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07/21/08 8:05 PM ET

Mailbag: What's Beane's next move?

Beat reporter Mychael Urban answers A's fans' questions

I'm never pleased when an A's player I've grown to love gets traded, but I've kind of gotten used to it by now. Now it's to the point that I'm hoping for more trades -- ones involving players I'm not wild about. Huston Street falls into that category for me. Is he next?
--Jonathan R., San Ramon, Calif.

It sure wouldn't surprise me. There have been talks about a contract extension for Street at various times this year, but they seem to have died down, and there are more than a few teams out there that could use a closer.

That Street has struggled recently might have lowered his market value, but I don't think that will stop the A's from dealing him. The market for Rich Harden wasn't all that robust, either.

Did A's general manager Billy Beane get fleeced in the Harden deal? I expected Rich to go, but seeing Chad Gaudin go with him shocked me.
--Frank C., Petaluma, Calif.

I was pretty surprised by that, too -- at first. Harden's injury history, however, essentially forced Beane to include some form of insurance for the Cubs, and Gaudin was obviously it. If Harden stays healthy for the rest of this year and next, though, this trade is going to look like a stinker. Gaudin is a heck of a pitcher, and his versatility is rare.

Then again, what if Sean Gallagher develops into a stud and one or two of the other three players that came over from the Cubs pan out in a big way? That's a big "if," but I've learned not to judge a Beane trade for at least 18 months. The only time I've seen him get fleeced in the seven years I've covered the team was in the Tim Hudson trade.

I read some quotes from Justin Duchscherer suggesting that players still with the A's are upset that the front office seems to have given up on the season. Was he out of line?
--Oscar T., Denver, Colo.

I'm not sure that's exactly what Duchscherer was trying to say, but if it was, I don't think it was out of line. It was out of emotion. He wants to win, and he wants the brass to think the team can win, too.

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That said, I can't really blame the front office for refocusing on the future. For the second year in a row, injuries have absolutely crushed the team's legitimate playoff aspirations, and with improved health far from guaranteed, I think a long-term view is appropriate.

The A's drafted Jemile Weeks, a second baseman, in the first round, and got another, Adrian Cardenas, in the Joe Blanton deal. Does that mean Mark Ellis won't be back next year?
--Ricky B., Sacramento

Good question. And don't forget that Cliff Pennington, a first-round pick a few years back as a shortstop, started this year's All-Star Futures Game at second base. If I were a betting man, I'd say Ellis is gone.

Beane and Ellis' agent have talked about an extension, but those talks haven't really gotten anywhere, and while Mark isn't old by any means, his next contract might be his last. He's probably going to want a pretty healthy raise and at least three years, and if the A's think one of their prospects will be ready inside that time frame, they'll probably let him walk.

How do you think Blanton will do in Philly?
--Walter G., Davis, Calif.

I think he'll do very well. The Phillies have a much better offense, which will give Joe a lot more room for error, and I think that mental freedom will really help him. As the Opening Day starter, he seemed to be putting a lot of pressure on himself this season, and going to a place where he'll be the No. 3 guy at best should work out nicely for him and the Phils.

Do you think Ryan Sweeney or Carlos Gonzalez has a shot at being named the American League Rookie of the Year?
--Jenny R., Castroville, Calif.

Not unless one of them goes absolutely nuts for the next couple of months and Evan Longoria of the Rays gets hurt or forgets how to hit. Sweeney and Gonzalez are exceptional rookies, but Longoria is out of this world.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.