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Rounding Third: A's across the board for Billy Beane

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Well, so much for a slow deadline day.

The Oakland Athletics further cemented their status as the best team in baseball on Thursday, as they picked up left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes from Boston for slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

Wow.

We all knew Lester was being shopped, but if you thought Oakland would be the team doing the buying, you my friend were in the minority. Especially after the A's had already seemingly addressed the rotation with the acquisitions of both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs at the beginning of July.

We said back on July 5 that the Samardzija deal made them the favorites to win the American League West. This Lester trade now makes them the odds-on favorites to win the whole thing.

Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Samardzija. Good luck dealing with that this October. In case you were wondering, Lester has won all three of his World Series starts and has pitched to a 0.43 ERA in those games.

Yes, the A's lose a big part of the lineup in Cespedes, but his myth certainly exceeded his actual production. He may hit a lot of long home runs, but if you are an advanced statistics guy - which we all know Billy Beane is - you know he's nowhere near the best bat in that lineup.

Perhaps I am underestimating his impact, but I am guessing they won't even notice he's gone. Put it this was way, adding a legitimate ace, more than outweighs whatever Cespedes brings to the table.

Cespedes will be missed more in the outfield than he will be in the lineup.

Pitching, though, hasn't been the A's problem the past few postseasons. It's been a lineup that wasn't able to solve Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer. But, as little as I may think of Cespedes, he certainly can't be blamed for Oakland's failure to hit in October.

Cespedes hit safely in all 10 of Oakland´┐Żs postseason games over the last two years, batting .350 (14-for-40) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, and six RBI.

If anything, this deal distances the A's from the Los Angeles Angels in the division. There is a good chance Seattle is sitting there with the second wild card when it is all said and done. You think any team, regardless of who it is, wants to take their chances in a one-game playoff against, potentially, Felix Hernandez?

Anything can happen in one game. It is so much more important to win a division nowadays.

Give credit to Beane. He knows as well as anyone the window to win is very small. This is his chance and he went all in. Now the A's have to go win. No more excuses. It's easy to say you couldn't get over the hump because they were a small market team, but adding Samardzija and Lester are not small market moves.

It makes sense for the Red Sox, too. Cespedes could really do some damage to that Green Monster. Now, due to some funky language in his contract, he could become a free agent after next season, but they'll get a full year to gauge if he is a fit in Boston.

And having David Ortiz in his ear won't hurt, either.

And who's to say that Lester just doesn't re-up with the Red Sox this winter. Now that's probably an extreme longshot, given the fact that his price tag goes up even further since the A's can't offer him arbitration, meaning a team will not have to give up a pick to sign him.

Stranger things have happened, though.

By the way, am I the only one who can't figure out why that doesn't happen more often? Who's to say Ben Cherington didn't go to Lester and say, "Look we are not going anywhere this year, but we want you to be a Red Sox for life. How about we deal you for something now, then work something out this winter?"

Speaking of Cherington, he also hit it out of the park on Thursday. Not only did he get Cespedes, but he also added righty Joe Kelly and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig from St. Louis for righty John Lackey.

We will discuss that deal a little later, but not bad returns at all for Boston. And that's not even including the two prospects they got from San Francisco in the Jake Peavy deal.

This non-waiver deadline is silly, though. The real deadline is Aug. 31. Players can, and still will be moved, in the coming month. Before the second wild card teams pretty much knew what their fate was on this day. With the extra team, though, a heck of a lot of teams are still involved.

So, don't be surprised if a Cliff Lee still gets moved in the next month.

Either way, it certainly feels like a long time ago that Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin were lost for the season for the A's, doesn't it?

Anyway here are some other thoughts from a busier than usual non-waiver deadline day:

LACKEY GOES TO CARDINALS

As we mentioned earlier, the Red Sox shipped Lackey to the Cardinals, who also acquired Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. Just my opinion, but Lackey is going to be a beast in St. Louis. Plus, he'll supposedly honor his $500,000 option for next season. The Cardinals didn't need an ace, they needed a very good No. 2 and Lackey is just that. The bigger part of this deal, though, may be the fact that the Cards have opened a spot for 22-year- old Oscar Taveras, who was splitting time with Craig in right field.

A'S SHIP MILONE TO TWINS

The Lester deal wasn't the only one the A's made on Thursday, as they also sent lefty Tommy Milone to Minnesota for outfielder Sam Fuld. Milone had been pushed out of the Oakland rotation in the wake of the Cubs' deal, and had been unhappy pitching in Triple-A. Fuld, meanwhile, started the season with the A's before being waived. He'll likley platoon as a left-handed bat with the righty swinging Gomes in left to fill the void left by Cespedes. Fuld'll also fill in at center field while Craig Gentry is on the disabled list.

MARINERS BOLSTER LINEUP WITH DENORFIA

You want to know how bad the Seattle Mariners' lineup is? Well, the acquisition of Chris Denorfia from San Diego is looked at as an upgrade. Denorfia is only hitting .242 with one home run, but I guess he can help a lineup that has Endy Chavez in it five days a week.

07/31 15:02:32 ET