The Athletics surprised many when they sent All-Star pitchers Bailey, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor
Cahill away in separate deals over the offseason.
But Oakland general manager Billy Beane had a vision for the
prospects he received in return from Arizona, Boston and Washington. Now, some of those
youngsters have helped the club build a 74-57 record heading into Saturday to lead the wild card race.
The gamble certainly caught Bailey's attention, especially
with the star-studded Red Sox saddled with a 62-71 record.
"I don't know if the immediate success was what [the A's] were after," Bailey said. "I know they were
getting younger players, but when you trade a bunch of 23- and 24-year-olds
and get a bunch of 21- and 22-year-olds in return that can go out and have
success that they've had at this level this year, it's great."
Josh Reddick — who came to Oakland in
exchange for Bailey — has become a slugger. The outfielder has 28 home runs and 73 RBIs this season, including a grand slam on Friday.
Starter Jarrod Parker has had a similar
evolution. Acquired from Arizona for Cahill, the 23-year-old is anchoring the
rotation with a 9-7 record and 3.72 ERA through 23 starts.
"I think that says a lot about the organization — to
trust in those guys and let them develop at the big league level," Bailey
said. "Not saying the [players] aren't ready, but they can have some ups
and downs over there. This year, they're doing great and putting a good season
together, and it's fun for the game of baseball."
Bailey can relate to accelerated development. During the
2009 spring training, the Athletics promoted the pitcher — then in Double-A —
to the big leagues, where he blossomed into an All-Star closer and Rookie of
From Bailey's vantage point, the Oakland front office's willingness
to throw young players into the fire allows them to get the most from their talent.
"I think the biggest thing is the opportunity that's
there," Bailey said. "It's an organization where they rely on the
younger guys to come up and have success. Younger guys in an organization with
higher payrolls may not get that opportunity to play right away and play
every day and pitch every fifth day."
Bailey said he only knows four or five players
on the Athletics current roster. But he's still looking forward to pitching
against his former club at the Coliseum when called upon.
"It'll be fun to pitch in that stadium again and meet with
some of the guys," Bailey said. "I don't really know too many guys
over there anymore, but I'm looking forward to it."
Meanwhile, the Athletics are looking forward to their future — and enjoying their present, too.