Thursday, March 1, 2012

Offseason Review: Oakland Athletics

Hi! I'm on the Athletics!
OK, I realize it's popular to find something honorable or charming about the A's but I just don't. I've already written two separate articles discussing my confusion over two of Oakland's bigger moves and that confusion hasn't gone away. Yoenis Cespedes confused me and Manny Ramirez just pissed me off. I want to make this one brief because if I don't I'll go off on some tangent about the bastardized version of Moneyball that Billy Beane has enacted in Oakland. No one wants to hear that.
About the most rational picture I could find of Mr. Gomes
The offseason started rationally enough for Oakland, signing Jonny Gomes, an unexciting outfielder with aggressively mediocre power. I'm guessing he's supposed to replace Hideki Matsui as a declining DH candidate who can play the outfield in a pinch, and who no one can really be that excited about. Then they did the whole appearing to rebuild thing by trading Andrew Bailey, sensible enough, closers shouldn't mean anything to a team not going anywhere. They also unloaded starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez  and Trevor Cahill for pretty decent hauls, which is risky given their youth but, rebuilding is rebuilding. 
The charmingly manic Billy Beane
So in the middle of all of this representative small market activity, what do you think the next logical thing should be? Given the concession implicit in small amounts of money and the reality that moves have to be made very strategically and without room for error? Well, how about extending the General Manager for the remainder of the decade. WHAT?!?! How the hell can this possibly make sense?! The Athletics don't have the means to extend two excellent young pitchers but they ensure job security for a man who hasn't made the postseason since 2006 for SEVEN MORE SEASONS?! I realize there is some limelight surrounding Billy Beane and everything, but if you're an A's fan and these moves aren't testing your patience, I don't know what would.

If the Beane extension, Cespedes and Ramirez haven't twisted your face in to a perplexed visage representative of confusion and anger, then maybe the acquisition of the completely average Seth Smith will. Granted this occurred before the signings of Manny Ramirez and Yoenis Cespedes, but its baffling nonetheless. The A's responded to their need of a corner infielder by trading two promising young pitchers (Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscosco) for Seth Smith. I have no goddamn clue how this makes sense. Seth Smith is a fairly decent against right handers, awful against southpaws and has modest power that is going to look like a whimper after you trade in the thin air of Colorado for the cavernous Coliseum. I feel so bad for this dude.
Coco Crisp is back, for some reason...
I realize the A's are playing in a really tough division, and I also realize they are waiting to move, so I don't want to go on some big polemic about how they need to make urgent moves to get their shit together. What I don't understand though, is a long term contract to a GM who's tenure already eclipses any other AL GM who has been with one team. He hasn't proven able to provide a team germane to the conversation of playoff contention for a while now. The job title of Major League General Manager is obviously an extremely coveted one, and when a team who's been as irrelevant as the A's have been, for as long as they've been, you have to imagine the shock waves that run through the organization when a major investment like this is forged. I just don't get it. Expect the A's to come in third.

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