Leading Off

Leading Off: A’s let everyone know they mean business

It looks as if the A’s are playing for keeps.

It looks as if the kidding around in Oakland is pretty much over.

It looks as if by trading potential All-Stars years from now to the Chicago Cubs for a hard-throwing ace and a starting pitcher to win the World Series this season, A’s general manager Billy Beane is sending a message throughout baseball:

It’s now or maybe never.

Friday, the A’s sent two future stars – shortstop Addison Russell, a first-round pick playing at Double-A Midland, and outfielder Billy McKinney, a first-round pick at Class-A Stockton – along with pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named (Daric Barton?) to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The deal made the best team in baseball even better.

No longer are the A’s the low-budget team just happy to win its division and get into the playoffs. The A’s are now the low-budget team favored – in early July – to beat the high-priced teams en route to the World Series.

And A’s fans can thank the Detroit Tigers.

Because the Tigers swept the A’s in Detroit last week, perhaps Beane convinced owner Lewis Wolff the team needed to do something – even trade its future – if it was to compete for a championship in late October.

After all, it was the Tigers – with a worse record – who beat the A’s in the American League Division Series the past two postseasons.

If the A’s are to reach the American League Championship Series and beyond, they correctly figure they first need to beat the Tigers.

They now have the pitching staff, along with an offense that has outscored its opponents by 135 runs, to accomplish both goals and beyond.

No kidding.

– Victor Contreras

Today’s poll

The A’s will finish the 2014 season:

• Out of playoffs

• A.L. wild-card team losing in first round

• A.L. West champs losing in first round

• Win ALDS

• Win ALCS, lose World Series

• Lose ALCS

• Win World Series

To vote, go to sacbee.


Weekend poll results

If the Kings re-sign Isaiah Thomas, who should start at point guard?

• Thomas: 30%

• Darren Collison: 41%

• Ray McCallum: 11%

• They still need a top-flight starter: 18%

Total votes: 204