Oakland Athletics: What is Billy Beane up to?
Oakland A’s fans have probably been left wondering who will take the field for them on Opening Day 2015. Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris are gone, gone, gone, gone and gone. In come Brett Lawrie, Billy Butler and Ben Zobrist along with a few other minor league prospects.
I cannot get a feel for these moves. Lester and Samardzija were clearly rentals, meant to bolster last season’s playoff chances. The A’s flamed out down the stretch, and these two were destined to be on the way out the door. The trades of Donaldson, Moss and Norris do not make sense to me. All three were All-Stars in 2014 and were under team control until 2019, 2017 and 2019, respectively. Perhaps Beane felt he was selling high with Donaldson and Moss. Neither had shown the potential to be a high average hitter and could have been overvalued on the trade market.
The addition of Zobrist is a very A’s like move. Call me crazy, but I just don’t get the value of this guy. I think he is the kind of player the stats guys tell you to like because he does a little bit of everything well. If you are looking for a player to push you over the top as a playoff contender, he is not your guy. Zobrist will probably bat .265-.270 and hit 15 home runs while playing in different positions. The stat guys will probably still love him. He will not replace Donaldson or Moss.
The other big acquisition made by the A’s was Billy Butler. Butler has seen his power numbers decline three years in a row, a trend that will only continue as he moves into the pitcher friendly O.co Coliseum. Signing Billy Butler for three years and $30 million is a real head scratcher when the team could have controlled a more powerful option in Brandon Moss. Brett Lawrie did not hit in the Rogers Centre. A change of scenery could have helped him, but he is moving to a bigger park. I do not foresee an uptick in production from him moving to Oakland.
I will not second guess Billy Beane. He has a book and movie written about him and I do not. Contention is cyclical in Oakland, always has been. I feel that Beane realized his most recent window was beginning to close and began consolidating assets this winter. I believe the A’s will trend back towards playing .500 ball this season, which may precipitate even more selling.