On Tuesday morning we received word that A’s pitcher Sonny Gray had been scratched from his scheduled start that night against the Colorado Rockies. Immediately, thanks in part to a faux twitter account, rumors began to fly that Gray had been traded to the Dodgers. Oakland Assistant GM David Forst was then a guest on 95.7 The Game’s Afternoon Delight and stated that Gray was truly ill and was as close to untouchable as a player could be when it came to being dealt. In fact, Gray had been hospitalized so he could receive fluids and be more closely monitored by medical personnel.
If we had heard Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner was sick and would miss a start, we would believe it. Same thing with Washington’s Max Scherzer, LA’s Clayton Kershaw, or just about any other ace pitcher in all of baseball. But when it comes to the A’s, we all fear the worst. We know that the ugly face of acquiescence will surely rear its head at any moment. The A’s ownership group wears their frugality like a badge of honor, and they go out of their way to prove their masochistic self-destruction on a yearly basis. If you’re an A’s fan, you had a measure of doubt about the report of Gray’s sickness. As a lifelong A’s fan myself, I’m always worried about which young star Billy Beane will trade next.
Gray is everything you would ever want in a pitcher. Statistically superior, ridiculously talented, playoff-proven, young, durable, great attitude, solid teammate, under team control for years to come, and working at minimum wage. He’s the type of player you would trade for, not trade away. I would say that as many as 15 of the 17 teams which picked ahead of the A’s in the 2011 Draft wish they would have taken Gray instead of who they selected. He’s the type of player you build a rotation around. He’s a fantastic gem and 29 other teams would love to steal him away from the Coliseum.
Gray will also make his first All-Star team this year, and that could be his undoing as an Oakland player. The list of A’s “stained” by the All-Star tag and then shipped away or allowed to walk is a long one. Here are the All-Stars who have played for Oakland since Billy Beane has been General Manager, and what happened to them:
- Ben Grieve, All-Star, traded.
- Tim Hudson, All-Star, traded.
- Mark Mulder, All-Star, traded.
- Ramon Hernandez, All-Star, traded.
- Dan Haren, All-Star, traded.
- Trevor Cahill, All-Star, traded.
- Andrew Bailey, All-Star, traded.
- Gio Gonzalez, All-Star, traded.
- Josh Donaldson, All-Star, traded.
- Yoenis Cespedes, All-Star, traded.
- Jeff Samardzija, All-Star, traded.
- Derek Norris, All-Star, traded.
- Brandon Moss, All-Star, traded.
- Jason Isringhausen, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Miguel Tejada, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Barry Zito, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Jason Giambi, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Keith Foulke, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Grant Balfour, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Bartolo Colon, All-Star, allowed to walk.
- Justin Duchscherer, All-Star, retired.
- John Jaha, All-Star, retired.
- Scott Kazmir, All-Star, still with A’s.
- Sean Doolittle, All-Star, still with A’s.
- Ryan Cook, All-Star, still with A’s (AAA)
Not all of the trades were terrible, and not all of the free agents were wonderful. But most of these men went on to bigger and better things. Knowing the history of this GM and this miserly ownership group, we know that anything is possible. The farm system was destroyed last summer, and Gray trade could bring in a wealth of prospects. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory.
At some point, even with a team with very little ambition like the A’s, they simply have to stop giving away all their top players. Reload? Rebuild? Just don’t trade Sonny Gray right now. We know he will be gone in a year or two — that’s the model here. But just throw us fans a bone and at least pretend you care a little bit. Then maybe someday, under a different ownership group, we will hear a player is sick … and not panic.