Quick Thought on Draft Picks
What I found much more interesting, though, was Wolff's statement about his intentions regarding the recently-acquired Matt Holliday. Says Wolff: "I'd rather take the two draft choices than lose him in the middle of the season." He's referring to the possibility that Holliday could be traded at the deadline, spun off for prospects in the way that pretty much anyone who has any talent is always spun off by the A's (lest anyone think a Twins fan calling out the A's for this is the pot calling the kettle black, let me point out that the Twins signed Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Nathan to long term deals -- yes, they traded Johan Santana, but there were a lot of factors involved with that decision). If Holliday is dealt, the A's could get some prospects for him -- but even if they don't trade him, they'd get draft pick compensation when he signed elsewhere before the 2010 season.
I think this is interesting because it's a somewhat unusual way of looking at the situation. Teams can't trade draft picks directly, but what Wolff is essentially suggesting here (indirectly) is that he picked up Matt Holliday with an eye towards those picks. Unless you think the A's are somehow going to be able to compete with the Angels next year, the Holliday pickup was not made to get the A's into the playoffs. That led many (including myself) to conclude that this pickup was designed to give the A's trade bait either before the start of the 2009 season or at the deadline in July. We all know, after all, that the A's are obsessed with making trades for prospects. But if Lew Wolff isn't just blowing smoke, it suggest that they love draft picks even more.
Now, I'm not belittling the draft. Organizations must rely on the draft to have any chance of being effective in the long term. But if you have any faith in your scouting department, wouldn't you be more inclined to make a deal for known commodities through a trade than taking a chance on two draft picks which be no higher than the mid-point of the first round? My guess is that Wolff is just playing his cards close to the vest, and that if GM Billy Beane comes to him in July with a good trade, Wolff will sign off without whining too much about losing the draft pick compensation. If not, the A's have an even stranger philosophical approach than I thought.