Billy, throw us a bone here. Let us have one minor league stud to follow and drool over his talent. Allow A’s fans the anticipation of seeing in the Green and Gold a true home-grown slugger that is working his way up through the system. I realize that prospects, especially highly-touted ones, are a commodity and are necessary to deal in order to add big league talent for a playoff push. I’m highly aware that they’ve never proven anything at the MLB level and may end up being busts. But even with all that said, I want the A’s to hold onto Matt Olson. Hold onto him like a frozen skeleton gripping a musket.
They say “chicks love the long ball.” Well, Ricks love the long ball, too. Olson has been mashing like nobody’s business ever since he was selected as a sandwich pick (47th overall) as compensation for losing David DeJesus in 2012. Nice trade-off, if you ask me! Olson gave up a full ride to Vanderbilt after hitting .353 his senior at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia. Watching that draft, he saw two other high school hitters selected ahead of him by the A’s: Addison Russell at No. 11 and Daniel Robertson at No. 34. The three became fast friends and none have disappointed so far. We know that Russell was shipped to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Robertson was the key piece in the Ben Zobrist trade with Tampa Bay – as I said, prospects are often used as currency. Other first-round picks recently flogged by Oakland’s GM are Grant Green, Jemile Weeks, Michael Choice and Billy McKinney. So Olson knows the odds of sticking around in this organization are slim.
I’m all for making the 25-man roster the best it can be. I realize windows of opportunity can close quickly in sports. But I just want one guy (one guy!) that we can look forward to making the big club and crushing homers into Section 149 on a regular basis. Olson destroyed High-A pitching last season to the tune of a league-leading 37 home runs for the Stockton Ports. Additionally, he led the California League in runs (111), total bases (278), walks (117), and also plated 97 RBI. He was an All-Star in the Arizona Fall League this winter despite missing time after getting injured in a collision on the base paths. At 20 years of age, the 6’5”, 230 pound first-baseman is probably not done growing and getting stronger. All of these traits and stats make Olson a mouth-watering prospect, and one about whom I’m sure Beane has received several calls.
When I heard the news of the Zobrist trade, I crossed my fingers that Olson was not part of the package. As much as I like Robertson, and as much as shortstop is a barren wasteland in Oakland’s system, there’s something about a big slugger that holds more meaning to me. It will be hard enough to watch Russell’s highlights, but I don’t want watch Olson hitting bomb after bomb for one of the other 29 teams.
I had the opportunity to watch the A’s 2012 picks in Rookie Ball down at Papago Park in Phoenix right after they were drafted in the summer. (Those days are over, by the way, since the team has moved its facilities to Mesa.) I thought it must have been a thrill for these young men who were sitting in classrooms just a few weeks before, yet they were now wearing the home whites of the most successful American League team not called the Yankees. My main focus was on Russell, but I came away impressed with how both Robertson and Olson appeared calm and confident in this new arena of intense attention. I left with with a very positive outlook on all three and dreamed of a scenario in which the trio would be together in the A’s infield someday. I also had a chance to speak with the manager, Oakland native Marcus Jensen, about the progress of his charges, and he was very candid about how the acclimatization to professional sports is a gradual one. Jensen will now be a member of Bob Melvin’s staff this year, and I think he’s highly deserving and will be a great addition.
Every team has made terrible trades and has had to suffer with “the one that got away.” I’m not trying to judge any trade in this column today, just simply making an effort to plead my case to keep Olson off of any trading block. If he continues to rake at AA-Midland this year, the phones in the A’s front office will ring even more frequently. I know I’m being selfish, but I’d just hate to lose him forever for a rent-a-player in July. Please do not trade Matt Olson.