’s a quick synopsis of the talent in line to leave Oakland:

Carlos Gonzalez – Formerly the top prospect in the Diamondbacks’ chain, he came over in the Dan Haren 6-for-2 blockbuster last winter. Racked up 302 at-bats for the A’s in ’08. Raw and undisciplined on offense (13 walks all season), dogged by questions about his attitude and absence of power.

Greg Smith – Also part of the Haren deal, Smith made 32 starts for the A’s last year. His pickoff move is the one great skill he brings to the mound. Otherwise, his ceiling appears to be a number three or four starter. Supporters point to his abject lack of run support all season (3.12/start), but I point to his terrible BB/K ratio.

Huston Street – Lost the closer’s job in Oakland in August. I don’t normally buy into the seam-head notion that closer’s are wired any differently than other relievers (the immortal Tim Worrell once saved 57 games over a two year stretch) but, Street’s one of those guys who can’t seem to shake off a blown save like the great ones.

Holliday is a very good player, but I just don’t see how he fits on the A’s

ESPN used a park-adjusted projection that states Holliday’s 2008 OPS would’ve been just 26 points lower in Oakland. Now, I know this is uncharted territory for bloggers, but I’m calling bullsh*t on the World Wide Leader in Sports.

.357/.423/.645 – Career AT Coors Field
.280/.348/.455 – Career AWAY FROM Coors Field

Look, I get that Holliday would become the A’s best player, but this team finished two dozen games behind the Angels in ’08. He ain’t making up that difference by himself. And, not to beat this to death, but last year was the first season since 2005 that Holliday’s home/road slugging splits were within 100 points of each other. In 2007, the difference was 240 points and in 2006 it was 320 points.

On the surface, it seems like the trade equivalent of all those big-name free agent signings the Orioles were famous for this decade. The Miguel Tejadas, Rafael Palmeiros and Ramon Hernandez were all brought in to show the fans that Baltimore was competing…right to their annual fourth place finish.

Something else has got to be at work here. The A’s may try to flip Holliday to St. Louis – where he was also rumored to go or maybe they’ll see if the Dodgers have any interest if Los Angeles can’t re-sign Manny. Regardless, there is no way on erf that Matt Holliday will be an Oakland A in 2010.

By itself, this is just a really weird deal. Gonzalez’s perceived value as a top prospect has probably taken a bit of a hit, but “potential” is still value in this league. Street pitched better down the stretch and earned an opportunity to close again. Both of these guys and a young starter for a guy who won’t get the A’s any higher than second place?

This is a really weird deal.