As you've probably seen by now, Matt Holliday has been reportedly dealt to the A's.
I wanted to hold off on posting anything about this until there was some word as to who the A's are giving up. Tim Brown says that the A's are giving up Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Huston Street, which is a strong package.
I would be disappointed if the Rangers gave up an equivalent package (although I do think Beane is selling high on Smith).
Why do this, given that the A's finished well out of first place last year?
Well, it could be that Billy Beane looks at the Angels and sees a team who well out-performed their expected won/loss record based on run differential, and could well be losing their closer and their starting first baseman. Beane could see the division as more winnable this year.
He could also be figuring that either 1) Holliday helps get the A's into contention in 2009, and then leaves and nets the A's two draft picks, or 2) Holliday doesn't get the A's into contention, but can be dealt this summer for about what the A's gave up to get him.
It also shores up the A's biggest weakness last year, which was production from the outfield.
Gutsy move. And realistically, if the Rangers' target date to contend is 2010, one that I think helps the Rangers. If the Rangers were hoping to contend in 2009...well, it just got tougher.