Andrew Bailey trade caps demoralizing December for A's fans

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Andrew Bailey #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning during an MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum on September 15, 2011 in Oakland, California. The Athletics won the game 5-1. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Andrew Bailey (40) of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning during an MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum on September 15, 2011 in Oakland, California.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Even by Oakland standards, this December exodus has been tough to watch.

First, staff ace Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow were sent packing to Arizona.

Then Gio Gonzalez, a young star on the rise, was traded to D.C.

Now closer Andrew Bailey has been dealt to Boston.

We've seen this movie before in Oakland - literally this year thanks to Brad Pitt - so it's not exactly earth-shattering news. But after GM Billy Beane unloaded the three best pitchers on the team, it's got to be especially demoralizing to be an A's fan these days.

What's behind Beane's latest reshuffling? He's apparently building a roster for the future in hopes of the franchise getting the green light to build a new stadium in San Jose.

The problem? The San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights there.

Beane has claimed his hands are tied by the unsettled stadium situation, which hinders his ability to sign free agents this winter (including ones on his own team). Hence the flurry of trades, which have become the norm for the low-budget franchise.

But this has to be especially head-scratching for fans accustomed to seeing a roster laden with highly touted arms. Beane isn't unloading 30-something hitters whose best days are behind them. He has dealt two young front-of-the-rotation starters (Cahill is 23, Gonzalez 26) and a closer who is entering his prime (the 27-year-old Bailey).

Cahill finished in the top 10 in the 2009 AL Cy Young Award voting and Gonzalez won 31 games for the lowly A's over the last two seasons, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.

If you add in Dan Haren, whom the A's dealt before the 2008 season, you have three top-of-the-line starters and a potentially dominant closer jettisoned from Oakland in just three years.

Of course, Beane is no idiot and a few of the players he got in return are top prospects. But one of those stud prospects he got for Haren (Carlos Gonzalez) was subsequently shipped to Colorado for Matt Holliday, who only stayed in the Bay Area for a few months.

The A's did land some of the Nationals' top prospects for Gonzalez, but no one seems too wowed by what they got for Bailey (outfielder Josh Reddick, third-base prospect Miles Head and right-handed pitching prospect Raul Alcantara).

It's tough to question Beane's track record when it comes to assembling a competitive team with limited resources. But the A's haven't posted a winning record or made the playoffs since 2006. The Moneyball movie is on loop now and it has to be getting old for the Oakland faithful.

Beane is betting that a sequel will be a hit in San Jose. But that movie - and its location - is up in the air.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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