As the 2011 MLB trade deadline fast approaches, former GM Jim Bowden has been providing a great deal of analysis for ESPN. Recently he put together a Big Board breaking down the teams that are projected buyers and sellers, and then providing a rundown of the various top players available from the sellers. Given the Oakland Athletics current predicament, they are likely settled in as sellers for the 2011 MLB trade deadline.
Bowden's big board broke down the top players by position and then provided some basic analysis. For the A's, they find themselves with a mix of "top" players available. In left field, Josh Willingham is ranked second and Conor Jackson is ranked fifth. Jackson also gets a boost since he has regularly played first base for the A's and can play third in a pinch. For Willingham, it all comes down to his health concerns.
Bowden listed Coco Crisp as his fifth best center fielder available, right behind BJ Upton and ahead of Melky Cabrera based primarily on his track record. One would imagine his speed could benefit a contender considerably. David DeJesus rounded off the outfield as the fourth-ranked right fielder behind Jeff Fancoeur and ahead of Kosuke Fukudome. His ability to play all three outfield positions provides value to a contender. Bowden also included Hideki Matsui but there has not been a single word said about Matsui on the trading block.
Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes are listed among the right-handed and left-handed relief pitchers. Balfour is the more valuable pitcher at this point but Fuentes does bring solid postseason experience in spite of his struggles this season. It will be interesting to see whether the A's decide to deal away Balfour given that he has a good deal of upside as a setup man. Of course, if they want to really rebuild this thing, maybe they deal him as well and go with young guys like Fautino De Los Santos.