"We knew Dan was a legitimate ace," Ellis said. "So we'd be getting good players back."
But as good as the six players acquired in the offseason trade looked in Spring Training, he had no idea that on the last day of May, three of them would be in the Major Leagues.
Center fielder Carlos Gonzalez made his big league debut on Friday and had two hits. Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, who will start on Sunday, have made 21 starts. They have combined for a 7-8 record and a 3.27 ERA.
"We expected to get guys that could contribute," Ellis said. "These guys have had a little success and helped us win."
The other players acquired in the trade last December aren't likely to be in the big leagues this season but are having some success in the Minor Leagues.
Left fielder Aaron Cunningham was batting .330 for Double-A Midland entering Saturday. Outfielder Chris Carter was batting .209 for Class A Stockton, but he is fifth in the California League with 11 home runs. Left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson was 5-4 with a 5.68 ERA for Class A Stockton.
Still, to get to your starting center fielder and two-fifths of your starting rotation shows the A's scouted the Arizona system well and then did a good job of evaluating the players in Spring Training.
"We saw it in Spring Training," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We knew these guys can play."
Eveland and Smith are old news compared to the 22-year-old Gonzalez, who drove in the A's only run in Friday's 3-1 loss to Rangers.
Third baseman Eric Chavez, who played 12 games with Gonzalez while on a rehab assignment earlier this month, said he was impressed by his new A's teammate.
"You could tell he was ready to go up," Chavez said.
Veterans such as Chavez and Ellis are also impressed with how Gonzalez has carried himself so far in the clubhouse, to go along with his obvious talent with the bat and in center field.
"When we saw him right away, we knew he could swing it," Ellis said. "But I'm impressed with how he goes about his business."
"Someone taught him well over there [in Arizona]."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.