The Oakland Athletics cleared up one significant question on Thursday as they traded second baseman Mark Ellis to the Colorado Rockies for relief pitcher Bruce Billings and a player to be named later. Billings made his major league debut for the Rockies in May but has since spent the season at AAA Colorado Springs. In 29 minor league appearances this season, Billings is 6-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 50 1/3 innings.
The deal is not at all surprising given the emergence of prospect Jemile Weeks. While Weeks has had some struggles at times lately, he has remained a spark plug for an otherwise atrocious A's offense. After an incredibly hot start over his first two weeks, Weeks has seen his numbers come back to earth a bit. He is currently hitting .303/.346/.461 with six stolen bases and three triples. Although he's been up and down, it will be interesting to see if this clear vote of confidence gives him another bit of spark.
Mark Ellis will likely get a chance to start at second base for a Rockies team that is two games under .500 and 6.5 games back of first place San Francisco. Chris Nelson has been the primary second baseman lately, with Eric Young Jr. getting some spot starts. Neither has been overly impressive and the veteran presence of Ellis could be a steadying influence for the Rockies.
It's always tough to trade a fan favorite who has been around for as long as Ellis. After being acquired from the Kansas City Royals as a minor leaguer he was in his tenth season with the club. Ellis peaked offensively in 2007 when he hit .276/.336/.441 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. While he had struggled offensively at times, his defense never wavered as he was arguably one of the most underrated defensive players in baseball at any position. He'll be missed, but the time had come to move on and the A's move forward hoping Jemile Weeks remains their second baseman for years to come.