By Dennis O'Donnell

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — When you go all in in poker you’re betting you’ve got the best hand. Billy Beane won’t know until October if the river card is an Ace or a Joker.

The A’s traded for Jon Lester while the Tigers acquired David Price. It was an arms race that would make Nikita Khrushchev salivate.   The nuclear weapons were never detonated. The Tigers and A’s will unleash their weapons of mass destruction this weekend.

There’s no point in dissecting statistics for Lester or Price. They’re among the best pitchers in baseball and both will bolster their respective rotations to create arguably the two best staffs in the major leagues.

But how far each team goes will determine which made the best deal. For the A’s, they absolutely must get to the World Series.   At season’s end, Lester is headed on the first L-train out of town. No way the A’s are throwing $140 million in his bank account.

Yoenis Cespedes is the big score for Boston. He’ll thrive in Beantown. He has 17 home runs, 67 RBI and a .256 batting average. They’re not sensational numbers but Cespedes had become the A’s box office draw.   He was the one player you didn’t want to miss swing the bat. Must-see TV. He threw out a runner from the warning track to home plate. He could turn the lumber so quick the fans in the first row could feel the breeze.

But Beane knew Cespedes’ time in Oakland was limited. It was a big league coup to sign him in the first place.   Without that coup, Lester never comes to Oakland, and the A’s would be facing a Tigers playoff team with a superior rotation. Beane must have thought he’d finally found a way to tame the Tigers.

Except that he didn’t. Tiger’s GM Dave Dombrowski was working the deal in the press box during the Tigers game prior to the deadline. He never admitted he was countering the A’s move, but the timing indicated he knew about Lester’s trade to Oakland.   What I found most interesting in the trade of Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly is that the Giants offered more in their effort to get Price over a week ago.

There is no doubt the A’s and Tigers acquired a pair of aces.   Each paid the price with an outfielder. So who really won here?   That card won’t be played until the fall. Classic.


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