Willy Taveras: What was that all about?

I wanted to offer more belated thoughts on a recent baseball transaction.  The following took place over the last three months:

December 3: The A’s acquire Aaron Miles in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Jeff Gray and two other players.  Seems alright at the time– Miles only hit .185 in limited action last year, but carries a .282 lifetime average and can play three different infield positions.  And he’s a local guy, who grew up in nearby Antioch, offering nice stories for the A’s.

February 1: Miles is traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Willy Taveras and some guy named Adam Rosales.  Makes less sense than the first trade– Taveras is an outfielder and offers little besides speed on the bases, something the A’s have never placed much emphasis on.  And they already have Rajai Davis, who hit .305 with 41 stolen bases in 2009, while Taveras managed .240 and 25 steals  Still, A’s general manager Billy Beane’s track record is good enough for one to suspend disbelief.

February 1, one hour later: Suspension lifted, so to speak; the A’s designate Taveras for assignment.

February 9: The A’s release Taveras, after he declines a Triple-A assignment.  I guess he didn’t want to see Sacramento, my hometown.

February 15: Taveras signs with the Washington Nationals.  The A’s agree to pay all but $400,000 of his $4 million salary.


I have long championed Beane and the A’s in general, down to their marketing department, which I always thought was genius.  Still, it doesn’t sound like there’s any positive way to spin this story.  Let’s look at some possible reasons Taveras was traded for/released:

  • Result of a drinking game by A’s management
  • Taveras’s player bio was faxed over just after the trade, whereupon Beane recognized him from a recent episode of America’s Most Wanted
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty continued his Svengali-like spell over the A’s in unloading Taveras for Miles. Jocketty is the same man who, as GM of the Cardinals stole Mark McGwire from Oakland and signed Jason Isringhausen, back when that meant something.  The A’s should have Jocketty’s picture up next to the cash register, whatever it takes for them not to do anymore business with him.
  • Miles made some threatening remarks about Beane’s family and had to go.
  • This was really a complicated, brilliant set of maneuvers by Beane to obtain Adam Rosales, in which case, well played sir.

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