I may be coming at this the wrong way, but I hate this deal for the A's. Not because of what it represents—hey, they're rebuilding, we get it—but because of what they got. I know Gonzalez and De Los Santos were the best the Sox had left to offer. I guess I just start off with the assumption that any group of pitchers involves casualties and risk, and that makes me squeamish. Gonzalez or De Los Santos? Both have promise, both are very young, but as a matter of odds alone, it's as if you have to start with the assumption that one of them's going to bust something before the A's ever get a good look at him. Of course, with Jose Rijo on the Hall of Fame ballot, I'm also reminded how very exasperating an unfinished talented pitcher can be—not so much that I welcomed the deal for Dave Parker, though.
So, De Los Santos has explosive velocity and a power curve, and he'll have to see what he can do against the Cal League and if he can master a changeup. That's the best of the lot. Then there's Gio Gonzalez; he'll be up sooner, certainly, but is he any more promising than, say, Dan Meyer was? I say that as someone who really, really likes Gonzalez, but again, we're talking about a guy who could make it up this year, and who might be a solid rotation starter. Admittedly, that costs more to find and keep in the face of the pressure of the open market than the A's would have paid Swisher, so that could turn out well. The problem is the 'could' and 'might' parts.
Finally, there's Sweeney, who's seen as something more than a throw-in. I'm not unsympathetic to that opinion: Sweeney will only be 23 this season and already has considerable upper-level experience, can play all three outfield positions, and did hit International League right-handed pitching at a .285/.358/.458 clip. Maybe if you decide to be optimistic, that's a guy who turns into the new Todd Hollandsworth, minus the dopey BBWAA vote; a solid fourth outfielder with power who you can plug in every day for a couple of weeks at a stretch, or carry as a regular if you're getting a ton of runs from your infielders. Call me skeptical, but I don't really care for the likelihood of those possibilities, although I can understand how somebody could see them and get interested, especially when you're looking for that extra body to flesh out a deal. It doesn't balance it out, though.
Now, I admit, there's a chance here that Sweeney just needs some extra instruction, and will get massively better if he works with somebody who helps him improve pitch identification. I doubt it, but let's move on. Maybe four years from now, Gonzalez and De Los Santos will be two-fifths of a very good rotation. It could happen, sure. You believe all that, balanced against the much greater certainty that Swisher's going to be an underpaid key to his team's bid for contention for years to come, and think it equals out? Me neither.