It’s a good question indeed. “What in the world is Billy Beane up to?” One might say that he’s putting the Oakland Athletics into a rebuilding phase, restocking the farm system, planning for 2016 or even farther, a kind of Chicago Cubs-esque move if you will. I say that Mr. Beane is getting primed for a big move, a move that no one  expects, and changes the landscape of the American League as we know it. Let’s look at some of Beane’s most recent moves.

July 31st, 2014:

*Trades two-time home run champ Yoenis Cespedes to Boston Red Sox for ace Jon Lester.

Why? The A’s had good pitching already, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and Jeff Samardzija, among others, to make for a darn good rotation. So why give up the kind of run production Cespedes gave the A’s for Lester? Certainly it was a move that led to the A’s demise down the stretch. So why do it? Especially if Lester was set to become a free agent? Look at it this way, Cespedes was set for a big pay-day, and if Beane was thinking into the future, was Cespedes (who supposedly had attitude problems) a part of that plan? More on this later.

November 28th, 2014:

*Trades All-Star Josh Donaldson to Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and three prospects.

Why? Donaldson was a gold glove-caliber third baseman, a 20+ homer guy, a cornerstone, so why give him up? Again I think that the thing was Donaldson was set for a big payday, and Beane chose to take Lawrie who is talented enough in his own right and will cost far far less than Donaldson, as well as restock the farm system a bit after making moves with both Chicago teams that involved prospects, most notably SS Addison Russell, who was traded to the Cubs in the Samardzija deal.

Speaking of which, November 28th: A’s reportedly in talks to trade Samardzija to Atlanta Braves for Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

Why? Money money money, just like Donaldson and Cespedes, Samardzija is set for a payday, and it seems the A’s don’t want to be the ones to pay him. The A’s need power, and adding Upton plus Gattis would give them just that, and both could be signed to reasonable contracts.

 I think with all this money dumping and especially if the A’s get the deal done with Atlanta, Mr. Beane and Co. will be just about ready to call up Jon Lester. This is what it all comes down to, folks, these moves aren’t just a money dumping, look towards the years ahead, roll over for a couple years deals, these are deals that give the A’s solid returns and give them the flexibility they need to pitch a substantial offer to Lester, as well as be in the hunt to take their crown in the West.

Now, instead of paying Cespedes a monster contract that handcuffs the A’s for years to come, they have Upton and Gattis signed to modest deals that only help the A’s. Instead of paying Donaldson a monster contract and handcuffing themselves the A’s now have Lawrie, who is just as effective as Donaldson, with a bit less pop sure but still an All-Star talent. Instead of Samardzija they have Lester. It’s all part of the plan, the plan that keeps everyone else scratching their heads now, but could have everyone saying “Wow” just like they did on July 31st. Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen, because it is my belief that there is a storm coming, and Billy Beane is at the center of it all.

4 Responses

  1. John Cate

    I don’t think they can afford Lester. He might make a play for James Shields, but I can’t see how they can make the financial commitment of money and years Lester is going to command. Beane would have to come up with ~6/150 and probably a full no-trade clause, since Lester isn’t going to volunteer for Beane’s next fire sale in a few years.

    The Donaldson trade, I think, comes down to Beane simply believing he’s already gotten the best baseball that Josh Donaldson is ever going to play. Players who come out of nowhere, from mediocrity to stardom, between 26 and 28 usually don’t remain stars for very long. They’re already at their peak, and have nowhere to go but down. Look at Donaldson’s best comps through his current age on B-R. All extremely similar, and all guys who declined in a hurry.

    Reply
  2. Timmy Kennedy

    Lawrie is just as good as Donaldson? Lawrie = 1.7 WAR. Donaldson = 6.4 WAR. That’s a huge difference. And both players are in the same phase of their contract: both entering first year arbitration, I think.

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    • Timmy Kennedy

      Also — Cespedes and Upton are both entering FA next year, and will demand very similar contracts.

      Reply
      • Timmy Kennedy

        Lastly: Upton will demand a similar deal to Samardzija in FA next season.

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