Friday, August 1, 2014

The Beane All-In Moment

Shove Shove Shove
So my A's. Kind of making some news this month, no?

A couple of weeks after pulling the trigger on a big deal with the Cubs to get upper-tier SP Jeff Samardzjia and the so-far wildly disappointing Jason Hammel, the team with the best record in baseball traded their best OF (Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban emigre, Human Highlight Film and two-time Home Run Derby winner) to Boston for the last 2 to 3 months of ace lefty Jon Lester's time before he cashes in at Free Agent Freakout 2015. There are other aspects to this deal, but that's the biggest part of it, and it's huge.

At first blush, the cost looks too high. Lester isn't going to resign in Oakland, and even if he wanted to, the price tag and age are really not Oakland's kind of move to make. He's been a monster in the post-season and has rings, but that small sample stuff can be overrated. Cespedes has been magical to watch this year, with an absurd amount of baserunner kills and more than enough power to overcome the streakiness that his big strike zone brings to the fore. But the nasty truth of Cespedes is that he's (a) not all that likely to get better in the long run if he stayed in Oakland, and (b) wasn't going to be an A past 2015, anyway.

The quasi-secret aspect of this trade? Four weeks after the Cubs deal, the A's really needed another front line starter. Jesse Chavez, so good for the first few months, has been battered for much of July by weak teams, and is past his career high in innings pitched in a season. Hammel is 0-4 with clear cause in his numbers since the move, and the talk in the clubhouse is that he's been pitching on tilt, probably because he's not used to being in a pennant race and in games of consequence. (Given the A's home park, bullpen and defense, there really isn't much in the way of other excuse for stinking up the joint.)

Holding off the Angles is absolutely critical for any kind of real playoff hope, since avoiding the Coin Flip Wildcard Game (and the use of your best SP, even if you get past that) is crazy important. Once you get into a playoff series, trying to close it out with a guy who has World Series rings, not to mention someone who has been on a great run for much of 2014 for a weak defensive Red Sox team in a hitter's park, is also kind of reassuring. You can manage a rotation with one starter trying to get through a slump, but two is deadly if you want your bullpen to not be wiped out by October, and being able to move Gray or Kazmir to the 4th slot is also encouraging, since they might also run into innings issues at some point.

So who replaces Cespedes? In true Oakland fashion, everyone. Johnny Gomes comes back to Oakland with Lester, and he's OK against lefties despite being 33. Sam Fuld came over from Minnesota for the not good enough for a division winner Tommy Milone, who isn't a bad guy or pitcher, but no one you want to see in a playoff. Josh Reddick might actually stay healthy and provide Junior Cespedes kind of value (he's also got a ridiculous arm), and Stephen Vogt has been hitting the ball like a freaking All Star since coming up from AAA. Roll that together with the hope he's healthy Coco Crisp, and you've got a collection of useful parts that seem to be the way Oakland prefers to roll. Just putting Cespedes in the lineup every day had to be boring the hell out of them, really.

Now, the bummer factor. Cespedes could be a borderline MVP in Boston, especially if the team handles him well. The only thing he doesn't do well is get on base, and the increasingly rare Mad Power is going to be huge in Fenway, especially when back to back against David Ortiz to ensure that the platoon advantage is always going to be an at-bat away. If they can sign him past 2015, they could be benefiting from the Lester rental for the rest of the decade. (Yoenis is 28, assuming his Cuban passport is accurate.) And, well, without Lester or Stephen Drew around, they should be able to afford him.

So here we are, watching the most horizon-challenged great team in recent MLB history doubling down and shoving, in the very un-Oakland-like way of saying, Goddammit, Flags Fly Forever, and we're tired of the Giants being the only team in town with recent ones. The fact that the shove came at the expense of a guy who was just crazy explosive fun to watch, and we get back a guy who will be in the laundry for no longer than three months, is just the cost of doing business. A very different kind of business than they've ever done before, but business nonetheless.

Oh, and if Lester flames out, then resigns with Boston for the hometown discount?

I will have an all-new Least Favorite Player in MLB. (He's also on my contending for a championship fantasy league team. No pressure, Jonny.)

One final point before we can all go back to ignoring MLB for a while... Seriously, Tampa, you couldn't get more for David Price, *and* you had to deal him to the freaking Tigers? Like I haven't spent enough time in the last two Octobers staring down their ridiculously good starting pitching in the playoffs?

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule