A maverick? The ultimate poker player? A baseball genius?
Billy Beane has been littered with flattering commentary throughout his storied career. The 2015 season will mark his nineteenth season as the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, which, to say the least, has been a drama-filled ride. He’s has had historically good pitching staffs, consistently good winning periods and historically head-scratching trades. He encompasses the analytic gunslinger, who whether he is loved or hated, doesn’t seem to care about what members of the general public think. His transparency doesn’t allow him to emotionally connect with any players nor acknowledge the sentiment and needs of the club’s diehard fan base.
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. However, if it’s starting to break, it must be fixed.
For the first time since the 200 to 2003 seasons, the A’s are coming off three straight postseason appearances and enter this offseason with a roster filled with players who embody the scrappy Oakland mold. Beane has done a great job of cobbling together a roster via savvy trades (acquiring Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt), under-the-radar free agent acquisitions (Coco Crisp, Scott Kazmir), along with a dash of draft picks and low-risk, high-reward signings (Sean Doolittle, Sonny Gray, Brandon Moss). Baseball fans across the country look at the team’s three-year run and feel obligated to give kudos to the mom and pop organization. If everything is going so well then A’s fans, why are you so blue?
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Is it the fact that your crosstown rivals, the San Francisco Giants, have won three out of the last five World Series, the fact that your star slugger got traded down the stretch or that you are just starting to catch your breath after a two-month-long second half implosion? The thought of losing Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir next offseason and losing a fragile Coco Crisp to the disabled list creates the stark reality that this could be the last run for the green and gold.
The good news is that I have a remedy for the pain. It’s helped relieve pain in the past and will most certainly help rectify a cantankerous situation. The remedy is yet another Cuban defector.
As it stands, there is one Cuban star who is garnering a ton of dialogue and intrigue. Yasmany Tomas, a thick-bodied outfielder who is the ideal fit for a team in need of a right-handed power bat and a true cleanup hitter. Yes the A’s have budget restrictions and can’t outmuscle big market teams, however a shorter year and bigger AAV deal could entice the soon-to-be 24-year-old slugger. In 2012, the A’s emerged as a darkhorse suitor in the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes and were able to commit more money per year and a shorter contract. Therefore if it’s feasible and you need to fill a huge void, then why not?
Signing Tomas is not pushing the chips all in, it’s merely a signal of hope for a tired, frustrated fan base. It’s Cuban defector or bust.