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Mark Ellis Shipped to Colorado

July 1, 2011

Of course a day that I am driving around for work where I thought all that I would miss is an afternoon game between the Marlins and the A’s turns out to have what is quite a significant trade take place. The A’s traded second baseman Mark Ellis – the longest tenured Athletics – to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a 25-year old right-handed reliever named Bruce Billings and the game’s most often traded player, a player to be named later. The news was sort of surprising and sort of not surprising. It was clear Ellis didn’t really have a real role any longer on the squad – him filling in at first base didn’t seem like a logical long-term good usage – yet at the same time when someone has spent as long as Ellis did with the organization it is still strange to see him go so in that sense it is surprising even when all indications were that a move would need to be made.

When deals need to be made, often the return isn’t anything spectacular and that is the case here. In Billings, the A’s pick up an older not-really-a-prospect reliever who has participated in one MLB game – a May 27th contest against the Cardinals at Coors Field – in which he went two innings. His five season long minor league career has followed a steady trajectory and until 2011 and his one appearance with the Rockies, he had never split a season between any two levels. This steady approach is demonstrative of the fact that the Rockies weren’t ever particularly excited by Billings, but he progressed with his unremarkable numbers: 126 outings, 76 as a starter (none since 2010) with a combined 499 1/3 innings pitched during which he posted 9.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 with a 3.80 ERA. He is a decent pick up for the A’s in light of the circumstances – with roughly $3M left on Ellis’ deal, and the Rockies only picking up $1M of it and with the A’s possibly looking to deal some of their relievers as they more officially fall out of contention.

Ellis was a consummate class act, and despite losing his job to Jemile Weeks did not cause any clubhouse tension or hold an ill-will. His final year in the green and gold was a miserable one, with him posting 0.0 WAR, and a .217/.253/.290 slash line with a miserable .247 wOBA and 54 wRC+. It is exciting to see the A’s commit to a new up and coming young potential star in Weeks, so as with anything when one door closes, another opens.

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