It's almost unfathomable that two baseball general managers, both restless and daring, can share a region for almost 14 years without once conducting a mutual trade of players.
A's GM Billy Beane and Giants GM Brian Sabean have been the chief architects of roughly 200 swaps, dating back to 1996, and none was with each other.
Insofar as there is occasional polite dialogue, the barrier between Billy and Brian isn't exactly a cold war. But these gamblers have carefully avoided working the same table.
It's natural they do so now.
Mark Ellis, the longest-tenured member of the A's and a team leader, is expected to come off the disabled list Wednesday. But there is nothing for him. His heir apparent at second base, Jemile Weeks, summoned June 7 when Ellis sustained a hamstring injury, needed about a week to become the team's most alluring player.
After all Ellis has done for the A's, the organization can't ask him to earn his $6 mil by sitting and watching his replacement. Nor can it rationally consider demoting Weeks, 24, to the bench or back to the minor leagues.
Fortunately for the A's, there is a convenient alternative. They can give Ellis, 34, a ride across the bay, where the Giants are seeking a second baseman with a reliable glove.
The Giants also are shopping for a catcher with some pop. Oakland has one in burly backup Landon Powell, last seen rounding the bases after a home run that beat the Giants.
Suddenly, Oakland has something San Francisco needs — which brings us back to Billy and Brian. If they continue to ignore each other now, it looks personal.
Sabean, who was promoted after the 1996 season, has made at least one deal with every major league team except Oakland and Cincinnati. Beane, promoted a year later, has made at least one deal with every team except San Francisco.
The local inactivity can't be attributed to fear of failure — or projected fan reaction — because neither GM gives a whit about that. Both have made trades fantastic and awful. Both have sparkled and gotten played. They've been praised and criticized with enough volume and regularity to grow scar tissue.
Yet, between them, not one player deal. Only that memorable 2004 transaction in which the A's gave the Giants a few dollars for a pitcher named Adam Pettyjohn.
The last swap between the local teams was on Dec. 4, 1990, when the Giants sent veteran infielder Ernest Riles to the A's for young outfielder Darren Lewis and a player to be named later, who became minor leaguer Pedro Pena. The Giants won the deal by a wide margin, as D-Lew became a Gold Glove outfielder of such personal integrity he was the inspiration for then-manager Dusty Baker naming his son.
That deal, though, was consummated by former Giants GM Al Rosen and former A's GM Sandy Alderson. Their successors have since closed off the border. The Bay Bridge, for Sabean and Beane, may as well be 4,000 miles long.
Supply and demand, though, are conspiring to remind both GMs the span is actually 4[1/2] miles.
Moving Ellis and/or Powell would not suggest the A's are in sell mode but, rather, that they are in a numbers game that works to their advantage. Ellis is a veteran who has become gratuitous and Powell is a reserve 19 months older than starter Kurt Suzuki.
Indeed, it's an opportunity for Beane to shed salary while adding a young player or two to a core that certainly would seem to include Suzuki and Weeks. And remember, in every minor league system, there is someone Billy likes.
For the Giants, it would address the losses of catcher Buster Posey, who is out for the season, and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, whose 2011 return is uncertain.
Acquiring Ellis would instantly patch their infield defense, buttressing their strong pitching. Second baseman Bill Hall, an emergency pickup who was released by Houston, has power but comes with a low on-base percentage and a mediocre glove.
As for Powell, it's not likely the Giants are going to get much more on the market. Quality catchers are an exceedingly valuable commodity and almost never get traded. The Nationals would part with Pudge Rodriguez, but the Giants reportedly have only moderate interest in adding a 39-year-old wheezing toward retirement.
Giants fans can look down their noses at Ellis and/or Powell. They can cling to fantasies about Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who might be unattainable. They can dream about Johnny Bench, who is 63.
But Sabean is in no position to dismiss a reasonable option.
The phones are warm, a deal table-ready. All the GMs have to do is dust off the seats, look each other in the eye and play.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.