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Garza, Biogenesis and the A’s

July 23, 2013

The A’s main competition to winning the American League West are the Texas Rangers. Yesterday, they acquired Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs sending C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Mike Olt to the North Side of Chicago along with one or two players to be named later (one if that player is Neil Ramirez, otherwise two pitchers off an agreed upon list). That is a pretty big haul, but that is also a discussion for the Tuffy Rhodes Rookie Card Retirement Plan not us here. But obviously the acquisition of Garza changes the calculus in the American League West and furthermore reports are that Billy Beane made a play for Garza at the last minute. Both ZiPS and Steamer suppose that going forward Garza should be worth about one win for the Rangers, that means a net gain of about 0.8 wins with Grimm headed to Illinois. So nice move for Texas there and nice gain for Chicago. But why did Oakland get into the mix?

Surely Oakland would benefit from the extra 0.7 to 0.9 or so wins that would come from the acquisition of a (lets be honest) solid mid-rotation guy like Garza. I myself advocated recently that Oakland should attempt to acquire another starter type in Phil Hughes. Now, I suppose Beane wasn’t willing to make anywhere near that sort of a prospect package to acquire that win (with rounding), and I commend him for that, even though I am one to say that banners fly forever whereas prospect flags do not. The Cubs allege that the A’s were legitimate trade considerations and not just upping the ante for Texas, but I don’t know that I believe that. But let’s suppose the A’s were legitimate: with an obvious need in the middle infield why would Beane go after someone like Garza?

My guess is that that has more to do with yesterday’s bigger story the suspension Ryan Braun. Could the A’s be worried that they are going to lose their best pitcher Bartolo Colon? If so the acquisition of Garza (0.8 expected wins remaining) would offset the loss of Colon (0.7 expected wins remaining). While I would not encourage the A’s to send over the prospect haul that the Rangers did to get Garza (ultimately those players represented Baseball America’s preseason #2, #5, #14 and (assuming Ramirez) #23 prospects for Texas) it seems that the mound is an area the A’s may look to improve. There is just a week and a day to the deadline, the A’s need to find out soon if they are to lose Colon who many suspect was dinged last year for Biogenesis involvement before we knew what Biogenesis was.

All in all here is how everything may work out: the Rangers acquire Garza to gain about 0.8 wins, but lose Nelson Cruz to the Biogenesis scandal to lose about 0.8 wins. The A’s also lose about 0.7 wins with the loss of Colon, so end up with a 0.7 win deficit to the Rangers. I suppose the Rangers aren’t done making moves, I suppose the A’s aren’t either, but this is how many moving pieces can be effected by the Biogenesis scandal. If the Rangers’ Cruz gets the suspension but Colon doesn’t, the Rangers end up ultimately no closer to victory whereas the A’s can continue to go on unabated by any problems. I just worry that Beane telegraphed some concern about the status of Colon going forward if he actually did try to get Garza. Let’s hope that fear of mine is misplaced.

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