Cust Move Nothing Short of Shocking

April 5, 2010, 6:15 pm
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This is my 10th year covering the As, and very few things have shocked me as did Saturdays Jack Cust move.Trading Tim Hudson? Knew it was coming.
Trading Mark Mulder? Knew it was coming.Jack Cust? Didnt see that coming at all. Understand, this move doesnt mean Cust wont be in Oakland this year. Designating a guy for assignment isnt out-and-out cutting someone.
It aint an unconditional release. What it means is that the As have 10 days to trade him, an unlikely scenario given his 2.65 million contract, or get him to accept a minor-league assignment, which is likely for the very same reason.For a minor-league assignment to be possible, Cust has to clear waivers, and at a time during the baseball calendar in which teams are trying to get down to 25 men, the chances of a team putting in a 2.65 million claim for -- lets face it -- a one-dimensional player are slim and none.Regardless, its a surprising and ugly move. Surprising in that on the eve of Easter the As seemed to put all of their designated-hitter eggs in the Eric Chavez basket -- although I did predict such a move on a lesser scale just last week -- and ugly in that it alienated in a huge way a very popular and productive member of the team. If he clears waivers, Cust will accept the minor-league assignment. Again, theres 2.65 million at issue here, and Jack has a growing, young family. That fact trumps ego.
But the ego is absolutely bruised, and the message received in the As clubhouse -- nobody isnt expendable -- is unmistakable.Hate to start Opening Day with a negative, but theres nothing positive about this development. Chavez himself was shocked, and he knows a heck of a lot more about the As than all of us.-- Mychael Urban