Just Let A’s Win It All With Trades


Carney Lansford sneezed on Thursday. Coughed, too.

Good thing the A’s have that Wade Boggs-for-Ozzie Canseco deal in the works.

Tony La Russa had dinner with Sandy Alderson the other night. La Russa said the A’s could probably sweep the World Series with Willie Randolph at second base but wasn’t 100% sure.

Alderson said he’d get back to the Cubs about their Ryne Sandberg offer, even though good double-A bullpen catchers are hard to find.


Anyone else out there catch La Russa’s eye? Anything else the rest of baseball can do for the betterment of the Oakland Athletic dynasty? Step out to lunch while Roger Clemens clears waivers, maybe?

Willie McGee for Felix Jose and two minor leaguers?

Harold Baines for two minor-league pitchers?

Never mind those games they rescheduled after the lockout wiped out the first week in April; this will still go down as the shortest major-league season on record. It officially ended on Aug. 29, Big League Armistice Day, the day 25 other clubs handed over their swords to Alderson and the A’s.

Until Wednesday, there remained a bit of doubt. Until Wednesday, there was trouble afoot in the land of the giants. Not Angel-sized trouble--no new roster was required or anything--but to Alderson, Oakland’s active-minded young general manager, any molehill is a potential mountain and two positions seemed to threaten this October’s World Series landslide.

Alderson just saw his center fielder, Dave Henderson, go under the surgeon’s knife. He also came to the realization, finally, that there was no designated replacement for last year’s designated hitter, Dave Parker.

Headaches, headaches. Every general manager has them. Most of them take two aspirins and go to bed.

Alderson took McGee and Baines instead.

This is how the A’s take care of business. When the White Sox need help, they trade Ron Kittle for Phil Bradley. When the Angels need help, they call up Pete Coachman.

The A’s do it differently. When they want a replacement center fielder, they trade for the second-best hitter in the National League. When they want a new DH, they trade for the man who might be the best DH in the history of DHs.

It’s tough to say who’s to blame. St. Louis and Texas, for volunteering to become Oakland’s feeder system? Or the rest of baseball, for stepping aside and letting the A’s get away with it?

Since McGee and Baines had to clear waivers before either trade could be made, every team behind Oakland in the standings had the chance to claim McGee or Baines and scotch the deal. Earlier this month, the White Sox used the maneuver to block the Dodgers from trading Kirk Gibson to the A’s.

Apparently, all that blocking wore the White Sox out. Either that or the White Sox have thrown up the white flag, because they blacked out when they should have blocked out.

Where were the Angels during all of this? The same place they were when Rickey Henderson became available. Safe on the sidelines.

The Angels say Baines wasn’t going to improve their situation much. Fair enough. The Angels could stock the entire AL East with designated hitters.

But when they point to McGee and his imminent free agency and say the A’s could afford that gamble because they’re playing for a world championship this year, the Angels embarrass themselves. McGee is 31 years old, a smooth fielder, a slick base-stealer, a .330 hitter. The Angels could use nine of those, but one of them would at least be a start.

Players of McGee’s skills don’t pop onto the open market every day. When a player like McGee becomes available, you trade now and sign him later.

But the Angels say no. They have their leadoff hitter already. Two of them even. Luis Polonia. And Devon White.

So, they let two more All-Stars find their way onto the Oakland roster, allowing La Russa now to pencil in a lineup of eight one-time All-Stars--and shortstop Walt Weiss, the American League’s 1988 Rookie of the Year.

And they said the talent gap between the A’s and the Angels couldn’t get any worse.

But it can always get worse. The gap begins in the front office, remember, and once again, Alderson has exploited it. It’s tough to compete on the field when you keep losing upstairs.

Today, however, guilt extends far beyond Anaheim. This was unconditional surrender and every other team in baseball played a part.

The 1990 World Series is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

It was won by the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, Aug. 29.